Music to end the day Sunday, 14 March 2021

Greetings, all.
On Mothering Sunday our thoughts turn to Mary, Mother of Jesus.
The first item in our sequence of music for this day is Healey Willan’s Chorale Prelude
based on the fourteenth-century German tune ‘Quem Pastores’.
Many of us will associate the tune with Percy Dearmer’s beautiful text

Jesus, good above all other
gentle Child of gentle Mother,
In a stable born our Brother,
Give us grace to persevere.

Dearmer’s hymn also refers directly to the season of Passiontide and Easter.

Jesus, who our sorrows dearest,
all our thoughts and hopes thou sharest.
Thou to man the truth declares,
help us all thy truth to hear.

Jesus, for thy people dying,
risen Master, death defying.
Lord in heaven, thy grace supplying,
keep us in thy presence near.

Healey Willan served as organist in several London churches
before emigrating to Canada in 1913,
where he became Precentor of the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Toronto
and Professor of Music at Toronto University.
Described as ‘the Dean of Canadian composers’,
he became the first non-English church musician to be awarded
the distinguished Lambeth Doctorate by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Prelude on the theme ‘Quem pastores laudavere’

‘He whom the shepherds praised’, a Christmas carol,
earliest copy dated to 1410 held at Hohenfurth Monastery.
The first of six chorale preludes composed by Healey Willan in 1950.

Now we hear Folliott Pierpoint’s beautiful hymn ‘For the beauty of the earth’,
sung to the tune ‘Dix’, based on an early nineteenth-century German chorale,
adapted by W.H. Monk. I recorded this arrangement, with improvised interludes,
exactly a year ago, for the Sunday of the very first lockdown: Mothering Sunday 2020.
Since that day, we have built a library of some 350 solo recordings,
and around sixty recordings of the Cornerstone Choir.
We could not have imagined that we would still be making new recordings a year later!

For the beauty of the earth,
for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies,
over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale and tree and flower,
sun and moon and stars of light,
sun and moon and stars of light:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild,
for all gentle thoughts and mild:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine,
to our race so freely given,
graces human and divine,
flowers of earth and buds of heaven,
flowers of earth and buds of heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our joyful hymn of praise,
this our joyful hymn of praise.

Hymn: For the beauty of the earth

Words by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint in 1864, set to a melody composed by John Rutter in 1980, arr Adrian Boynton.

A particularly appropriate text for Mothering Sunday is the Magnificat: Mary’s song delivered shortly after she learns that she is to be the mother of the Saviour (Luke 1). The Magnificat is one of the most important canticles of the Christian Church – part of vespers in the Catholic and Lutheran traditions and evensong in Anglicanism. There are numerous wonderful musical settings of the text covering the whole spectrum of stylists and idioms from plainsong to the present day. We hear now one of the finest Tudor settings, from William Byrd’s Second Service, recorded by our choir last October.

My soul doth magnify the Lord
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour
for He hath regarded
the lowliness of His handmaiden.
For behold from henceforth
all generations shall call me blessed
for He that is mighty hath magnified me
and holy is His name.
And His mercy is on them that fear Him throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm;
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat
and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel,
as he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham and his seed for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son
and to the Holy Ghost,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.



Words: Luke 1:46–55. Song of the Virgin Mary from the Second Service composed by William Byrd circa 1560.

A very important part of Mothering Sunday is the offering of flowers to our mothers and to those who care for us. So what better way to conclude this musical sequence than with the ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. We hear it in an arrangement for piano solo, played by John Fisher, a great friend of Cornerstone over the past twenty-five years.

Postlude: Waltz of the flowers

From the score of ballet ‘The Nutcracker’, based on the Christmas story Nussknacker und Mausekönig written by Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann in 1816. Opus 71a composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1892.

To conclude, a prayer for Mothering Sunday:

God in heaven,
we thank you for the precious gift of love which we receive from our mothers, family and friends.
We give you thanks for the ability to care, nurture and love,
which you have set deep within us.
Help us to use these gifts for the good of our families and friends,
and to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the one who loves us so much that he gave his life for us.


Goodnight, everyone.

Adrian Boynton