Carillon-Toccata  on  the  English Hymn Tune  ~  St. Anne  

Organ   (10 pages)


Carillon-Toccata on  St. Anne  is written in the tradition of post-Romantic French organ toccatas. It also rings with sounds of carillons – English, French or otherwise – and of pealing bells.   The melody sounds out phrase by phrase and note by note, in augmentation and diminution; it travels from voice to voice and is invariably accompanied by ceaseless changes ringing out in varied patterns.

"St. Anne's Tune"  was first published in London in1708 as a musical setting for Psalm 42, and was later ascribed to William Croft (b. 1678, d. 1727).  The tune was subsequently reapplied to a variant of the text of Psalm 90, adapted by Isaac Watts and originally reading as: "Our God, our help in ages past."  Its first phrase – eight notes in length – serves as thematic material for George Friderick Handel's sixth Chandos Anthem, also for Johann Sebastian Bach's E-flat major organ fugue.  The four complete phrases that comprise the tune have inspired countless composers and compositions, among them Ralph Vaughan Williams' motet, "Lord, Thou hast been our refuge."

This extended setting of St. Anne opens with a toccata figuration based on the first hymn phrase that accompanies an emerging thematic unit three phrases in length, derived from the same eight notes.   The toccata's theme is presented consecutively in tenor, then soprano, and finally in the pedal.  An ensuing developmental section features thematic fragments migrating between  voices; it eventually gives way to a return of  the opening toccata and its theme, this time sounding over each of the four consecutive hymn tune phrases presented in a temporally augmented (cantus firmus) format in the  pedal.  The coda adds a jubilant and pealing conclusion.

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