MusicNotes, by Will Buthod

November 29, 2018

 

Happy New Year! This Sunday begins the new liturgical year as we celebrate the season of Advent. You may notice several changes musically in the next four Sundays to mark the new season. Hopefully the music will not only remind us that it’s Advent, but also help create an atmosphere of more solemn anticipation.

This Sunday, I will play a familiar organ prelude, Wachet auf, ruft uns die stimme (Sleepers wake), by Johann Sebastian Bach. It just doesn’t feel like Advent to me without playing this classic. Listen for the Sleepers wake melody woven into a gorgeously simple countermelody that seems to never end. Bach never wrote notes that he didn’t need, he was very concise, and this is evident in that fact that the accompaniment to these melodies is just a single line, played in the pedals. During Communion, we will sing this same chorale as a congregational hymn.

You will hear other familiar Advent hymns through this service and through the season. We begin with the mighty hymn, Lo! He comes with clouds descending. The first Communion hymn, O Word, that goest forth on high, comes from the 1940 Hymnal, and is set to a recognizable chant tune. O come, O come Emmanuel will be sung at the end of each service, with different verses selected each Sunday. All of these reflect themes of expectation and readiness, of longing for light, peace, and joy in the darkness. If you look closely enough, you may also see ties with Lenten themes and the Passion.

At the Offertory, the choir will sing Keep your lamps!, an African-American Spiritual, arranged by André Thomas. The idea of hope for a better tomorrow is very present in the Spirituals. It is that very hope that allowed slaves to move forward towards freedom, although this hope was born from suffering and oppression. This simple arrangement reminds us to be ready for what God is going to do in our lives.

 

Keep your lamps trimmed and burning, the time is drawing nigh. Children don’t get weary, ‘til your work is done. Christian journey soon be over, the time is drawing nigh.   

 

You may also notice that the Psalms are sung in a different way during Advent. Instead of elaborate Anglican chant, you will hear the plainchant version of the Psalm, with minimal accompaniment. This simplified style of chant still follows the natural rhythm of speech, but is in unison, and follows a very simple pattern of note changes. The choir will sing it this week, if you all will help us sing the short antiphon before and after. In a few Sundays, we will invite you to join us on the Psalm, so that we can chant it all together.

Now, as for the organ, you will hear a change in tone for Advent. In general, the organ will be a bit more subdued during hymns and service music. Aside from selecting different service music, I find that a change in the style and color of organ accompaniment makes a big difference in a more meditative, expectant season. And in some cases, it’s what you don’t play, rather than what you do. For example, I will omit the organ postlude during Advent. It may feel a little awkward at first, as we’ve all gotten into a rhythm, but after the dismissal, the organ will be silent, please don’t be too shocked. I want to create a mood of anticipation, and I invite you to just be present in that moment, perhaps even taking some silent time for yourself to meditate and pray.

See you Sunday!


November 20, 2018

 

Happy Thanksgiving! And congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of the church year. This Sunday is the last one after Pentecost, sometimes known as Christ the King, and the final Sunday before we hit the beginning of the new church year, Advent. Even though we don’t celebrate Christ the King as a principal feast, the readings for this week are quite “kingly” and the music will reflect this.

 

All four readings this Sunday mention kingship in some way. Notice the contrast between the ideas of a king “sitting on his throne” and Pilate asking Jesus if he is “King of the Jews.”  I will help set the tone during the prelude, using a piece by Jean Langlais, his prelude on the tune, CORONATION. Immediately following, we will sing this same tune, as All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name. I invite you to consider the idea of this kingship, especially when we sing the line, “and crown Him Lord of all.”

 

The other hymns reinforce the picture of Christ the King, but from different angles. The King of love my shepherd is, King of glory, King of peace, and Crown Him with many crowns all tell a different story, using a different texture.   

