"O Thou who this mysterious bread didst in Emmaus break,
return, herewith our souls to feed, and to thy followers speak.
Unseal the volume of thy grace, apply the gospel word;
open our eyes to see thy face, our hearts to know the Lord.
Of thee communing still, we mourn till thou the veil remove;
talk with us, and our hearts shall burn with flames of fervent love.
Enkindle now the heav'nly zeal, and make thy mercy known,
and give our pardoned souls to feel that God and love are one."
Text: C. Wesley (1707-1788)
It is rare that we get to experience Morning Prayer at the cathedral. Interestingly enough, it has been the principal form of worship for the majority of our church's history - until the 1979 prayer book. Before the "new" prayer book, congregations normally only celebrated the Eucharist once per month. However, those of you who remember using Morning Prayer regularly will still find something new in Sunday's service, as it will be Rite Two.
One of the most interesting elements of the service Sunday will be the setting, sung by the choir, of the canticle after the Gospel, Benedictus es, Domine. When I learned that we would have Morning Prayer this week, I went into the archives to see the kinds of pieces that were done here in the past. In a bulletin from 1938, I found mention of a Benedictus es by R. Woodward. Intrigued, I searched for quite a while for this illusive piece until I finally located it in The Hymnal 1916. Set in the form of an Anglican Chant, we can get a brief glimpse of what this canticle might have sounded like right here at Christ Church in 1938 when J. Clarendon McClure was organist.
As an aside, it turns out that the mysterious composer of our chant was Richard Woodward (1743/44-1777), an Irish organist and composer known for writing church music. He was a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin as a child and by age 22 became the organist there. According to one source, Woodward is considered to be one of the most prominent Irish cathedral composers of the eighteenth century. In fact, he was the first Irish cathedral musician to become published.
So, as you come to church this week, prepare to pray, sing, and listen in ways that may be new. Together, we can experience an alternate form of Sunday worship. We will hear music new and old, and we will link to past traditions while still pushing forward into new vistas in our worship and music at the cathedral. Come join us!