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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Looking Forward and looking back

Fourth Sunday in Advent
Year B
December 18, 2011
2 Samuel 7:1-11,16
Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 BCP
Canticle, Luke 1:46-55
Romans 16;26-38
Luke 1:26-38
Be early for this special Prelude
Jesus Bambino by Pietro Yon
Gretchen Ediger, Flute
Pat O’Neil, Organ

Looking Forward and looking back
This season of Advent not only has us looking forward to the return of Christ, but we also look back in order to look forward. The birth of Jesus was itself looked forward to, and as we remind ourselves that He is due to return, we remember some of those prophecies that were to predict His birth in Bethlehem. Not only do they come from the Old Testament, but some of them became enshrined as antiphons (brief texts for liturgical use before and after canticles) even after the New Testament period. The Magnificat is said or sung every day at Evening Prayer, but in the run-up to Christmas, these special verses (the “Advent antiphons”), recalling the prophecies associated with Mary’s acceptance of her calling to be the mother of Jesus, were added, giving extra poignancy to the oft-sung text. There is therefore a slight irony in the fact that while “O come, O come, Emmanuel” is a great Advent hymn, it is not ideally suited to the beginning of Advent after all. It is most appropriate as an end-of-Advent hymn, to be sung when one of the verses might coincide with the appropriate antiphon for the particular day.
As a call to worship at Grace Anglican Church, the cantors have sung one verse of this hymn each Sunday, adding verses as Advent progresses. This Sunday we will sing 4 verses. The closing hymn of the day to be sung by the congregation, will be all 8 verses of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Here is the story of this Advent Hymn.
“Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is probably the oldest Christmas carol still sung today This popular hymn dates back to the ninth century and represents an important and ancient series of services celebrated by the church. It also presents the different biblical roles that the church believed Jesus fulfilled. The universal nature of faith presented in this song can now be best seen by the fact that it has crossed over from a hymn sung in Latin and used in only formal Catholic masses to a carol translated into, scores of languages and embraced by every Christian denom­ination in the world.
The writer of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is unknown. He was no doubt a monk or priest who penned the words before 800 A.D. He was also a scholar with a rich knowledge of both the Old and New Testaments. Once completed, the hymn was evidently picked up by many European churches and monasteries and became an intensely important part of the church. Yet for fifty-one weeks of each year it was ignored, saved for a single week of Advent vespers leading up to the celebration of Christ's birth.
In its original form, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” was known as a song of the "Great Antiphons" or “Great O's." The Latin text, framed in the original seven different verses, represented the different biblical views of the Messiah. One verse per day was sung or chanted during the last seven days before Christmas.
Much more than the very simple, almost monotone melody employed at the time, the words painted a rich illustration of the many biblical prophesies fulfilled by Christ's birth. So the story of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is really a condensed study of the Bible's view of the Messiah-who he was, what he represented and why he had to come to Earth. Even to this day, if one is a proficient Bible student, the song's lyrics reveal the unfolding story of the Messiah.
For the people of the Dark Ages-few of whom read or had access to the Bible-the song was one of the few examples of the full story of how the New and Old Testament views of the Mes­siah came together in the birth and life of Jesus. Because it brought the story of Christ the Savior to life during hundreds of years of ignorance and darkness, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” ranks as one of the most important songs in the history of the Christian faith.
The song owes its worldwide acceptance to a man named John Mason Neale. Born on January 24, 1818, this Anglican priest was educated at Trinity College in Cambridge. Brilliant, a man who could write and speak more than twenty languages, he should have been destined for greatness, yet many feared his intelligence and insight. At the time, church leaders thought lie was too evangelical, too progressive, and too much a free­thinker to be allowed to influence the masses. So rather than get a pastorate in London, Neale was sent by the church to the Madiera Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. Pushed out of the spotlight and given the position of warden in an all but forgotten locale, it was expected that he and his ideas would never again find root in England. Yet Neale refused to give up on God or his own calling. On a salary of just twenty-seven pounds a year he established the Sisterhood of St. Margaret. From this order he began an orphanage, a school for girls and a house of refuge for prostitutes. And these noble ministries were just the beginning.
When he wasn't ministering to those who could truly be called the least of these,” the often frail and sickly Neale reviewed every facet of Scripture and Scripture-based writing he could find. It was during these studies that lie came across the Latin chant “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” in a book called Psalteroium Cantionum Catholicarum. Seizing on the importance of the song's inspired text, Neale translated the words into Eng­lish. Interestingly, in his initial work, the lyrics began, “Draw nigh, draw nigh, Emmanuel”
