Choir Notes: Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One

by Clarence Zuvekas

Sunday, May 26 — Healey Willan (1880-1968) was born in England but came to Canada in 1913 to head the Theory Department at the Toronto (now Royal) Conservatory of Music. He is often referred to as the dean of Canadian composers.

Although he wrote more than 800 works in a variety of genres, Willan is best known as a composer of church music, including the Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena (S-91, S-114, S-158, S-202 in our Hymnal, parts of which we have sung when using Rite I).

From 1921 until his death, Willan served as organist and choirmaster at Toronto’s Church of St. Mary Magdalene, an Anglo-Catholic congregation, where he “waged constant war on mediocre church music.” Our anthem for today is Willan’s Rise up, My Love, My Fair One, the last of the Three Motets in Honour of Our Lady.

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