 

During the Offertory, the choir will sing With Songs and Honors, a piece that comes from the Sacred Harp tradition. I wanted to find a piece that gave glory to God, our King, without the pretense of a royal coronation. Since serving a king is, of course, a concept very foreign to us here in America, I wanted something more grounded and full of heart, not pomp.

 

Sacred Harp singing, sometimes called shape-note singing, may have early English roots, but it’s an American tradition that came from New England in the 1770s and eventually moved to the South. It is a very participatory style, based on a simple music notation system. It focuses on just making a joyful noise, singing boisterously & whole-heartedly, instead of executing complex music with a controlled uniformity of sound. This music is meant for anyone to join in, and its notation makes it easy to learn. Notice how differently the choir sings this anthem, compared to last week’s Tallis motet, for example. If you’re interested in exploring this style of singing, talk to Mother Jenna, she’s the real expert!

 

At the end of the service, I will play the Emperor’s Fanfare, an organ piece by Antonio Soler. Soler (1729-1783) was an important Spanish composer, especially for keyboard music. Today, Spanish repertoire does not have as strong a presence in European classical music as its German, French, and Italian counterparts, so I always love a chance to play some Spanish music. Soler was born in Catalonia, and became a monk at the age of 23. Padre Soler contributed greatly to keyboard music in Spain, while also writing for strings and choirs. Listen for the regal trumpet rhythms, which are almost more like drum patterns than a trumpet melody.

 

See you Sunday!


November 15, 2018

 

On Sunday, I will help set the tone for worship on the piano, with a solo version of Lead Me, Guide Me. This great hymn, written by Doris Akers in 1953, speaks of our desire for God to direct our steps. The refrain says-

Lead me, guide me along the way, for when you lead me I cannot stray.

Lord, let me walk each day with Thee. Lead me, O Lord, lead me.

Akers, who the Smithsonian called “the foremost black gospel songwriter in the United States” in 1992, was a friend of Mahalia Jackson, and wrote an abundance of gospel songs that became very popular. This particular tune was covered by several well-known artists, including Elvis Presley.

During the Offertory, let’s try singing a hymn together, instead of the choir singing an anthem. It is Well with my Soul, echoes our need to trust in Jesus. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear Jesus warning Peter, James, John, and Andrew that “many will come in my name…and they will lead you astray.” He instructs them to remain calm when they hear of wars, calamities, and famines. This hymn reminds us that when we face challenges in life, our souls can find rest in our Savior, that with Jesus’ guidance, it can be well with our souls.

It is Well with my Soul, as some of you may already know, has a touching story behind it. The author Horatio G. Spafford was having a very difficult season of his life. His young son died in 1871, then he lost his fortune overnight in the Great Chicago Fire that same year. Two years later, his four daughters died when a French ocean liner sank after a collision with another ship. Spafford took the next ship to find his wife, who had survived the incident, and wrote this hymn as he passed over the place where his daughters died. Not only a heart-wrenching story, but a real testament to Spafford’s faith.

The choir will sing a beautiful motet during Communion. Thomas Tallis’ Verily, verily I say unto you is an absolute gem. The text comes from John 6. The King James version says-

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

I invite you to meditate on these Eucharistic words as you receive Communion. Allow the unfolding harmonies and interplay between voices to bring you into prayer. Listen to how the mood shifts when the choir sings and I will raise him up on the last day. There is a reason this music has survived for centuries, it has a transformative power, a prayerful presence that can’t be denied entry to hearts.

Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) was one of the most influential English composers in history. His diverse style bridged the gap between European styles and English liturgy. He was a pioneer in printed music, sacred music written in English, and was one of the first to write music for the English liturgy. A fictionalized version of him was even a character on Showtime’s The Tudors. And, in fact, next Wednesday is Tallis’ official feast day in the Episcopal Church liturgical calendar! What are you doing to celebrate??


November 8, 2018

 

After a busy week for the Music Ministry, we forge ahead this Sunday with some beautiful music.