The tune that went with Neale's translation had been used for some years in Latin text versions of the song. “Veni Emmanuel” was a fifteenth century processional that originated in a community of French Franciscan nuns living in Lisbon, Portugal. Neale's translation of the lyrics coupled with “Veni Emmanuel” was first published in the 185Os in England. Within twenty-five years, Neale's work, later cut to five verses and called “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” grew in popularity throughout Europe and America.
Although sung countless times each Christmas, much of the song's rich meaning seems to have been set aside or lost. While both men-the ancient monk and the exiled priest-would probably be amazed that any still remember their work, the fact that few realize the full impact of the words would no doubt disappoint them greatly. After all, to sing a song and not feel the power and majesty of its meaning trivializes both the music and the lyrics.
The first verse of the song is taken from Isaiah 7: 14 and Matthew 1:23. It introduces Emmanuel-“God with us”-and Israel as a symbol for the Christian world, held captive on a dark and sinful Earth.
Isaiah 11 serves as the theme for the verse that begins “O come, thou rod of Jesse, free" (in some translations this is called the "Branch of Jesse"). In it the rod of Jesse represents Christ, who is the only one who can defeat Satan and bring eternal life to all those who follow him.
“O come, O Dayspring, come and cheer” presents the image of the morning star, a concept that can be traced back to Malachi 4:2. In this verse, the song states that the coming Savior will bring justice, honesty, and truth. He will enlighten and cast out darkness as "The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings.”
The lyrics then turn to "O come, thou key of David," a reference to Isaiah
22:22. The words in this verse explain that the newborn King holds the key to the heavenly kingdom and there is no way to get into the kingdom but through Him.
The verse that begins “O come, O come, Adonai” (in some texts this reads “O come, thou wisdom from on high”) centers on the source of true wisdom. This comes only from God through his Son. Through the Savior, this wisdom can reach around the world and bring peace and understanding to all men. Thus, Christ's teachings and examples fulfilled all Old Testament prophesies.
Even today, when sung in a public hall by a small group of carolers or during a television special, the original chants of long forgotten monks can almost be heard. Although translated into scores of languages and sung in wild variety of styles and arrangements, the simplistic yet spiritual nature of the song remains intact. It is reverent, a tribute to not only the birth of God's child but also to the fulfillment of God's promise to deliver his children from the world. In this simple hut brilliant song, the echoed voices of clerics from the past gently urge today’s world to accept and worship the King who fulfills God's greatest promise to his children.
Excerpted from Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins,
This Sunday’s gospel is the stirring story of the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel appears and utters the world premiere of “Ave, Maria.” Gabriel calls Mary the favored one and proclaims God’s presence with her. Mary’s response to the angel, which has been handed on to us as the Magnificat (“My soul magnifies the Lord”), is an inspiring profession of faith and acceptance. Mary’s “yes” to God has helped generations to be strong, committed, and resolute in the face of poverty, war, persecution and doubt. In bearing the child of God, she reminds us that we are the children of God, spiritually descended from the same heavenly Father. The singers in the loft will sing the Magnificat canticle as the option to the Psalm.
The Anthem to be sung from the loft during the Offertory will be a choral arrangement of a Basque traditional hymn, A Virgin Knelt in Prayer. This hymn is #265 in Hymnal ‘82. There are quotations from the Magnificat to be found in this carol, in the third verse. In a brief, two-minute piece of music, we have the heart of the Annunciation story. We will sing of Gabriel arriving and telling Mary the good news, and there is a lovely foretaste of the later visitation to the shepherds as the refrain Gloria is used at the end of each verse. The annunciation is the first step toward that day when the angels will sing “glory,” and all humanity join in, as the promised Messiah, the Emmanuel, the Savior, is born. While the carol is rooted in the scriptural text, there is an opening out in the last verse where the focus moves away from describing the event of the Annunciation to the angel telling Mary that one day “Christian folk throughout the world will ever say, ‘Most highly favored lady!’” This brings the story into the present, just as we have been taken to the past in remembering that very strange and disconcerting message that Gabriel brought her, all those years ago. I have posted here a link to the rock star, Sting, singing this lovely Basque carol. How much more modern day can we get?        
The words come from a traditional Basque carol, and were translated by the Reverend Sabine Baring Gould, author of the hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” The charming tune of GABRIEL’S MESSAGE also originates in the Basque region.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.
This text must be one of the most common in Western music, because of its pastoral, maternal and thoroughly human focus. Whatever we may think of the theological controversies that surround its meaning and direction, there is no doubt that the Ave Maria has inspired and comforted countless generations of Christians.
It comes as no surprise that the Ave Maria has inspired some beautiful music. Many composers have used it and the version by Franz Schubert is probably one of the best known and loved today. Gretchen Ediger will solo this lovely arrangement on her flute accompanied by Pat O’Neil on the organ this week during the Eucharist.
Dare we suppose that Mary herself would have been pleased that a setting of the Ave Maria is giving pleasure and inspiration to those in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy right here in Boise, Idaho? I think we might!
Tune My Heart To Sing
Paraclete Press
Zondervan Publishing

