This week is the fourth Sunday of Easter, which is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, as both the Psalm (23) and Gospel reading (John 10:11-18) for the day refer to God or Jesus as a shepherd. The choir’s two anthems also have a common theme of the shepherding God. The first, “The Lord Is My Shepherd,” a setting of the twenty-third psalm, is an arrangement by Larry Long of an African-American spiritual. The second, “When Some Kind Shepherd from His Fold,” is an arrangement of an American folk hymn by Alice Parker. The text is found in John Needham’s Hymns Devotional and Moral on Various Subjects (Bristol, England, 1768), while the music derives from American shape-note hymnals in the early nineteenth century.
This week the choir sings two anthems, the first an arrangement by Richard Shephard of the song “Be still, for the presence of the Lord,” written by David Evans. Evans is an English church musician and music teacher currently working towards a PhD in music psychology. Shephard, in addition to composing, serves as Chamberlain of York Minster in England. The second choral piece this week is “Creation of Peace,” an anthem by Mark Miller, an organist and composer who teaches at Drew Theological School in New Jersey.
On Easter Sunday the Adult Choir and the Singers will both participate in worship, singing at both the 8:30 and 11 o’clock services. They will combine to sing the introit, “He Is Risen,” by Michael Joncas. The Singers will also sing the anthem, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives,” by Austin Lovelace, an arrangement of a Sacred Harp tune. The Adult Choir’s anthem is “Christ Is Risen,” an arrangement by Michael Burkhardt of a chorus from Bach’s Cantata 207a. Amy Walder and Leah Patek, violinists, join the choir for this piece, as does Max Patek, who will play timpani.
This year’s Good Friday service will follow the traditional liturgy of Tenebrae for Holy Week, with readings from the Psalms and Thomas Tallis’s setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. In the contemplative service of Tenebrae (Latin for “darkness”), music serves as a reflection on the texts being read, and a candle is extinguished after each reading, until only one is left. Five singers, four drawn from the choir — Megan Sharp, Steve Patek, Jonathan Schakel, and Winston Barham — along with guest Emily Stubbs, will sing music from the Renaissance by Tallis, William Byrd, Giovanni Croce, and Lodovico Viadana.
This week the Choristers join the festive procession of palms at the beginning of the service, and then share their anthem Hail the King Who Comes A-Riding by Shirley McRae. The children are excited to wave palm and celebrate in song. The women of the Adult Choir will sing an anthem later in the service, O Love How Deep by Jane Lindner. The text of this anthem is familiar as a hymn that we sing during Lent. The original text in Latin was written in the 15th century and attributed to Thomas a Kempis. The English translation that we sing was written by Benjamin Webb.