Notes For Individual Anthems Owned by

First Church (Reformed), Albany, NY


by Cliff Lamere    begun 23 Jan 2010





ANTHEM LIST     Click on name of anthem in this list to see notes for it.


Even When God is Silent

Jesu, Grant Me This I Pray

Jesu, the Very Thought of Thee

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

Nolo Mortem Peccatoris
















Even When God is Silent

Michael Horvit

On the evening of November 9- 10, 1938, a notorious Nazi spasm of violence against Jews occurred in cities throughout Germany in which storm troopers and civilians vandalized property and committed other outrages of physical intimidation. The broken windows from these destroyed homes and shops became the historic metaphor for the memory of that night as Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass.” In 1988, to observe the fiftieth anniversary of Kristallnacht, Michael Horvit wrote “Even When God Is Silent,” as a commission from Congregation Emanu-El, in Houston (where Dr. Horvit served for twenty-five years as music director). In his preface to the anthem, Dr. Horvit describes the specific inspiration for the work: “Allied troops found [a] poem written on the walls of a basement in Cologne, Germany. It had been written there by someone hiding from the Gestapo. It is one of the most poignant poems I know: an extraordinary testimony of faith under horrible circumstances.” The text of that poem reads “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when feeling it not. I believe in God even when God is silent.” 

Michael Horvit is currently Professor of Composition and Music Theory in the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. Dr. Horvit’s music degrees come from Yale and Boston University, with further studies at Harvard and at the Tanglewood Music Festival. His teachers included Aaron Copeland [sic], Lukas Foss, Walter Piston, Quincy Porter, and Gardner Read. 

SourceGriffin Choral Arts, Masterworks Concert, March 13, 2008.  

Program Notes by Bill Pasch

Jesu, the Very Thought of Thee 

  (Jesu, Dulcis Memoria)

Victoria, Tomás Luis de

Jesu, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills the breast, but sweeter far thy face to see and in thy presence rest.

Text: Bernard of Clairveaux  [FC Bulletin Feb 21, 2010]

Jesu, Grant Me This I Pray

Kitson, Charles Herbert

Jesus, grant me this, I pray, ever in thy heart to stay; let me evermore abide hidden in thy wounded side. If the evil one prepare, or the world, a tempting snare, I am safe when I abide in thy heart and wounded side. If the flesh, more dangerous still, tempt my soul to deeds of ill, naught I fear when I abide in thy heart and wounded side. Death will come one day to me; Jesus, cast me not from thee: dying let me still abide in thy heart and wounded side. 

Text: Anonymous 17th century hymn  [FC Bulletin Feb 21, 2010]

Nolo Mortem Peccatoris 

Morley, Thomas

Nolo mortem peccatoris; Haec sunt verba Salvatoris.

(I do not desire the death of a sinner; these are the words of our Savior)

Father I am thine only Son, sent down from heav’n mankind to save.

Father, all things fulfilled and done according to thy will, I have.

Father, my will now all is this: Nolo mortem peccatoris.

Father behold my painful smart, taken for man on ev’ry side;

Even from my birth to death most tart, no kind of pain I have denied,

but suffered all, and all for this: Nolo mortem peccatoris.


Nolo mortem peccatoris  is by the English Composer, Thomas Morley (1557-1603?) who lived during the time of Shakespeare. Although ascribed to words of Jesus, the Latin text is actually Ezekiel 33:11 “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live.”  The mix of English and Latin, was common at the time when the Church was adapting to the Reformation and replacing latin texts with vernacular translations.  The plain, serene chordal setting of the Latin text,  (we are not cast into outer darkness for our sin; God wishes only our repentance and to turn again) is interspersed with dissonant contrapuntal sections in English, depicting Christ’s painful journey of obedience to the cross for our redemption. During the penitential season of Lent it was the custom for organs to be silent and singing to be a cappella (without accompaniment).

Text: Sir William More (c. 1570)  [FC Bulletin Feb 28, 2010]

Notes:  Mary Bon???????????????????????????

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

Poston, Elizabeth

The tree of life my soul hath seen, Laden with fruit and always green:

The trees of nature fruitless be compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel: By faith I know, but ne’er can tell,

The glory which I now can see in Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought, And pleasure dearly I have bought:

I missed of all; but now I see 'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil, Here I will sit and rest a while:

Under the shadow I will be, Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit doth make my soul to thrive, It keeps my dying faith alive

Which makes my soul in haste to be With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

Text:  Anonymous 18th century New England    [FC Bulletin Feb 28, 2010]