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Third Sunday in Advent
Year B
December 11, 2011
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126 BCP
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

           Make straight the way of the Lord is our admonition in this week’s Gospel.  We are often reminded to be like Christ, but we can also be like John the Baptist.  What is our equivalent of John’s shouting?  How can we openly, faithfully, unabashedly proclaim Christ’s coming?  This Sunday we will sing it in our opening hymn, Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding!  We will use our voices as the instrument to proclaim His coming 2000 years ago and His imminent second coming.  This early Latin Advent hymn, abounds in scripture references; indeed, every line in the Latin original can reasonably be associated with a passage from scripture, if not as a direct reference, at least as a reflection.  It is found in two tenth-century sources, being assigned to both Lauds (early morning services) and during Advent.

            Here’s an unabashed plug for the upcoming presentation of Advent Lessons and Carol’s service in Augustana Chapel on Wednesday, December 14, 7 PM. The text and tune of our processional hymn have gained greater acceptance and use in Anglican churches through their inclusion in a recording of Advent lessons and carols by the Men and Boys choir of King’s College, Cambridge.  Join us for Boise’s only L&C by the Renaissance Classical Chancel Choir for Boys and Men in this beautiful candle lit service in Augustana Chapel.
            Our sequence hymn, If Thou But Trust In God To Guide Thee, is an example of the intense and personal hymnody that developed and grew during and following the devastation of the Thirty Years War.  Both the text and melody were written by Gerg Neumark in the winter of 1640.  The tune is named after the composer and was used by Johann Sebastian Bach in eight cantatas and several organ chorales.

            Blest Be the King Whose Coming, the recessional hymn, was written in 1960 by the Uruguayan Bishop Federico J. Pagura.  You may find the familiar melody reminding you of Palm Sunday, as we sing the words, All Glory Laud and Honor, processing into the sanctuary waving our palm branches.  It is paired here with the Isaiah reading for the third Sunday of Advent.  The tune VALET WILL ICH DIR GEBEN was written by Melchior Teschner for the dying following the devastation of the plague of 1613 in his hometown of Fraustadt, Germany. 

            The singers in the Lofty Pews will sing an arrangement of the hymn in our hymnal of In the Bleak Midwinter.  Christina Georgina Rossetti first published her poem “A Christmas Carol” in January 1872.  It was printed as a hymn in the Episcopal Hymnal 1940, with this familiar tune.  Many have commented that, like certain visual artists, Rossetti has depicted the Christmas landscape in terms of her own familiar environment:  the English winter climate instead of the warmer Palestinian weather.

Panis Angelicus will be played on the flute by Gretchen in the loft during Eucharist. 

