Monthly Archives: January 2015

IN WINTERTIME

SnowJust as our choirs begin preparing Lent and Easter music, the snow and ice cause multiple missed rehearsals and Sunday morning scrambling to catch up!  The joke among our handbell ringers: “It’s snowing, must be Tuesday!”  It is a testament to the dedication and talent of our choirs that they still cheerfully “make a joyful noise to the Lord”  on Sundays.

Here’s what’s coming up in February at Christ Presbyterian Church:

 

¨ NO handbell or choir practice next week.

¨ February 8 worship:

¨ Carolynn Baer, flutist, plays the prelude, “Be Thou My Vision;”

¨ Children’s Choir sings “Sing for Joy, Sing Together;”

¨ Chime Choir rings “Sweet Hour of Prayer.”

¨ February 11 (Wednesday):

EASTER CANTATA rehearsals begin and continue every Wednesday 8:00 – 8:45pm.  If you love to sing but can’t commit to choir practice every week of the year, come and join us for eight 45-minute practices, and sing on Easter Sunday.  This year we will add the “Hallelujah Chorus” to our musical offering.

 

Bless the Lord, fire and heat; 

Sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat;

Sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

Bless the Lord, dews and falling snow;

Sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

 

from the Prayer of Azariah

 

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First Person or Third Person?

christ-dancing_heimo-christian-haikala“Lord of the Dance” and “Here I Am, Lord”

 

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea– for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  Mark 1:16-18

 

Some people think storytelling works best in the first person (“I”) as opposed to third person (“they”); that first person point of view seems more intimate.  In “Lord of the Dance,” I find the first person narrative to be very personal; we are immersed in Jesus’ story, his experiences, triumphs, and sorrows.  Sydney Carter, who wrote the words and chose the Shaker tune Simple Gifts as their setting, says:

 I see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us…The fact that many Christians have regarded dancing as a bit ungodly…does not mean that Jesus did.  The Shakers didn’t…Dancing, for them, was a spiritual activity.“

 

This week we focus on the second verse; Jesus assures the disciples (and us) that he will lead us:

I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee,

But they would not dance and they wouldn’t follow me.
I danced for the fishermen, for James and John –
They came with me and the Dance went on.

 Dance, then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,

And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,  And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

 

In “Here I Am, Lord,” a popular hymn written by Dan Schutte, the verses (call) are in the first person of Jesus, and the refrain (response) is in the first person of us.  Schutte says of the hymn,  “From the very beginning, people loved the piece and clearly identified with the dialogue between God and us that is the core of the song.“  A poll conducted by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians found among members that Schutte’s hymn came in second among “songs that make a difference.”

 

I, the Lord of sea and sky,  I have heard My people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin, my hand will save.
I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear My light to them? Whom shall I send?

 

Here I am Lord, Is it I, Lord? I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.  I will hold Your people in my heart.

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In our music this Sunday

epipAnthem               “Just Two Words”

Hymn 357     “O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee”

 

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”  John 1:43

 

In the next 5 weeks, we continue to look at music of Epiphany, the church season marking Jesus’ baptism and ministry.  In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus calls Philip.

 Sunday’s choir anthem begins with the words

 “‘Follow, follow me.’ With just two words, Jesus starts His ministry.”

 The direct simplicity of Jesus’ call to discipleship is perfectly captured in this elegant setting by Robert Lau.   Lau says his interest in church music began at an early age when he was recruited to sing in the children’s choir.  His first professional experience came at the age of 18 when he was appointed organist in a Lutheran church.   I have been privileged  to attend two workshops facilitated by Dr. Lau.  I like the beauty and simplicity of his compositions, for both organ and choir.

 The hymn, “O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee,” represents our response to Jesus’ call.  Throughout his ministry Washington Gladden (1836-1918) emphasized applying the gospel to life.  Gladden was known for his success in fighting the corrupt Tweed Ring, and for arbitrating the Telegraphers’ Strike and the Hocking Valley Coal Strike. He attacked John D. Rockefeller, Sr. for giving $100,000 of “tainted money” to the Congregational Church’s Foreign Missions program. Gladden wrote the poem, “O Master, let me walk with thee” in 1879, and chose the familiar tune Maryton by H. Percy Smith to pair with his words.

o master

 

 

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In our music this Sunday

epiphany music“Christ, When for Us You Were Baptized” Hymn 70

 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.  And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:9-11

 

The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of his public ministry.  After his baptism, Jesus calls the disciples (lectionary readings January 18 and 25), and begins his teaching and healing ministry (readings for February 1, 8, and 15).

Following World War II, there was renewed stress on Baptism as a public rite, but very few adult baptism hymns.  This text was written in 1973 in response to the need for hymnody on that topic.  Born and educated in Virginia, Dr. F. Bland Tucker was 78 years old when he wrote these words.

1 Christ, when for us You were baptized, God’s Spirit on You came,
As peaceful as a dove and yet as urgent as a flame.

 

2 God called You ” My beloved Son,”   the suffering servant true,
Sent You the kingdom to proclaim, God’s holy will to do.

 

3 Straightway and steadfast until death You then obeyed God’s call
Freely as Son of Man to serve and give Your life for all.

 

4 Baptize us with Your Spirit, Lord, Your cross on us be signed,
That, likewise in God’s service, we may perfect freedom find.

 

As with many hymn writers, Tucker used literary devices in his poetry.  CHALLENGE: find an example of

  • alliteration: two or more words, having the same first consonant sound and occurring close together in a series,

  • comparison: comparing two different entities to show similarity, and

  • antithesis: two opposing ideas put together to achieve a contrasting effect.

Music: The tune Caithness first appeared without text in the Scottish psalm book of 1635.  It was named after the remotest of Scottish counties, at the extreme northern tip of the country.

 

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