Forgotten Passions: A Reexamination of Anglican Passion Cantatas

Matthew Hoch

Cantatas By Stainer, Maunder, Somervell, Wood, And Nicholson And Their Practical Use In Modern Worship

Crown Center Sheraton Hotel - FREMONT

The Anglican Passion is a largely forgotten genre that flourished in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Modeled distinctly after the Lutheran Passion—particularly in its use of congregational hymns that punctuate and comment upon the drama—Anglican Passions also owe much to the rise of hymnody and small parish music making in England during the latter part of the nineteenth century. This paper reexamines the Anglican Passion genre through an overview and analysis of five works: John Stainer’s The Crucifixion (1887), John Henry Maunder’s Olivet to Calvary (1904), Arthur Somervell’s The Passion of Christ, Charles Wood’s St Mark Passion (1920), and Sydney Nicholson’s The Savior of the World (1924). Experiencing the works in a sequential order reveals a distinct evolution of the genre over the course of these decades, with Wood’s masterpiece standing as the towering achievement of Anglican Passion music in the immediate aftermath of World War I. In addition to a discussion of hymnody and choral textures, the use of soloists and recitative—an unusual feature for Anglican sacred music during this time—will also be examined against the backdrop of English dramatic music of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The lecture will conclude with a call for a reappraisal of these underperformed works and their potential for use in modern liturgical worship. Much of the research for this presentation was completed during the spring of 2016, when the author spent two weeks as a Sewanee Fellow-in-Residence at the School of Theology of the University of the South.

Thursday, July 5
10:00 – 10:45am