Sunday, August 14, 2022 – The 10th Sunday after Pentecost

The music of contemporary American composer Daniel Locklair has enjoyed much popularity in recent years and is widely performed in the United States, Canada, and abroad. Preparing us for worship at the Prelude is his lyrical aria “The peace may be exchanged” taken from the larger work Rubrics, which was commissioned in 1989 and based upon the rubrics found in the Book of Common Prayer.

At the Offertory, baritone Joeavian Rivera offers a contemporary arrangement of the popular Irish hymn “Be thou my vision.” The text of this hymn comes to us from the Irish monastic tradition c. 700. It is one of two examples in our hymnal of the Celtic lorica or breastplate, almost a sort of incantation to be recited for protection, arming oneself for physical or spiritual battle. The other lorica is St. Patrick’s Breastplate (hymn 370) which we sing for occasions such as ordinations and Trinity Sunday.

During the Ministration, Abby Alexander, McKenna Miller, and Kate Teagarden offer the treble anthem from Psalm 130 “I will magnify thee, O Lord” by the late 18th century English composer Joseph Corfe. These young women served on the staff of the RSCM Gulf Coast Summer Course in June as proctors.

We are most appreciative of our soloists who have enriched our worship throughout July and the first half of August. Next week, we welcome back an ensemble from the SJD Chorale.

Sunday, August 7, 2022 – The 9th Sunday after Pentecost

Our worship today begins with the historically important hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Both text and tune were penned by the reformer Martin Luther. It is said to have been sung by Luther and his companions as they entered the city of Worms for the famous Diet of Worms in 1521. The text, a paraphrase of Psalm 46, is one of the earliest examples of this genre. Today, the hymn is sung by Christians throughout the world.

At the Offertory, mezzo-soprano Audrey Welch sings Leonard Bernstein’s “Simple Song” from his iconic and provocative work “Mass,” written to memorialize John F. Kennedy, America’s first Roman Catholic president, on the occasion of the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. in 1971. Though Bernstein’s work uses the framework of the Catholic Mass, it is more of a drama with the celebrant playing the central role. The music embraces Broadway and opera, rock ballads and blues, with a narrative that blends Hebrew and Latin texts. The work is first and foremost a celebration of human faith, as is elegantly expressed in “Simple Song” which we hear today.

Sunday, July 31, 2022 – The 8th Sunday after Pentecost

Psalm 117, a psalm consisting only of two verses and commonly known by the opening words in Latin, “Laudate dominum” (O Praise the Lord), has been set to music over the years by many composers. Today at the Offertory, soprano Amy Erlandson sings Mozart’s elegant setting of this text. Originally written for use in a vesper service at the Salzburg Cathedral, its lyrical simplicity has won this anthem a fond place in the repertoire. As it was written for liturgical use, it concludes with a Gloria Patri.

If you would like to help lead the sung portions of the service during these summer months while the full choir is away, please contact Sharlu Melville in the Music and Worship Office smelville@sjd.org. We would love to have you.

Sunday, July 24, 2022 – The 7th Sunday after Pentecost

Throughout the several weeks of mid-summer, we feature one of our many talented singers at the Offertory while the full choir is on summer break. Today at the Offertory,  we hear Anna Teagarden, director of our SJD youth choristers. In addition to her wealth of experience teaching music and leading choirs, Anna also has often been a featured vocalist; having sung in all manner of Cathedrals, as well as at times in jazz clubs.

A composer of great faith, Johann Sebastian Bach is considered to have been the greatest composer in the history of Western music. In 1723, Bach was appointed Cantor of the Thomasschule at Thomaskirche in Leipzig, and Director of Music in the principal churches in the town, namely the Nikolaikirche and the Paulinerkirche, the church of the University of Leipzig. One of his responsibilities was to present a cantata (a short oratorio including solo and ensemble singing with instrumental accompaniment) during the service each Sunday and on all Feast Days. He usually performed his own cantatas, most of which were written during his first three years in Leipzig. Bach also wrote two very famous passions, telling the story of Christ’s journey to the cross, which is performed all over the world during Holy Week. Today, we hear Anna Teagarden sing the aria “Ich folge dir gleichfalls” (I follow you likewise with joyful steps) from Bach’s St. John Passion. The aria occurs in the first part of the passion, immediately after the Evangelist states that Peter and another disciple followed Jesus after his arrest. The text of the aria depicts the act of following Christ from the perspective of the Christian believer. Bach portrays the idea of “following” by setting the text in a dialogue between the soprano and the accompaniment, where one voice imitates or follows the other.

