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Sunday’s Worship Music

September 22, 2019

Rhosymedre –  Ralph Vaughan Williams

8:30 – Romanza – Ralph Vaughan Williams
11:00 – O how amiable are Thy dwellings – Ralph Vaughan Williams

THIS MORNING’S MUSIC hails from the pen of Ralph (pronounced in the Welsh “Raaf”) Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) who was “born with a very small silver spoon” in his mouth, to use his words. His mother’s family was particularly distinguished: Her father was Josiah Wedgewood III (of the famous pottery manufacturing family); her mother the sister of Charles Darwin. Vaughan Williams knew the famous scientist as a boy. RVW would grow to become the prolific leader of the early-Twentieth Century revival of English music: a movement that encouraged English composers of the time away from the considerable influence of “European music” (e.g., the music of Brahms and others) toward the use of English melodies and folk songs as the basis of a distinctive English School of composition. This morning’s Voluntary is such a work, based on the Welsh hymn tune Rhosymedre. A colorful figure, as a young man RWV was sacked from his only job as a church organist for his refusal to receive communion, and he would eventually decline a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II, saying that he always refused honors that “involved obligation to anyone in authority.”

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