Ordinary Time 2017

22 September 2017
Jackson, Francis - 100th birthday of

The birthday celebrations have begun! English organist and composer Francis Jackson will turn 100 on Monday, October 2.

With Heart and Voice, the organ and church music program from WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., begins the celebration with this week's episode, "Comes Autumn Time." The program include Jackson's hymn tune EAST ACKLAM and his Benedicite in G.

Episcopalians have this lovely tune at their disposal at Hymn 424 in the Hymnal 1982.

So often we see a birth date like (b. 1917) in this Hymnal, published over thirty years ago, and mentally assume that the person must have passed on. Not so with Francis Jackson!

Last night, a young chorister asked me if the author of the hymn, Fred Pratt Green was still living. The hymnal notes his birth year as 1903. Green died in 2000.

At St. Peter's, St. Louis, we will sing his marvelous anthem "Lo, God is here" this Sunday. Jackson composed this anthem for the Oxford anthology Anthems for Choirs 1, which he edited. I love this little anthem and its raw, visceral energy.

The anthem is acrobatic. There are no fewer than four key changes. The harmonic twists and turns sound unexpected but are not terribly difficult to manage. There are no fewer than four key changes in this short anthem! I find the consecutive upward leaps of a major seventh at the words "To thee may all our thoughts arise" particularly compelling and memorable.

Anthems for Choirs 1 is out of print, and used copies are cost-prohibitive for choirs that do not already own them, like the Choir of St. Peter's, St. Louis. Luckily, an Oxford "archive print" is available through Banks Music. It is a legally available facsimile of what appears in Anthems for Choirs (the first page is numbered 88).

We'll sing Hymn 424 and hear a bit of his organ music next Sunday.

And I think it's time to dust off his lovely Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in G, too.

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21 September 2017
Hymnal 1982 Errata

At rehearsal tonight someone asked a question about Hymn 307 in the Hymnal 1982: is it supposed to be "thou art here" or "thou are here?". The hymnal prints it both ways at the conclusion of stanza 2.

There are little inconsistencies like this all through the hymnal. Some are musical, some are textual. Some occur in early editions but are fixed in later ones. But it's like a big scavenger hunt figuring out where they are and what the correct answers are.

Isn't it time we had a centralized location for all these things we've learned about this hymnal in its 32 year history?

I think so.

That's why I hope you'll join me in helping to create a Hymnal 1982 Errata.

What mistakes have you found? What do other Episcopal choirs (and congregations, ack!) need to know about?

Let's work together on a list.

It will live as a Google Document until we feel like it might be ready for more formal distribution.

Please add your suggestions in the comments below, or send me an email (

You can view the current version of the document here: Hymnal 1982 Errata (Google Doc)


09 September 2017
David Sinden 2017 Salary Guide for Musicians in Religious Institutions

The PDF document may be downloaded here: David Sinden 2017 Salary Guide for Musicians in Religious Institutions

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06 September 2017
2017 AGO Salary Guide

9 September 2017

Dear organist colleagues,

I am a member of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and have been since about the time my feet were able to reach the pedals. I have performed in Member Recitals. I have served on Program and Executive Committees. I am a Past Dean. I believe in the mission and the work of the AGO, even as our profession and our professional organization continue to evolve.

I also believe that religious organizations should fairly compensate organists for their work.

The AGO published a Salary Guide for Musicians Employed by Religious Institutions for many years. I understand that the AGO no longer publishes this document for legal reasons.

But copies of this document still exist. It was published in The American Organist and surely remains available in academic libraries that received the journal. The AGO also hosted a PDF copy of the Salary Guide on their website. The PDF files of these past Salary Guides remain freely available on, which is where I retrieved the 2015 Salary Guide and other documents in January of this year.

I am not presently in a leadership position in the AGO. I am a member, and I intend to remain one. The original content of the post you are reading has been removed. The AGO asked that the content of this post be removed. Upon receipt of this request, I took immediate action to remove the content.

But I do wonder if attempted total censorship of this old material is really warranted, or even possible. The Salary Guide and other documents are, at the very least, a part of Guild history. Destruction of this material in libraries and on the internet seems infeasible.

It is clear to me that AGO members have very practical employment concerns, and I know that many who visit will be frustrated by my decision to remove this material. I hope that AGO members, chapters, and regional and national leaders can find more ways to openly discuss employment and salary without running afoul of federal regulatory agencies.

All of the material I have removed today is scheduled re-publish on on Tuesday, May 26, 2037, the day the Federal Trade Commission order terminates.

David Sinden

p.s. I hope you’ll check out my new podcast on Liturgy and Music from an Episcopal/Anglican perspective called All Things Rite and Musical. Listen at


03 September 2017
Smith, George Wayne - on the importance of keeping the liturgy for the Ordination of a Bishop in the Book of Common Prayer

Recently, I was listening to From All Points a podcast from Episcopal Cafe, specifically "Episode 8: The Prayer Book".

