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.
This week the choir sings an anthem based on the freedom song, “We Shall Overcome,” arranged by Tom Trenney. “We Shall Overcome” was a popular rallying song during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but its roots extend deeper into the past. Lyrically, the song is thought to be a descendant of the gospel hymn, “I’ll Overcome Some Day,” written by the Methodist minister Charles Albert Tindley of Philadelphia in 1900. Musically, the first half of “We Shall Overcome” resembles the African-American spiritual, “No More Auction Block,” while the second half is more or less identical to the 19th-century hymn, “I’ll Be All Right.” Some version of the song was used in a miner’s strike in 1908 and again in the mid-1940s during a strike by tobacco workers in South Carolina. Several participants of that strike brought the song to the union stronghold Highlander Folk School, where Zilphia Horton made it a regular part of each meeting. Pete Seeger learned the song from Horton, changed the first line to “We shall overcome” (instead of “We will overcome”), added several more verses, and spread the song to other folk singers and activists. The song’s popularity exploded during the 1960s, and its first line was quoted in speeches by Lyndon Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.