Stewardship season in the church. That dreaded time when we “ask for money.”
Truth be told, stewardship at Church of the Holy Communion is very good and in every way. We give to the parish budget in measure and return of how God has blessed us. The parish staff guards and carefully uses these funds to carry out our numerous programs for children, youth and adults.
We also use these funds to support any number of social ministries in our diocese and in our city, from Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) to More Than a Meal to the Episcopal Service Corps to our diocesan St. Columba Conference and Retreat Center.
In the music department, we use our funds to periodically hire brass or string players, hire 5:30 Sunday musicians and staff singers, buy music for five choirs, and professionally tune two organs and five pianos, just to name a few regular things.
In addition to finances and funding, the stewardship of our parish buildings is unsurpassed. While at the moment, we are under a bit of construction, in any given week our buildings are used by diocesan groups, exercise classes, Bible and book study groups, and Suzuki string students. People feel welcomed in our church, not only on Sundays, but all through the week.
A physical therapist in my doctor’s office once said to me, “Oh, you’re at the church that doesn’t lock the track. I run there all the time.” Evidently, many churches and schools lock their running track behind a fence, while ours is open for walking and running all the time.
We never know all the ways in which we might be ministering to people.
Since I try to change up the music from year to year, planning many of the old favorites but always trying to augment with new things, I refrained this fall from programming the most “tasteful” stewardship anthem I know, “Give almes of thy goodes” of Dr. Christopher Tye (c.1505-1573).
Somehow referring to stewardship and money as “almes” and “goodes” is very gracious, I think.
Speaking of “tasteful,” I could have gone also with this Sunday’s Psalm, “O taste and see how gracious the Lord is” with the beloved, cherished Anglican choral gem of Thomas Tallis (1505-1575).
However, this Sunday’s inspiration seems to be from the Collect of the Day:
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity;
and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This Sunday’s 10:30 a.m. anthem has for centuries been attributed to one composer but, with modern music scholarship, is now attributed to another of the same period.
Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) wrote choral and keyboard music for the organ and the virginal, the most popular keyboard instrument of the time. For more than 300 years, the anthem “O Lord, increase my faith” has been attributed to him.
Some years ago, a manuscript confirmed that the anthem was composed by Henry Loosemore (c.1607-1670). While not much is known about Loosemore’s early life, we do know that he was an accomplished organist by his appointment as organist of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, in 1627.
For centuries, this particular anthem has been published as “O Lord, increase my faith.” However, the Loosemore manuscript appears to confirm that the original text was, “O Lord, increase our faith.” Given the word-play on “increase” in stewardship season, this brief but significant anthem text is truly a prayer for us all.
O Lord, increase my faith,
strengthen me and confirm me in Thy true faith;
endue me with wisdom, charity, and patience,
in all my adversity, teach me to say Amen.