The Parish Choir of Church of the Holy Communion is going on a much-deserved break beginning the first of June. Not to worry: We will sing familiar, beloved congregational hymns for all of June and July, which our parishioners happily anticipate.
The Parish Choir is finishing the season with a bit of a flourish of worthy anthems, thanks mostly to the Revised Common Lectionary, which makes our weekly worship experiences so very rich.
Two Sundays ago, for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (AKA “Sheep Sunday”), the choir sang a beautiful setting of “The Lord Is My Shepherd” that many recognized as the theme music from the BBC situation comedy, “The Vicar of Dibley.” Our CHC Choristers sang the “cherubim and seraphim” open and closing of the anthem, while the Parish Choir sang the interior SATB parts. (And everyone in the congregation sighed, “Ah.”)
Last Sunday, the choir sang a Richard Proulx setting of a W. H. Auden poem, “He Is the Way,” highlighting the Gospel reading from John: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
He is the Way.
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.
He is the Truth.
Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.
He is the Life.
Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.
W. H. Auden (1907-1973)
This Sunday’s Epistle reading from First Peter (“He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit”), when woven together with John 14 (“In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live”) results in one of the favorite choruses from Handel’s Messiah:
Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22
Sunday after next is actually the Seventh Sunday of Easter, the last Sunday of Eastertide, commonly known also as the Sunday after Ascension Day. With Jesus ascending to the Father in majesty and glory, returning to Heaven upon lofty clouds, another chorus from Handel’s Messiah seems fitting:
Lift up your heads, O ye gates,
and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors,
and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of Glory?
The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.
A musical flourish here at the end of the choir season: Don’t miss it.