The God of Abraham praise is our processional hymn, and it is a hymn that recalls the special covenant between God and Abraham. As Christians, we believe that the covenant between God and Israel extends to us also as the children of the new covenant. The text of this hymn ties our story from Hebrew Scripture in with passages from the Book of Revelation and brings our story full circle. The melody for this hymn, Leoni, is actually a Hebrew melody probably composed by Myer Lyon (1750-1797), a cantor (prayer leader and singer) at the Great Synagogue of London. Lyon, also a rather famous opera singer, drew many non-Jews to the synagogue to hear his impressive singing. The tune we will sing on Sunday for our processional hymn was originally sung by Lyon with the Jewish Yigdal text (a prayer sung during Shabbat services). Eventually, the melody was copied down and used in many Christian hymnals. The tune name, Leoni, is simply a version of its author’s name, Myer Lyon.
Our Gospel reading features Jesus’ rebuke of Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!”, and the famous words, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Because of this, our recessional hymn will be Take up your cross, the Savior said. This hymn, possibly unfamiliar to some, was penned by Charles William Everest (1814-1877). Everest was an Episcopal priest educated at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and served churches in the state until the end of his life. His prosaic hymn text is, to me, a meditation on these “difficult” words of Christ. The first verse is a poetic representation of Christ’s original words from scripture in the first person. However, the other stanzas unpack the possible meanings of these words. One of the most powerful verses, verse four, is printed below.
Take up your cross, then, in his strength,
and calmly every danger brave:
it guides you to abundant life
and leads to victory o’er the grave.
This coming Wednesday, March 4, at noon in the church, we will offer our second Lenten series concert of 2015. This week, we feature The Archduke Trio, one of Mobile’s premier chamber ensembles featuring the talents of violinist Enen Yu, violoncellist Guo-Sheng Huang, and pianist Robert Holm. This chamber ensemble, all members of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, will present the thought provoking and beautiful Piano Trio in c minor, Opus 66, by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847). Come be a part of our music and meditation followed by lunch in the Chapter House.