Rubrics (A Liturgical Suite for Organ)

Rubrics (A Liturgical Suite for Organ) was a 1988 commission from the Organ Artists Series of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for their tenth anniversary year celebration. The extra-musical impetus and subsequent titles for each movement of Rubrics are found in the instructions (rubrics) to the services for The Book of Common Prayer (September 1979 edition). Rubrics was given its World Premiere in Pittsburgh on 16 April 1989 by organist, Mary Preston.

Peter Hardwick, writing in The Diapason, has called Rubrics “one of the most frequently played organ works by an American composer.” Movements from Rubrics were not only heard at the Washington National Cathedral funeral service of President Ronald Reagan in 2004, but also as a part of the January 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. service in the same venue during the Presidential Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Movement 1 [“The ancient praise-shout,] ‘Hallelujah,’ has been restored…”
This energetic, dialoguing movement is based on the pitches : F, G, C, D.

Movement 2 “Silence may be kept”
This lyrical movement, featuring the flute stops of the organ, is in the Lydian mode and is centered on “F”.

Movement 3 “…and thanksgivings may follow.”
This dance-like trumpet tune in trio style (with intermittent recitative-like sections) primarily uses the pitches, A, B, C-sharp, E, F-sharp for its musical material.

Movement 4 “The Peace may be exchanged.”
This lyrical aria, featuring a solo diapason color (accompanied by strings and double pedal throughout), is based in D Major.

Movement 5 “The people respond – Amen!”
An energetic toccata, this finale is primarily based on the transposition of the four pitches that make up Movement 1 : E-flat, F, A-flat, B-flat. With the addition of these four pitches to those of the primary pitch material of Movements 1 and 3, all twelve pitches of the chromatic scale are now fully represented.

Dan Locklair