Special attention is due the communion antiphon this week. Remember, the antiphons are seldom included parts of the Proper of the Mass/Eucharist – the prayers that change from week to week. The Ordinary of the Eucharist includes those parts that seldom change – the Gloria, Sanctus, etc. The text of this week’s communion antiphon is especially poignant for mid-summer thought. The musical setting is my own, and it is designed to highlight the natural expression of the text.
“The sparrow has found herself a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young; by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God; blessed are they who dwell in your house; they will always be praising you.”
The offertory piece, My shepherd will supply my need, is also worthy of special attention. The lyrics, penned by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), are a paraphrase of Psalm 23. The last line is so poetically simple that its visualization is surprisingly meaningful. The third stanza is as follows: “The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days; oh, may thy house be mine abode and all my work be praise. There would I find a settled rest, while others go and come; no more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.” So often have I read these words but never really focused on them. Coupled with a peaceful and meandering American folk melody, this text captures something most of us have probably forgotten, if we ever knew it in the first place. That is, the feeling of being completely secure and comfortable. Our day to day worries and stresses are so strong that, even in church, these words can often wash right over us without ever taking root.
As you come to church this week, take some time to use our musical moments as “pause button moments.” The idea being not to remove yourselves from the liturgy or to “zone out,” but rather to engage more deeply with your own feelings and inspiration during our worship time. The music, like the congregational responses, gives the people a special voice during the service. The instrumental and choral pieces also require congregational participation, not through song or speaking but through listening and thinking. It’s my prayer that we may all truly find a “settled rest” in our “pause button moments” here at the Cathedral.