Music to End the Day Sunday, 21 February 2021

Good evening, friends.

The six suites for unaccompanied cello by J.S. Bach
are among the most ingenious and inspired of all his compositions.
Written exactly 300 years ago, when Bach was Kappellmeister in Köthen,
the single instrumental lines weave a miraculous pattern of implied harmonies and varied colours.
The music historian Wilfred Mellers described the suites as
‘monophonic music wherein a man has created a dance of God’.
The suites have been transcribed for numerous other instruments,
and tonight we hear the Prelude from Suite no 2 played on the viola by Louise Boynton.
Louise recently passed her grade 8 examination with distinction.

Now we hear an ancient penitential hymn for Lent,
an adaptation of Psalm 45 made by Synesius of Cyrene,
set to the tune ‘Southwell’ from William Daman’s Psalms in English Metre (1579).

Lord Jesus, think on me,
and purge away my sin;
from earth-born passions set me free,
and make me pure within.

Lord Jesus, think on me
with many a care opprest;
let me thy loving servant be,
and taste thy promised rest.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
nor let me go astray;
through darkness and perplexity
point thou the heavenly way.

Lord Jesus, think on me,
that, when the flood is past,
I may the eternal brightness see,
and share Thy joy at last.

To conclude our music, we hear Charles Stanford’s anthem setting
of one of the great Olney hymns by William Cowper,
a hymn which reminds us that God is there to support and uphold us
when we are tempted to err and stray, as Jesus was when he was tested in the wilderness.
This performance by the Cornerstone Choir took place in a special service in Olney Parish Church
to mark the end of the ‘Amazing Grace’ pilgrimage walk from Milton Keynes to Olney
in September 2019.
(The recording was made informally, and is not our usual quality, but is still worth hearing!)

O for a closer walk with God,
a calm and heavenly frame;
a light to shine upon the road
that leads me to the Lamb!

What peaceful hours I once enjoyed,
how sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
the world can never fill.

Return, O holy Dove, return,
sweet messenger of rest:
I hate the sins that made thee mourn
and drove thee from my breast.

The dearest idol I have known,
whate’er that idol be,
help me to tear it from thy throne
and worship only thee.

So shall my walk be close with God,
calm and serene my frame;
so purer light shall mark the road
that leads me to the Lamb.

Finally, a special prayer for Lent 1:

We thank you Father for those days in the desert,
when, through prayer and fasting, Jesus discovered your will for his life
and overcame temptation.
Listen to the voice of your Church, calling to you from the desert of this world.
Protect us with your strong hand and outstretched arm
that, nourished by your word and fortified by your Spirit,
we may proclaim the good news in word and deed, even as Jesus showed us.

Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

Goodnight, everyone.

Adrian Boynton