top of page

Sunday, August 2, the Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week’s worship videos are now available:

Morning Prayer, Rite I:

Morning Prayer, Rite II:

I was struck by the thought Mark expresses in his music notes (below) about finding heightened meaning in the repeated words of our liturgy. Like so many other aspects of pandemic life, we can easily and quite understandably fall into a negative attitude about "having to" repeat many of the prayers every week. Although, with the medium of pre-recorded videos, you can always skip the parts you don't like. And that's OK! I want you to use these videos in whatever way best supports your spiritual life. But being in a position where I don't have the option to skip over parts of the service that might seem tedious, I have found that there is much grace in the experience of repetition.

Specifically, by praying these prayers week in and week out, I find that certain words or phrases "jump out" at me, and the effect can be spiritually invigorating and provocative. "Let me never be confounded," or "we shall never hope in vain," for example. The idea that we could ever ask such a thing of God seems simultaneously unreasonably great and unreasonably small. Surely we should expect some disappointments in life, yet on the other hand, surely helping us through them is a trivial matter for God, who nevertheless is pleased to walk with us in even the darkest times of our lives.

Perhaps the answer lies later in our worship, when we thank God "for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone." I share the frustration and sadness of not being able to be with you in church on Sundays and Holy Days, but I rejoice that God is blessing us in new, if smaller, ways. It's a bit like going out and watching the sky on a clear summer night: leaving our well-lit homes, for a moment we can see nothing, but if we allow our eyes to adjust, we can see a rich tapestry of stars, enthralling us, inspiring us, and perhaps allowing us to navigate.

Please join us for our virtual coffee hour at noon:

• To join in the Zoom app, use the Meeting ID: 852 8633 0838 (no password).

• To join in your browser, click here:

• To join from a smartphone, tap here: +16465588656,,85286330838#

• To join from a conventional phone, call (646) 558-8656 and enter the Meeting ID.

Hope to see many of you then!

Here are Mark's music notes:

Our Opening Hymn is "All Who Hunger Gather Gladly; Holy Manna Is Our Bread" from our Hymnal supplement "Wonder, Love, and Praise." This text is by Canadian Clergy person and hymn writer Sylvia Dunstan (1955-1993). It is sung to a Shape Note tune from 1827 for the words: "Brethren, We Have Met Together," which contains the words "Holy Manna." In a delightful marriage of text and tune, Dunstan includes the tune name in the very first phrase! Last Thursday’s FYI contains more information on this text and tune. "All Who Hunger" has always seemed like a hymn connected with the Holy Eucharist, which it is, but these words have new meaning as we're in a time when we cannot share in the "Supper of the Lamb."

Last week I was able to participate in the virtual summer course of the Royal School of Church Music in America (RSCMA) that normally meets in late July in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Because of our isolation this was perhaps my only chance to be together with old and new colleagues and friends. After the final Compline the president of this group came on and referred to our final hymn, 559 “Lead us, Heavenly Father”, which I did not recognize. I immediately was struck by the words as well as the music.

Honestly, this pandemic has forced me to focus on the words which I have to repeat many times during the recording process. Even familiar words take on such a sharper meaning during these times.

Organ music is from the great, yet not well known Spanish Baroque. Catalan organist & composer José Elías works in the tiento tradition, a Spanish genre in the mid 15th century and is analogous to the Fantasia/Fantasy of north western Europe and Brittan as well as the Ricercare form found in Italy. Exclusively a keyboard form which reached its zenith in the works of Juan Cabanilles.


The Rev. Bret B. Hays


Saint John’s Episcopal Church



bottom of page