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Ordinary Time, 2015

27 June 2015
Organist - for President Obama's eulogy for Clementa Pinckney
“The gifts that we’ve been given, they are needed at certain times, and so my grandfather always used to tell me, ‘You got to be ready at all times because somebody is going to need what God has already given you.’”

–Charles Miller, Jr. 

Darlington, Abigail. "Organist said it was his calling to chime in during Obama’s eulogy for Rev. Pinckney." The Post and Courier, Charleston, S. C. 26 June 2015. 

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150626/PC16/150629405




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25 June 2015
Clairvaux - 900 years since the founding of the monastery at

Tradition holds that on this date 900 years ago Bernard of Clarivaux founded the monastery at Clairvaux.

Clairvaux Abbey is now a high-security prison.

This post has been corrected because math is hard. 

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14 June 2015
New - London

The tune: sawtooth. Up and down and back up again. And then down again. And then up.

We're talking here of that wonderful hymn tune LONDON NEW. Have a listen if you don't know it:

The first appearance of this tune was in John Playord's Psalms & Hymns in Solemn Musick of Foure Parts (London, 1671).

The Hymnal 1982 Companion informs us that the "English form of the tune has remained enormously popular since Playford's time". It first appeared on American shores in 1721 and was reprinted in 52 different sources before 1811. The tune was even more popular in England.

In the Hymnal 1982, you can find it at Hymn 50, to the words "This is the day the Lord has made". But it is perhaps best known as the tune for the hymn "God moves in a mysterious way," the words of William Cowper, found at Hymn 677.

The word of "God moves" first appeared in the American Episcopal Church in the 1826 Hymnal, but they were not paired with the tune LONDON NEW until the publication of Hymns Ancient and Modern.

It was this pairing that Benjamin Britten firmly fixed with the composition of his cantata St. Nicolas in 1948. The cantata concludes with the hymn sung by all, including the audience.

Imogen Holst said of the premiere of St. Nicolas “the crowning glory of the work came at the end, when the listeners were drawn into the singing of 'God Moves In a Mysterious Way,' and the frozen hearts in the audience-congregation became unfrozen.”

Perhaps the tune does have a gentle warming effect. It's regular rise and fall like the pumping of a bellows on a warm fireplace in winter.

It is not the only tune to have this contour. See also YORK (Hymn 462).

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26 May 2015
ready - O God, my heart is

"I have no pre-choir memories."

So begins a marvelous college admissions essay by Annabel La Riva recently published by the New York Times.

We seem to live in an age when parents (and, yes, I'm a rookie parent myself, so I feel like I have a new, budding qualification to speak about this) over-program their children with multiple sports and other extracurricular activities. But at the same time, commitment to these same activities is not stressed, and when the going gets tough, the parents simply find "something else" for the child to do. Often commitment is not stressed, but busyness is.

Ms. Riva's tale sings the glories of sticking with something. In particular, sticking with something as good as a chorister training program. Many of these programs are associated with the Royal School of Church Music in America. St. James' Church on Madison Avenue in New York, where Ms. Riva is a chorister, is one such program.

I begged and pleaded with my mom to let me follow the path of my friends and retire my choir robe, but she persisted, always replying with a curt “no”. She believed that in the long run, going to choir would benefit me both educationally and socially.

One of Ms. Riva's discomfort with the ritzy St. James' Church in Manhattan was that her peers seemed to universally hold a higher socioeconomic status. But the beauty of music ministry of this type is that those kinds of differences really fade away with the work of singing and in finding meaning in things that are older, bigger, and deeper than yourself.

When I was younger, I had always followed the older, more experienced singers. I would wait for the right pitch, or follow the pros to figure out when to come in, but little by little, letting go of my reticence, I began to trust myself: starting the pitch and coming in when I knew we were supposed to sing. Eventually, other singers began to follow my lead. Parishioners started to acknowledge me for my voice rather than my address. I began to appreciate this music that I had heard throughout my youth, yet had always dismissed as boring and religious. Soon enough, my habitual complaints about choir completely stopped.

We commend the entire essay to your reading. Published here.

(h/t J.S. for alerting us to this story)

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05 May 2015
Easter - a Sequence for, from Temple Church

As we pondered last Eastertide, is there a way to celebrate Easter in "creative new ways"?

From the Temple Church, London comes this Sequence for Easter. (Just a few days left to listen. Hurry!)

The Sequence is centered centred around the music of Vaughan Williams. It leaves me a little cold, but that often happens when I hear too much Vaughan Williams in one sitting.

What do you think? Comment below.

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