Good teachers often answer a question with a question, making the student think further on his or her own. A teacher himself, Jesus is no exception in his response to the chief priests and elders in today’s reading from Matthew’s gospel. And in the Psalm, God as teacher proclaims, “Hear my teachings, O my people; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.” Moreover, the text of the offertory anthem today also implores God to teach us and give us understanding. With these lectionary readings and texts, it is no accident that we celebrate Episcopal Schools Sunday this morning. Christians should be perpetual students in Jesus Christ; may we give thanks today for all teachers and for our lifelong abilities to learn and grow in faith.
Balfour Gardiner’s (1877-1950) setting of this grand hymn for the evening rite is our anthem at Choral Evensong this Sunday, Sept. 28, at 5:30 p.m. This fifth/sixth century text is actually appointed for the Office of Compline and asks God for protection and favor “from fears and terrors of the night.” Following a slow, controlled crescendo of organ introduction, the choir blossoms into this grand opening phrase of prayer to God, “To thee before the close of day.” This YouTube clip from King’s College, Cambridge (“Evensong Mecca” to many of us), is a beautiful video of the famed King’s College Choir singing this poignant choral setting, completely alone in the chapel and accompanied by candlelight. Not a bad way to spend a few evening minutes, yes? Enjoy.
We have re-visioned our Evensong series in the 2014-2015 year, scheduling them around feast days – this Sunday’s is scheduled around St. Michael and All Angels, September 29. Join us at 5:30 for this Anglican tradition of music and liturgy, with music by Heathcote Statham, John Goss, Bryan Kelly, and H. Balfour Gardiner, sung by the Motet Choir.
This Sunday we welcome the North American Vocal Ensemble (NAVE), which is providing choral music for our liturgy. Founded in 2012, NAVE is a national choir that has sung in major cities throughout the country, most recently in New York City at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and in Carnegie Hall this past January. From a vast repertoire of choral music, NAVE offers for our worship two beautiful ancient, Latin hymns, one adoring the Eucharist (“Ave verum corpus” by Tudor composer William Byrd) and another adoring the cross (“O crux” by 20th-century Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt). These anthems are followed by the spiritual “Battle of Jericho” and the South African folk song “Babethandaza.” Also in the liturgy, music by English composers Thomas Tallis and Ralph Vaughan Williams will be heard, ending with a brief but beautiful communion anthem by the Russian composer Chesnokov, “Spirit, thy goodness, lead me on a level path. Alleluia.”
Listen to NAVE here:
Sunday, September 7 was our annual Parish Picnic, complete with an outdoor service for the 10:30 liturgy. I have casually called this annual Sunday “Picnic Church,” and fortunately or unfortunately, some have coined my phrase into regular usage. This year, “Picnic Church” was accompanied musically by some very fine Memphis musicians, a Dixieland band directed by trumpeter Jeremy Shrader.
Also known as “New Orleans jazz,” Dixieland bands began at the turn of the 20th century, and this music quickly spread to New York City and Chicago as early as 1910. The style comes from a combination of brass marches with other forms such as ragtime and blues. Instrumentation is very flexible, using some combination of a “front line” of trumpet, trombone, clarinet or saxophone, and a “rhythm” section of guitar or banjo, string bass or tuba, and piano and drums.
-David Perry Ouzts
The corporate Confession of Sin is a liturgical act that, by Book of Common Prayer rubric (“instruction”), we include in the liturgy each time we gather to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, except for the Great 50 Days of Easter when our parish custom is to follow the Early Christian tradition and dispense with the Confession. For the next few weeks, we will be using Prayers of the People, Form VI, which is the only form in our Prayer Book that includes its own Confession form tagged onto the end. While different from the standard Confession on p. 360, this Form VI version is beautiful language in itself. Also, the Gospel passage today is the story of Peter’s famous questioning of Jesus about forgiveness of sin; coupled with this reading is a solid, stately Kentucky Harmony tune for the Sequence Hymn, “Forgive our sins as we forgive.”
-David Perry Ouzts