If you would like to help lead the sung portions of the service during these summer months, please contact Sharlu Melville in the Music and Worship Office smelville@sjd.org. We would love to have you.

Sunday, July 17, 2022 – The 6th Sunday after Pentecost

Throughout the several weeks of mid-summer, we feature one of our many talented singers at the Offertory while the full choir is on summer break. Today, we welcome beloved soprano Nancy Curtis. Nancy has been associated with St. John the Divine for over 22 years. She sang as a section lead in the Chorale for a significant period of time and has also sung for countless weddings and funerals over the years. This morning, Nancy sings the final aria from Handel’s Messiah, a joyful affirmation from Paul’s letter to the Romans, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

If you would like to help lead the sung portions of the service during these summer months, please contact Sharlu Melville in the Music and Worship Office smelville@sjd.org. We would love to have you.

Sunday, July 10, 2022 – The 5th Sunday after Pentecost

Throughout the several weeks of mid-summer, we feature one of our many talented singers at the Offertory while the full choir is on summer break. Today, we welcome lyric soprano Dominique McCormick. Dominique is an adjunct professor and voice affiliate at the University of Houston and Artistic/Executive Director at Century Fine Arts Academy in Sugarland. At St. John the Divine, she has sung in the Chorale as a section lead and as one of the Three Sopranos. More recently, she was the featured soloist at last year’s Christmas on the Boulevard concert.

This morning, Dominque sings an arrangement of the familiar African-American Spiritual “Let us break bread together,” as arranged by John Carter in his larger work Cantata. Research reveals that this spiritual was formed in the West African Gullah/Geechee slave culture that developed in the coastal areas of South-Eastern Colonial America, including St. Helen Island, Beaufort, and Charleston, South Carolina.

Our organist for this morning’s liturgies is Jyung Kim. She is a graduate of the University of Houston and serves as our organist for our weekly chapel services.

If you would like to help lead the sung portions of the service during these summer months, please contact Sharlu Melville in the Music and Worship Office smelville@sjd.org. We would love to have you.

Sunday, July 3, 2022 – The 4th Sunday after Pentecose

The processional hymn “God of Our Fathers,” also known as the “National Hymn,” was written by Daniel Roberts, a 19th Century Episcopal priest, for the centennial Fourth of July celebration in 1876. It was first sung to the tune RUSSIA, which we sing to the words “God the Omnipotent.” Roberts’ hymn was then selected in 1892 to be used as the hymn for the centennial of the adoption of the United States Constitution. It was for this latter occasion that George Warren, organist at New York City’s St. Thomas Church, composed his majestic tune complete with the iconic fanfares that we sing today.

Antonio Vivaldi wrote at least three settings of the hymn Gloria in excelsis Deo, whose words date from around the 4th Century and which are an integral part of the Ordinary of the Mass and which we sing weekly after the Collect for Purity. At the Offertory we hear “Domine Deus” from the second of Vivaldi’s settings (c. 1750) written for soprano, oboe, and continuo.

Beginning today and continuing for the next five Sundays, we will feature one of our many talented singers at the Offertory while the full choir is on summer break. If you would like to help lead the sung portions of the service during this time as part of a Summer Choir, please contact Sharlu Melville in the Music and Worship Office smelville@sjd.org. We would love to have you.

Sunday, June 26, 2022 – The 3rd Sunday after Pentecost

At the Offertory, we hear the hymn “O God beyond all praising” as penned by British hymnist Michael Perry. Perry served as Vicar of Tonbridge and as a canon of Rochester Cathedral. “O God beyond all praising” was written specifically for the melody THAXTED in 1982, a composition by the early 20th-century British composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934). This tune was taken from the middle section of the Jupiter movement of his orchestral suite The Planets and named after Thaxted, the English village where Holst lived most of his life. The tune is normally associated in the U.K. with a more patriotic text, “I vow to Thee my country.” Perry composed his text in response to a call for alternative words that would be more appropriate for Christian worship. The result is a memorable, majestic hymn of praise that we hear this morning.