This week, you will hear some English music for both organ voluntaries. To help set the tone for the service, I will play a Fantasia, for a Double Organ, by the great Orlando Gibbons. Gibbons (1583-1625) was one of the most influential English composers in history. Besides writing tons of great choral music, he was one of the first to start publishing keyboard music collections. Most of this music did not specify a particular keyboard instrument, and could have been heard on organ or virginal. This double organ piece refers to an instrument with two contrasting sounds that form a dialogue with each other. Listen to how the four voices played on the organ have a similar texture to a choral piece.   

At the Offertory, as we remember the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, we will sing a congregational hymn, O day of peace that dimly shines, to the tune JERUSALEM. I invite you to pay attention to the text, and how poignant it is, especially in our world today. The tune for this hymn also holds a special significance. 102 years ago, Sir Hubert Parry wrote this tune for an 1804 poem by William Blake (And did those feet in ancient times…). It was written during the darkness of WWI, and became popular immediately. It became the anthem for the “Fight for Right” movement of WWI, and later the hymn of the Women Voters movement, as well as the Women’s Institute in 1924. It is sung regularly for major events in Britain, and is almost regarded as a second national anthem. JERUSALEM clearly stirs the hearts of many, so don’t be afraid to sing whole-heartedly!

During Communion, our two songs reflect this Sunday’s Gospel reading, in which the widow puts all that she has into the treasury. The first communion hymn, Just as I am, without one plea, affirms this offering. Then, please join us as we sing a very simple worship song, I Give Myself Away, by William McDowell. With a simple refrain, I invite you to repeat it with us and allow yourself to just be present in the moment. Not a lot of words, not a complicated melody, nothing to distract you from the presence of God in the receiving of the Eucharist. Be open to meditating on that Gospel lesson, and exploring how we can give of ourselves more every day.

Now, of course, no annual meeting-Sunday would be complete without a hearty sing of Christ is made the sure foundation. Even if this hymn may be familiar to you, what if you took a moment to just read through the text, without the music? It is important, as we have celebrated All Saints and All Souls, and before we begin our new year, that we celebrate Christ, who unites us. In a turbulent world, we can have comfort in the fact that Christ is our rock and stronghold. Our faith tells us that, trusting in His goodness, we can follow Him through all of this and be the light in the darkness.   

In that celebratory mood, I will play Henry Purcell’s Trumpet Tune as a postlude. Purcell (1659-1695), was another English composer who really changed the game. He defined an English style of Baroque music, and his fame surpassed most other British composers. You may recognize this tune from your wedding! It is often played as a processional/recessional for weddings and other festive occasions. A “trumpet tune” or “trumpet voluntary,” despite its name, is a common type of composition for keyboard, usually organ, with a solo trumpet stop. You will hear from our magnificent trompette-en-chamade (the big 18-wheeler truck horn in the back), which really sounds incredible in our nave. Apologies in advance for the noise. #sorrynotsorry

See you Sunday!


October 31, 2018

 

Happy Halloween! With All Saints and All Souls this week, you can expect to hear some really special music to commemorate these feasts.

On Friday, we will celebrate All Souls at 8p. You really don’t want to miss this. We had our final rehearsal last night with orchestra, and it far exceeded my expectations, it’s really going to be wonderful! The Poulenc Organ Concerto, the Albinoni Oboe Concerto, and the Fauré Requiem fit very well with each other, and will make a very appropriate offering for All Souls’ Day. Our Artist-in-Residence, Natalie Twigg will be the soloist for the Albinoni, and I will play the organ solos in the Poulenc, all accompanied by orchestra with my wife, Verena Anders, at the baton. Then we will move into the rest of the service, with almost all of the music coming from the gorgeous Requiem. You may also hear some Anglican chant and some favorite hymns along the way. There will be more notes about the music in the bulletin for Friday. Stay tuned tomorrow, I will make a video about the music for this service and post it on Facebook.

