Book of Books, Our People's Strength

The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 20, 2019

The Hymnal 1982 contains nine hymns that focus on "Holy Scripture" (626-634). These hymns speak volumes about our beliefs regarding the Bible. If you'd like to learn about the Episcopal Church's approach to scripture, reading through these nine hymns is a good place to start.

Today, we will sing one of these hymns: "Book of books, our people's strength" (631, Liebster Jesu). According to The Hymnal 1982 Companion, this hymn "recognizes the place of the Bible in the lives of people throughout history, gives honor to its various authors, and praise to God the 'author and giver of all good things.' (BCP 233)"

The author, the Rev. Percy Dearmer (1867-1936), sought to write a hymn expressing appreciation of the Bible in the modern world. 

Book of books, our people's strength,
statesman's, teacher's, hero's treasure,
bringing freedom, spreading truth,
shedding light that none can…

Without the Fire

The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost October 13, 2019
Through hymns and anthems, we can experience the work of great theologians throughout church history. This week's communion anthem is based on a text by Thomas 
á Kempis (1380-1471), a medieval monk and author who lived and worked in the Netherlands. Thomas spent his days immersed in scripture and prayer, working as a copyist of manuscripts. In his lifetime, he copied the entire Bible 4 times. While instructing novices in his religious order, he wrote a series of pamphlets which were later combined into a book entitled The Imitation of Christ. Nebraska hymn poet Rae E. Whitney (b. 1927) wrote today's anthem text which is based on Thomas á Kempis' writings. Listen to a recording: Without the Fire

Without the Fire, there is no Burning,
without the Teacher, there's no Learning,
without the Shepherd, no safe Keeping,
without the Sower, there's no Reaping.

Without the Judge, there is no Pleading,
without the Bread, no heav&…

Joyful and Generous

The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 6, 2019

In recent years, we have been singing an offertory hymn in October and November related to our annual giving campaign. This year's theme, "Joyful and Generous: The Heart of Trinity," inspired me to search for a hymn celebrating the idea of generosity. 

I discovered this hymn by a Scottish hymn poet, The Rev. Leith Fisher (1941-2009). Fisher was a minister in the Church of Scotland and a member of the Iona Community. His hymns are often inspired by and paired with traditional Gaelic tunes. 

We're pairing the text with Holy Manna, an early American pentatonic folk tune (found in The Hymnal 1982 at 238 and 580). This vigorous and joyful melody was published in several shape-note tunebooks starting in 1825. Many of these early American folk melodies sprang from Scottish and Irish sources, carried here by immigrants. 

Hear a recording: For your generous providing

For your generous providing
which sustains us all our days,

In Paradisum

The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 29, 2019

Today's gospel reading recounts the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the poor beggar. In the parable, Lazarus suffers from illness, poverty, and hunger in this life but, upon his death, is "carried away by angels to be with Abraham." Our offertory anthem, "In paradisum" from Requiem by Gabriel Faure, refers to Lazarus in its portrait of heavenly bliss:

May the angels lead you into paradise;
May the martyrs welcome you upon your arrival,
and lead you into the holy city of Jerusalem.
May a choir of angels welcome you,
and, with poor Lazarus of old,
may you have eternal rest.

These familiar words are drawn from the Requiem Mass for the dead. Faure's choral setting evokes a sense of peace and serenity. It is notable for its use of the harp as the featured instrument. The harp is associated with angels, both in art and music history. 

Hear a recording and see the music: In paradisum

The feast of St. Michael and Al…