The liturgical equivalents of Auld Lang Syne and “Happy New Year” are upon us in the next two weeks. The Last Sunday after Pentecost, also known as Christ the King Sunday, is the last Sunday of the liturgical year and marks the end of one of our three-year lectionary cycles.
The Feast of Christ the King references a title for Jesus found in numerous passages of scripture. The Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant traditions (Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodists, et. al.) observe Christ the King Sunday. Other titles for this Sunday are “Christ Our Sovereign” or “The Reign of Christ.”
Highlighting the images of kingship or lordship found in this Sunday’s readings, hymns such as All hail the power of Jesus’ Name, The head that once was crowned with thorns, and Crown him with many crowns are most appropriate and among our parish favorites.
The Parish Choir will sing a mid-20th Century anthem, “The King’s highway,” by David McK. Williams, who was organist/choirmaster of St. Bartholomew’s in New York and general editor of The Hymnal 1940. In addition to kingly images, this text contains numerous references to those who have gone before us, calling to mind also All Saints’ and Remembrance Sunday.
Our Holy Communion Ringers will play, and the closing voluntary is an organ transcription of the coronation march Crown Imperial, composed in 1937 for the coronation of George VI and revised and extended for the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II.
The liturgical “Happy New Year” begins on the First Sunday of Advent (Nov. 27), when the readings cycle for Year A begins. The Season of Advent is always a welcomed time of refreshment and preparation for the birth of the Christ Child again in our hearts.