It is no secret that I like grand things. I’m one of those
slightly-naïve but cup-half-full people who finds life perpetually grand, hence
my affection for grand liturgy and music, along with my devotion to all-things
Royal and all-things Downton Abbey.
Eastertide is the time for grand things. Lent not so much.
And there is spiritual value in both.
This Sunday’s (Apr. 10) anthem at the Offertory at our 10:30
liturgy is grand in every way – tune, text, instrumentation, voicing, phrases
that rise and fall and finally rise. The text of “Come, risen Lord, and deign
to be our guest,” written by Canon George Wallace Briggs (1875-1959), first
appeared in the hymnal Songs of Praise (London,
1931). Briggs served as a canon priest for Leister and Worcester cathedrals for
most of his career.
Canon Briggs’ text makes use of one of my favorite literary
moments in all liturgical texts, when the altar is referred to God’s board:
“Thy self at thine own board make manifest in thine own sacrament of bread and
wine.” The original language is lifted from the 1549 First Book of Common
Prayer: “then the Prieste standyng at Goddes borde shall begin.”
The tune is as grand as the text. Prominent 20th-century Episcopal musician Leo Sowerby (1985-1968) composed this music as the
hymn Rosedale for the dedication of
the Gloria in Excelsis Tower of Washington Cathedral in 1964. At that time,
Sowerby was the director of the College of Church Musicians, and Rosedale was the name of the house on
the cathedral close where the college was housed.
Sowerby scored Rosedale
for congregation, four-part choir, brass choir and organ, ending with a
soaring descant for the sopranos. We will use the anthem setting, which was
published after the Washington Cathedral dedication service in 1964; however,
we will sing the anthem with only voices and organ this Sunday.
And speaking of sopranos, we will have many more than usual
at Church of the Holy Communion this Sunday morning. Our special guest choir
for the 10:30 liturgy, the Rhodes College Women’s Chorus directed by Dr. Mona
Kreitner, will join our own Parish Choir and Children’s Choir (directed by Mrs.
Ellen Koziel), for numerous anthems during the liturgy, including the Sowerby.
Listen to a recording
of “Come, risen Lord” by the William Ferris Chorale, Kansas City, MO: