Edward Shippen Barnes (September 14, 1887 in Seabright, New Jersey – February 14, 1958, in Idyllwild, California) was an American organist. He was a graduate of Yale University where he studied with Horatio Parker and Harry Jepson. After graduating from Yale, Barnes continued his studies in Paris with Louis Vierne,Vincent D'Indy, and Abel Decaux. He worked as organist at the Church of the Incarnation, New York (1911–1912), Rutgers Presbyterian Church, New York (1913–1924), St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Philadelphia (1924–1938), and the First Presbyterian Church, Santa Monica (1938–1958).
Although he is largely forgotten as a composer, Barnes was quite successful, composing several organ symphonies, suites, and shorter works. He is most remembered for his harmonization of the Christmas carol, "Angels, we have heard on high," which is the version that appears in most American hymnals.
"Prelude on 'Asperges me' is the first part of a two-piece set, the other being on the melody "Lauda Sion," for the feast of Corpus Christi. They were composed for the "Modern Anthology," published by H. W. Gray in 1949.
In the piece, Barnes set the melody for the well-known chant melody of the "Asperges me". When the Roman Catholic Church still had a real liturgy, the "Asperges" took place at the start of most Masses, when the priest would come down the isle to bless the people with Holy Water. The word "asperges" means to "sprinkle."
The piece has an appeal to it, but it's also a little "awkward." Barnes sets the chant melody several times, but it never really "goes anywhere." You keep thinking that it's going to take off, but it never does. Still the brief length is appropriate for the liturgical act.
The work is dedicated to a fellow American organist, Richard Keys Biggs (1886 — 1962).
The score is attached below, as well as photos of Edwin Shippen Barnes and Richard Keys Biggs.
My review of the Dudelange sample set will come after Easter! :-)