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Music Notes from Denise, March 23, 2024

This Sunday we will begin our Holy Week journey waving palm branches in a processional and singing All Glory Laud and Honor, with children merrily ringing bells! Later in the service, the choir will sing an arrangement of John Ireland’s (1879-1962) beautiful hymn, My Song is Love Unknown, which brings us into the Passion of Jesus. Samuel Crossman wrote the meaningful lyrics in 1664, and it has stood the test of time: My song is love unknown-my Savior’s love to me; love to the loveless shown, that they might lovely be. Oh, who am I, that for my sake, my Lord should take frail flesh and die? Here might I stay and sing, no story so divine: never was love, dear King, never was grief like thine. This is my friend, in whose sweet praise I all my days could gladly spend. The anthem was arranged by James Kirkby for St. James Music Press in 2014.


There will be several musical opportunities to carry us through Holy Week. For Maundy Thursday, the choir will sing the meaningful spiritual, Steal away to Jesus. The congregation can also join us in singing our Taize songs that support and illuminate the liturgy. On Good Friday, Mother Leslie will lead us in singing a spiritual that often evokes tears: Were You There when they crucified my Lord.

I want to especially recommend our Easter Vigil service on Saturday, March 30th, beginning at 7:30 pm. We start outside (weather permitting) as the sun begins to set. We light the Christ candle from an open fire and then pass the light to each person holding a candle (as on Christmas Eve). With beautiful liturgy, we process into the dark nave, bringing the Light of Christ into the church, and begin reading Genesis and other scriptures from the old testament and the Psalms, interspersed with lovely songs sung by everyone: Many and great, O God are thy works, Canticle of the Free, Surely it is God who saves me, Healing River of the Spirit, and finally, Christ Be Our Light. The last song was the one that we sang last December when we lit the candles on the Advent wreath each Sunday, but the composer, Bernadette Farrell, has written new lyrics specifically for Easter Vigil: This is the night of new beginnings. This is the night when heaven meets earth. This is the night filled with God’s glory, promise of our new birth!…Now will the fire kindled in darkness burn to dispel the shadows of night. Star of the morning, Jesus our Savior, you are the world’s true light! Christ,, be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness. Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today. (2000 OCP)


After this, we begin the First Eucharist of Easter and finally, once again, sing Alleluia! It will be a unique experience to participate in the first service of Christ’s resurrection before it is replicated again on Sunday morning. I challenge any of you who are able to attend an evening service to join us as we celebrate Easter on Saturday evening, just as we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve! The Holy Spirit can fill your soul!

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