Part of today’s Gospel reading, John 3:16 is most certainly the best known verse of scripture from the Holy Bible. In addition to children memorizing this verse in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School, John 3:16 is found today even in popular culture. Businesses print the scripture citation on the bottoms of shopping bags, shipping boxes and other product packaging. One California-based hamburger restaurant chain even prints “John 3:16” in small red print on the inside rims of the bottoms of their paper cups.
The departing procession hymn this morning (Mar. 15) highlights this verse: “Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim.” Composers throughout the centuries have set these important words to music, and the anthem at Choral Evensong this afternoon is a beautiful, sublime setting by contemporary British composer Bob Chilcott (b. 1955). This setting gently rocks back and forth, setting up and ultimately ending with an ethereal soprano solo line on top of the choral harmonies of the anthem.