Friday, November 18, 2011


Our liturgy begins with a solemn pronouncement to priests, which we have adapted to the classic praise song “Awesome God.” The musical question, “What Does the Lord Require” strikes a similar stentorian note. With Election Day only a week away, it would not be amiss to apply Malachi’s warnings as well to public servants, who more and more seem to be caught up with the trappings of office and the arrogance of ideology rather than discerning the real needs of those they are supposed to serve. St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that he’s “Been So Busy” working on their behalf that he “ain’t got time to die.” This metaphor for selfless busy-ness and work is from a classic spiritual, quoted by Grayson Brown in his setting. Paul’s description of his gentle example as that of a nursing mother picks up an image from our Psalm 131. We will sing Lucien Deiss’ setting from the early days of English liturgy, “My soul is longing for your peace.”
      Other hymns are meditations on the theme of humility. “I Come With Joy, A Child of God,” to the early-American tune Land of Rest, sings: “As Christ breaks bread and bids us share, each proud division ends. The love that made us, makes us one, and strangers now are friends.” “Jesu, Jesu,” set to a melody from Ghana, and Richard Gilliard’s “The Servant Song” are both hymns we sing on Holy Thursday. “Lord, When You Came to the Seashore,” translated from the poem by Basque Fr. Cesáreo Gabaráin (1936–1991), is a conversation between God and a simple, open heart. We go out to Shaker wisdom in the hymn “Simple Gifts,” which reminds us that if we “come down where we ought to be,” bowing, bending and turning are the movements of a dance rather than gestures of subservience. At 10:00 the choir sings “In the Hands of God,” by the Christian band The Newsboys, and we conclude with “We Will Serve the Lord,” by Rory Cooney, a parish musician in Illinois.(