Today, November 1st, is the Feast Day of All Saints.
The music of Everett Titcomb (1884-1968) occupies a unique niche in the catalogue of sacred organ and choral works by 20th-century Anglican composers in the United States. An Anglo-Catholic, he spent fifty years nearly to the day (1910-1960) as organist and choirmaster at Boston's Church of St. John the Evangelist in Bowdoin Street.
"Gaudeamus" is the third of "Four Improvisations on Gregorian Themes," and was published by B. F. Wood in 1958. It is based upon the chant melody of the proper Introit for the day, "Gaudeamus" (Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival day in honor of all the Saints: at whose solemnity the Angels rejoice and give praise to the Son of God."
The work is dedicated: "To William H. Hawke, Esq." a Canadian and student of Lynwood Farnam, whose career culminated by being appointed organist of St. Mark's Church in Philadelphia.
"Gaudeamus" is typical of all of these "liturgical improvisations" by Titcomb. The style is "expansive," starting quietly, moving through MANY keys, building up and quieting down, and eventually crescendoing to a tremendous climax, before gradually falling away to a hushed, mystical ending.
I think this work is particularly effective, if treated properly, with much use of color, and "improvisatory feel" in performance.
The score is attached below, as well as a photo of Titcomb, of the organ he played for many years, the Gregorian chant introit, which forms the theme and basis of this piece, and two photos of St. Mark's Church in Philadelphia.
Tomorrow I'll have special music for All Soul's Day, composed by the very important Scottsman, Alexander Mackenzie.