The Season after Pentecost
sometimes called "Ordinary Time"
Built into the very warrant for sacramental worship is a verb of performance. Hidden in that performance is a vision of life in Christ that is not a state of being but rather an act, an act of the worshippers who enact a cosmos and a community that is nothing less than God’s act of creation.
McCall, Richard D. Do This: Liturgy As Performance. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Ind (2007). p. 2
I've always been quite taken with Stephen Cleobury's arrangement of "The Cherry Tree Carol".
It's a traditional English carol about a pregnant Mary and her husband Joseph walking through an orchard. Mary wants a cherry and the cherry tree itself, recognizing who Mary is, bows down to her so that she can easily pluck cherries.
I find the idea compelling. Nature itself recognizing the Queen of Heaven.
And because Mary is still pregnant throughout this carol, it works at Advent or Christmas carol services.
But as I compared two slightly different versions of Cleobury's arrangement recently, I noticed a profound difference in the role Joseph plays in the carol.
In Cleobury's first version of this arrangement from 1985, he sets a seven stanza version of the carol. (This version is available in a publication called A Trio of Carols from Oxford.) Joseph doesn't really do or say much here.
"Old" version from 1985
Joseph was an old man And an old man was he, When he wedded Mary, In the land of Galilee. And as they were walking Through an orchard so good, Where were cherries and berries As red as any blood. O then bespoke Mary, With words both meek and mild, ‘Pluck me one cherry, Joseph, For that I am with child.’ ‘Go to the tree then, Mary, And it shall bow to thee; And you shall gather cherries By one, by two, by three.’ Then bowed down the highest tree Unto our Lady's hand; ‘See,’ Mary cried, ‘See Joseph, I have cherries at command.’ ‘O eat your cherries, Mary O eat your cherries now; O eat your cherries, Mary, That grow upon the bough.’ Then Mary plucked a cherry, As red as any blood; Then Mary went she homewards All with her heavy load.
In this carol, Joseph seems to know that the tree is ready to bow down to Mary. He encourages her to go to the tree. In the penultimate stanza, Joseph rejoices with Mary, if the lines "O eat your cherries, Mary" can be considered rejoicing. Maybe it's just some encouragement? This is odd. Perhaps Mary is skeptical about the trees intentions. Anyway, Joseph comes off as a supportive husband in this one.
In the version that is more familiar to us now, however, the version carol is rather dramatically reworded. There is an additional stanza, and Joseph doesn't come off well at all. This "new" version is published in Advent for Choirs from Oxford and is published separately. It was in the King's College Choir's hands as early as 1996.
Joseph was an old man and an old man was he, When he wedded Mary, in the land of Galilee. Joseph and Mary walked through an orchard good, Where was cherries and berries, so red as any blood. O then bespoke Mary, so meek and oh, so mild: ‘Pluck me one cherry, Joseph, for I am with child.’ O then bespoke Joseph, with words most unkind: ‘Let him pluck thee a cherry that brought thee with child.’ O then bespoke the baby, within his mother’s womb: ‘Bow down then the tallest tree, for my mother to have some.’ Then bowed down the highest tree unto his mother’s hand; Then she cried, ‘See, Joseph I have cherries at command.’ O then bespoke Joseph: ‘I have done Mary wrong; But cheer up, my dearest, and be ye not cast down.’ Then Mary plucked a cherry, as red as any blood; Then Mary went she homewards all with her heavy load.
Things take a severe turn in that fourth stanza. In this "new" version, he is not exactly a supportive husband.
In the "old" version, Joseph was happy to tell Mary how to get the cherries. In fact, he was privy to the knowledge that the cherry tree was willing to bow down. Here, however, he seems to have some unresolved issues with Mary's pregnancy.
Furthermore, the in utero Christ gets a voice in this carol, which is perhaps unique in the carol repertoire(?).
But the inherent conflict in this carol gives the narrative more texture. From within the womb, Christ instructs the "tallest tree" to bow down.
The connection we are meant to draw, I think, is that "him…that brought thee with child" is depicted here with nature itself operating at Mary's command.
In the "old" version you could descrive Joseph as lazy, at worst. In the "new" version Joseph is mean, but his momentary cruelty allows for Mary's command of nature to stand more clearly as a symbol.
