Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Fourth Day of Christmas: Gaudete

GAUDETE, CHRISTUS EST NATUS - arr. Jim Cooke, The Chamber Choir KameLeon of The Leon Kozminski University and The College of Europe Choir conducted by Katarzyna M. Boniecka during the concert entitled „The Christmas time is back" in The Jesuit Church of St.Stephan in Warsaw in 2011

Friday, December 26, 2014

Music for the Second Day of Christmas: Now May We Singen

I'm reposting this from last Christmas. As a bonus, I can now say that I have met Cecilia McDowall, who is a wonderful composer from England. I like her "sound."

The Virginia Chorale sings Cecilia McDowall's setting of this 15th Century traditional Christmas carol.

Chorus: Now may we singen as it is

Quod puer natus est nobis.
1. This Babe to us that now is born,
Wonderful works He hath (y)wrought
He would not loss what was forlorn,
But boldly again it bought;

        And thus it is

        For sooth ywis,

  He asketh nought but that is His.

2. This bargain lov√ęd He right well,
The price was high and bought full dear.
Who would suffer and for us feel
As did that Prince withouten peer?

        And thus it is

        For sooth ywis,

  He asketh nought but that is His.

3. His ransom for us hath ypaid;
Good reason have we to be His.
Be mercy asked and He be prayed,
Who may deserve the heavenly bliss.

        And thus it is

        For sooth ywis,

  He asketh nought but that is His.

4. To some purpose God made man;
I trust well to salvation.
What was His blood that from Him ran
But fence against damnation?

        And thus it is

        For sooth ywis,

  He asketh nought but that is His.

5. Almighty God in Trinity,
Thy mercy we pray with whole heart,
Thy mercy may all woe make fell
And dangerous deread from us to start.

        And thus it is

        For sooth ywis,

  He asketh nought but that is His.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve!

Christmas Eve has dawned!

Before I was ordained, and when my children were small, Christmas Eve was the day I made Moravian sugar cake, which we would eat for breakfast on Christmas Day. I'd prepare it in the morning while listening to the King's College Christmas Lessons and Carols on the public radio station.

I haven't made sugar bread in years, ever since Christmas Eve became a very busy work day for me and for the children (one of whom is now a volunteer church musician).  But this year, thanks to the magic of internet radio, I am listening to the service from King's College at my desk. And thanks to wonderful friends bearing gifts, I had sugar cake mailed from Old Salem for breakfast.

Meanwhile, people are scurrying around at the church, getting things ready. There's so much to do behind the scenes. The altar guild has changed the frontal and hangings to Christmas white and put out an altar in the fellowship hall for our overflow crowd. Stacks of bins full of bulletins for our three services are sorted and ready. Extra chairs are being pulled out of the cupboards, and luminaries line the breezeway between the parish house and church.

Choir members will soon begin warming up their voices and instrumentalists flexing their fingers. Because it's a rainy, messy day, our sextons will wheel in coat racks for the drippy raincoats people will shed as they arrive this afternoon.

My dad always did his Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve.  That was interesting. I had to run a few errands this morning and amazingly the stores were fairly empty and the cashiers smiling and friendly.

So, it's a busy day for many people. The waiting is over and the preparations are now in high gear.  It takes a lot to "put on Christmas." Thanks for all you do to make it happen at your church and in your community and your home.

But.  I hope you'll have a chance to take a few deep breaths, put up your feet for a few minutes today with a nice cup of tea (or something), listen to some music, light some candles, and settle in to the thought that our savior and our salvation has indeed now drawn very near, and by doing so has drawn us very near to the heart of God.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Music for Advent: Wondrous Love

This is the Meadows Chorale from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University (SMU) conducted by Alfred Calabrese singing the traditional hymn Wondrous Love as arranged by Alice Parker and Robert Shaw.

While this is not technically an "Advent hymn," Wondrous Love is a good hymn for every season. Certainly as we consider and prepare for the coming of our Lord, it is good to hear these words. And this is a wonderful arrangement.

Alice Parker is an American composer/conductor/arranger from Boston, educated at Smith College and then The Juilliard School. She studied with Robert Shaw and arranged a number of songs with him in her early career. She particularly likes to work with folk/traditional tunes sung a cappella and her arrangements often feature a drone, partial canons (rounds), and other ways of weaving the sections and musical parts so that they interact with each other.

During my first semester of seminary, Alice Parker was the musician in residence, and she often came to chapel and taught us to sing her arrangements of traditional hymns as part of our worship. It was fantastic and fun - and amazing that she could take a group of people just sitting in a room and have them sing beautifully.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Annuciation (a poem)

Mary, did you marvel  at the sight of an angel in your room?

