Always open this tune with the dotted rhythm, and D-flat is strongly preferred.
Christ is made the sure foundation
Rejoice Ye Pure in Heart
Come, we that love the Lord
Lift up your heads, O gates
O God our source of truth
Here, o my Lord
All Who love and serve your city
Christ, Mighty Savior – INNISFREE FARM
Come, let us with the Lord arise
The whole bright world (Hilariter)
We limit not the truth
We the Lord’s people
Word of God, come down on earth
Rob Lehmann did a sophisticated and lovely arrangement of this tune for his choir at St. Michael & St. George, St. Louis during the 2020-21 pandemic.
You are the Christ
Rejoice Ye Pure in Heart
Praise the Spirit
Christ is alive
When Jesus died to save us
Humbly I Adore Thee
Adore te, devote receives a comprehensive Dirksen makeover: 1) it’s in 7/8 throughout, 2) the middle verses are backward, in minor, 3) verse 3 goes to E-flat minor for the Lord’s own death, 4) ends with a sweet simple AMEN.
Audio & Video. Dirksen’s notated half-note=96 is unplayable – he’s merely saying NOT TOO SLOW. But the circumstances of its composition actually dictate the tempo: the performance should be exactly 2′ 30″! Also – don’t miss the Choral Arts Society’s orchestral version here as well.
A Child, My Choice
His most well-known and well-beloved carol. SATB a capella, simplicity itself.
Psalm for Christmas Day
Audio & Video. One of the editor’s TOP FIVE works. How DID those troops of angels come down??
Audio & Video. For Easter Day. The B section is one of Dirksen’s longest and most effective build-ups to a shattering climax. It’s also a dandy timpani solo. Now back in print by Jubilate Music Group!
Welcome all wonders
Audio & Video. Written in 1957, the same year as Daniel Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata, the two pieces share vivid brass writing and intense rhythmic energy alternating with lyric beauty. This exists in many forms: Organ and brass, full orchestra, winds only…there’s even an arrangement for SSAA choir.
Yet Even Now Saith the Lord
A Christmas Lullaby
Run, Shepherds, run
Jesu, Rex admirabilis
Hodie, Christus natus est
Accende, Lumen sensibus
Nowell sing we, now all and some
Alleluia, A Newe Work is Come
From the 1961 York Cycle Play music. Also available as a movement in the 1965 Suite for Organ, Trumpet and Handbells (D. 513).
Audio & Video. Another one of my TOP FIVE works. The flute obbligato positively sparkles.
Song of Mary at the Manger
Audio & Video. Running out of TOP FIVE slots, but this Auden setting is profoundly moving: Why was I chosen to teach his Son to weep? The ending of the organ version makes it preferable.
I sing the birth
Blessed art Thou (Elizabeth’s Song from the Annunciation Story)
Audio & Video. A solo song from The Annunciation Story.
Give thanks unto the Lord (Bonum est confiteri)
Bless the Father
Deer Walk upon our mountains
A Wedding Prayer
Father, in thy gracious keeping
Ineffably sweet. It ends in A major, a half-step down from where is starts. The orchestral double-reed / horn / string accompaniment is deluxe and has a gorgeous violin descant for the fourth verse.
A Christmas Gloria
Welcome Happy Morning
Audio & Video. This nine-minute mini-cantata sets the complete Fortunatas text with organ, brass & timpani and would make a great addition to an Easter concert. Score+audio presentation is here, but it awaits a definitive recording.
Carol of the Angels
The Knights of God
Audio & Video. Alternates the 1940 plainsong for The eternal gifts of Christ the King with rushing horsemen on white horses. A commission from Frank Boles and St. Paul’s, Indianapolis.
Come, O come our voices raise
Cantate Domino Canticum Novum
The Christ Child lay on Mary’s lap
A sweet a capella carol with Dirksen’s added verse bringing it up to date.
Sing Ye Faithful
Audio & Video His last – and by his own estimation, best – anthem. The closing Queens Change bell effect is a charming farewell gesture.
Christ our Passover
Dirksen’s first and perhaps most famous piece premiered as a Gradual at the 11 am service on Easter Day, 1948. Back in print from Jubilate Music Group!
Audio & Video Dirksen’s first published work (1960) bears several life-long trademarks: A “scattered” introduction which sets mood & tempo but not theme; far-flung harmonies suavely coming and going (E-flat minor in a D minor piece), and the first of many lovely Amens (compare the end of his late F#-minor Mag and Nunc). Also of note: the sotto voce Gloria mimics the traditional liturgical bow at that point in the canticle.
Song of the Redeemed
Dirksen compliments Her Majesty by incorporating “The Queens Change” in the Gloria Patri. He uses it in his final anthem Sing, ye faithful as well.
I will sing to the Lord
You are God
Surely it is God
The first of the Three Songs of Isaiah, BCP Canticles 9-11. The gentle modal theme lent itself to canonic treatment, but the work unfolds into dramatic eight-part choral fanfares. Dirksen re-worked the tune into two hymns: Surely it is God who saves me (ISAIAH’S SONG) with the Carl Daw text, and Glory be to God, the Highest (GIBBS HALL), his own paraphrase of the Gloria in Excelsis.
Seek the Lord
The second of the Three Songs of Isaiah is a choral scherzo. Dirksen omitted the Gloria Patris from these canticles but couldn’t resist adding a characteristic AMEN to this one.
The first two Songs of Isaiah are a capella. This one adds the organ with heraldic flourishes for the Great Organ’s Trompette en Chamade. The phrase lengths in this canticle are Brahmsian in their sweep & length. He brings back themes from the first two Songs to excellent effect, and the B-major ending is one of his most thrilling.
Communion Service in E minor – Rite I
Score & video. The Gloria is in my TOP THREE Dirksen pieces. Less than three minutes long, it opens with a liturgical joke and ends with an explosive Amen. Note his tempo!
Communion Service in E major – Rite I
Full scores & videos. By 1960 Dirksen had participated in Easter services at the Cathedral for 15 years and knew the forces intimately. This grand Mass features exceptionally brilliant writing for the brass and timpani, ground-breaking mixed meters (13/8 notoriously raised the choir’s eyebrows), and in the Agnus Dei some of his spookiest writing for the organ. It’s also noteworthy that two movements of a Mass in E major end on F# (Kyrie, Benedictus). That uncanny whole-tone lift comes a shock each time but prefigures the Gloria’s triumphant final modal cadence from D to E. He also orchestrated it for double wind quartet after the Stravinsky Mass.
Alleluia, a newe work is come
The Annunciation Story
Score & audio. A liturgical drama with many performance options – Elizabeth’s Song is first-rate.