Sunday, 29 March 2015

Palm Sundays I have known.

FIRST I was scheduled to be an assisting minister  at  the 11:15  a.m. Eucharist at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, SRQ  this morning.

I rarely attend the 11:15 liturgy.    This is partly because I arise at 4:30 a.m. most days, so 11:15 a.m. is half way through my day.

It's also because the St. B's 11:15 a.m. service usually features music from the English Cathedral tradition, which is not my favourite cup of tea.

It has its place and is valued by some, but for me it is a tradition which takes music away from the hoi polloi in the pews, and assigns it to the "good or great singers".

On the other hand, there is a place in which the somewhat great "Anglican musical tradition"  is deemed to be worthy of preservation.

That place is valued at St. B's, hence the 11:15 Eucharist is led (in the tourist season) by a choir
called the "Schola Cantorum"  which is "A choral group founded by Neil Page, Director of Music, in the Anglican Cathedral tradition"
Started on November 1, 2009 a small group of singers was formed to provide choral music for the Eucharist at 11:15. The music is founded in the Anglican Cathedral tradition having been composed over a period of more than 600 years, from Tallis, Viadana and Palestrina through to Tavener, Archer and Hancock. In pursuit of musical excellence, this group, Schola Cantorum, is based around professional singers and enhanced with twelve scholars recruited during October & November each year. 
Even though I am not a great fan of English Cathedral music I am glad that the St. Boniface Scholars (many young people)  are learning to enjoy a tradition which otherwise would be beyond their ken.
So there I was this morning at the 11:15 "English Cathedral style" service.  I relaxed, suspended judgment, and enjoyed the music.
I was asked to be the "narrator" as we read the Passion Gospel -  which was nice for me.  I ministered the bread at the Eucharist.  Our Rector preached a "spot on" sermon.
SECOND  I remember a Palm Sunday procession from my days as Rector at St. Stephen's in  Pittsfield, MA.  The plan was that there would be a "figure of eight" Palm  procession with only the  Crucifer, Torch-bearers, Choir, and Ministers down, All and around the three aisles.
That was the plan.  But as the Crucifer, Torch-bearers, Choir, and Ministers passed the front  pews a retired Priest, the late and much beloved Cortland Pusey, made a hand signal which indicated that the folks in the pews should join in the procession.
All well and good until the head of the procession met the tail, resulting in absolute gridlock in the aisles. 
Yes, there was gridlock.    And all we could do was to get-off our pompous Episcopal behinds,  and laugh at this ludicrous turn of events. 
Even as I remember that Palm Sunday, I give thanks for my retired colleague Cort Pusey who created that chaos.
THIRD   At St. James's, Cambridge, MA  we tried a couple of outdoor processions in which we sang the inevitable Palm Sunday hymn "All glory, laud and honour".
Episcopal congregations are not the best of singers, (let alone outdoors!), and it was hard to keep the front and back of the procession in synch. with the hymn.
'Twas not good.
So we tried something new.  Thanks to the fabulous Patrick Michaels (Director of Music at St. James's) we had a  drum ensemble.
So we set out on our Palm Sunday outdoor procession with soul-stirring drum beats. 
As we processed the ( ever shy and retiring  Michael Povey)  cried out:
Give me an H.  Give me an O. Give me an S. Give me an A, Give me an N, give me another N, give me an A.   What do you have? 
Hosanna! they all cried.
This was so very far from  typical C of E/ Anglican/ Episcopalian restraint.
But I liked it!

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