Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Advent close of day at the wildlife sanctuary

Jesus, Redeemer of the world,
Word of the Father throned on high,
light from the light invisible,
and watchful guardian over all

Hymn 38 v.1 
The Hymnal 1982

Now, ere day fadeth quite, we see the evening light,
our wonted hymn outpouring;
Father of might unknown, thee, his incarnate Son,
and Holy Spirit adoring.

"O gladsome Light"
Hymn 36 v.2 
The Hymnal 1982

I am about to do a new thing;
   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
   and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43.19

 I am like an owl of the wilderness,
   like a little owl of the waste places.
But you, O Lord, are enthroned for ever;
   your name endures to all generations. 
You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
   for it is time to favour it;
   the appointed time has come. 

Psalm 102:6, 12, 13

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

Hymn 66 v.1 
The Hymnal 1982

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Bethlehemian Rhapsody

Is this the real birth?
Is this Nativity?
Caught in a census
in the town of his ancestry.
Open your eyes
look up to the skies and seeeeeeee
He's just a poor boy
foretold by prophecy.
Because the wise men come, wise men go,
Angels high, shepherds low...

If you, too, want to sing along, there is also a version with lyrics available.

It's a wondrous story to me, to me...

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

three candles

Advent wreath
St Margaret's Convent, Duxbury

Third Sunday of Advent
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come
among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver
us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and
the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer p. 212

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dear President-Elect Trump: a letter from the Episcopal bishops in MA about the environment

Dec. 12, 2016

Donald J. Trump
President-Elect of the United States of America
Trump Tower
735 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Dear President-Elect Trump,

We, the bishops of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts, are glad to let you know that all of our 235 churches pray for you regularly in our liturgies with these or similar words: “For those in positions of public trust, especially Barack our President and Donald our President-Elect, that they may serve justice, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person.”

We also pray: “Give us reverence for the earth as your own creation, that we may use its resources rightly in the service of others and to your honor and glory.”

The Episcopal Church stands strongly for the protection of the environment. We respect the facts of science.  We support laws and policies that address the reality of climate change. We are in the process of divesting our financial interest in fossil fuels. Most recently our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, joined Native Americans at Standing Rock in their effort to protect their water and their sacred land. Numerous other Episcopal Church leaders have likewise traveled to Standing Rock.

Our respect for our government leaders and our reverence for the earth as God’s creation impel us to write you to express our dismay about your selection of Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. We wonder why a person who has consistently and adamantly opposed all laws and policies that provide even minimal “protection” to the environment should be entrusted with leading such an agency.

President-elect Trump, you have promised economic development. Like you, we value a stable and prosperous economy.  However, a thriving economy depends on a healthy environment. The more we weaken and dismantle the E.P.A.’s vital protections of our natural world, the more we threaten the common good.

You have also promised to strengthen our national defense. Like you, we value national security.  However, our country’s top military intelligence have concluded that climate change is a “threat multiplier” that is already creating instability around the world and will likely create significant security challenges in the years ahead.  If someone who casts doubt on the reality of climate change becomes the head of the E.P.A., our national security will be compromised.

As citizens of this beloved country, we intend to write our members of Congress, urging them to block the nomination of Scott Pruitt to lead the E.P.A. We will pray for a better choice.

And we will continue to pray for you as you assume this office of tremendous responsibility for the good of all.


The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop Diocesan of Western Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop Diocesan of Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts (retired)
The Rt. Rev. Roy F. Cederholm, Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts (retired)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

more Advent music

I'm currently preparing for tomorrow night's Lessons and Carols service. I've attended two, and now I get to sing in one!

I've found YouTube videos for all of the music we're doing, which certainly speeds up the learning process. And once I stop working with them, I can relax and pray with them as well. Truly, I can do both simultaneously, but I'm not quite to the point of fully entering into prayer while wondering what on earth that note was. Other than, "OK, Lord, I need some help here," I mean.

