Monday, September 25, 2006

Music, Music, Music

I've not been much in the mood to "blog" lately; however, just so I'm posting something new I offer the following as an item I read to our Parish about a year ago amidst a strategic planning exercise. Today's not that far removed from 9/11 so hopefully it has some relevance near its 5th anniversary:

Music has always been important to me. From my youth forward, it has spoken to me and moved my heart. While just a young kid in the early to mid ‘50’s I listened to the radio and to 45’s that included all the “pop” and country stars of the era. I know a lot of the music of that time and even enjoyed listening to “Your Hit Parade”. As an early teen I “was into” Roy Orbison and all the contemporary greats of Country like Jim Reeves, Ray Price, Patsy Cline and Bob Wills. At that time the "Greats" traveled by bus from Honky Tonk to Dance Hall and I was lucky to hear more than my share of them in person. Their message, their presentation, all combined to move me and transport me to another place and time. It was and still is a good feeling.

Some of the music we sing during The Service has the same effect on me.

The first tune on my personal favorites list has to be Amazing Grace by John Newton. Not only can I sing all the verses in our Hymnal from rote and give a history lesson on it’s author, but I always seem to hear it at the most opportune times … When I’m in need of reassurance, or when the Lord is trying to get my attention, if you will. One particular time that stands out is when Wife and I took our daughter to New Orleans, to enroll in Tulane as a freshman. Sunday, after we had moved her into her dorm the previous day, and just before we were to leave to return to home, we had Eucharist at the Episcopal Chapel on campus, its name escapes me. Anyway, Service music for the day included Amazing Grace and after singing it I was comfortable leaving my “baby girl” at school, 8 hours away, on her own, in a City that had a bit of a reputation. I truly felt God’s assurance that everything would be alright.

A second favorite has to be “O’ Come All Ye Faithful”. Every Christmas Eve at our “Midnight Service”, I am overwhelmed as we sing what I’ve heard described as neither Hymn nor Carol but a Christmas Summons. That description struck a responsive chord with me. Summons as defined by Webster is “an authoritative command, message, or signal by which one is summoned.” or, “an authoritative call or notice to appear at a specified place, as for a particular purpose or duty”. Both definitions originate from a position of authority. I believe that this year will be Wife & my 36th Midnight Mass (together) and it is one of the two most moving Services we attend annually. We both get chills when the Choir processes down the aisle. Like the proverbial “kids at Christmas”, we can hardly wait to receive our summons once again.

My third favorite is “America”. It didn’t use to be, but as Paul Harvey is wont to say, "stay tuned for the rest of the story.”

On September 10th, 2001, we (self & wife) were flying home from a business meeting in Orlando, FL. We got into DFW around 6:00 or 7:00 pm and much later caught the last flight of the evening to our destination. When we got home and checked our messages, we found that the father of a dear friend had died while we were out of town and I was asked to help usher his funeral the next morning at 10:00 am. That was the morning of 9/11. As I got here to the Church around 9:30, the planes had already hit the towers, I can’t remember if they had toppled yet. Everyone was aware of what was going on. But, as a Parish, we took time to put that out of our mind for a few minutes as we laid to rest one of the faithful, one of our brothers and to support and comfort the family he left behind.

My recollection is also that the next day, the Church was filled almost to overflowing, as we began offering Noonday Prayers for the tragedy that had befallen our nation. I really don’t remember how the word got out that we were having that Service, but it did. We kept up those Noonday Prayers for several more days and they continued to be well attended. That first day part of the Service Music was “America.” As we stood and sang together, I would venture to say that there were very few dry eyes amongst “the gathered faithful”. The day before we had been “in Community” to help a Church family deal with their loss. That next day we were again “in Community” to help each other deal with ours. My guess is that a wide variety of political ideologies were gathered together that day, all but with one common thought. For us and each other to come to terms with the tragedy that had befallen us all and likewise to comfort and be comforted amidst happenings, I suppose our Nation had not experienced since December 7th 1941. For a lot of us that Noonday, our Parish Church seemed like the place we needed to be, … and were.


At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Jason H said...


Actually, that overflowing church service came on Friday of that terrible week--all three of the Episcopal churches in town went in together for it. However, at 6:30 a.m. on September 12th we did gather and sing the Great Litany and pray.

I remember looking at Sarah B. on the afternoon of the 11th and saying "I think we missed the lecture in seminary about 'What to do in the face of national crisis.'" But we did what we do--gather the family and pray and hold on tight.

Much love,


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