On Sunday, we will celebrate the Feast of All Saints. Although All Saints’ Day is actually tomorrow, we will observe the feast on Sunday, as it is a principal feast in the Church. The music will reflect the grandeur of this day. Don’t be too surprised if the service starts off with a bang, as we set the tone for our procession into the church. We will sing familiar tunes that talk about the saints that we honor, and the choir will present How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place, from Johannes Brahms’ German Requiem, at the Offertory. If you don’t already know this piece, hold on to your hats! It is one of the most exquisite pieces of choral music I can think of. As you listen on Sunday, I invite you to pay special attention to the text. Taken from Psalm 84, notice how the musical texture changes from heavenly colors and long lines (how lovely is thy dwelling place…), to tense undulation and resolution (…for my soul longeth, yea, fainteth…), to unsettling desperation (…my soul and body crieth out…), to exuberance (…they praise Thy name evermore…). My hope is that this song will direct your attention upward, so to speak, as we remember the saints, a reminder that blest are they that dwell in Thy house.

During Communion, Emily Tallant will sing At the River, Aaron Copland’s arrangement of the old hymn tune, Shall We Gather at the River. This hymn is one of my very favorites to sing on All Saints’ Day. It gives me great comfort to know that we are given the grace to meet face-to-face with those who came before us, who shaped our lives, who helped others in their faith. We can walk in those same paths and gather with the saints by the river that flows by the throne of God.

At the end of the service, I will play a voluntary on the organ that I reserve for major feast days. The Te Deum, by Jean Langlais, is part of a set of Gregorian Paraphrases. The Te Deum is an ancient Christian hymn of praise. In our Book of Common Prayer, it’s Canticle 7, on page 52. It is often sung at Morning Prayer, but is also used in celebration of major events, coronations, consecrations, etc. This particular setting is based on a 4th-century Ambrosian chant, which Langlais has treated in a typical French manner, by introducing one melody, then another, and finally combining the two at the end. See if you can catch the initial chant melody returning in each hand, and eventually, in each foot. I feel very close to the music of Jean Langlais in particular. A significant organist-composer in France (1907-1991), and blind from the age of two, he wrote a ton of organ and choral music and did a lot to promote the revival of Gregorian chant in modern music. I’ve studied his works as long as I’ve been playing organ, read everything I could about his life, and even studied with his wife for a while at the Paris Conservatory. Madame Langlais has been the authority on her husband’s music since his death, and she gave me some very refreshing insights on the history and performance of his music.

See you at church!


October 25, 2018

In the readings for this Sunday, you will hear all about the restorative, healing power of God. The Old Testament reading says, “With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back…” The Psalm reminds us that “those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy.” The Epistle and Gospel carry the same themes, but with an emphasis on hearing God’s call to us and our response to God. “He is able for all time to save those who approach God through him…” (Hebrews 7:24)

This powerful message will be reinforced through the songs we sing. We start the service with the old American hymn, I come with joy to meet my Lord. Later, during Communion, you will hear that “there is a balm in Gilead that heals the sin-sick soul.” The choir will sing a traditional spiritual at the Offertory that echoes the Gospel reading, Hush! Somebody’s Calling My Name. The Gospel (a short one this week) tells the story of blind Bartimaeus, who, sitting by the roadside, hears Jesus calling his name. In faith, he gets up to meet Jesus, and his vision is restored. In the spiritual, listen for the refrain, “hush, somebody’s calling my name. Oh my Lord, what shall I do?”

That really is the question, isn’t it? What is your response to God’s call? The readings remind us that it’s not enough to simply hear God’s voice, but that we must reach out to Him in faith to truly experience everything He has for our lives. If you hear God calling you to something, how do you respond in your daily life? Do you respond in prayer, by how you treat others, or in the example you show others? God has the power to restore us, mind, body, and soul; all we have to do is answer the call.