But why should I be the only one to enjoy these videos? And so here they are, in order. I don't yet have the bulletin, but the shape of the service will be the same as the one I shared earlier.

We will begin with the Palestrina Matin Responsory, which most of us already know, but moving right into a second piece.

OK, actually, this next music recording isn't well sung, but at least you can see what it is. And I am grateful that they posted it because there isn't another out there from which to learn. It's very different from the music we usually do.

Now, back to the traditional:  Adam Lay Ybounden. I've sung two other versions, but this is the first time I've sung the Ireland.

Next up, Canite Tuba, by Francisco Guerrero. I recall our singing that years ago, back when I was a novice - two sisters and two male neighbors. It didn't sound like the choir of King's College, Cambridge, but we worked hard, and I was pleased. I am now pleased because I remember most of it after all these years. It's one of those where  you have to count very carefully or you'll lose track of it. Worth it. I do love this one.

Old favorites, here... You probably know the hymn at the very least. This time we're singing in German (eep!) and with strings, a first for me.

This Ave Maria is simple and lovely, with intervals I don't expect but which really work. I assume it follows the reading from Luke about the Annunciation.

Purcell. I love Purcell. And indeed we should rejoice in the Lord always! Singing Purcell makes that easy to do.

And so, blessings on your Advent 3. May the hope of this season fill you with longing and expectation for the coming of our Lord not only 2000 years ago, but now in your heart and in God's good time to make all creation new.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent candle difficulties?

I've been wondering... Several people I know either don't trust themselves to put out candles if distraction were to come, are uneasy about open flames, or live in an apartment or condo complex that doesn't permit candles. Nursing homes and hospitals normally don't permit candles, either. What are they to do if they want to continue with their traditions and have an Advent wreath?

I've just found some possibilities.


Here's another:


If you're an Episcopalian doing Sarum blue, there are blue tealights available pretty easily. Here is a 12-pack which would make three Advent wreaths or supply back-up candles (because who knows how long these things last)


If you have an Advent wreath set-up in which to put them, there are taper versions as well.


These pillar candles are lovely (as electric candles go), but way too expensive. Still, I share them so the possibility is offered. Probably somewhere out there one can find them more reasonable priced.

overpriced set of 4 on Ebay - each comes with a remote!

And then there is the least expensive option... Take a wide permanent marker in the appropriate color(s) and a bag of dollar store white tealights, and you have a DIY opportunity which might just work.

Perhaps you know someone who would like an Advent wreath. It would be a wonderful gift to make them one.

Hark What a Sound

This is the hymn with which I am praying this Advent.

Hark what a sound, and too divine for hearing,
  Stirs on the earth and trembles in the air;
Is it the thunder of the Lord’s appearing?
  Is it the music of His people’s prayer?
Surely He cometh, and a thousand voices
  Shout to the saints, and to the deaf and dumb;
Surely He cometh, and the earth rejoices,
  Glad in His coming who hath sworn: I come!
This hath He done, and shall we not adore Him?
  This shall He do, and can we still despair?
Come, let us quickly fling ourselves before Him, .
  Cast at His feet the burden of our care.
Thru life and death, thru sorrow and thru sinning
  He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed:
Christ is the end, for Christ was the beginning,
  Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.

Lyrics typed out thanks to https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/969.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Duxbury Interfaith Council Holiday Basket Project

Helping locally...

Once again, we are collecting donations of food and gifts as part of the DIC's community work. There is information on various ways to participate in the flier pictured below. Furthermore, we are also planning to collect donations of food outside Foodies Market in Halls Corner on Saturday, December 10, from 8AM-12PM. If you prefer, you may help by sending a check to the Duxbury Interfaith Council, PO Box 1161, Duxbury, MA 02331.


Monday, November 28, 2016

sharing Evensong music

Along with another sister and an associate, I attended a beautiful service of Advent Lessons and Carols at St. Stephen's, Providence Sunday, November 27, Advent I. Sr. Kristina Frances sings in the choir there, which is, of course, added incentive for us to make the trip to Rhode Island. Some of the music was new to me, so I looked it up on my return; others were old favorites. Such beauty is to be shared, so I'm offering a few recordings for your Advent reflection.

