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Voluntary for the Fourth Sunday in Advent (Lo, He comes with clouds descending)

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Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (12/19/21)
Composer: Pearce, Charles W.
Sample Producer: Audio Angelorum
Sample Set: Peterborough Cathedral Hill
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Early 20th century
Charles William Pearce (1856-1928) was born in Salisbury, and was a chorister at St. Martin's Church there. He was a pupil of W. S. Hoyte (All Saint's Church, Margaret St., London) and of the famous E. J. Hopkins (Temple Church, London), and received his doctorate from Cambridge in 1884.

He was organist of St. Clement's, Eastcheap, London, and was professor of harmony, counterpoint and composition at Trinity College in London. He was an active member of the Royal College of Organists, and later became Dean of Trinity College and Honorary Treasurer to the London Section of the Incorporated Guild of Church Musicians.

The hymn tune "Helmsley" is justly famous, and always stirring to hear, sing, or to play.
There is some "mystery" as to the composer of the piece, as it is ascribed to three different individuals: Martin Madan (1726-1790), Thomas Arne (1710-1778), and Thomas Olivers (1725-1799). Most hymnals lean in favor of Olivers, but I'm going to root for Madan, since he was Bishop of Peterborough, and this is recorded on the fine Peterborough set!

"Voluntary for the Fourth Sunday in Advent" is found in "Hymn Voluntaries for the Church Year," published by The Vincent Music Co. Ltd. in 1906.

Pearce calls the work a "Full Organ Postlude" and sets the melody in grandiose fashion, calling for an interplay between the Solo Tuba mirabilis and the full organ. Although the work is rather straight forward in style, there is a nice use of harmonic color and interplay of phrases, and the effect is massive, bringing the Advent season to a triumphant and hopeful conclusion.

The score is attached below, as well as two photos of Charles Pearce, and several of St. Clement's Church, Eastcheap, where he served as organist.

The full text of the hymn is given in the First Comment.

I'll be uploading some large and unusual Christmas works over the next few weeks, including Pearce's "Symphonic Poem on 'Corde natus ex Parentis'", a massive and complex work.
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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