Music for this Sunday is greatly enhanced by the return of our first waddle (I looked it up – it’s a group of penguins on land) of penguins – the Parish Choir! Their anthem is Draw us in the Spirit’s Tether by 20th century church musician, Harold Friedell. This piece is apropos for our first Sunday back because it not only hearkens to Matthew’s gospel – For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them,” but also draws us all back in for another church year together, no matter who we are, or where we have come from. If the spirit is drawing you to join a choir, there is always room, too.
As you know, we have been celebrating our 150th anniversary in various ways. During the next few months, I will try to be intentional about providing music each Sunday that is from that general time period. The organ voluntaries and communion music are by French composer Leon Boellmann (1862-1897). His Suite Gothique was written in 1895 and is his best-known composition. We are going even further in the wayback machine for our “Gloria,” to an old Scottish chant that is at least 250 years old (S204). It is repetitive, known to older Episcopalians, and will be easy to learn. Our “vintage” hymn is 617 – Eternal Ruler of the ceaseless round. Although the original music for this tune is from the late 1500’s, words by John White Chadwick (1840-1904) and the harmonization by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) are from that time.
In previous weeks, I have given some reasons to consider joining a church choir. Today, I will excerpt heavily from a 9/23/14 article by Jonathan Aigner that was included in a “Ponder Anew” blog. His article is entitled “9 Reasons to Keep the Church Choir Alive” and represents a lot of what we try to accomplish at All Saints’. Six of his reasons seem most relevant.
- Choirs support good congregational singing. … A choir demonstrates that the voice of the congregation is primary, not secondary.
- Their visual presence is an encouragement to the congregation. … We are there to be together, to worship God with each other, to be community.
- Choirs make a broader repertoire available for a worship service.
- They can offer more difficult and complex music than is possible for the greater congregation. Besides leading in times of corporate singing, since choirs have the benefit of outside rehearsal time, they can offer up musical praises on behalf of the congregation that would otherwise not be possible. In this sense, a choir can be a preaching and praying group, proclaiming God’s self-revelation, to which the congregation can listen, meditate, and respond worshipfully in their hearts.
- Choirs help singers develop and improve their musical gifts. Christians are a singing people. … Giving children opportunities for choral education in the local church setting further primes congregations to be accepting and supportive of choral music.
- Participation in choir ministry can be an avenue for introducing outsiders to the church and the Christian faith. I’ve known many, many people who have come into a church by way of a choral ensemble, have heard the gospel, and have responded with committing their life to Christ. Or, as was the case in my life, choirs can help keep people connected to the faith. I was all but ready to leave the organized church as a teenager, but a move to a new congregation and finding love and acceptance in the choir loft kept me engaged, and ultimately set the stage for me to recognize my calling into vocational church work.
Also important to keep in mind is that in striving to accomplish all of the above, we manage to have FUN in the process! The choirs are open and accepting groups, and new members are always welcome. Please speak to me at any time if you want to know more. The door is always open. Maggie Marshall, Minister of Music.
Do you like to sing? Have you thought of joining the choir, but are unable to make a full-time commitment? Easter is fast approaching, and we would love to swell our ranks. Easter is 3/27, so if you are free on Thursdays 3/10, 3/17 from 7:45-8:45pm, and Saturday, 3/26 from 1-3, we welcome you to join us. Easter services are at 9 and 11 a.m., so the expectation is also that you would be free to sing for both of those services. Maggie Marshall, Minister of Music
Now that we have completed our fifth visit from our British friends, I felt that it was time to put some facts on paper. Our first visit from the St. Peter’s Collegiate School was in September 1995. Peter Morris was the conductor, and he brought their Symphony Orchestra. Peter is related to the former Tewksbury Congregational Church pastor, Paul Millin. Paul and his wife, Betty, had visited Peter and family in 1994, and Peter first broached the possibility of TCC hosting the band. Much to Paul’s chagrin, his congregation did not respond at all, so Paul went looking for other churches and asked Dave Ferner, then AS rector, about our hosting and the rest is history! That trip was planned fairly quickly, with my first correspondence with Peter dated 5-15-95. That year, families from St. Anne’s, Lowell also assisted with hosting. In 1995, Claire Hale was their Assistant Conductor.
Their next visit was April 2001, and included Easter. This time, it was the Concert Band, under the direction of Claire Hale, and Tom Barrington was our rector. Having all of these extra musicians for Easter was a real high.
Visit number three was in February of 2005, with Claire, Concert Band, and Tom Barrington.
Visit number four was in February of 2010, and included Ash Wednesday. This time, it was Toby Barnard as conductor, Concert Band, and Tom Barrington.
Visit number five was February 2016, with both Concert Band and Chorus. Toby Barnard was again the St. Peter’s lead, and Bill Bradbury was the All Saints’ rector.