In this episode, the suggestion was made that we need a "pew edition" of the prayer book that takes out some of the lesser used elements. The service for the Ordination of a Bishop, it was suggested, would best be moved to The Book of Occasional Services since it is, quite literally, a very occasional service.

This did not sit well with me. But I couldn't really articulate why.

Luckily, I didn't have long to ruminate on it, because I've been reading Admirable Simplicity: Principles for Worship Planning in the Anglican Tradition by George Wayne Smith. Smith wrote this book in 1996 when he was an Episcopal priest. He was ordained a Bishop of the Diocese of Missouri in 2002.

As Smith so clearly articulates, the reason that we keep this service in the Book of Common Prayer has to do with the role of the prayer book in our belief as Anglicans (lex orandi lex credendi: "the law of prayer is the law of belief;" or, in the title of another book on Episcopal liturgy, "Praying Shapes Believing").

But for Anglicans the consensus achieved through common prayer does provide a center point not only for practice but for belief. Thus the Book of Common Prayer bears scrutiny for all aspects of Anglican believing. And so BCP 1979 includes, for example, the order for the ordination of a bishop, despite the fact that this service will be used about once every decade or two in a given diocese. It is even then a matter for diocesan worship, not parochial worship. But this infrequently used service tells us what Anglicans believe about bishops in a way no other resource can. The way faithful people worship when gathering as the church to ordain a bishop tells Anglicans what they believe about bishops on all occasions. And so any practical concerns about omitting a little-used service from the book in order to save on printing costs has to give way to the principle of lex orandi lex credendi.

Smith, George Wayne. Admirable Simplicity: Principles for Worship Planning in the Anglican Tradition. Church Hymnal Corporation, 1996, p. 38.

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24 August 2017
Bartholomew - an acrostic hymn for

Somehow I've missed this bit of hymn trivia until today, but Hymn 239 in The English Hymnal is an acrostic that honors St. Bartholomew, whose feast day we celebrate today (August 24).

Saints of God! Lo, Jesu’s people
Age to age your glory tell;
In His Name for us ye labored,
Now in bless eternal dwell.

Twelve poor men, by Christ anointed,
Braved the rich, the wise, the great,
All the world counts dear rejecting,
Rapt in their apostolate.

Thus the earth their death-wounds purchased,
Hallowed by the blood therefrom,
On her bosom bore the nations,
Laved, illumined—Christendom.

On this feast, almighty Father,
May we praise Thee with the Son,
Evermore His love confessing,
Who from Both with Both is One.

–John Athelstan Laurie Riley

(h/t St. James Cathedral, Chicago Facebook page)

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20 August 2017
Saarinen, Eero - on exploration

I have a great affinity for Eero Saarinen ever since I first set foot in North Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana. And perhaps this can be partially explained in that we share a birthday. Saarinen was born on this date in 1910.

“Experimentation can present great dangers, but there would be greater danger if we didn’t try to explore at all.”

I can only assume he was talking about organ improvisation.

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17 August 2017
website - a new Evensong

A new article in Christianity Today combines two of my big interests: Evensong and the internet.

Thousands of people are turning out to hear free choral music around Britain, many for the first time.

The ancient church music has been around for centuries – but is getting a new audience due to a new website set up to enable people to find choral evensong services at cathedrals, colleges and churches anywhere in Britain and Ireland.

Gledhill, Ruth. "Why are thousands of people who've never set foot in church before suddenly showing up for choral evensong?". Christianity Today, 17 August 2017.

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16 August 2017
Brother sun and sister moon: hymnody for a total solar eclipse

The total solar eclipse in the United States on Monday, August 21 will be quite an event. And it’s one that seemingly everyone is already talking about.

Why is this astronomical event such a big deal to us? I mean, we live in an age when we can carry around supercomputers in our pockets. (And these same supercomputers can tell us exactly how much of the eclipse we’ll be experiencing based on our precise location).

Are we really going to look up from our smartphones and gaze heavenward on Monday?

Well, if and when we do, we’ll be joining in one of those great human acts: pondering the mystery and majesty of the natural world.

For centuries, Christians have had a tendency to look up to these celestial bodies in their song. They are part of our world and part of God’s creation. Their movement orders our days and our lives and therefore our worship of almighty God. So, let's take a look at some of the hymns found in the Hymnal 1982.

It’s interesting to look closely at the processional cross used at St. Peter’s, St. Louis, and find both the sun and the moon peering out at you in the midst of the four Evangelists.

Some nifty eclipse-related detail on St. Peter's professional cross. #DioMo #Episcopal #liturgy #eclipse

A post shared by dsinden (@dsinden) on

And why shouldn't they be on the cross of Christ? The date of Easter, the central mystery of the Christian faith, is determined by both the sun and the moon. It is the Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox (see page 880 of the Book of Common Prayer).

