Music has a way of taking us outside of ourselves if only for a moment. It has a way of making hope real. This Sunday, the Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost, there are several pieces that especially resonate with both the scripture readings and the events pressing upon our minds. The processional hymn, How firm a foundation, expresses the journey of the soul quite well. Written by John Rippon (1751-1836), the hymn's lyrics have brought comfort and strength to Christians for generations.
"When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."
This particular verse sums up the thrust of the whole hymn, for me. No one said following Christ would be easy, but with sufficient grace, it can be done. How wonderful it is that we have these words, penned so long ago, to help us in these present times.
The offertory music this week will be my own Agnus Dei, for two sopranos and organ. The text, sung in Latin, translates as follows: "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us." After the third repetition of this, it ends with the words, "grant us peace." Normally, this text would be said or sung during the breaking of the bread during the Eucharist. However, many composers have set these ancient words separately as individual pieces for church or concert use. The music you will hear on Sunday was written right here at Christ Church Cathedral one week ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed composing it. It is my prayer that our music this week will inspire you in worship and in hope. Indeed, "While I breathe, I hope."