In church this Sunday, we will hear “The Love Chapter” from First Corinthians 13. We all remember how the love litany reads:
“Love is patient, kind, and not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. Love is not insistent or irritable or resentful or rejoicing in wrongdoing. Love bears, believes, hopes, endures all things and never ends.”
At Holy Communion, I am privileged to play for a goodly number of weddings annually, and about half the time I hear this scripture reading read from the lectern. It is, indeed, one of the popular choices in our Book of Common Prayer in the marriage liturgy.
“Love is the theme” for this Sunday’s liturgy and music.
That is a hymn title from my childhood background; does anyone still know this hymn?
(Remember, growing up I was Methodist on Sunday mornings but Baptist on Sunday evenings, at my piano teacher’s church, and have been an Episcopalian since college.)
Speaking with maturity seems to be another thread throughout the readings for this Sunday – Jeremiah, Psalm 1, First Corinthians, Luke – but love is certainly featured in the beginning of the Epistle lesson.
While scriptural maturity will be obvious in the text of the Sequence hymn “Blessed Jesus, at thy word,” the theme of love will be heard in the Communion hymns “O love, how deep, how broad, how high” and our beloved parish favorite Taizé chant Ubi caritas (“Where charity and love prevail, God is there”). The 10:30 a.m. service will end with another parish and St. Mary’s Episcopal School favorite, “God is love, let heaven adore him.”
The anthem, which will be sung by the Parish Choir and the Choristers, is Hal Hopson’s setting of the Scottish folk tune O Waly Waly. This tune set with the text, “Though I may speak with bravest fire,” a verbatim translation of First Corinthians 13. The hymn version is also a beloved favorite of our 5:30 p.m. Celtic service congregation, and we sing it often.
Speaking of St. Mary’s Episcopal School, this Sunday is also Episcopal Schools Sunday, an annual observance of our longtime, strong relationship between school and parish church. St. Mary’s administrators will participate in the 10:30 service, and a St. Mary’s violinist will also play.
And our opening hymn (Hymn 412) is the one hymn in the book that mentions all the “school” things: “athlete, band, classrooms, chemistry labs, knowledge, truth, wisdom.” Knowledge, truth, and wisdom are also a definite nod to all four lectionary readings this Sunday.
However, perhaps this accidental reference is the most appropriate currently on our combined parish/school campus: “Engines and steel, loud pounding hammers, limestone and beams, loud building workers, sing to the Lord a new song!” This hymn is another St. Mary’s favorite.
And take a look out the back door of the parish hall if you haven’t recently.
Though I read the lectionary and make musical plans, God works despite me. And sometimes he even goes farther than me.
Love, wisdom, and positive relationships: much to celebrate this Sunday.
Photo credit: LOVE Park, Downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Courtesy of www.freeimages.com. Used by permission.