What I find utterly awkward in this "new" version, is the egg-on-his-face Joseph of the penultimate stanza.
O then bespoke Joseph: ‘I have done Mary wrong; But cheer up, my dearest, and be ye not cast down.’
There is a brief apology in there, which is nice. It's addressed to us, the audience, but I wish we could just sit Joseph down and be like, "look, dude, apologize to your wife directly."
It would be the catharsis this carol needs.
The feeling of things being unresolved persists for me, not only with Joseph's weak, saccharine apology but also with the way Cleobury masterfully arranges the last line of this carol: "all with her heavy load."
Not only is she bearing the infant Christ, but she's burdened with this mean "old man" as her husband.
The heaviness of the organ part, especially as performed in King's College, Cambridge, is marvelously evocative of these burdens. (You really need to be listening on proper speakers/headphones, or with a subwoofer, to get the full effect.)
This post was written by the Employment Task Force of the Association of Anglican Musicians
General Convention starts in less than a week, and the service bulletins still contain errors that will hinder the participation of the people.
I'm not going to go into full detail the way I did in my first post on this subject, but here, briefly, are the remaining services for General Convention.
I think this service sounds really interesting. If you're unaware of the word "revival" in Episcopal parlance, you can find information on the recent and upcoming Episcopal Revivals here.
I'm fascinated by the compelling blend of evangelical and liturgical. I'll be honest: the first time I read the versicle and response "Lord, send a revival. / And let it begin in me!" I got chills.
For me, this is some of the most compelling of the liturgy that will be offered at General Convention. This seems like exactly the time and the place for this kind of service, and it builds on the present Episcopal Revival movement.
What I don't like so much is that the printing of the Acclamation Hymn is woefully incomplete. The last three lines are missing. This is the kind of error that hinders the participation of the people gathered for this service, most of whom will not know this hymn at all.
I also question the choice of having the hymn "I have decided to follow Jesus" twice in this short service, albeit to different tunes. But who knows. Maybe it works.
But the second iteration of this hymn includes what appears to be English words engraved under the notes, and Spanish words printed below the hymn. A closer inspection reveals that the "English" words actually contain stanzas two and three in Spanish, but they don't correspond to the Spanish "translation". (Did you follow that?)
Another example of a significant error that will, in this case, prevent people from singing in unison.
UPDATE: the plot thickens. The music listing that was made available quite recently (Music of the Liturgy) indicates that the final hymn is to be "This little light of mine". If the music has been changed, it's very possible that there is now yet a third set of service bulletins that we do not yet have access to.
The sources of this service appear to be Enriching Our Worship 1 and Eucharistic Prayer A.
One also notes at this service the repetition of Siyahamba, which was sung on July 7. Why all the repeated hymnody at this Convention?
This service is Rite II beginning with the Penitential Order, and has a Eucharistic Prayer called "Mass of the Immigrant". It does live up to its name: "Your Son Jesus Christ, our brother, the immigrant from heaven and a model of immigrants…".
I can't identify the source of the first part of the service, but the Eucharistic Prayer is Prayer C.
It is puzzling that the Song of Praise "Sing of the raven, bird of creation" is printed in the time signature of six-four and not nine-four as the Hymnal has BUNESSAN. The result is that half of the strong beats arrive on weak parts of the bar, and vice versa.
Is Canticle 12 (Song of Creation) truly to be recited? Another wasted opportunity. And if so, why make people stand for it?
Even in the newly published Music of the Liturgy document there is no attribution for "God of the galaxies", a hymn which really gives "Earth and all stars" a run for its money. I suppose it is simply mistitled in the service leaflet, and that the attribution for "Honor the earth" by "Douglas Mews/ Shirley Murray, lyrics" applies here.
This "Silent Song of Praise" has been the most-discussed element of these services so far, at least among Episcopal Musicians. It is preceded by the Taizé "Veni Sancte Spiritus", so I suppose the intent is to have a bit of Taizé-style silence to follow. But silence in Taizé is not meant as a "hymn", it is meant as silence. Even on paper, this just doesn't appear to work in the context of a Rite I Eucharist.
Oh yeah, this service is Rite I. Kind of.
The Acclamation is. The Collect for Purity is. And then [*record scratch*] the salutation to the Collect of the Day is not ("And also with you").