The angelic bread

becomes the bread of men;

The heavenly bread

ends all prefigurations:

What wonder!

The Lord is eaten

by a poor and humble servant.

Triune God,

We beg of you:

visit us,

just as we worship you.

By your ways,

lead us where we are heading,

to the light in which you dwell.


Sacris solemniis, written by Thomas Aquinas begins with the words "Panis angelicus" (bread of angels) has often been set to music separately from the rest of the hymn. Most famously, in 1872 César Franck set it for voice, with the words you see printed here in Latin.  Here is a video recording of Panis Angelicus in Latin by the St Philips Boys’ choir, Norbury, UK:                                                          

 Psalm 126 will be sung in Anglican Chant by the singers in the loft.  May we remember, as we chant the refrain to this Psalm, that “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad indeed!”

              So, in this bleak wintery time of year, let us proclaim the message that Christ’s coming is near to our families, neighbors, friends and the world.  Invite them to worship with us at church to hear the Good News and get ready!  God calls us to use our varied voices to join the chorus of proclaimers that is ancient and ever new.  Awesome indeed is the power of a voice that answers the call to PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD!

Sources:                                        English Hymns and Hymn Writers                                        Deacon Ronald Jutzy

Hymnal ’82 Companion

One Minute Devotions

Tune My Heart To Sing

O Come Emmanuel

Sunday, November 27, 2011

O Come, O Come Emmanuel! 2

Second Sunday in Advent

Year B

December 4, 2011

Isaiah 40:1-11

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13from BCP

2 Peter 3:8-15

Mark 1:1-8

O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

Redeem thy captive Israel,

That into exile drear has gone

Far from the face of God’s dear son

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel


O Come, thou branch of jesse, draw

The quarry from the lion’s claw;

From the dread caverns of the grave,

from nether hell, thy people save

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

            The second verse of the 15th century French carol, O Come, O Come Emmanuel, will be sung from the loft of Grace Anglican Church in Boise this week.

            As is the case with several carols and hymns for Advent and Christmas in current common use, our opening hymn, Hark, a Thrilling Voice is Sounding has gained greater acceptance and use in American Churches through the recordings  of Advent lessons and Carols by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge.  This hymn is found in two tenth-century sources.  In Roman use it is assigned to Lauds (3 AM morning services, often combined with Prime or Morning Prayer) during Advent. 

            O Day of God, Draw Nigh will be the hymn surrounding the reading of the Gospel.  The words were composed and contributed by R.B. Y. Scott for a hymn sheet of the Fellowship for a Christian Social Order in 1937.  In view of its expressed hope for peace and justice on the verge of a cataclysmic Second World War, it gained inclusion in hymnals under the General Hymns in the section, “Social Religion” under the subsection “War and peace”.  The text of the hymn is calling for Christians to pray for God’s promise to “…..make all things new”.

At the Offertory, the choir accompanied by the organ and piccolo, will sing, Comfort, Comfort Ye My People by John Ferguson, an organist, composer and teacher. 

A small church choir in the loft: 

            Gretchen Ediger, flute and Pat O Neil will play the familiar piece from Handel’s Messiah, Come Unto Him and He Shall Feed His Flock during Eucharist.  Again, looking forward to Christ’s coming as predicted in Isaiah 40. 

            On Jordan’s Banks the Baptists Cry, our recessional hymn is one of the most widely used of the Advent hymns.  This is because it was one of the few texts in the hymnal related to the ministry of John the Baptist and the Baptism of our Lord. The Gospel reading will make that connection.  The original Latin text was a hymn, again, for Lauds during Advent.  It was published in 1763 in the Paris breviary by Charles Coffin. 

            What is the wilderness that John the Baptist refers to? 

            It is the wilderness of solitude, making time to be in contemplative prayer so that we may deepen our awareness of God’s presence in everything, of Christ’s boundless compassion and mercy, and of the surprising, ever-changing and life-renewing movements of the Holy Spirit. 

            It is the wilderness of attachments, where we find the spiritual reserves to break the chains that keep us in bondage to idols such as money, material goods, power and fame.