St. Patrick (372-466) invokes these two bodies in his glorious hymn of praise to the Holy Trinity

I bind unto myself today
   the virtues of the starlit heaven 
the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
   the whiteness of the moon at even,

Hymn 370 (all hymn numbers in this essay refer to the Hymnal 1982), translated by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)

A few centuries later, an anonymous office hymn for Vespers, “Caeli Deus sanctissimae” has the natural order of day and night as one of its themes. It’s second and third stanzas receive a glorious free translation from Anne LeCroy in the Hymnal 1982.

Quarto die qui flammeam
solis rotam consituens,
lunae ministras orini
vagos recursus siderum,

Ut noctibus vel lumini
diremptionis terminum,
primordiis et mensium
signum dares notissimum:
for you the dazzling star shines forth 
which in its gleaming path declares 
the wonders of your glorious power,
And beckons us to worship you.

The day departs, the evening stars
serenely light the darkening sky;
the moon with cool reflected glow
will bring the silences of night.

Hymn 31 and 32. (I find the hymn tune Dunedin at Hymn 31 particularly irresistible with these words.)

The sun and the moon provided great inspiration to another beloved Christian figure and hymn writer St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voices, let us sing:
   Alleluia! Alleluia!
Bright burning sun with golden beams,
pale silver moon that gently gleams,

Hymn 400, tr. William H. Draper (1855-1933), alt.

Episcopalians get to enjoy not one, but two translations of St. Francis’s marvelous text. A less commonly sung version by Howard Chandler Robbins (1876-1952) is found at Hymns 406 and 407. I have a great fondness for the hymn texts of Robbins, who was a Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.

My Lord be praised by brother sun
who through the skies his course doth run,
   and shines in brilliant splendor:
with brightness he doth fill the day,
and signifies thy boundless sway.

My Lord be praised by sister moon
and all the stars, that with her soon
   will point the glittering heavens.
Let wind and air and cloud and calm
and weathers all, repeat the psalm.

There’s so much to admire in this language! “Signifies” – who knew that could be such a musical word? And in the moon stanza: the use of the verb “point”. The final sentence contains a chain of natural elements culminating in the peculiar “weathers”. There is much to savor here.

And the Calvin Hampton hymn tune “Lukkason” at Hymn 407 has much to recommend it.

John Mitlon (1608-1674) dresses up these spheres with some nifty descriptions in an often overlooked paraphrase of Psalm 136.

He the golden-tressèd sun
caused all day his course to run:

The hornèd moon to shine by night,
mid her spangled sisters bright:

Hymn 389

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) has a particularly florid paraphrase of Psalm 19:1-6

The unwearied sun from day to day
does his Creator’s power display;

And in the second stanza he begins with the moon:

Soon as the evening shades prevail, 
the moon takes up the wondrous tale,
and nightly to the listening earth
repeats the story of her birth:
… and it concludes gloriously with stars and planets.
whilst all the stars that round her burn,
and all the planets in their turn,
confirm the tidings, as they roll
and spread the truth from pole to pole.

Hymn 409

Isaac Watts (1674-1748), the “Father of English hymnody,” included the sun and the moon in several of his hymns.

I sing the wisdom that ordained
   the sun to rule the day;
the moon shines full at his command,
   and all the stars obey.

Hymn 398

Growing up in the Presbyterian church, it seemed as though we sang “Jesus shall reign” every other week!

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
doth his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more.

Hymn 544

Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) is the author of that beloved Anglican hymn text “Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,” with that achingly glorious concluding stanza

Angels, help us to adore him;
   ye behold him face to face;
sun and moon, bow down before him, 
   dwellers all in time and space”

Hymn 410

The familiar hymn "Fairest Lord Jesus" begins with earthly comparisons (Jesus, of course, outshines them all), and then reaches heavenward to drive it's point home.

   Fair is the sunshine,
   fairer still the moonlight,
and all the twinkling, starry host:
   Jesus shines brighter,
   Jesus shines purer,
than all the angels heaven can boast.

Hymn 383, German composite; tr. pub. New York, 1850, alt.

Folliott Sandford Pierpoint (1835-1917), wrote an enduring hymn of thanksgiving for creation, “For the beauty of the earth” when he was twenty-nine years old.

For the beauty of each hour
   of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
   sun and moon, and stars of light,

Hymn 416.

Some marvelous twentieth-century texts have looked heavenward as well. In the era of space exploration, some of these texts take on a more “scientific” feel.

One of my very favorite hymns, which we don’t sing often enough is "Creating God, your fingers trace". The phrase “farthest space” could only appear in the age of space exploration when congregations could really conceive of what that might mean.

Creating God, your fingers trace
the bold designs of farthest space;
Let sun and moon and stars and light
and what lies hidden praise your might.

Hymns 394 and 395, Jeffrey Rowthorn (b. 1934)

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01 August 2017
The premiere of the All Things Rite & Musical podcast!

As of today, you can listen to the first episode of a new podcast that I'm starting with the Rev. Ian Lasch. It's about liturgy and music from our particular Episcopal/Anglican perspective called All Things Rite & Musical.

Of course, we've given this fledgling podcast every possible advantage:

And if you want to subscribe to the podcast, you can do that

We hope you'll have a listen!

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