But then we're right back to Rite I with the Collect of the Day.
And then [*record scratch again*] the Gospel Acclamation is back in Rite II ("Glory to you, Lord Christ").
Why the back and forth with the two Rites? It is perplexing, and I can think of no justification for it. This is the only appearance of Rite I at the Convention, and it's not even permitted to be itself.
Finally, we settle with Eucharistic Prayer II (which is found in Rite I).
The Sequence Hymn is "In Christ alone", which I find lamentable. The phrase "...the wrath of God was satisfied" is there in black and white for all in attendance to sing. I'm sure that will go over well.
Maybe the Presiding Bishop is preparing to shift his focus from the "loving, liberating, life-giving" God to the "reverent, redeeming, wrath-filled" one.
It comes as no surprise to us that the THX "Deep Note", the sound created by Andy Moorer that accompanies the THX logo, was inspired in part, by organ music.
... I wanted to start with something that would thoroughly bewilder everyone. They wouldn't be sure that the sound was being played properly, or whatever. That is, to start with chaos and then evolve into the big chord, like a great organ chord. I'd always been impressed by the huge pipe organs and the sounds it could produce, so that was sort of the idea I had in the back of my mind.
listen: #43 | THX Deep Note, Part 1 from Twenty Thousand Hertz
The good stuff starts about nine minutes in, but really the whole thing is worth hearing.
“Wasted opportunity”. That's the phrase that comes to mind when I consider the “Silent Song of Praise” that will occur at the worship service on July 11 at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas.
There are, it occurs to me, many opportunities for silence in the liturgy. Silence may be kept after the lessons. Silence may be kept during the prayers. Silence may be kept after the bidding to Confession. Silence may be kept (and rarely is in most churches!!) at the Breaking of the Bread.
But music is another matter. Music is rarely silent.
It is sometimes, of course. The famous 4'33" by John Cage is silent. That's the whole point. It has even recently been used as congregational song. But note that this was a congregational "performance" of 4'33" relating to a theme of confession.
It's not that I'm unsympathetic to the idea. General Convention must be (I imagine) a busy, noisy, stressful place. And who doesn't want some silence in the midst of that? But again, Song + Praise ≠ Silence (unless you are in outer space, in which case, please reach for Hymn 431).
But perhaps the “Silent Song of Praise” is just a symptom of a larger mix-and-match, kitchen sink approach to the liturgical planning that we see for General Convention.
Don't get me wrong, I know that planning liturgy and music for General Convention is very hard work. I once sat down with the Rev. Charlie Dupree and we discussed this very topic.
It is a very tall order to plan worship for a body as large and diverse as the Episcopal Church's Triennial Family Reunion, but an examination of the available service leaflets for this year's General Convention reveal a litany of errors and confusing choices.
The service leaflets themselves are marred by technical and typographical strangeness and inconsistencies. But more than this, the concept of these eight services seem to relish in a kind of "liturgical restlessness". It's more innovation than is really necessary, even at a gathering of this type, I would think. And it seems to me that by trying to please everyone, few people would walk away with a sense that this is the kind of worship that they could find in their home diocese. It brings to mind those words of C. S. Lews, “Jesus said to Peter, ‘feed my sheep,’ not, ‘experiment on my rats’”.
When I began examining these services I expected to find one or two mistakes. As I discovered more and more, however, some of which are somewhat ludicrous (Absolution before Confession, being one example), I became vaguely angry about the whole thing. If the national Episcopal Church cannot correctly juggle the limited amount of options without serious error, perhaps we have introduced too many already. Truly, we need to have “deep engagement with the structure, content, language and theological thrust of The Book of Common Prayer (1979), with a view to increasing the Church’s familiarity with the book in its entirety” as resolution A069 so aptly puts it.
I will continue examining a few more of these services (possibly all of them) in the coming days. I at least have more to say about the use of a Rite I Eucharistic Prayer on July 11. But for now, I have just one final observation.
When hymns in these service leaflets come from published resources of the Episcopal Church, there is no indication of this. There are no hymn numbers for hymns from the Hymnal 1982 or hymnal supplements.
But let alone any reference to published resources, there is no attribution of authors or composers of sacred music. The copyright permissions will be available online, each leaflet tells us, but what of material in the public domain? Will Henry Francis Lyte be credited as the author to “Praise, my soul, the King of heaven”?
