Music for Lent – “My Heart is Longing to Praise My Savior”

“My Heart is Longing to Praise My Savior”

Choir anthem

She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”  (from John 4, Sunday’s Gospel)

 

I love the story of the woman at the well. It is a story of inclusion, forgiveness, and witness. The disciples were surprised Jesus was talking to a woman, especially a Samaritan (inclusion; see note). In their conversation,  Jesus told her about the “living water” he would provide (forgiveness). After the amazing experience, the woman went back to her friends and told them about him; “and many believed in him” (witness).

I discovered the tune for Sunday’s anthem 10 years ago when I found a prelude I liked, “I Am Longing to Praise My Savior” by Cassler. But  even when I recently came across this Bradley Ellingboe anthem, I didn’t realize it was a hymn found in 7 hymnals. The Norwegian folk tune, Princess Eugenie, is a melody that even without lyrics is lovely.

The text is a poem written by Princess Eugenie of Sweden and Norway. Her poor health and the death of her brother gave Eugenie a great interest in religion. The daughter of a Protestant and a Catholic, she disliked division and discord between the different Christian branches. This poetic expression of both the heavy sorrow and immense joy of the gospel is a treasure for us all. I think of the woman at the well when I read these lyrics.

 

My heart is longing to praise my Savior, 

And glorify his name in song and prayer;

For he has shown me his wondrous favor

And offered me all heav’n with him to share. Rejoice!

 

O Christian friends, let our song ascending

Give honor, praise to him who set us free!

Our tribulations may seem unending;

But soon with him we shall forever be. Rejoice!

 

NOTE: The Samaritans were a racially mixed society with Jewish and pagan ancestry. Although they worshiped Yahweh as did the Jews, their religion was not mainstream Judaism. They accepted only the first five books of the Bible. Because of their imperfect adherence to Judaism and their partly pagan ancestry, the Samaritans were despised by ordinary Jews. Jesus indicated a new attitude must be taken toward the Samaritans when he passed through their towns instead of crossing the Jordan to avoid them (John 4:4-5), and when he spoke with a Samaritan woman, contrary to Jewish custom (John 4:9).  When asked whom to regard as our neighbor, Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan precisely because Samaritans were despised.

 

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Music During Lent – March 12

March 12 – 2nd Sunday in Lent

from Sunday’s Gospel

 

 Wondrous Love

Hymn 85

 

“What Wondrous Love Is This” grabs our attention from the start with its simplicity and persistence: “What wondrous love is this” is sung three times. This repetition is not the sign of a weak poet, but of someone who has experienced the sacrificial love of Christ and must  express it again and again. And it is the kind of repetition that gains strength and power through singing.

We have few clues as to the author and composer of this profound hymn of wonder at the love of Christ for all humanity. The text is sometimes attributed to Alexander Means, a physician, professor, and preacher. While an impressive person, he would have been only ten years old when the text appeared in 1811!  Our hymnal doesn’t list an author.

Hymnologist Harry Eskew suggests that the tune first appeared in the second edition (1840) of William “Singing Billy” Walker’s shaped-note collection, The Southern Harmony. Whether or not this is true, we can say that The Southern Harmony put this song on the lips of many Christians in the post-Civil War south.

The six-stanza original is reduced to three in The Presbyterian Hymnal. The song of the lone singer in stanza one takes on cosmic proportions in stanza two as “millions join the theme.”  Stanza three expresses our response to Jesus’ sacrifice: “And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on!”

Wondrous Love is included in 200 hymnals and is frequently sung during the Lenten season.

 

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the heavy cross for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the heavy cross for my soul.

 

This Sunday at 8:30 or 11:00 am

 

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Ash Wednesday Music + Soup Supper – March 1

 

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right
spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

 

 

In our hymns for Ash Wednesday, we move from

  • confessing our sins – “Sunday’s Palms are Wednesday’s Ashes”

  • to requesting strength to conquer our sins – “Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days”

  • to offering our lives to God – “Take My Life and Let It Be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.”

 

“Sunday’s Palms are Wednesday’s Ashes”

 

Rae E. Whitney’s 500+ hymn texts are characterized by rich Biblical imagery, liturgical reference, and her personal faith. In this hymn (2138 in our hymnal supplement, Sing the Faith), the first line recalls the custom of burning remaining palms of the previous year to form the ashes.  Notice in each stanza we list our specific sins in the first 3 lines, and pray for forgiveness in the 4th line:

 

Sunday’s palms are Wednesday’s ashes as another Lent begins;
thus we kneel before our Maker in contrition for our sins.
We have marred baptismal pledges, in rebellion gone astray;
now, returning, seek forgiveness; grant us pardon, God, this day!