We started our Pledge Campaign a few weeks ago with a celebratory stewardship song, This Little Light of Mine, and this is how we will end it. Fortunately, it also ties in with Sunday’s readings, as we ponder the idea of how we let our light shine in the world. And as I said the last time, it’s ok to have fun singing this song, by the way. I have checked with our clergy, and, turns out, it’s not a sin after all… 😉

 

Brazeal Dennard (1929-2010), was the arranger of Hush! Somebody’s Calling My Name. From Detroit, he was also a singer, educator, and conductor, who was very influential in the preservation of the African-American spiritual. Through his choirs (Brazeal Dennard Chorale, Brazeal Dennard Community Chorus, Brazeal Dennard Youth Chorale) and his educational work, he was able to bring spirituals to a larger audience outside of the church.


October 18, 2018

Just a couple of notes for this Sunday…

During the Offertory, the choir will sing a beautiful and simple anthem, Lord, Make Us Servants, by Robert N. Roth. This piece, a setting of the Prayer of St. Francis, is our response to the Gospel reading. In the Gospel this Sunday, we hear Jesus telling James and John that “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” This song is our petition to God to give us the strength and grace to truly serve. It speaks of our desire to sow seeds of peace, love, forgiveness, and unity in the face of hatred, hurt, and strife. This may be a particular challenge in today’s world, but I invite you to pray this beautiful version over the weekend, and see if it may help direct your perspective.

_______

Lord, make us servants of your peace: where there is hate, may we sow love;

Where there is hurt, may we forgive; where there is strife, may we make one.

Where all is doubt, may we sow faith; where all is gloom, may we sow hope;

Where all is night, may we sow light; where all is tears, may we sow joy.

Jesus our Lord, may we not seek to be consoled as to console,

Nor look to understating hearts, but look for hearts to understand.

May we not look for love’s return, but seek to love unselfishly,

For in our giving we receive, and in forgiving are forgiven.

Dying we live, and are reborn through death’s dark night to endless day:

Lord, make us servants of your peace, to wake at last in heaven’s light.

_______

Listen for this theme of serving God in the other hymns this Sunday. We will also sing an old hymn (and I mean old) of adoration and devotion during Communion. Humbly I adore thee was written by St. Thomas Aquinas and was originally used for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in 1264. Still sung in the Roman and Anglican traditions, this simple chant points to the body and blood of Christ, and is usually sung in Eucharistic contexts. The perfect melody of this hymn has a special draw, and has been set in a variety of ways by sacred composers for centuries.

_______

I will be out this Sunday, attending the baptism of my baby-nephew in Oklahoma. But, not-to-worry, I am leaving you in good hands. Dr. John Marsh will be leading the music and playing organ. Before moving to Georgia 11 years ago, he served as Organist and Choirmaster at St. Martin’s in Houston (the largest Episcopal parish in North America) for 19 years. Since moving to the Atlanta area, he worked as Director of Music for Christ the King Lutheran, until his recent retirement, and continues to teach on the Faculty at Kennesaw State University. We are blessed to have him here ‘filling in.’ Please take a moment to say hello and thank him for helping out. We want to make sure that we stay friends with good folks in our musical community!


October 11, 2018

Before we begin our worship this Sunday, I will help set the tone with a short improvised prelude on the organ. This is an ornamental chorale based on the tune of our opening hymn. The ornamental chorale is a musical form that was popularized in Northern Germany in the 17th century by Heinrich Scheidemann, and later employed by composers such as Buxtehude and Bach. You will hear the hymn (or chorale) melody in one voice, treated with an elaborate and expressive embellishment. I often play and improvise instrumental pieces based on a hymn tune that we will sing during the service, in order to remind our ears of the tune and to reinforce the message of the hymn.

