Music: January 2005 Archives

Epiphany service



It was a lovely service. Some say that worship ought to engage all the senses, and tonight's Epiphany Procession managed three of five -- the sight of the candlelight procession, the smell of incense, and the glorious sounds of hymns, carols, and canticles.

The cantor (seen at right) performed his part adequately, despite having to juggle a music book, a pitch pipe, and a lit candle, while also beating time during the polyphonic parts, and wondering whether standing in the exhaust of the thurible would adversely affect his voice. (It didn't.)

My fellow wise men (James Lawrence, Gary Leff, and Brad Wilson) did a splendid job singing Palestrina's responsories, and the Trinity Choir was likewise splendid as they performed "The Noble Stem of Jesse" (another English paraphrase of the German carol better known as "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming"), "Eastern Monarchs, Sages Three", "Ab Oriente" by Jacob Handl.

It was a treat to hear Fred Graves, retired professor of theatre at the University of Tulsa, read the the third lesson (Matthew 2:1-9), with his beautiful diction and warm tone. I got to know Fred during his years of service as newsletter editor for the Florence Park neighborhood association and as their representative to the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. (He retired from that a few years ago and is still hoping to see the younger folk in the neighborhood step forward to get the association going again.)

The hymns told the story of the wise men and their gifts: "The First Nowell", "We Three Kings" (which tells the spiritual significance of the three gifts), "As with Gladness Men of Old", "What Star Is This, with Beams So Bright." The recessional hymn, "Hail to the Lord's Anointed," shifts our focus from the babe in the manger to Christ, the conquering king:

Kings shall bow down before him,
and gold and incense bring
all nations shall adore him,
his praise all people sing;
to him shall prayer unceasing
and daily vows ascend;
his kingdom still increasing,
a kingdom without end.

O'er every foe victorious,
he on his throne shall rest;
from age to age more glorious,
all blessing and all blest:
the tide of time shall never
his covenant remove;
his Name shall stand for ever,
his changeless Name of Love.

Missing from the service was David Rollo, who is in the hospital. David is the musical director of the Coventry Chorale, a member of the Trinity Choir, and retired vocal music teacher at Holland Hall. David taught a lot of folks in this town to sing and to love singing (me included). As you read this, please take a minute to offer a prayer for his speedy and full recovery. Thanks.

Sunday evening, January 2, at 5:00 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Tulsa with present the annual Epiphany Procession, based on York Minster's traditional service. The service begins with a candlelight procession. Two separate groups enter from the north and south ambulatories, proceed down the aisles to the back of the church, then join together and process to the choir stalls. The smaller of the two groups, a four-voice schola cantorum, represents the wise men, the larger, made up of Trinity's choir, represents Everyman.

I'll be part of that smaller group, singing two responsories by Palestrina, along with three other men from Coventry Chorale. The pieces alternate between plainsong intonations by a cantor (me, this year) and responses in four-part polyphonic harmony. We rehearsed a couple of nights ago, and it sounds wonderful in Trinity's beautiful Gothic Revival sanctuary.

Ours is a relatively small part of the service, which also includes anthems sung by Trinity's choir, hymns sung by the congregation, and readings from Scripture appropriate to the feast of the Epiphany, which marks the manifestation of God's glory in Christ, as seen in the presentation of Christ in the temple, the visit of the Magi, Christ's childhood visit to the temple, and Christ's baptism.

Although Trinity isn't my home church, it's where I've done a lot of singing over the years: Lessons and Carols as part of Holland Hall School's Concert Chorus and Madrigal Singers, weekly rehearsals and semi-annual performances for 15 years with Coventry Chorale. When Trinity started the Epiphany service, Coventry provided the singers in partial thanks for allowing us to rehearse and perform at the church. (By the way, I'm on an indefinite sabbatical from Coventry -- I miss it, but the busyness of politics and maintaining this blog made the weekly rehearsal commitment too much to keep.) There is no better setting in Tulsa for the performance of sacred choral music or the drama of the Anglican liturgy.

The Epiphany Procession is a beautiful service and a fitting close to Christmastide. If you're in Tulsa, I hope you can join us.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Music category from January 2005.

Music: December 2004 is the previous archive.

Music: March 2005 is the next archive.

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