            And it is the wilderness of that music which springs from God’s own heart, pure in expression, filled with love and free of prideful affectations.  Let us cultivate this music and convey it’s truth.

                                    O Come, O Come Emmanuel!


Augsberg Press

Hymnal ’82 Companion

Deacon Ron Jutzy

One Minute Devotions

English Hymns and Hymn Writers

First Sunday in Advent

Year B

November 27, 2011

Isaiah 64:1-9

Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18 from BCP

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Mark 13:24-37

O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

Redeem thy captive Israel,

That into exile drear has gone

Far from the face of God’s dear son

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o israel

            As has become our tradition at Grace Anglican Church, we will open our Advent Sundays with the above ancient call to worship, adding a verse each Sunday.  It is believed that this traditional music stems from a 15th Century French processional for Franciscan nuns but it may also have 6th Century Gregorian origins.  It is one of the most solemn of Advent hymns.

            Is Advent a time of somber yearning or one of joyful anticipation?  It is surely both, and our worship at Grace Anglican Church and our music reflect the duality.  We contemplate and celebrate both, the first and second Advents of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  We will sing for our opening processional hymn Charles Wesley’s

                                    Lo!  He comes with clouds descending…

                                    Alleluia!  Christ the Lord returns to reign.

                                                            “Lo!  He Comes with Clouds Descending”

            How Firm a Foundation will be the hymn we sing to surround the reading of the Gospel.  This hymn is chosen to highlight the reading of 1 Corinthians.  This hymn has been a favorite for over a century and a half….and has been sung to many different tunes.  The words were written by Charles Wesley and published as 14 six-line stanzas in John and Charles Wesley’s Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1742.

            Rejoice, Rejoice Believers our recessional hymn is paired with the Gospel reading of Mark.  This Advent text has been in the Hymnal since 1871.  It appears here with the Welsh hymn tune LLANGLOFFAN.  The text has been called one of the finest hymns written by Laurentius Laurenti, a leading hymn writer of the German Pietistic school and first published in 1700.  The  hymn has been suggested to be sung the First Sunday of Advent in Years A and B.  We are now entering Year B in our liturgical practice.  We sang this hymn recently when the Gospel reading was  the story of the Bridegroom approaching and the lamps of the virgins had no oil. 

The choir will sing the first two verses of  Remember, O Thou Man during the Offertory, calling us to remember God’s promise to send His Son to redeem the world.   The words and lyrics of this old Advent/Christmas carol were written by Thomas Ravenscroft ( 1592-1635).  He started his career as a chorister at Chichester Cathedral and then moved to London to serve in St. Paul’s Cathedral.  It was an exciting time in London as the Theatres were hugely popular and showing plays by such noted playwrights as William Shakespeare.  Ravenscroft grew to know many of the actors and writers of this era and wrote music to accompany some of the plays that were produced at the Globe Theatre.  Here is a link to the Advent verses:


During Advent at Grace Anglican Church we will strive to set a reflective mood during Eucharist.   Contemplate the Isaiah scripture and the somber words to the flute music from the loft of this familiar spiritual:

My Lord what a morning,

When the stars begin to fall.

1.     You’ll hear the sinner mourn,

2.     You’ll hear a sinner pray

3.     You’ll hear a Christian shout,

4.     You’ll hear a Christian sing,

To wake the nations underground!

Looking to my God’s right hand

When the stars begin to fall.

            “My Lord, What A Morning”

The season of Advent is a time to call to mind all the “comings” of God.  Jesus came and will come again.  He wants us to be a part of that new world, and He helps us and leads us on that journey to the kingdom.  When we are confident that Christ will come again we can live as if it has already taken place.  We are prepared when we live under the reign of God—even now before its fulfillment.

Do we prepare for Christ’s return by attempting to figure out when it will take place?  That would surely help us be better prepared.  No, we are told to be ready at all times for we do not and we cannot know the time of God’s choosing.  We are the “inter-Advent” people, those living between Jesus’ first and second coming.  Most people misunderstood or missed Him completely the first time.  Will we be ready the second time? 


Hymnal ’82 Companion

Deacon Ron Jutzy

Tune My Heart to Sing

English Hymns and Hymn Writers