• Service music

    First Sunday in Lent (March 10, 2019)

    The Propers chanted by the choir on this first Sunday in Lent are dominated by verses taken from Psalm 91. It is rare for one biblical passage to be so prominent throughout the service, but this Sunday is exceptional. On this Sunday we enter a liturgical season in which Christ’s forty days in the wilderness (narrated in today’s Gospel reading) is remembered. That experience is marked preeminently by the Son’s faithfulness and trust in the Father’s protection, the theme of Psalm 91. Old Testament scholar Derek Kidner writes that Psalm 91 “is a psalm for danger: for times of exposure and encirclement or of challenging the power of evil.” As we…

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    Ash Wednesday (March 6, 2019)

    Our hymns in the 6:30 PM Ash Wednesday service will be: “Forty days and forty nights” “My faith looks up to thee” “Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands” “Glory be to Jesus” “Lord, who throughout these forty days” The links will connect you to pages that provide some historical notes about each hymn, as well as a piano rendition of each. Our Sequence hymn throughout Lent is an Anglican chant setting of Psalm 51:1-13. You may listen to it here, and download a copy of the music. The Offertory anthem in this service is Miserere mei, Deus (“Have mercy on me, O God”), a setting of the first verse of…

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    Quinquagesima (March 3, 2019)

    Love is a prominent theme in the prayers, readings, and songs for this Sunday. In our opening hymn, “My God, I love thee,” we reflect on the affirmation in I John 4:19, that we love God because he first loved us. As our hymn declares: “Not with the hope of gaining aught, nor seeking a reward, but as thyself hast loved me, O ever-loving Lord!” The Collect for the day is a prayer that we might be made more loving: O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the…

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    Sexagesima (February 24, 2019)

    A theme present in the opening hymn, the Introit, and the Collect for today is God’s defense and protection of his people. Our processional hymn is “We gather together.” In the final stanza of this hymn, we sing a prayer that God will continue to be our defender, and that we might escape tribulation. The Introit sung by the choir is known by its Latin name as Exsurge; quare obdormis Domine? The plea in this prayer is taken from Psalm 44: Arise, O Lord, wherefore sleepest thou? Awake, and cast us not away for ever: wherefore hidest thou thy countenance and forgettest our adversity and misery? Our belly cleaveth unto the…

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    Septuagesima (February 17, 2019)

    This Sunday, we begin the pre-Lenten season, a period in which the structure of our liturgy changes. The name suggests that this Sunday is 70 days before Easter. Actually, it is only 63 days before Easter, but the name is still fitting, since the day falls within the 7th (septimus) decade or 10-day period (the 61st to the 70th day) before Easter. Our opening hymn — “Give praise and glory unto God” — presents 3 of the 9 verses of a hymn by Johann Jakob Schütz (1640-1690). First published in 1675, the German original has inspired at least 6 different English translations. In addition to the version in our Hymnal, there are translations…

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    Fifth Sunday after Epiphany (February 10, 2019)

    This is the last Sunday before the pre-Lenten season, hence the last Sunday until Easter in which “Alleluias” will be heard in our liturgy. Our opening hymn — “Praise the Lord through every nation” — punctuates its praise in both verses with an enthusiastic Alleluia. It also boasts a wonderfully ecumenical genealogy. The tune to this hymn is best known as WACHET AUF, though for some reason is designated in English in our Hymnal as SLEEPERS, WAKE. We more typically sing this during Advent with the text “Wake, awake for night is flying.” It was written by Lutheran pastor Philip Nicolai (1556-1608). The text to the present hymn was written…

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    Fourth Sunday after Epiphany (February 3, 2019)

    February 2nd marks the feast day known variously as Candlemas (sometimes spelled Candlemass), the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus, and the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Book of Common Prayer (see the table page xliv) and Hymnal uses the latter term, which reflects the reason for Mary and Joseph’s presentation of their Son as prescribed in Leviticus 12. It is an event in the life of Jesus that has been depicted in countless paintings and icons. Musically, every setting of the Nunc dimittis — the song Simeon uttered on this occasion — commemorates this moment and its cosmic significance. Our service acknowledges the events remembered…

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    Third Sunday after Epiphany (January 27, 2019)

    The Collect for this Sunday pleads with God for protection: “in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us.” Such a prayer can be uttered in confidence because God’s people have been assured (in Psalm 46) that “God is our hope and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the hills be carried into the midst of the sea.” The familiarity of our opening hymn — “A mighty fortress is our God” — may disguise the fact that the first three verses of Luther’s text were inspired by Psalm 46. Luther’s…

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    Second Sunday after Epiphany (January 20, 2019)

    Since our Gospel reading is the account from St. Matthew of Jesus’s baptism, our service features two hymns that are centered around the baptism and the Baptist. Our Processional Hymn is one we could have sung during Advent, but I saved it for this week. Despite his profound role in the history of redemption, John the Baptist doesn’t have a lot of hymnody connected with him, at least not in our Hymnal. But we do have “On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry.” The text is by Charles Coffin (1676-1749), who was noted in his lifetime for his Latin poetry. John Henry Newman published a collection of a number of Coffin’s…

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    First Sunday after Epiphany (January 13, 2019)

    On the Sunday after Epiphany, our congregation will sing as its processional hymn “All people that on earth do dwell” (#278). The text for this familiar hymn is a metrical paraphrase of Psalm 100, which — along with Psalm 93 and Psalms 95-99 — celebrate God’s rule over all of Creation. The Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 40 declared that the glory of the Lord would be revealed, “and all flesh shall see it together.” Likewise, the angels told the shepherds that the joy introduced by Christ’s birth “shall be to all people.” As we sang last week on Epiphany, the coming of the wise men from the east signaled the…