Over the next few weeks, you will be hearing some traditional Anglican chant from the choir, as they sing the psalm. This form of chant, unique to the Anglican/Episcopal Church, is a gorgeous way of singing psalms and canticles. Although it may have roots in plainchant (as in, Gregorian chant), it sounds very different from the single, unaccompanied melody lines of earlier chant. Instead, English chant sets an unmetrical text (like a psalms or canticle) to a simple harmonized melody, and is meant to match the speech-rhythms of the text. This style came out of the English Reformation (16th c.) and was well established by the 18th century. We are so blessed that the Anglican Communion provides many different ways for worshippers to sing the songs of the Bible. Take a moment while the choir sings these psalms to simply meditate on the text and explore what they may mean in your life. Heck, on a rainy day, if you’re really bored, visit youtube, search for Anglican psalms, and just let it play in the background. There is something hypnotically spiritual and deep about this expression of some of the most colorful and dramatic poetry of the Bible.  

During the Offertory, the choir will sing Lead Me, Lord, a short anthem by Samuel S. Wesley. Wesley, son of composer Samuel Wesley and grandson of Charles Wesley, was very influential in 19th century English church music. He wrote hymns (like our opening hymn on Sunday), organ music, and choral music, and did a lot to revolutionize organbuilding at the time. (Maybe the real reason I like him, though, is because he liked to fish, and would sometimes cancel engagements to play based on fishing trips…) The words of this anthem reflect our Gospel reading. In the Gospel, we hear Jesus telling his disciples about what is required to enter heaven, to truly follow Him. The anthem text is a plea for God to guide us, to teach us how to live in Him, to follow His paths of righteousness. It reminds us that it is “only through God that we dwell in safety.”

Our prayer for guidance continues later during the service, when we sing the old hymn, Just a Closer Walk with Thee. This great hymn, long associated with New Orleans jazz funerals, has a widely-disputed history. Although its exact origins are not clear, we do know that it was written down by 1940 and recorded the following year. Regardless, the song became so popular that it was recorded by an exhaustive list of artists across many genres, from Mahalia Jackson to Ella Fitzgerald, from Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash to Van Morrison, from Willie Nelson to Jack White. And no New Orleans funeral would be complete without it. What it is about this song? It could be the words, a simple plea for God’s guidance, protection, and presence-

I am weak, but thou art strong;

Jesus, keep me from all wrong;

I’ll be satisfied as long

As I walk, let me walk close to thee.

That’s my prayer for this week. See you on Sunday…


October 4, 2018

As we prepare our hearts for worship this Sunday, you will hear some Bach played the organ. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was one of the most prolific and admired composers of Western classical music. He was also a church organist and sacred music composer, and his huge output of music for the organ reflects this. On Sunday, you will hear a movement from a Trio Sonata, traditionally a type of piece that featured two different instruments with an accompaniment. Bach, ever the skilled organist, translated this idea to the organ, with one part in each hand and the accompaniment in the feet (pedals). Despite its simple texture, these teaching pieces can be quite demanding to play, but form the backbone of a classical organist’s training. This Sunday, the readings echo a call for unity through God, in the imagery of husband and wife becoming one flesh. This is why I selected this piece. The two separate voices in this sonata complement each other in various ways until they are finally united into one voice at the end.

To reinforce this same theme, you will hear the choir sing the well-known, Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether, at the Offertory. This beautiful anthem, by Harold Friedell, invites us to unite our souls to each other and to God, through the Holy Spirit. It’s a reminder that, “when two or three are met together, Thou art in the midst of them.” As the altar is being prepared on Sunday, you will hear the text shift its focus to the unity of Christ’s communion table and end with our promise to serve God faithfully. The piece is a classic for good reason, and hopefully it will help set the tone to begin the Eucharistic Prayer.  

During Communion, we will all sing Let Us Break Bread Together on our knees. I know this may be a familiar song, but do you know the history behind it? This haunting spiritual was written at a time when African-Americans were allowed to attend worship with non-African-Americans, but would worship in a separate area, and not be allowed to receive Communion with the rest of the church. This song is not a simple communion tune about bread and wine, but a plea for unity, that all of God’s people break bread together on their knees, with emphasis on together.

