Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 160 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

My Photo
Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Singing! Yes, sing it! - Rector's Rambling for January 21, 2024

Today is our last Sunday after The Epiphany, a shorter season because of how early Easter is celebrated this year  on March 31.  Next week we are back into the purple for the gesima, pre-Lenten season.  This is the last week we use the word ALLELUIA in worship. 

In the past two weeks, in three separate conversations, I found out something interesting about our congregation.  Apparently there is some confusion about what parts of the service the congregation is supposed to be singing along with the choir!  More! Folks should be singing more!

We have a remarkable choir with men and women who are professional musicians.  Dr. Lewis began his tenure as choirmaster as a grad student at the University of Michigan in 1974, and the additions of our Edwards Organ Scholarship has further enhanced our music program with scholars who contribute with their musical gifts while learning the art of directing a world class choir.   But  choir is not the end all and be all of the music at St. John’s.  The entire congregation should be singing for most of the musical things.

The choir alone sings the minor propers (the chant at the beginning, before the gospel, the offertory sentence, and communion sentence), the Psalm at Holy Communion Services, and the Offertory Anthem.

The CONGREGATION (that’s everyone in the building) should be singing the four hymns AND the four parts of the Mass setting!  The Mass Setting?  Yes, the “Lord have mercy upon us”, the “Holy, Holy, Holy”, the “O Lamb of God” and the “glory be to God on high” - these are technically known as the Kyrie, Sanctus and Benedictus, Agnus Dei, and Gloria in excelsis.  And as you can see in the Order of Service there are hymnal numbers listed to the left of each part for you to open the sing along!  PLEASE SING ALONG!

I am told the priest at a former parish I worked at near Philadelphia used to go out into the congregation during the singing and hand his open hymnal to someone not singing.  Folks said the minute Fr. Lander headed down the steps,  looking around while singing, that people grabbed hymnals and sang louder!

How about we just save me a trip and join in the singing anyway!  4 hymns, the 4 parts of the Mass setting and since you outnumber the choir 5 to 1 or more I should be able to tell from the altar that everyone is joining in in song!