 

We have failed to love our neighbors, their offenses to forgive,
have not listened to their troubles, nor have cared just how they live,
we are jealous, proud, impatient, loving overmuch our things;
may the yielding of our failings be our Lenten offerings.


We are hasty to judge others, blind to proof of human need;
and our lack of understanding demonstrates our inner greed;
we have wasted earth’s resources; want and suffering we’ve ignored;
come and cleanse us, then restore us; make new hearts within us, Lord!

 

B. F. White’s tune BEACH SPRING was named after the Beech Spring Baptist Church, located near two beech trees at a spring in Pine Mountain, Georgia. White’s misspelling, “Beach Spring,” has been kept in all editions of The Sacred Harp, where the tune first appeared.  A five-note or pentatonic melody, BEACH SPRING is the setting to several hymns texts in recent major hymnals.

 

Join us for a simple soup supper at 6:30 and worship at 7:00.

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Transfiguration Sunday – Last Light Before Darkness of Lent

 “Morning hymn” celebrates Christ as light of the world

“… Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart… And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.  Mark 9:2-3

Charles Wesley wrote close to 9,000 poems with over 6,000 of them qualifying as hymns.  The quality and depth of theology found in his poetry is why hymnologist Erik Routley dubbed Wesley “the first and, surely for all time, the greatest evangelical hymn writer.”

Of the many great Wesley hymns, “Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies,” is considered one of his best, and is one of my personal favorites.  Originally titled “A Morning Hymn,” it appeared in Hymns Ancient and Modern paired with RATISBON, the tune that most often accompanies the text today.

Wesley begins the hymn with the contrast between light and dark.

 

Christ, whose glory fills the skies, Christ, the true, the only light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise, triumph o’er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near; Day-star, in my heart appear. 

 

In stanza two, Wesley uses allegory, a literary device used to tell a story. “Dark,” “unaccompanied,” and “joyless” are followed by “till” which represents hope for salvation. The final phrase begins with the “cheer” which comes from our redemption.

 

Dark and cheerless is the morn unaccompanied by Thee;
Joyless is the day’s return, till Thy mercy’s beams I see;
Till they inward light impart, cheer my eyes, and warm my heart.

 

In stanza three, Wesley brings it down to us. I love the image of “scattering our unbelief” after sin and grief have been pierced.  As the hymn comes to its dramatic close, “more and more” implies that we can never see enough of the “radiancy divine.”

 

Visit then this soul of mine; pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
Fill me, Radiancy Divine; scatter all my unbelief;
More and more Thyself display, shining to the perfect day.

 

Routley proclaims, “Never was written a more thoroughly and richly happy hymn than this.” I agree!

 

 

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More Sermon on the Mount Music

7th Sunday of Epiphany – February 19

 

“THOUGH I MAY SPEAK”

Hymn 335, The Presbyterian Hymnal

 

I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day. Though a secular holiday, its subject — love — is found in much of Jesus’ teaching. Sunday’s gospel from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, & 7) is the inspiration for including this hymn in worship.

 

“You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven… For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”  (Matthew 5:43,44; 46)

 

Hal Hopson’s text has become one of the most popular late 20th-century hymns.  Hopson is a composer and church musician with over 1000 published works. With a special interest in congregational song, he has made a significant contribution to the new hymns included in modern hymnals. The tune, O WALY WALY, is traditional English dating to the early 1700s.

 

From stanza 1:

Though I may speak with bravest fire and have the gift to all inspire,
And have not love, my words are vain as sounding brass, and hopeless gain.

 

From stanza 3:

Let inward love guide every deed; by this we worship, and are freed.

 

 

 

Easter Cantata – You are invited!

 Sing or play an instrument in this year’s Easter cantata April 16.

You do not have to be a regular choir member to sing in the cantata.

CHOIR PRACTICE

Wednesdays starting tonight February 15 – 8:00 – 8:45

INSTRUMENTAL PRACTICE

Wednesdays, April 5 (6:30 – 7:15) & April 12 (7:30 – 9:00)

 

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Easter Cantata – You are invited to sing or play an instrument!

 

Sing or play an instrument in our Easter cantata during the 11am worship April 16.

All are welcome!

You do not have to be a regular choir member to sing in the cantata.