Sunday, June 19, 2022 – The 2nd Sunday after Pentecost

9am Service

Our worship begins at the Introit with the familiar prayer by St. Richard of Chichester as set by 20th-century English composer L.J. White. In his prayer we hear the petitions, “May I know Thee more clearly, Love Thee more dearly, Follow thee more nearly.”

Simon Lole has spent a lifetime in music, starting as a boy chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. He spent many years as a professional church musician, culminating in positions as Director of Music at Sheffield Cathedral and then Salisbury Cathedral, and running the Chapel Choir and teaching at Jesus College, Cambridge University. Since 2005, he has worked as a freelance musician…musical director, composer, arranger, conductor, and organist, as well as a record producer and workshop leader. We welcomed him last month when he directed the SJD Chorale for the morning services. Today at the Offertory, a women’s ensemble from the Chorale will sing “The Father’s Love,” an elegant anthem written by Simon Lole with a text from John 15.

This morning at our 11:15am service, we welcome the Royal School of Church Music Gulf Coast Choir for a Choral Eucharist. The service is the conclusion of a week-long in-depth choir camp where thirty-plus girls from Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Tuscan, and Baton Rouge have been immersed in choir training, vocal training, music theory, liturgy, and other activities. Select adults from SJD, Christ Church Cathedral, and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church join them and provide the lower voice parts for the anthems and service music they lead.  This past week this group has sung evensong at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church and Christ Church Cathedral. Conducting them is Bruce Neswick, Canon for Cathedral Music at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland, Oregon, and the Summer Course Clinician.

11:15am Service

This morning we welcome the Royal School of Church Music Gulf Coast Choir for Choral Eucharist. The service is the conclusion of a week-long, in-depth choir camp where thirty-plus girls from Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Tucson, and Baton Rouge have been immersed in choir training, vocal training, music theory, liturgy, and other activities. Select adults from SJD, Christ Church Cathedral, and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church join them and provide the lower voice parts for the anthems and service music they lead. This past week they have sung evensong at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church and Christ Church Cathedral. Conducting them is Bruce Neswick, Canon for Cathedral Music at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland, Oregon, and the Summer Course Clinician. Carolyn Craig, the Summer Course Organist, is the principal organist for Eucharist this morning. She is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in organ performance from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music. We are most grateful to our own Anna Teagarden, associate director of music, SJD Choristers, who serves as the Course Manager.

Sunday, June 12, 2022 – Trinity Sunday

Today, the First Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the doctrine of the Trinity – the three persons of God: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Trinity Sunday, a Principal Feast in the Church of England, is likewise one of seven principal feast days in the Episcopal Church. As part of our liturgy, we sing the great hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” by British poet Reginald Heber (1783-1826), which was specifically written for use on Trinity Sunday. John Dykes later composed the tune “Nicaea” in 1861 for the hymn. The name is a tribute to the First Council of Nicaea, which formalized the doctrine of the Trinity in 325 and produced the statement of faith we know as the Nicene Creed.

Reflecting and celebrating the glory of God’s creation, our Offertory anthem, “The Heavens Are Telling,” comes from one of the greatest sacred oratorios of all time, The Creation by Franz Joseph Haydn. Widely regarded as Haydn’s masterpiece, this oratorio dramatizes the Genesis story of creation. At the end of each day, instead of simply setting the text “And God saw that it was good,” Haydn inserts a celebratory choral movement telling of the wonder of that day’s creation. “The Heavens Are Telling” is one such movement, set at the end of the fourth day when God made the sun and the stars “in the expanse of the heavens.” The text is taken from the first verses of Psalm 19. Our appointed Psalm of the day, Psalm 8, likewise is a creation psalm extolling the Glory of God: “O Lord our Governor, how majestic is your name in all the world! You have set your glory above the heavens.”