This Sunday will be the final Sunday in the Epiphany season before we begin the Season of LENT.
St. Martin’s Hand Bell Choir will reprise their “surround sound” ringing that they played for Annual meeting to bring us into this Sunday of celebration with the Joyful Processional that begins with drum and a single bell and adds more and more bells around the nave to come to completion with a full shaking ringing chord. Our Gospel reading in Mark 9 describes when the disciples witness the transfiguration of Jesus upon the mountain peak and they begin to grasp his Divinity and to recognize him as Christ. This explains why each of our hymns for this Sunday begins with “Christ”!
Our Processional hymn will be Christ is the world’s true light, written by George W Briggs (1875-1959) who was a Canon of Worcester Cathedral and a distinguished British hymn and prayer writer. He was the author of one of the prayers used at the time of the famous meeting of Churchill and Roosevelt on H.M.S. Prince of Wales in 1941 when the Atlantic Charter was framed. (Ten New Hymns on the Bible, 1952, Hymnary.org) The tune, St. Joan, was composed by Percy E.B. Coller for The Hymnal 1940. Coller must have enjoyed the companionship of a saintly wife because he named the tune in her honor. (Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988, Hymnary.org)
The Sequence hymn will be Christ, upon the mountain peak, written by Brian Wren in 1962. He based the text on the gospel story of Christ’s transfiguration. Powerfully poetic, it not only captures something of the awe in the event -- we share in the awe as we sing “Alleluia” -- but also presents a cosmic picture: the saints, angels, prophets, all nations, and the whole creation bring praise to the true Son of God! (Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1988, Hymnary.org)
For the Offertory, St. Martin’s Choir will sing a highly energetic Gospel anthem, Praise His Holy Name! written by Keith Hampton in 2000. (Earthsongs publisher) The song is joyous with the following text: Sing till the power of the Lord come down. Shout hallelujah! Praise His Holy name. The verses recall favorite gospel hymns: Amazing Grace, Must Jesus bear the cross alone, Jesus, Jesus, how I love thee. The congregation is welcome to clap (ON 2 & 4) as we sing. Dr. Keith Hampton is a conductor, composer, educator, church musician, organ performer, adjudicator and workshop clinician. He directs the Chicago Community Chorus and is Director of Music Ministries at Park Manor Christian Church in Chicago. (choristersguild.org)
Our Communion hymn will be Christ, be our light, written by Bernadette Farrell in 1993. This is the song that we sang each Sunday during this past Advent as we lit the candles on the Advent wreath. The text begins with the darkness that obscures truth, which longs for the light of Christ to illuminate our world of sin and gloom. It also holds the idea that we are the lights of Christ, the lamps who need to shine as beacons of hope and witnesses to the greater light of Christ. Farrell was born in West Yorkshire, England and studied at King’s College London. She has always had a passion for social justice that shows in this text. Currently she is a community organizer for UK Citizens, which advocates for fair housing, a living wage, community policing and health care access. (Gordon Giles, Sunday by Sunday issue 81, RSCM)
We will end our celebration with our final hymn: Halle, Halle, Halle-lujah! It’s a traditional Caribbean song that was arranged by John Bell for the Iona Community in Scotland. We will once again be clapping and tapping our toes as we sing the simple and joyous song! The children will be invited to take the ALLELUIA out to bury it until Easter comes at the end of Lent and Holy Week.