Monthly Archives: June 2015

Celebration Sunday June 14, 2015


This week we give thanks for the Christian Education program at Christ Presbyterian, and honor our graduates. To me, “celebration” means music, so our handbell choir, children’s choir, adult choir, and even the congregation, will offer thanksgiving to God through music.


“Celebrate with Ringing” (Handbell Prelude)

Award winning composer and teacher Michael Mazzatenta has created an exciting original handbell piece with touches of jazz and syncopation. From a bright and rhythmic fanfare to a beautiful contrasting middle section with handchimes and malleted bells, this dynamic selection is a perfect way to begin our celebration.


“Sing Praise/Make a Joyful Noise” (Call to Worship)

Our own music teacher June Gladding has arranged two familiar folk songs as a “partner song” for our Children’s Choir.  Partner songs are melodies which fit together in such a way that they sound good when performed together. With a partner song, very young children can sing harmony.


“Praise the Source of Faith and Learning” (Hymn)


Praise the source of faith and learning that has sparked and stoked the mind
With a passion for discerning how the world has been designed.
Let the sense of wonder flowing from the wonders we survey
Keep our faith forever growing and renew our need to pray:

This text was written by Thomas Troeger, professor of preaching and worship at Yale Divinity School. The poem was commissioned by Duke Divinity School; they wanted a hymn that would complement the school’s motto: “Knowledge and Faith.”  The tune we are using Sunday is the beloved Welsh tune,  HYFRYDOL (Welsh for “tuneful” or “pleasant”). Composed by Rowland Hugh Prichard in 1830 when he was only nineteen, HYFRYDOL was published in his children’s hymnal, The Singers’ Friend in 1844.

In The Presbyterian Hymnal, HYFRYDOL is the setting of three hymns that will be familiar to you: “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus,” “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” and “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.” As a testimony to the tune’s popularity, it has been published in 167 hymnals. Our children’s choir will accompany the congregation with recorders and tambourines.


“All Things Bright and Beautiful” (Anthem)

John Rutter was born in London in 1945 and wrote his first published compositions while still a student. His composition career has included both large and small-scale choral works, orchestral and instrumental pieces, a piano concerto, two children’s operas, music for television, and much more. His especially popular Mass of the Children (2003) has been performed many times in Britain, North America, and other countries.

Although the tune for Rutter’s anthem is different from the tune we know, the familiar text , first published in 1848 in Mrs. Cecil Alexander’s Hymns for Little Children, may have been inspired by a verse from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: “He prayeth best, who loveth best; All things great and small; For the dear God who loveth us; He made and loveth all.”


Loving God, thank you for giving us wise teachers,

eager learners, and imaginative musicians.  Amen.


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“Gather Us In”

“Gather Us In”  Gather

So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them.  Mark 2:2


Marty Haugen (b. 1950) is possibly the most prolific and influential composer of liturgical music of his generation. His hymns, psalm settings and anthems are widely used in both Protestant and Roman Catholic congregations around the world. Though he received a degree in psychology from Luther College, he pursued a career in music. Among his most widely sung hymns are, “Bring Forth the Kingdom” (which we will sing next week), “Healer of Our Every Ill (one of our favorites at Christ Presbyterian),” and “Gather Us In.”

This hymn demonstrates Haugen’s skill both as a poet and composer.  He describes his inspiration for it:


“‘Gather Us In’ was written after I first heard the wonderful Oosterhuis text ‘What Is This Place?’ I wanted to craft something that might say a similar message to North American ears. I deliberately wrote it in second person to avoid gender issues and to more directly sing ‘to’ God rather than ‘about’ God. Ironically, that has been at times a problem for some, who would like God more carefully circumscribed and named.” 

In the first stanza, we sing of a community of hope where “new light is streaming.” It is a community of honesty where we can bring both “our fears and our dreamings” into “the light of this day.” Regardless of who we are, we have an identity in this community as we respond to “the sound of our name” (Christian), given at our baptism.

Stanza two continues a description of this inclusive gathering: young and old, “rich and the haughty,” “proud and the strong.” Our community has a history, and its purpose is to “be a light to the whole human race” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Stanza three describes a community where we receive the “wine and the water” and “bread of new birth,” giving us strength “to be salt for the earth” (Matthew 5:13). The nourishment from this communion meal leads  us to show compassion and “fashion lives that are holy and hearts that are true.”

The final stanza explains that the work of the kingdom takes place neither “in the dark of buildings confining” nor “in some heaven, light years away.” The work of the kingdom takes place now in the midst of the gathered, inclusive community.

The lively dance-like melody seems perfect for this text. Its folk-like quality gives us the sense that we have gathered in a joyful dance of celebration.

summer music

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