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    Third Sunday in Lent (March 15, 2020)

    Today’s liturgy involves several references to ocular activity. Our Processional hymn — “Saviour, when in dust to thee” includes a reference to our averting our eyes from God out of a sense of guilt and penitence: “when, repentant, to the skies scarce we lift our weeping eyes . . . ” God’s vision is also referenced in the hymn: in the second stanza, we plead with God to “turn, oh, turn a fav’ring eye; hear our solemn litany!” (You can read more about this hymn here.) The Introit for today is from Psalm 25, and is referred to in liturgical texts by the first two words of the Latin of…

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    Second Sunday in Lent (March 8, 2020)

    Our opening hymn, “Before thy throne, O God, we kneel,” expresses the spirit of Lenten self-examination with some remarkable details. “Sins of heedless word and deed” and “crafty trade and subtle snare” describe how both carelessness and deliberation can involve forms of disobedience. The text to this hymn is the work of William Boyd Carpenter (1841-1918). As an Anglican priest, he served as chaplain to the Bishop of London and honorary chaplain to Queen Victoria. In 1884, he was consecrated Bishop of Ripon, a post which he left in 1911 to become canon at Westminster. Boyd was regarded as one of the greatest orators of the Victorian era, and many…

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    First Sunday in Lent

    PROCESSIONAL HYMN: “Kind Maker of the world” SEQUENCE HYMN: Psalm 51 (Charles H. Wilton, 1761-1832) SERMON HYMN: “My God, accept my heart this day” OFFERTORY ANTHEM: Scapulis suis Music: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) Text: Psalm 91:4 Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi Dominus et sub pennis ejus sperabis; He shall cover you with his wings and you shall be safe under his feathers scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus. his faithfulness shall be your shield and buckler. COMMUNION MOTET: “Agnus Dei” from Missa Brevis Music: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) Text: Ordinary of the Mass COMMUNION HYMNS: “Draw nigh and take the Body” “Glory be to Jesus” CLOSING HYMN: “The glory of…

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    Ash Wednesday (February 26, 2020)

    Here are the hymns we will sing during our Ash Wednesday mass: PROCESSIONAL HYMN: “Forty days and forty nights” (#55)SEQUENCE HYMN: “God the Father, God the Son” (#229)SERMON HYMN: “Lead us, heav’nly Father” (#567)COMMUNION HYMNS: “Let thy Blood in mercy poured” (#190) and “Here O my Lord I see thee” (#208, PENITENTIA)CLOSING HYMN: “Lord, who throughout these forty days” (#59) During the Offertory, the Choir will sing the first four stanzas of “Jesus, I will ponder now,” a hymn by the German Baroque poet Sigismund von Birken (1626-1681). The musical setting is from an earlier Lutheran cantor and music teacher, Melchior Vulpius (ca. 1570-1615). Here are the stanzas the choir…

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    Quinquagesima (February 23, 2020)

    The Epistle reading for today is St Paul’s famous essay on love from I Corinthians 13. While the focus of the apostle’s description is usually applied to the shape that our love for each other should take, that message is always received with the awareness that our ability to love is dependent on God’s prior love for us, on the fact that He is Love. In the Gospel reading from St. Luke’s gospel, Jesus tells the disciples about what is to happen when they go up to Jerusalem: that he will be captured, tortured, put to death, but rise again on the third day. Just before we enter Lent —…

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    Sexagesima (February 16, 2020)

    Between now and Holy Week, these posts will include less original material than usual. With more than a full year of material stockpiled on this site, many of the hymns and motets we’ll be singing have already been introduced, so I will be copying a lot of text from earlier posts. Any hymn or motet that has it’s own page will feature a link that will take you to further reading. Such is the case with the first two hymns in today’s service: “We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing” and “Behold a Sower!” The Offertory anthem, Orlande de Lassus’s Perfice gressus meos, is a setting of three verses…

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    Septuagesima (February 9, 2020)

    Ash Wednesday is coming up in two-and-a-half weeks, marking the beginning of Lent. The 40-day season before Easter is still sometimes referred to with the Latin word for “the fortieth part”: Quadragesima. Septuagesima Sunday is not — despite the literal meaning referring to 70 — exactly 70 days before Easter. Rather, it marks the 63rd day before Easter and thus falls within the 7th (septimus) decade or 10-day period, the range from the 61st to the 70th day before Easter. The idea of being steadfast in the faith is strongly emphasized in today’s Epistle reading from I Corinthians 9, in which we are enjoined to run the race of faith…

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    Fourth Sunday in Epiphany & Candlemas (February 2, 2020)

    Today will be perceived by many as Superbowl Sunday, or Groundhog Day. What a tragic diminution of experience. For the Church it is the last Sunday during the Epiphany season before the three pre-Lenten “Gesima” Sundays. And it is the feast day variously known as The Purification of Saint Mary the Virgin, The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, and Candlemas. The first of these designations is the most ancient, dating back to the early fourth century, making it one of the most ancient of Christian holidays. The more explicitly Christocentric name became more popular after the Reformation. And the least common term for February 2 — Candlemas — recognizes…

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    Third Sunday after Epiphany (January 26, 2020)

    The author of today’s Processional hymn was identified simply as “K” when “How firm a foundation” was first published in 1787. The text’s remarkable popularity may account for the large number of tunes associated with it. In every previous edition of our Hymnal, a different tune was used. The tune appointed in this edition is LYONS, although in the Supplemental Tunes section in the back of the Hymnal, the more primitive and familiar FOUNDATION is available. This Sunday, we’ll sing this confident and reassuring text to the sturdy tune named LYONS. While the Hymnal states that it is based on a work by J. Michael Haydn, more recent research argues…

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    Second Sunday after Epiphany (January 19, 2020)

    The text to our Processional hymn — “God himself is with us” — is by the German preacher and poet Gerhardt Tersteegen (1697-1769). The theme of the presence of God was prominent in his writing. Consider: The secret of God’s presence is actually believed by very few, but are you aware, that if each one truly believed it, the whole world would at once be filled with the saints, and the earth would be truly Paradise? If men really believed it as they should, they would need nothing more to induce them to give themselves up, heart and soul, to this loving God. But now it is hid from their…