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March 3, 2021 | #95 Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square

Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square is streamed online every Wednesday at 12:00 noon MDT. Piping Up! can be viewed on TheTabernacleChoir.org, the Choir’s YouTube channel, the Choir’s Facebook page, and Broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. When concerts are concluded, they are available for on-demand viewing on the Choir’s website, YouTube and Facebook.

These programs continue the tradition of noon organ recitals at Temple Square—a tradition that has lasted for more than a century. The concerts are produced without an audience and comply with all COVID-19 guidelines. Each concert will feature a different Tabernacle or Temple Square organist and is hosted by Luke Howard.

Repertoire

Organist: Andrew Unsworth

1. Festival Voluntary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flor Peeters
2. a. Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (BWV 731). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Johann Sebastian Bach
    b. Organ Hymn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Raymond Haan
3. a. Come, Come, Ye Saints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . arr. by organist
    b. An Old Melody: "St. Agnes" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .arr. by organist
4. Sortie, from Seven Sketches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Percy Whitlock

Focus Piece

An on-going feature of Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square is a focus piece with additional inspirational background on a specific repertoire selection. Written by host Luke Howard, a professor of music at Brigham Young University, the focus piece connects the music in a unique way to lift and inspire listeners.

“Sortie” from Seven Sketches (Whitlock)

Percy Whitlock’s performing career, tragically abbreviated by his early death at the age of 42, combined in equal measure the traditions of church organ with the rising popularity of concert and theater organs in the early 20th century. Still, Whitlock’s experience as a church organist seemed to infuse all of his activities to some degree.

Though Whitlock wrote primarily choral and orchestral music, he did produce nearly two dozen works for organ, many of them hymn preludes and shorter compositions. One of the sets of organ works connected very closely to the church is Whitlock’s “Seven Sketches on Verses from the Psalms,” completed and published in 1934. Each of these sketches is an instrumental meditation on a verse from the Old Testament Psalms, which is included as an epigraph in the score, below the title. These pieces aren’t quite programmatic—more like character pieces, that capture an emotion or a scene evoked by the biblical verse.

Whitlock gave the final work in the set a French title, “Sortie,” meaning ”exit,” which in the liturgy would refer to a recessional at the end of the service. The final sections of French organ masses of the 17th and 18th centuries were also labeled a “sortie,” for example. The psalm verse this recessional illustrates is Psalm 68, verse 25, “The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels.” This is one of many passages scattered throughout the Psalms that mention instruments and music directly, as a significant element in the praise of God. But what makes this a recessional, necessarily, and not just a happy fanfare?

The explanation is actually in the prior verse, verse 24, which locates this joyful celebration in a holy place. It reads, “They have seen thy goings, O God; even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary.” Bible scholars have suggested numerous interpretations of this verse, but they all agree that it refers to an important procession associated with a holy place, possibly the ancient Tabernacle, or the city of Jerusalem, or even Zion in the most general sense, and that this processional then included singing, performance on musical instruments, and the “damsels playing with timbrels.” Undoubtedly there was dancing, too—that’s another common worship activity in the Psalms of David. And that is what Percy Whitlock illustrates in the last of his Seven Sketches for organ, the dancing, celebratory, praising “Sortie.”