Welcome to the Music Department. Yes, this is it. Our parish offices are now relocated in temporary space loaned to us by the lower school of St. Mary’s Episcopal School, diagonally across the street from our Walnut Grove Road church campus.
The center of the lower school campus is Moss Hall, the majestic old brick mansion with white columns. The foyer is resplendent with a circular staircase, center chandelier and an Oriental carpet on the stairs.
A former private home, Moss Hall appears to be from the 1920s or 1930s, but was actually completed in 1950, the same year Holy Communion's nave was finished. The house was built with handmade brick and plaster moldings to give it an older look. And every room had a chandelier.
At the time, Perkins Road was a dirt road, and the intersection of Walnut Grove Road and Perkins was the Memphis city limit. The southeast corner of this intersection is the 20-acre Holy Communion campus; the northwest corner was the 6-acre Moss family property. The southwest corner was a cow pasture through which Perkins Extended was cut.
In Moss Hall, a number of staff have private offices on the first floor, while another few of us have cubicles in the former upstairs bedrooms. And I must say that it is all rather grand. The Music Department cubicle has a lot of space; indeed, I could have brought over much more stuff than I did, but I am resisting temptation to do that now, as it all has to be returned across the street in about a year.
We left behind the music office, the choir room, the children’s choir room, a walk-in music resource closet and work stations for assistant musicians Dr. Gamble and Dr. Koziel. Here in Moss Hall, we have a cubicle. The assistant musicians are signing into the church computers and working from home (and their automobiles).
With two-thirds of our church building closed for construction and renovations, we are having all choir rehearsals in the nave balcony and in Cheney Parish Hall classrooms, which we are sharing with children’s and youth ministries. The narthex is functioning as choir vesting rooms, and the handbells and music collections library cart are in a small closet upstairs.
I must admit that this is all working very well. However, my work patterns are already changing. I am carrying a briefcase again, waiting for the day when I will be at the organ console and realizing frequently that the piece of organ music I need is across the street.
Luckily, we have secure staff-only Wi-Fi everywhere, both sides of the street, which means that I can now do church email on laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablet. I am trying to do office work only on the desktop in my cubicle and not in the nave with a laptop. We will see how long that boundary lasts.
Through all of this transition, the simply great news is that choirs, music and worship have not changed, and will not. Yesterday was the Sunday after the Ascension. We sang big hymns and heard big organ music. The choir sang the Marenzio O Rex gloriae. This Sunday is the Day of Pentecost, and we will sing big Holy Spirit hymns and hear lessons read in various languages. The choir will sing the Peter Hurford “Litany to the Holy Spirit” and an arrangement of “Spirit of the Living God.”
Anglicans do not like change, which is why we love and depend upon the liturgical rhythm of our faith tradition. Keeping our eye on the end prize of completely renovated ministry and administrative spaces, I am thankful for the consistency of our parish worship traditions.
See you in church! Come to Moss Hall during office hours. Press the speaker button by the front door.