This Sunday is our first “normal” Sunday in a while. We have begun the journey through Ordinary Time (a liturgical term for the season after Pentecost), and this means that things will settle down as we relax into the restful period of summer. Of course, our building renovations will begin, so there is perhaps not a whole lot of relaxing going on there, but liturgically, we are returning to our usual patterns.
One new liturgical item will be introduced this Sunday, however, and it will continue through Ordinary Time. In lieu of the Robert Powell Gloria (Glory to God in the highest), we will sing a setting of Canticle 13, by John Rutter (b. 1945). It may take you a few weeks to get used to this new piece, and that is to be expected, but I think it will be a great alternative to the Gloria for our congregation. While there is certainly something to be said for the texts and tunes that are so familiar that we can sing/recite them from memory, it is also important to introduce new things that cause us to have a new perspective. Canticle 13 is a biblical text that comes from the book of Daniel. You can read more about the song’s origins here. Hopefully, this new song of praise will underscore the intent behind this part of our service. The Book of Common Prayer gives this instruction: “When appointed, [the Gloria] or some other song of praise is sung or said, all standing.” This brings us to the heart of this first part of the service – to praise God.
This Sunday, you will notice that the music of Jean Langlais (1907-1991) is featured as prelude, offertory, and postlude. All of these pieces are drawn from a collection, Neuf Pièces (nine pieces), that Langlais published after WWII. The three pieces I have chosen for this Sunday give good representation of Langlais’ mid-20th century French modernism. Far from being random nonsense, this music is organized and makes heavy use of Gregorian themes and church modes. Along with Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992), Langlais stands at the summit of the French organ school begun by Franck and Widor, and in their own way, Messiaen and Langlais advanced French Romanticism to its farthest point.
So, join us this Sunday for some new and exciting music. Ordinary Time doesn’t have to be boring!