 

CHOIR PRACTICE

Wednesdays starting February 15 – 8:00 – 8:45

 

 

INSTRUMENTAL PRACTICE

Wednesdays, April 5, 6:30 – 7:15 & April 12, 7:30 – 9:00

 

 

Talk to Barbara after worship, or call 703-346-3512,  or

email music@cpcfairfax.org.

 

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Christmas Carols & Their Stories – Sunday, December 25 – 11am

 

caroling

 

Did you know…

at one point in history you could be accused of witchcraft for singing Christmas carols?

 

Do you know…

how the custom of caroling got started?

 

Do you know…

why Felix Mendelssohn and Isaac Watts turn over in their graves every time we sing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”??

 

Do you know…

who really wrote “Away in a Manger?”

 

Do you know…

what event inspired Father Joseph Mohr to write the words to “Silent Night?

 

Do you know…

what Bible verse is the basis for “Angels We Have Heard on High?”

Come & worship, sing carols, and learn more about them!

christmas-music

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Rejoice! Bethlehem’s Promise is coming soon!

 

joy2

 

 Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

 As we sing of the coming of the “notable person” this Sunday, are we ready to welcome him? Are our hearts filled with wonder at the mystery of it all? Will we know  him?

 

December 11 – 3rd Sunday of Advent

 

Candle-lighting Hymn: We light the candle of joy this week.  The melody is the familiar American tune, “Away in a Manger.”joy

 

A candle is burning, a candle of Joy,

A candle to welcome brave Mary’s new boy.

Our hearts fill with wonder and eyes light and glow

As Joy brightens winter like sunshine on snow.

 

Anthem: “Will We Know Him?” Questions abound in this Advent anthem by Don Besig and Nancy Price. Are we ready for the Babe of Bethlehem to be born in a lowly stall? Are we ready to greet the tiny little king who will come to save us all? Are we ready for the star of Bethlehem to appear in the winter sky? Are we ready to follow anywhere it leads, and let its light fill all our lives?

 

Hymn: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” 

 

O come, thou Day-Spring, come and cheer our spirits by thine advent here.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

 

worship

 

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Peace on Earth

advent-peaceAdvent: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

 

As we sing of the coming of the “notable person” this second Sunday of Advent, prepare your hearts (clean the stable!). And pray  for peace in the world, in every home and in every heart!

 

 

 

 

Prelude: O Come, O Come, Immanuel – Carolynn Baer, flute

 

Candlelighting Hymn: We light the Advent candle of peace this week.  The melody is the familiar American tune, “Away in a Manger.”

 

A candle is burning, a candle of peace;

A candle to signal that conflict must cease.

For Jesus is coming to show us the way;

A message of peace humbly laid in the hay.

 

Anthem: “Advent Grace”The quietly joyful strains of “Gloria in excelsis Deo” open this Advent anthem. An adaptation of the O Little Town of Bethlehem text is paired with the classic Amazing Grace melody. Carolynn Baer will play flute.

 

Hymn: “Today We All Are Called to be Disciples”  In this hymn text by H. Kenn Carmichael, there are scripture references from Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Amos, Micah, Matthew, John, Colossians, James, and 1 John! These words from the 3rd stanza express our theme of peace for this Sunday.

 

For God is longing to restore an earth where conflicts cease,

A world that was created for a harmony of peace.

 

worship

 

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Hope of the Earth

Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

advent-music 

As the wonderful season of Advent begins,  watch and wait for the “notable person.” Let the anticipation build! Let the excitement grow! Build a manger! Get ready! Hope is on the way!

 

Sunday, November 27 Music

 

Guest organist: Roy McCullough

 

Candlelighting Hymn: As we light the Advent candle this Sunday, we sing about the light of Christ which is hope.  The melody is the familiar American tune, “Away in a Manger.”

 

A candle is burning, a flame warm and bright;

A candle of Hope in December’s dark night.

While angels sing blessings from heav’n’s starry sky

Our hearts we prepare now, for Jesus is nigh.

 

Hymn: “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,”

Charles Wesley wrote this Advent hymn. Like so many of Wesley’s texts, “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” alludes to one or more scripture passages in virtually every phrase.

For many Christians, this hymn is synonymous with Advent.  Musically, the tune fits very well with the hymn, and makes it easy to sing so we can focus on the words.  Hymns are first of all texts: poetry on a religious topic for singing in worship.

The 2nd stanza expresses our theme for this first Sunday of Advent: HOPE.

 

Come Thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free.

 From our fears and sins release us. Let us find our rest in thee.

 

Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;

 Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

 

worship

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