There is a way in which creative input, both of the musicians in the room and the composers and authors of the sacred music being sung at these services, seems deeply undervalued. To not print anyone's name – living or dead – in these leaflets is a mistake, I believe.
As a church musician, I hope that my contribution to the life of the Episcopal Church is valued. If I wrote music and saw it used at an occasion like this, only to find no reference to my name in the printed material, I would be very disappointed.
These are not anonymous contributions. All of this music, all of this poetry, was born out of the ongoing creation of our loving, liberating, life-giving God (to borrow a phrase). Let's properly acknowledge the contributions of church musicians and artists at all gatherings of the Episcopal Church, please, and especially at General Convention.
My mother is here for the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), and she showed me their printed worship orders. Even they can get this right in their worship services.
At a time when Prayer Book revision (and by extension Hymnal revision too) is at least up for discussion, all of this warrants some deeper reflection.
19 June, 12:30 p.m.: An astute reader points out that the Offertory Music listed for July 5 also likely contains an error. "¡Recesito Alleluia!" is probably meant to be "¡Resucito Alleluia!"
The primary governing body of the Episcopal Church is the General Convention, which meets every three years.
The first meeting of General Convention was held in 1785 in Philadelphia. The second meeting of General Convention was held a year later, in 1786, also in Philadelphia (they hadn't quite worked out the every-three-years thing yet).
The list is pretty nifty, and it's on Wikipedia: List of General Conventions of the Episcopal Church
When Episcopalians from all over gather at one of these General Conventions, they not only pass legislation relating to our common prayer, but they also worship together.
So, I find myself thinking particularly about the worship history of General Convention specifically as it relates to worship.
Worship at recent General Conventions is a veritable smörgåsbord, with a little of this liturgy, a little of that rite, some of this music, and a whole lot of that...
It reflects the diversity of our liturgical rites, styles, and musical traditions.
But should it?
Because surely it has not always worked this way.
The key piece of legislation for the modern Episcopal liturgical era is here: Resolution 1979-A133. This is the resolution that authorized the present Book of Common Prayer. It was the second reading of this resolution. In order to change the prayer book of the Episcopal Church, the resolution must be passed at two successive General Conventions. It's a serious decision, so the founders of the church built in a three-year waiting period.
So, what does this mean for the worship at General Convention historically?
In broad strokes, it means this: Rite I was used exclusively for the first 60 General Conventions of the Episcopal Church.
I'm using the term "Rite I" to loosely refer to the rite which was continuously revised by the General Convention in American prayer books up through the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
And I'm being slightly conservative here, I think.
Trial materials leading up to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer were only published in earnest in 1967 (the eucharistic rite) and 1970 Services for Trial Use (the "Green Book").
Is it possible that some of these trial liturgies were used in worship services at General Convention before then? I think it's possible, but I can't know for sure. The Episcopal Church has very thorough records of the legislative proceedings of the convention, but no records on the nature of the worship that has occurred.
This is an interesting thing to consider: the bishops and delegates at General Conventions past: how did they worship? who made the decisions about how they would worship? to what degree were trial liturgies used in the worship held at General Convention?
Among the many steps toward the 1979 Book of Common Prayer was a resolution at the 1964 convention right here in St. Louis:
The time seems ripe to many in the Church to undertake a revision of the Book of Common Prayer in this Church so that the language may be more easily understood of the people, and the forms of services more suitable to the present age; … …with a special view to making the language and the form of the services more relevant to the circumstances of the Church's present ministry and life.
Is it possible that by 1964 trial liturgies were being used at the plenary worship of the General Convention? Yes, but without accounts of the worship, or orders of service themselves, I have no way of knowing for sure.
But lets assume for a minute that 1964 is when it happened, that a new – let's call it "Rite II" – service was introduced as a form of worship for that body.
That means that for 60 General Conventions, from "I" Philadelphia to "LX" in Detroit, Rite I was used exclusively.
From then, only at the past 19 General Conventions (and I'm including the "Special" unnumbered convention held in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1969), the worship has been more "Rite II".
