Ordinary Time, 2014
It's webcasting season. In case you didn't already know it, we at Sinden.org are huge fans of listening to liturgy, church music, and organ music online.
Trinity College, Cambridge has just released a new tool to search all of their archival webcasts. All of this is free.
St. John's, Cambridge, perhaps our favorite webcast destination, has just started their choral year, and new music is appearing there. Creating an account allows free access to their archival material (very worthwhile).
The BBC has a very long-running weekly Evensong broadcast which you can hear online. Each broadcast is up for about a week, so time is of the essence!
And a welcome newcomer to the webcasting game is King's College, Cambridge. These webcasts are gussied up with spoken introductions by choristers, the chaplian, or sometimes Stephen Cleobury himself. Organ recitals are also mixed in.
We also eagerly anticipate the return of webcast Evensongs by New College, Oxford.
And if these aren't enough for you or you're not feeling quite so liturgical at the moment, don't forget the pure church music webcast of the fine radio program With Heart and Voice and the wonderful radio program dedicated to the music of the organ, Pipedreams.
And last, but most assuredly not least, you can hear no fewer than five services webcast weekly (Tuesday Evensong, Wednesday Evensong, Thursday Evensong, Sunday Eucharist, Sunday Evensong) by St. Thomas, New York. A truly outstanding gift of prayer and praise available online.
Okay, surely some of you already knew, but this was news to me.
It's the hymn "O God of earth and altar"
Tune: King's Lynn
Words: G. K. Chesterton
Thanks to Michelle for this one.
See also: John Ireland as sung by Coldplay
A list of rubrics this coming Sunday:
Hmm, one of these things is not like the other.
These aren't the rubrics, per se, just the result of printing lesson summaries in the same typeface as the rubrics.
Well, liturgy is a drama . . .
But perhaps we should rethink this.
This story begins with a service of Choral Evensong. The occasion was the Annual Conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians (AAM) this past summer in Washington, D. C.
I was very pleased to serve as the organist for this particular service -- and I say very pleased, because my current work does not allow me to tend to my organ playing as much as I used to. As an Assistant Organist (which I served as in an Episcopal congregation from 2002-2004, a Lutheran congregation from 2004-2006, and an Episcopal cathedral from 2006-2010) one's domain is almost exclusively the organ, with a major emphasis on accompanying. I honed these skills as best I could, but it wasn't until my work at Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis, that I really come to understand the finer points of choral accompanying on the organ.
But I digress. Suffice it to say that I relish these opportunities to accompany, in any setting, because they are a kind of homecoming. More than that, they allow me the rare opportunity take a back seat and observe the work of other (usually far superior) conductors, with different music.
“Truly the Lord is in this place. This is no other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.”
The Introit for the AAM Evensong was "Truly the Lord is in this place" by English composer Bernard Barrell (1919-2005).
Barrell is not a major composer. His name appears in the Grove Dictionary of Music but only in the entry for his wife. The entry for English composer Joyce Howard Barrell says: "In 1945 she married the composer Bernard Barrell and in 1946 they settled in Suffolk."
I had prepared the accompaniment for this Introit, but there wasn't much to it. Some four-note cluster chords in the Lydian mode (F-G-A-B), and a few other places where the organ seemed to very closely follow the voices. Easy peasy. There were other things -- a busy evening service, the psalm, the anthem, and a Howells premiere -- to occupy my time. On to the next thing.
As the service drew closer I reminded myself that I would need to not short-change this piece, it being the easiest. I checked my notes, my registrations. I also paid special attention to the rhythm of the choral parts (all quarter notes, like the organ part) since the choir would be in the liturgical west end of the church for this, while the organ would dutifully remain in the east end. There would be no sightlines. I would have to keep it together with the choir without seeing the conductor. No problem, I thought.
And so, the pre-service rehearsal arrived, the first time I had heard the choir.
We began the piece, and then something remarkable happened. This simple, short little anthem, that I hadn't really expected much of, expanded into something so rich and beautiful that I didn't think it possible.
You see, I had neglected to play through the choral parts. But even if I had, I'm not sure that I would have been fully aware of the rich harmonic alchemy that Barrell had designed in combination with the organ. It really is quite something; it is the very definition of "more than the some of its parts".
And this is exactly the kind of setting that you need for the words from Genesis 28:17.
Truly the Lord is in this place. This is no other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.
These are beautiful words. We heard them this summer in the lectionary readings on July 20 (Proper 11A, track 1).
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the LORD stood beside him and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place-- and I did not know it!" And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."
So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel.
In context, the words become even richer. The imagery is of dreams, promise, covenant, numerous descendants, promised land, etc.
When we sing this in our churches, we evoke these things. Our dreams, God's promises, our communion with the saints, and more.
Our worship is all of these things. Like this music by Barrell, it should be more than the sum of it's parts.
We only need to listen fully and be amazed.
It's been a nearly six year wait. But the time draweth extremely nigh.
You didn't think we had forgotten, did you?
Previously on the blog in 2008: October - Sarabande for the Twelfth of any.
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