This Sunday, as the church enters the last stretch of Ordinary Time (the end of our church year), you will hear some changes in the service music (Gloria/Hymn of Praise, Alleluia, Holy, Holy, Fraction Anthem). I invite you to sing out heartily, even if a couple are unfamiliar to you. I’ll discuss it more in future blogs, but I am hoping that you pay attention to how these short pieces of music change with the seasons in our church year. Why do you think they change? To keep us from getting bored with the same music every week? Or is there something else trying to be expressed?

Now, not all of the music Sunday is based directly on the Gospel reading. As we kick off our Pledge Campaign, Fr. Greg suggested that we sing something upbeat as a closing hymn, both as a call to stewardship and as a celebration of what God is doing for us at HTP. As we sing This Little Light of Mine, I challenge you to think about how you let God’s light shine in your own lives and in others’. What gift can/do you bring to HTP that reflects God’s light? Oh…and it’s ok to have fun singing this song, by the way. I’ll have to check with the clergy, but I don’t think it’s a sin… 😉


September 27, 2018

Hello Holy Trinity Parish! This is the first of my weekly music blogs, in which I will explore and explain a little more about the music you hear on Sunday services and beyond. I want to give you some context for why particular pieces of music are chosen each week, understanding about the function of music in the liturgy, and some insight about other things going on in the music ministry here at HTP- all this to make your worship experiences through music even more meaningful.

Have you ever thought about what happens in the music department between Sundays? Ever wonder if I’m just picking my favorite hymns each week? There’s a whole lot that goes into the selection, preparation, and execution of the music each week. Selecting music that strikes a balance between the Lectionary (prescribed readings for each Sunday), the Anglican/Episcopal tradition, parish traditions and events, the need for a varied musical diet, and the capabilities of our musicians, can be quite a challenge at times. Much dedication and energy is put into preparing the music, from rehearsals to recordings to emails with choir and soloists- often musicians work for hours, weeks, or even months to perfect a piece of music that may only last about 3 minutes in a service! Then, to execute it with musical excellence and in a way that reaches hearts and minds in the worship experience is yet another level. As much as the HTP Choir and I would sometimes love to just walk in on Sunday morning, sing some songs and go home, God requires more from us. Music is a ministry, not just a house band for worship. And I want you to know how blessed we are at HTP to have not only so much talent in one place, but also abundant dedication from so many people. I hope you know that this parish a diamond in the rough when it comes to music ministry. Trust me on that one…

Only a couple short notes about the music this Sunday-

This Sunday, as we recognize our Preschool, we will also reflect this focus musically. You may notice some songs that we might not normally sing, which come from our Preschool chapel repertoire. I invite you to try them out with us on Sunday, to find your ‘inner child’ and share the joy of the Lord with our younger folks. It is important that the songs we learn early on the in the church have some connection with Sunday worship as we grow older! Also, we’re excited to feature one of our younger musicians, Jacob Arkin. During the Offertory, he will be singing and playing a beautiful hymn. Please make sure to be encouraging, of both his gift and his willingness to share with the HTP family.

As the readings this Sunday emphasize following God’s will and prayer, you will hear music focusing on discipleship and reaching out to God. The organ voluntaries (prelude and postlude) both come from the French Romantic style, and deal with prayer. The setting of Psalm 18 comes from Rawn Harbor, one of the few African-American composers writing music for liturgical settings. During Communion, you’ll hear I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light, a great hymn from composer Kathleen Thomerson, who composed it for a church in Houston, TX. This hymn first appeared in Songs for Celebration (1980 supplement to the Episcopal 1940 Hymnal). I chose this hymn not only to remind us to recommit our lives to following Jesus, but also to reinforce what we all have in common- that we are all children of God, no matter our age. In the Gospel reading, Jesus warns us against putting “a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me…” (Mark 9:42), and this is worth paying attention to!

See you at church!

UA-111498297-1