In recent General Conventions, however, we have seen a move to represent nearly all of the possible modes of eucharistic liturgical expression – with the seeming exception of Rite I. Rite I was not used at the 2015 General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City
It was the sole liturgy of this Church from 1785 to 1976. It would have been the language of worship used at the first 60 General Conventions.
If those who design the liturgy of General Convention are so deadset on giving us (seemingly) all the liturgical options at one point or another, why is this option never given?
It seems to me that if you look at the two most frequently used liturgies in our church, they would be the 1) Holy Eucharist, Rite II (done as the principal service in most parishes), and 2) the Holy Eucharist, Rite I (done as the early service in most parishes).
The inclusion of Rite I was deliberate in our rather daring 1979 Book of Common Prayer. This volume binds the old together with the new, so that both may inform each other in our common life.
The quest to represent all the diverse interests and experiences in worship at any Episcopal Church gathering is a tall order, nowhere more so than at our ultimate ecclesiastical conclave. But surely it is a mistake not to include one of the most commonly experienced liturgies in our church.
To omit Rite I is disingenuous to the liturgical reality of the Episcopal Church – the very Church this body is gathered to govern. Furthermore, it disconnects General Convention from its own history, which is the history of this Church.
Many of us may be a modern people who need "a language more easily understood," but for many Episcopalians, the most understood language is in the form of Rite I.
How many Episcopalians were baptized, fed, and buried with the language of Rite I? To jettison this language at our triennial gathering proves that we are, in the words of G. K. Chesterton, "the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."
General Convention is a grand, representative democracy, but should it not also have a bit of the "democracy of the dead"?
So, let me say it loudly for those of you in the back: Bring back Rite I at General Convention!
And maybe a bit of Morning Prayer too.
"We invite you to return to this site for the updated service bulletins by June 1, 2018."
That's how the website for worship at this summer's 2018 General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas reads after the draft versions were removed.
So, by this Friday, at the latest, according to the website, we should see the new versions of the service leaflets for the convention.
The first versions caused a stir, to say the least. There was, among other things, a "Silent Song of Praise"
Here are the first published versions which were subsequently removed from the General Convention website.
This past Sunday evening I had my first opportunity to attend Great Paschal Vespers. Not only did I attend, I also directed the music (occupational hazard).
And here's something I noticed: we said or sang the word Alleluia 122 times in the course of the service. (In one of the processional psalms for the service alone, we sang it 40 times.)
I've written previously on this blog about not living up to the liturgical promise of Easter (especially during Easter Week), so I was eager to put my money where my mouth was and engage in a liturgical form specifically for the Easter season.
Great Paschal Vespers is an interesting service. It's based on a "stational" liturgies from Rome that were conducted as a congregation traveled from place to place. And within the confines of the four walls of a parish church, some of the psalms for this service (with their added Alleluia antiphons) do give the sense of an Easter People on the go.
And here's something I'm thinking about this Eastertide. This may be overly obvious to many of my readers, but I doubt that our congregations are really fully aware of it: Alleluia is an Easter word.
If Great Paschal Vespers doesn't drive that point home, I don't know what does.
Yes, we sing it at Christmas and at other times of the year, but we surely sing it more in Eastertide. It should feel good to sing and say this word in the Easter season, especially after we've given it up for 40 days.
We should notice its inclusion in the Dismissal during Eastertide (and not during the rest of the year, thank you very much.)
Here's where I think church musicians fail their congregations in Easter: our parishioners have a really good idea of what Christmas music is (and they probably have a few favorite Christmas CDs that they listen to every year) but Easter is our holiest season and I don't think churchgoers have the same proficiency with a seasonal musical vocabulary as they do with Christmas.
To put it bluntly, we haven't popularized the Alleluia.
So how could we begin to rectify this? Is Great Paschal Vespers a viable option for most places? Is there an as-yet unpopularized "Easter Lessons and Carols"?
I don't know the answer, but I hope you'll help me on this, alleluia, alleluia.
Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia.
We heard hours and hours and months of singing. So these bowhead whales were singing from November until early April in the polar night - so 24-hour darkness - under almost 100 percent sea ice cover in the Arctic in the middle of winter. And that was an amazing surprise.
"A Tale Of 2 Whale Songs". Morning Edition, NPR. 4 April 2018.
Labels: science and nature
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the owner of a bower at Bucklesfordberry?
Full daintily it is dight.
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And fountain pens.