Did the hair on the nape of your neck
stand on end -
in fear, in fascination,
in dread,
in tender curiosity?

Did you consider
saying no? 
Did you blush or panic or wish
that you could rush out the door
into the cool spring breeze
and forget
it ever happened?

Hail, Mary,
full of grace,
the Lord is with thee,
he said in his angel voice
that must have sounded like heaven
to your maiden ear.

Why else would you have listened?
How else could you have listened?
Unless it was the sound of heaven that kept you still.

And while he waited for your answer, were you thinking that your life was over?

Or was it just the beginning?

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Sally is about to pounce ..... 

while Bella ponders the mysteries of Advent.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Psalm for Thursday in the Third Week of Advent

Psalm 30

1     I will exalt you, O LORD,
         because you have lifted me up*
            and have not let my enemies triumph over me.

2     O LORD my God, I cried out to you,*
          and you restored me to health.

3      You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead;*
           you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.

4       Sing to the LORD, you servants of his;*
           give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.

5      For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,*
           his favor for a lifetime.

6      Weeping may spend the night,*
           but joy comes in the morning.

7      While I felt secure, I said, "I shall never be disturbed.*
           You, LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains."

8      Then you hid your face,*
           and I was filled with fear.

9       I cried to you, O LORD;*
            I pleaded with the Lord, saying,

10     "What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit?*
             will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?

11      Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me;*
             O LORD, be my helper."

12     You have turned my wailing into dancing;*
             you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.

13     Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;*
            O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Psalm for Tuesday in the Third Week of Advent

Psalm 34:1-8

1     I will bless the LORD at all times;*
          his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

2     I will glory in the LORD;*
          let the humble hear and rejoice.

3     Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD;*
          let us exalt his Name together.

4     I sought the LORD, and he answered me*
           and delivered me out of all my terror.

5     Look upon him and be radiant,*
          and let not your faces be ashamed.

6     I called in my affliction and the LORD hear me*
          and saved me from all my troubles.

7     The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him,*
          and he will deliver them.

8     Taste and see that the LORD is good;*
          happy are they who trust in him!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Psalm for Monday in the Third Week of Advent

Psalm 25:3-8

3      Show me your ways, O LORD,*
          and teach me your paths.

4      Lead me in your truth and teach me,*
           for you are the God of my salvation;
           in you have I trusted all the day long.

5     Remember, O LORD, your compassion and love,*
           for they are from everlasting.

6     Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;*
           remember me accordion to your love
           and for the sake of your goodness, O LORD.

7     Gracious and upright is the LORD;*
          therefore he teaches sinners in his way.

8      He guides the humble in doing right*
           and teaches his way to the lowly.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Collect for the 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.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Music for Advent: Wait for the Lord

I posted this last year and thought this evening would be a good time to listen to it again.

The traditional Taize hymn for Advent: Wait for the Lord, whose day is near. Wait for the Lord, be strong, take heart.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Slowing Down

The pressure is mounting to do more and more as Christmas approaches. All of a sudden, I am feeling a pull that is as strong as a tractor beam toward the mall..... I. Must. Shop!

I'm not part of the Advent Police who want to go about telling everyone they are wrong for skipping over Advent and going straight to Christmas. I happen to want to observe Advent because I believe I need it, but I don't think engaging in the Advent Wars is a worthy use of my already limited time. What's the point of setting aside time for reflection if it is about reflecting on either a) how wrong everyone is (or at least some people are) or b) how great I am. It's the Pharisee and the tax collector all over again.

Still. I need to keep on my path of trying to be still and quiet for at least a few minutes a day, to carve out the time, if necessary by giving up some other busy-ness/business, to slow down and breathe deeply and let my spirit seek connection with the One who is to come among us again very soon.  I still need to look around me and see those who are grieving, who are struggling, who are suffering and remember that it is for those that Jesus came - to bind up their wounds and to release them from the captivity under which they are bent over. I still need to name, and hopefully then let go of, the things that keep me from welcoming Christ into my life and that keep me from being Christ's hands and feet in the world.

And so, this is a reminder to me, and maybe to you, too, that even as things are getting busier and we are being pulled in many directions, to slow down, if just for a few minutes today, and contemplate the majesty and grace of the one who is coming to make things right and bring forth a new heaven and a new earth and to prepare our hearts to make him room.

This installation is in the Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, NYC

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Collect for our Nation

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(BCP 258)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Photo and Prayer for the Night Office

Keep wach, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

(BCP 134)

Monday, December 1, 2014


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