Tag Archives: church

Another choral work

I sat down this afternoon to write a set of Preces and Responses, hoping that several Episcopal choirs will pick them up this season.  An hour later, I had written and made first revisions to the work.  And a few minutes ago I made another pass, kicked out two measures and started over on them, and revised a few other spots.

Et voilá, another choral work, my second in two weeks.

I finished the editing and typesetting today of “Donne’s Hymn,” the new work for chorus that I wrote last week for Webster University’s Concert Choir.

Typesetting will wait until next week.  I’ve found that if I let works breathe their new life for a few days before throwing them on the computer, they decide to change a bit on that final pass before committing them to ink.

If I stay on it, I can be creative.  This is very satisfying indeed!

St. Paul’s

I attended services this morning at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Lee’s Summit. 

Growing up here, I was vaguely aware of St. Paul’s as the church a block from the house of my best friend.  And another childhood friend, Chad Giddings, went to church there, as I recall.

I’ve been to St. Paul’s twice now, both when visiting my father and having family obligations that kept me in Lee’s Summit on Sunday rather than going to my home parish of Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City.

St. Paul’s is a cute little place; the church building itself is on the national historic register.  And the people are friendly.

But any time I have the Book of Common Prayer, I find the church inviting and home.

Palm Sunday 2012

Hosanna to the Son of David!

Palm Sunday 2012.  The day is bright and hot and sunny.  And at the Church of Saint Michael and Saint George this morning, Dorabella the Donkey was munching on the grass as the congregation used bulletins as fans in the morning warmth and heavy sunshine.

O mysterious condescending!
O abandonment sublime!
Very God himself is bearing all the sufferings of time!
~William J. Sparrow-Simpson

How quickly the sounds change on Palm Sunday from ‘hosanna’ to ‘crucify!’.  The psalm and the gospel both point toward the week ahead.  “O go not from me; for trouble is hard at hand, and there is none to help me, ” says the psalmist in Coverdale‘s translation (Ps. 22.11).  (Are any translations more poetic than Coverdale?  I think not.)

On this Sunday, we foreshadow Good Friday as the temple curtain is torn in two.  We shall visit this again, but not before several days of meditative Evensongs and Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, one of the most symbolic days of the church year.

And at the offertory, we hearken back for a moment to the triumphal entry:

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
The winged squadrons of the sky
look down with sad and wondering eyes
to see the approaching sacrifice.

In lowly pomp ride on to die;
bow thy meek head to mortal pain,
then take, o God, thy power and reign.
~Henry Milman

John Ireland‘s hymn tune LOVE UNKOWN may well be one of the most perfect hymn tunes ever written.  The melding of text and music is achingly lovely (as is Rob Lehman’s tune for Psalm 22).

Here might I stay and sing, no story so divine:
never was love, dear King, never was grief like thing.
This is my friend, in whose sweet praise I all my days could gladly spend.
~Samuel Crossman

Another near-perfection is Pablo Casals’ setting of Lamentations 1.12: “O all ye who pass along this way, behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow.”  I could sing that anthem every day, especially the baritone first few measures with the glorious suspension on ‘qui transitis.’

Although Palm Sunday isn’t over, since we have a Passion Vespers yet to sing, the service closed with a text that I don’t know as well, with words by Peter Abelard (1079-1142):

Our sins, not thine, thou bearest, Lord;
make us thy sorrow feel,
till through our pity and our shame
love answers love’s appeal.

Grant us with thee to suffer pain that,
as we share this hour,
thy cross may bring us to they joy
and resurrection power.


Last week, I made the decision to return to singing at the Church of Saint Michael and Saint George.

While I have been an itinerant staff singer at various places, and while I have roamed from parish to parish in search of the ‘right’ fit, CSMSG has been my anchor, and my best fit as a parish home.  My church membership is there.

I sang at CSMSG during my first school year in Saint Louis, singing two services most Sundays plus the occasional funeral and Evensong and one-off liturgical event, but I knew that a return wasn’t the best for me or them since my travel schedule was fairly demanding and I could not meet the choir’s expectations for stability and attendance.

Recently, though, Rob Lehman and I have discussed various scenarios that would allow me to return home.  As I wrote last week, “I am confident that I am making a healthy choice to sing the literature and liturgy that nourishes me so, and also to worship in context of the theology that comports with my own outlook and understanding.”

Rob is leading a very fine choir in the best liturgy in town.  While the acoustics are troublesome, the music is glorious, and the people with whom I sing are committed and true.

I’m excited to join them on Palm Sunday for three services, and then to be immersed in the music and liturgy of Holy Week.  Rehearsals start for me this week.