Since 2015, Church of the Holy Communion has commissioned a number of musical works, along with having several dedicated to us. And a couple of those were wonderful surprises for our choirs.
At the Alleluia Be Our Measure parish sacred arts festival in May 2015, we premiered our parish hymn, "Come, new heav'n, new earth, descending," with its text by poet and hymnist Susan Palo Cherwien and tune WALNUT GROVE by composer William Bradley Roberts.
Our parish handbell choir, the Holy Communion Ringers, has grown and evolved throughout the years. In the past couple of years, composer Sondra Tucker has inscribed several handbell pieces to Church of the Holy Communion: "Ding, dong, merrily on high" (an English Christmas carol that just happens to be my favorite) and "Meditation on Thaxted" (traditionally sung in England with the text, "I vow to thee, my country").
Moreover, this past Sunday morning (May 5) the Holy Communion Ringers played Sondra's arrangement of the Martin Shaw choral anthem, "With a voice of singing" during Communion.
This coming Sunday morning (May 12), our CHC Choristers (grades 2-6) will premiere a new two-part treble anthem with flute obbligato and organ accompaniment. With a generous financial gift from a CHC family, we commissioned Episcopal composer Michael Sitton to write a setting of another one of Susan Cherwien's incredible texts.
A small committee of five (clergy, parish musicians, lay persons) chose Susan's text "God in Music" for a number of reasons: celebrating the gift of music, teaching children about worshiping and praising God, and Susan's exquisite imagery about music and its place in the world.
Praise to the God in music;
Praise to the God of the morning stars' song
to the God of symphony
to the God of sounding together.
Angels and archangels raise their ethereal voices to God;
Hymns and songs create a body for praise,
Stones and trees sing an earthly hosanna,
And the Christ himself sings and dances with his friends,
All in symphony, the great cosmic song,
all in unity, the great universal choir.
- Susan Palo Cherwien
Composer Michael Sitton is Dean of the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Potsdam. He was previously Dean of Fine Arts of Eastern New Mexico University and music department chair of Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. A performing pianist, Dr. Sitton holds degrees from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, the University of Kentucky, and Mars Hill College.
A trained singer and life-long Lutheran, Susan Palo Cherwien holds degrees in voice and church music and in spirituality and the arts. She has completed extensive music studies in Germany and published her first collection of hymn texts, O Blessed Spring, in 1997.
This Sunday morning, assistant minister of music Dr. Ellen Koziel will conduct the CHC Choristers in the first performance of this new anthem "God in Music." The Choristers are exited to have their own unique anthem, and we are most grateful for the gift that provided funding for this special musical project.
Photo of members of the Church of the Holy Communion Choristers who received Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) awards in Quilling Memorial Chapel on Wednesday evening, May 8, 2019, with Dr. Ellen Koziel and the Reverend Hester Mathes. Photo by Cindy McMillion.
Read more about Susan Palo Cherwien here.
Read more about Michael Sitton here.