June 27, 2019
The Gospel this Sunday reminds us about our mission, our dedication to discipleship, and our call to serve the kingdom of God. The music will bring attention to this call and to the root of our journey, following Christ.
The organ prelude, The Call, is a transcription of a vocal piece by Ralph Vaughan Williams, part of his Five Mystical Songs (you heard Joseph Battle sing one of them earlier this year). You may recognize the melody as hymn 487, Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life, based on George Herbert’s poetry. A supplication to the Holy Spirit, this piece asks for the strength to follow the call.
At the offertory, the choir will sing a wonderful and simple arrangement of an English folk tune, called Who at My Door is Standing?, by K. Lee Scott. The text speaks of hearing the voice of God and responding with joy and willingness.
During communion, we will sing The Summons, a popular Scottish hymn that asks us if we are willing to respond to God’s call, with an affirmation in the last verse that we are indeed committed to this mission. The hymn, based on a traditional Scottish melody, was written by John Bell in 1987, after having been accepted into the Iona Community. (The Iona Community is an ecumenical Christian community on the isle of Iona, located off the western coast of Scotland)
Finally the service will conclude with I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, which is actually based on an Indian melody. The hymn has made its way into a range of hymnbooks and worship traditions and has become a theme song for discipleship and conversion. Following this, I will improvise a short toccata on the organ based on this straightforward melody.
See you at church! And don’t forget to join the summer choir!
June 20 2019
Well, we’ve made it through the regular choir season. Things will change pace a little as we enter summertime, but you can still count on good music, with a summer choir to boot. After a busy run from Holy Week through Trinity Sunday, the choir is tired but strong. Thank you for all your support during this past year to make our best musical offering to the Almighty!
This Sunday, the themes from the Gospel reading will echo throughout the music. Look for images of restoration, healing, and wholeness that resonate in the hymns and anthem. The psalm will be read, not sung, for a few weeks, just to switch up the rhythm. You may also hear some of your favorite hymns during this season after Pentecost.
A word about the summer choir-
Do you sing in the shower or in the car? We need your voice! The music ministry invites anyone interested to join us in the choir loft this summer. Each Sunday, we will meet at 9:30a in the choir room to prepare simple hymns, service music, and maybe even an anthem for the 10:30 service.
This is not a commitment to join the choir, but just a fun way to minister through music together. No pressure, no drama, just a Sunday morning. If you have ever considered singing with the choir, or even wondered how much better they would sound with your voice among them, now is your chance to step up. If you’ve been on the edge, or think that somehow this is speaking to you, this is the moment! Bring a friend, a neighbor, or a whole family, let’s just have some fun and make some music.
No previous musical experience required. Won’t you come join us? Just show up on Sunday morning- we’ll be happy to see you!
June 6, 2019
Gospel Music for Pentecost
Every Sunday at Holy Trinity we have a variety of musical genres, and it’s rare that a worship service would focus on one particular musical style. This Sunday will be special, however, as we celebrate Pentecost with gospel music. Be not afraid: this is not the beginning of a new musical direction for the church but instead is a different way to set apart this great feast day.
Black gospel music can be very exciting, uplifting, and soulful, but it holds an even greater place in the history of American church music and American music on the whole. With its roots in the African-American Spiritual and the work songs of African slaves, gospel songs made a deep impression on music across the country and beyond, from the music of Antonín Dvořák to the creation of blues, rock, and country. It is now an inseparable part of our musical identity and a reminder of how God can create beauty from ugliness and tragedy. From oppression comes a song of true freedom.
On Sunday, you will hear a mixture of contemporary and traditional gospel music, with some good ol’ hymns making appearances, all music that you might hear in the context of a normal service at a gospel-music church. Even the psalm and service music will be in the same vein. Notice the use of music in places we may not be used to. For example, you may hear music underneath the prayers and during the peace. In many other churches, musical continuity is used to tie the whole service together, and will often be heard throughout most of the service. When I used to play at Baptist churches, I knew, as a keyboardist, that a 3- or 4-hour service meant that I would probably be playing for 3-4 hours straight (and sweating hard by the end)!
We will also welcome some fantastic guest singers and musicians, top-caliber, from other Atlanta-area churches. Their background in gospel music comes from a rich heritage, as Atlanta has been the center of the gospel music scene for a long time. And some of our guests have never set foot inside an Episcopal church, so please be welcoming!
Perhaps you have longed to hear more gospel music in worship, or perhaps you have thought it was not your cup of tea, but I invite you simply to be present with us in worship today, to allow the music to flow over you, and to pray with us through music. As the Holy Spirit allowed the people to hear the Gospel each in their own language, this Sunday we can hear the Holy Spirit moving in our music in a different way.
See you at church!