This Sunday, the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate "Rally Day," the kick-off of our 2015-2016 program year. Our new music season also starts in earnest this week. It is a great time to come to church and join us in prayer, song, and Eucharist! On Sunday, we begin an exciting new chapter in the long history of our parish as we begin traveling down the long road through Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and Lent, all the way to Easter of 2016. Between now and then, our music ministry will host and present 27 concerts and special services - more than ever before. Hopefully, you received a 2015-2016 Music Season Booklet in the mail. If not, you can pick one up from the office or download it here.
This Sunday is a cause for celebration, and we have some music that will help us do just that. At the offertory, the choir will sing You are the Christ, O Lord by Richard Wayne Dirksen (1921-2003). Dirksen was the principal musician at the National Cathedral in Washington D. C. from 1969 until his retirement in 1991. Before that he was an assistant from 1942 until 1964. His piece that we will sing this Sunday extols Peter's proclamation of Jesus as the Christ. This is very appropriate for Sunday's Gospel reading, but it is also poignant as we begin a new program year. We pray that all we do will bear witness to Christ, following the example of not only Peter, but countless other Christians gone before us.
Sunday's organ prelude is by the great French organist and composer, Jean Langlais (1907-1991). Born into poverty in Brittany, Langlais grew to become one of the most widely performed and prolific French organ composers of the 20th century. In fact, only J. S. Bach composed more pieces for the organ. Unlike Bach, however, Langlais used Gregorian Chant rather than hymn tunes to inspire most of his works. In Sunday's prelude, Tiento from Suite Médiévale, he uses an old "Kyrie chant" theme in the pedal interrupted by brief contrapuntal episodes in the manuals. The piece is set in an old Spanish musical form, the ricercare, a forerunner of the fugue as we know it today. When listening to Langlais, it is important to realize that you have to listen differently than you would to Bach or Mozart. Listen for his unique tone colors. Paradoxically, while Langlais was blind, his music is some of the most colorful one can find for the organ. He stood as the last great exponent of the Ste-Clothilde tradition in Paris. In short, Ste-Clothilde was the parish where the course of church music in France had been first turned away from secular ideals and started again to embrace spiritual mysticism and chant themes. There will be more on this in another article.
Finally, as you worship with us this week, pray for the success of our ministries here at Christ Church this year. Also, you are more than welcome to join our choir. You don't need to read music, but you do need to commit to attending rehearsals (Wednesday nights at 6:30). We need more choir members to get to our magic number of 20. If you would like to join, simple email me or speak to one of our choir members after the Sunday service. Have a great "Rally Day!"