MusicNotes, by Will Buthod

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-

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!

May 23, 2019


I’m away on a short vacation this week, but I’m certain that there will be plenty of beautiful music this Sunday. This service will be brimming with great hymns, so get ready to sing!

Also look for the hidden connections between the hymns and the readings. The reading from Revelation is echoed in two of the hymns this week. The Gospel is tied to one hymn in particular. Can you figure out which ones these are?

The processional hymns this week point to creation and nature. This is a nod to what some in the Church refer to as Rogation Sunday. Rogation Days, originating in France in 470, were the three days preceding the Feast of the Ascension (this Thursday). And the Sunday before Rogation was often incorporated into the celebration and considered Rogation Sunday. This is a time of prayer and celebration focused on how God has blessed our land, our agriculture, and the abundance of harvest. All creatures of our God and King and All things bright and beautiful explore the wonders of nature and the love that God put into all creation.  

The organist and choirmaster this Sunday will be none other than Ernest Plunkett, who has served here a few times before. Mr. Plunkett was longtime Organist-Choirmaster at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Roswell. He also served as Assistant Organist and Interim Organist-Choirmaster at St. Luke’s Episcopal in Atlanta. We are lucky to have him join us this week. Make sure you stop by and say hello, we want to make friends in our sacred music community!

Looking ahead, get ready for some fantastic services coming up! I’ll be back for the services on June 2, when you will hear a gorgeous Mendelssohn piece from his great oratorio, Elijah (Blessed are the ones who fear Him), as well as a simple, but powerful piece about unity and acceptance, by Mark A. Miller (Christ Has Broken Down the Wall).

On June 9, Pentecost, we will celebrate the Holy Spirit with some real gospel music! Get ready to give God some praise as we welcome guest singers and instrumentalists for the 10:30 service. You won’t need coffee for this one…

On June 16, Trinity Sunday, we will have a proper Holy Trinity celebration, complete with a small orchestra, choir, organ, and bagpipes. Come and sing our traditional feast day hymns and anthems, and maybe even hear some new ones…

See you next week!

May 9, 2019



The choir is back this week, and I’ll be happy to have the choir loft full again! The fourth Sunday of Easter if often referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. The Psalm, Epistle and Gospel all refer to God as shepherd, and the opening collect begins with-

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people:

The music will be a mix of Easter themes and reminders of our mission to follow our Good Shepherd.

The processional hymns will celebrate more of the wonderful Easter hymns the Church has given us, “Welcome happy morning!” age to age shall say, and Alleluia! The strife is o’er. Don’t be afraid to sing with the vigor of Eastertide!

Now that the choir is back, the psalms during the rest of the Easter season will be Anglican half-chants, a stark contrast to the Lenten plainchants that you’ve heard for a season. You will hear Psalm 23 sung three times in the service, once after the first reading, once at the offertory, and once at communion. During the offertory, the choir will sing John Rutter’s (b. 1945) gorgeous setting of this text. You may have heard this movement as part of Rutter’s Requiem, but this piece was actually composed before the Requiem and was later incorporated into the larger work. We will be joined by our Artist-in-Residence, Natalie Twigg, on oboe. Enjoy the lush oboe melodies in dialogue with the choir’s plaintive phrases.

At communion, we will sing the great hymn, The King of love my shepherd is, which is the 23rd Psalm set to a beautiful Irish melody. This will be followed by the old hymn, I can hear my Savior calling (Where He leads me I will follow). Though this hymn has become part of the canon of great Southern hymns, it was written by Salvation Army officer, Ernest W. Blandy (ca 1848-1915) and pastor, John S. Norris (1844-1907), both in New York around 1890.

The instrumental pieces on Sunday will also point to our Good Shepherd theme. Both the prelude and postlude come from Handel’s Messiah, arrangements for oboe and organ of the Pastoral Symphony and All We Like Sheep.

I just hope all the shepherd pieces this Sunday aren’t quite as baaaaaaad as my jokes…

See you at church!

May 2, 2019


After working extremely hard for Holy Week, the choir has earned a little time off, a breather before we hit the road to Pentecost and Trinity Sunday. But be not afraid, you may still hear some beautiful music this Sunday!

In the Gospel, Jesus tells Simon Peter to “feed my lambs,” and to “tend my sheep.” Much of the instrumental music on Sunday will draw from this theme of lambs and sheep. Besides organ improvisations on the Gospel text, you will hear from our Artist-in-Residence and oboist, Natalie Twigg. It’s always a blessing when she shares her music during worship at HTP, but there’s also another reason we went with oboe music- its tie to sheep, being reminiscent of a shepherd’s instrument. Through music history, the oboe, along with English horn and flute, have been employed by composers to create pastoral textures, scenes of shepherds with their flock.

During the offertory, you will hear a movement from Domenico Cimarosa’s Oboe Concerto. Cimarosa (1749-1801) was an Italian composer known for his comic operas. He was at the time employed by Catherine the Great as court composer, and as money dwindled for new operas, Cimarosa composed some instrumental pieces just to pass the time. This ‘concerto’ is actually a mash-up of four keyboard sonatas (23, 24, 29, & 31) that were combined and rescored only in 1949! This movement, Siciliana, was chosen for its lilting pastoral rhythms that are very common in other shepherd music of the time.

At communion, listen for one of my very favorites, Sheep May Safely Graze, from J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 208. Originally an aria for soprano, it was composed in 1713 to celebrate the 31st birthday of Christian, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels. Its peaceful accompaniment creates a pastoral scene almost immediately. Although this piece is very often used for weddings today, it was not published until after Bach’s death.

ALSO- don’t forget that there’s a concert this Sunday afternoon at 4! See below.

See you at church…

Just Voices Farewell Concert, Sunday, 4p in the nave

This afternoon, Holy Trinity’s resident choral group, Just Voices, will present their final concert at Holy Trinity after 17 years in residence. A Capella Spring will feature a wide range of a capella traditions, from spirituals to shape-note, and from classical to gospel. Will Buthod will join as guest composer and conductor. This will be the last concert for founding director, Liz Frazer. Please join us in wishing her farewell!

April, 2019

March, 2019

February, 2019

January, 2019

December, 2018

November, 2018

September – October, 2018