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[Hymn of the Month] Blaenwern by William Penfro Rowlands

Hymn of month - Aug 16 - Blaenwern

William Penfro RowlandsWhen choosing the hymn tunes for this first series of ‘Hymn of the Month’ I was determined that we should have at least a couple of ‘Welsh’ ones and Bleanwern is as good an example as you can find. Composed by William Penfro Rowlands (1860–1937), during the Welsh revival of 1904–1905. William is pictured here and you clearly see a man of simple neat elegance which I think this tune reflects.

Named after Blaenwern Farm near Tufton, Pembrokeshire, where Rowlands sent his son to stay with friends of the family to convalesce as it was thought the fresh air would assist his recovery presumably from TB, he named the tune in honour of them. This magnificently confident and uplifting tune rich in harmony has come to be used as the prevalent setting for the hymn Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, a favourite for weddings and funerals alike. Perhaps it also reflects upon the thanks he felt for the return to health of his son.

Such is the power of this tune that we could not resist using both organs at our disposal so you will hear one verse on the Viscount, one on the pipe organ and a final verse where they sing this wonderful tune out together.

This played on our Envoy 35-F which is a very popular church instrument. Our organist for this edition is Jonathan Kingston and he is joined on the pipe organ of St John’s Harpenden by our managing director Jeremy Meager. We can now confirm that this was also the venue for much of the organ music used in our quiz. 

More About Jonathan Kingston’s Musical Background

Jonathan KingstonJonathan studied the organ with Professor Ian Tracey and Ian Wells of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral, home to one of the largest pipe organs in the world. He was appointed Organ Scholar, and subsequently Sub-Organist to Bradford Cathedral before securing positions as Assistant Director and Director of Music at two leading independent schools. He is currently Associate Director of Music at the Ordinariate Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Piccadilly.

Jonathan’s Work With Viscount

Jonathan works with us as our very own inhouse organist – he covers several areas from sales, demonstrations, voicing of instruments and performing. His playing features on the current promotional DVD material for Viscount, and he would be very pleased to hear from any churches or individuals requiring an engaging and lively recitalist. If you would like to connect with Jonathan directly, please feel free to follow him on Twitter (@jonkingston) or by email on jonkingston@hotmail.co.uk.

More About Jeremy’s Background

Jeremy Meager

Jeremy Meager is my business partner and talented organ player in his own rights. He has been classical organ trainer, having studied the instrument since his days as a Chorister in St Albans Abbey.

He later studied with Harry Bramma at Southwark Cathedral and at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. He holds the ARCO and LRSM Diplomas. He went on to become an expert in the understanding of digital church organs, working for many years with brand leader Allen Organs and later as Technical Director of Makin Organs, now known as Church Organ World.

More About the Organ Being Played In This Demonstration

Jeremy plays this piece on our very own Envoy 35-F A ‘Physical Modelling’ based instrument with 35 stops in a real wood veneer cabinet. It  has a huge internal library allowing the user to create 4 totally individual voice pallets from classic English through Baroque and Romantic.   It benefits from a full compliment of divisional thumb pistons and additional toe pistons. This organ also has a full 32 note pedal. For more information have a look at its specifications here.

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I have had a passion for church organs since the tender age of 12. I own and run Viscount Organs with a close attention to the detail that musicians appreciate; and a clear understanding of the benefits of digital technology and keeping to the traditional and emotional elements of organ playing.