Lessons and Carols opened with the Matin Responsory from Palestrina (Willcocks' adaptation) which I've sung, but never so beautifully.

It was followed immediately by the Advent hymn, "Lo! he comes, with clouds descending" (Helmsley), which was written by Charles Wesley. Other than the "deeply wailing" bit, I do love it. And it's hardly Advent if you don't sing it, after all. The recording below has an unusual (to me) descant at the end to add to the experience.

Following the bidding prayer, the choir sang the Advent Prose. Now, I know and love the plainchant version, and Sr KF sings it beautifully. This Lessons and Carols service offered a choral version by Richard Lloyd that I'd not heard before.

After a reading of Genesis 3:1-23 (Adam & Eve's rebellion), they sang one I recall learning back in the previous millennium in my other life as a boarding school teacher and faculty infiltrator of the girls' choir (it helped that I was young and short; I didn't stick out quite so badly as I might have otherwise). I still enjoy it and was, of course, singing along in my head.

Next up, Haggai 2:6-9, and a piece that was just wild. I'd heard that this Pizzetti motet was quite challenging. That was a bit of an understatement. It was certainly out of my range of singing ability - just too unpredictable and crunchy - but they sang it well. The translation of the text begins with "Howl ye Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty." Yikes. Have I mentioned that Advent begins with much apocalyptic scripture? For both reasons, better them than me! It is, however, worth listening to.

Next up, Isaiah 7:10-15, one of the passages traditionally read in Advent.

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

The anthem responding to the reading is a variation of a beloved hymn; you'll recognize it. This setting of Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland is by Johann Hermann Schein.*

Finally, time for the rest of us to sing again, this time "How bright appears the morning star."

Fourth Lesson: Isaiah 35:1-10, one of my favorites.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
   the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
   and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
   the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
   the majesty of our God. 

Strengthen the weak hands,
   and make firm the feeble knees. 
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
   ‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
   He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
   He will come and save you.’ 

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
   and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
   and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
   and streams in the desert; 
the burning sand shall become a pool,
   and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
   the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 

A highway shall be there,
   and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
   but it shall be for God’s people;
   no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray. 
No lion shall be there,
   nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
   but the redeemed shall walk there. 
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
   and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
   they shall obtain joy and gladness,
   and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 

If that isn't enough to make you sing, I don't know what would be.

Following Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14, an anthem by Orlando Gibbons, O Thou, the central orb.
Then Luke 1:5-25, and Hymn 272, "The great forerunner of the morn."

...followed by my second favorite of the evening, Ut queant laxis, by Orlande de Lassus - "So that with unrestrained hearts they servants might sing the wonders of thy acts, remove the sin..."

This next piece, by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978!) was my favorite of the evening, though the text isn't one I normally pray with. Along with "The angel Gabriel from heaven came" (Hymn 265 in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982), it accompanied the Gospel account of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38).

After the Rector's greetings and an organ voluntary, there was the Vesper Responsory, a prayer, and an Advent blessing before the final hymn, Veni, veni, Emmanuel.

O come, o come, Emmanuel, indeed.

Monday, October 31, 2016

NYC cathedral beauty

Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City

Really enjoyed the gardens and their inhabitants.

 Small plaques like this around the garden.
All quotes on peace? 
Didn't read them all, so I'll just have to return to find out.
They had one from John Lennon, too.

all creatures of our God and King

This peacock is named Bill.
There is also a white peacock named Phil, but we couldn't find him.

They had an interfaith art exhibit going on off to the side.

Lighting a candle for prayer.

Imagine the music one could make in this place...
Singing to the Lord in such a setting would be amazing.

ambulatory side chapel

This is not a small nave.

part of the chorus

It may be modern, but it still has that timeless feel.

As with cathedrals in Europe, this will probably take centuries to finish.
And that's just fine.