Sunday, April 11, Low Sunday
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Sunday, April 11 is the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as Low Sunday. Find the readings here.
Dear Friends in Christ,
This week’s worship videos are now available:
Morning Prayer, Rite II
Morning Prayer, Rite I
Some of you may have heard this Sunday referred to as "Low Sunday," and there are some popular explanations for the term. Perhaps you've heard it's because attendance is always lower for this Sunday than for Easter. Not quite. According to NewAdvent.org, "The origin of the name is uncertain, but it is apparently intended to indicate the contrast between it and the great Easter festival immediately preceding, and also, perhaps, to signify that, being the Octave Day of Easter, it was considered part of that feast, though in a lower degree." I'll buy that.
In that spirit, today's sermon is the last in the recent series of liturgical offerings from our diocese. Our preacher is the Rev. Kelly A. O'Connell, the Regional Canon for the Southern Region of our diocese. I found her preaching humanistic and accessible, yet erudite and thoughtful, so I hope you'll enjoy it, too. And, God willing, I'll be back in the pulpit next week.
Please join us for coffee hour at noon:
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Here are Mark's music notes:
We’ll hear a short organ introduction and David Oliver singing the Vidi Aquam which is one of our Eastertide songs each year. These are ancient words, from Ezekiel 47.1 and have been sung to this chant for more than a thousand years. I have paired 3 artistic images of Thomas to dialogue with the words and music. This is an archive recording from last year. Another archive recording is Carol McKenzie’s solo singing of Eleanor Daley’s choral anthem “My Master from a Garden Rose.” Now that we’ve completed a year’s worth of recordings, I plan to include some of these as they are appropriate.
The Second Sunday of Easter always includes the Gospel account of Jesus’s resurrection encounter with Thomas, the disciple who had missed the first chance. Our opening Hymn is Ruth Duck’s telling of that story set to the medieval chant long associated with this Sunday as well. The Hymnal 1982 version is #206.
The closing hymn (180) “He is Risen” is one of my longstanding favorites. I grew up with the tune to another text in the Lutheran Church, “Open now Thy Gates of Beauty.”
The final Voluntary is also based on this tune. The composer is Helmut Walcha. Born in Leipzig in 1907 Walcha was blinded at age 19 as a result of a smallpox vaccine. Despite his loss he studied at Leipzig Conservatory and assisted at the organ at St. Thomas, the church where Bach presided. He continued in Frankfurt at the Conservatory as organ professor in 1938 and perhaps was spared a closer walk with Nazism because of his blindness. Many of the North American organists, soon to be University and Conservatory professors of the 2nd half of the 20th century, studied with him in the post war years and so his legacy has lived on. He recorded two complete cycles of the complete works of J. S. Bach, the first in 1952 (monaural) and the second in 1971 (stereo).
This organ setting, based on Hymn 180, contains the tune in long notes in the Pedals. The top 2 voices follow along imitating each other using ascending arpeggios and traveling into some seemingly unrelated tonal centers. This is an excellent example of the normal way of introducing a hymn in continental European Protestant churches, with an extended organ (usually improvised) setting of the hymn to be sung. Many of Bach’s shorter works were composed as examples of this tradition of Chorale introduction. This tradition occurs in some Lutheran churches here in the States, but is not generally common.
Have you made it this far, and are still awake? I’d be delighted if you might conjure up and write to me several musical things that were especially meaningful or memorable for you during our online worship, and why it was. And further, if you can, what you’re looking forward to (musically) as we begin to move forward to the “new” normal, return to in person worship. Thank you so much.