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Music Notes, November 4, 2023

This Sunday we will observe All Saints Day when we celebrate the lives of our members and friends who have passed away, and ponder our own lives and how they fit into God’s kingdom. Our Processional hymn, Give thanks for life, exemplifies this with stanza 3: for our own, our living and our dead, thanks for the love by which our life is fed, a love not changed by time or death or dread, Alleluia. It was written by Shirley Erena Murray and sung to Vaughan Williams’s noble tune Sine nomine. Murray’s text affirms the meaning and joy of life, even in the midst of death, and blesses the Godly example of those who have gone before us, while recalling Shakespeare’s 116th sonnet: “…love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds…” (hymnal supplement Wonder Love and Praise, Hope Publishing Co. 1987)


Our Sequence hymn will be For All the Saints and it also reflects our thankful celebration. In stanza 2 For all the saints who loved your name, whose faith increased the Savior’s fame, who sang your songs and shared your word, accept our gratitude, good Lord. Sung to the English folk tune OWaly Waly, the text was written by John Bell, a Scottish musician who served as a youth pastor in the Iona Community. He composed songs that began to address concerns missing from the Scottish hymnal: “I discovered that seldom did our hymns represent the plight of poor people to God…nothing that dealt with feeling disenfranchised…that reflected concern for the developing world...that helped see ourselves as brothers and sisters to those who are suffering from poverty or persecution.” (from an interview in Reformed Worship, March 1993, quoted by Emily Brink at Hymnary.org; GIA Publications, Inc. 1996)


This Sunday, in honor of the 1 year anniversary of the funeral for our dearly beloved choir member, Lynn Lange, we will dedicate the new choir folders that were purchased from memorial gifts received in Lynn’s name. They are specially designed for us and the cover is engraved with St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in gold lettering. The choir fondly remembers Lynn’s lovely voice and we truly miss her musical talent and skills that she shared with us every week!


St. Martin’s Choir will sing a new anthem for the Offertory: Fly Away Medley, arranged by Mark Hayes. A real gospel tapestry, it is an inventive blend of popular gospel hymns and beloved spirituals including: Albert Brumley’s I’ll Fly Way, James Black’s When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, the traditional American tune, On Jordan’s Stormy Banks, with lyrics by Samuel Stennett and the traditional spiritual, When the Saints Go Marching In. One basic homiletical theme is the promise of eternal rest and is especially appropriate for All Saints Sunday. It begins with a trio singing: Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly way; To a home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away. When the shadows of this life have gone, I’ll fly away. Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I’ll fly away. Later the choir sings On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand and cast a wishful eye to Canaan’s fair and happy land, where my possessions lie. I am bound for the Promised Land; O who will come and go with me? Next we will flow into O when the saints go marchin’ in, O Lord I want to be in that number when the saints go marchin’ in! and then a big finish with I’ll fly away, O glory, I’ll fly away. When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I’ll fly away. Hayes is an award-winning concert pianist, composer and arranger of choral, piano and orchestral music. A graduate of Baylor University, he has served as an adjunct professor of composition at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. (2002 Jubilate Music Group)


During Communion, we will sing Carolyn Winfrey Gillette’s hymn, Up on a mountaintop, which she wrote for this Sunday as our Matthew 5 Gospel reading is the Sermon on the Mount.


Our final hymn, I sing a song of the saints of God, was written by Lesbia Scott, who wrote religious dramas and children’s hymns while serving a parish near Dartmoor in England with her husband. This hymn comes from the cultural context of rural England and captures many fond images. Many Episcopalians relish the annual singing of this hymn, which was designed to inspire laughter and joy! (just refrain from singing: one was a soldier, and one was a beast, and one was slain by a fierce wild priest!) (umcdiscipleship.org)

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