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Offertorium on "Gerontius" (Praise to the Holiest)

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Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (03/31/21)
Composer: Fletcher, Percy Eastman
Sample Producer: Lavender Audio
Sample Set: Hereford Cathedral Willis Organ
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Early 20th century
Percy Eastman Fletcher, was born in Derby on 12 December 1879 and died on 10 December 1932 at the early age of 52. He took lessons on violin, piano and organ, the former being his most important instrument. Like a number of his composer contemporaries, he made his living as a Musical Director in the London theater world, fulfilling this position successively at the Prince of Wales, Savoy, Daly's, Drury Lane and from, 1915 until his death, His Majesty's Theatre.

Fletcher wrote a large number of suites for light orchestras, and many fine, now forgotten, orchestral works.

He also composed quite widely for organ. An Interlude of 1901 is probably his earliest dated publication, while later works include the two most famous of his organ works, both dating from 1915, "Festival Toccata" and the always exquisite, "Fountain Reverie."

"Offertorium on 'Gerontius'" is found in "Hymn-Tune Voluntaries Part IV", published by J. Curwen & Sons Ltd. in 1911.

The hymn-tune "Gerontius" was composed by the Rev. John B. Dykes (1823-1876). Ity is a fine, sweeping melody, that can be really quite emotional in its impact, especially when fine accompanied and sung by a large congregation.

The text is also a fine one, and was written by Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890).

This hymn is by no means limited to use during Lent or Holy Week, but I've included the full text in the First Comment, and you'll see why it does make a powerful statement during this time of the Liturgical Year.

The piece itself is rather "straightforward," and is probably not one of Fletcher's most "creative" settings. Still the effect is noble and pleasing, and would make for a fine postlude or closing voluntary, or as an offertory, as Fletcher intended it.

I have not played the repeat, as it doesn't add to the impact of the piece, and is probably best omitted unless needed for liturgical reasons.

The score is attached below, as well as photos of Fletcher, Dykes and Newman.
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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