Agape love, rebirth, and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit: three concepts intertwined beautifully in this Sunday's reading of John 3.1-17.
The ancient Latin text "Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est" (Where charity and love are, there God is) refers to agape love and is traditionally associated with the Washing of Feet rite on Maundy Thursday in Catholic and some Protestant traditions. Contemporary settings of this text include works by Maurice Duruflé, Paul Halley, David Conte, and this Sunday morning's offering by Norweigan composer Ola Gjeilo. The anthem is also another selection from the March 16 Ola Gjeilo concert the Chancel Choir will participate in at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City. The Gregorian chant melody associated with the text, composed between the 4th and 10th centuries, serves as the pedal cantus firmus in Jeanne Demessieux's beatific setting of the tune during the Prelude.
A Hymn to the Spirit, "Come Down, O Love Divine," commonly associated with the tune Down Ampney, is given a subtle tango inflection by contemporary composer Mark Sedio for the 9:00 a.m. communion time.
To close the morning services, Camil Van Hulse provides an arrangement of the 17th century Lutheran hymn "Upon the Cross Extended" relating the life-giving power of Jesus' ministry summarized in these words from verse 7: "Your cross I place before me; Its saving pow'r restore me."
At the 6:00 p.m. service, cantor Blair Carpenter and ukulelist Stuart Yoshida lead you in songs of the spirit, love, and the wilderness as we continue the Lenten journey.
On this first Sunday of our Lenten observance, two dramatic organ works from the Baroque period will be played. The "Chaconne in E Minor" by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) offers inspired variations over a ground bass. The "Dialogue sur les grands jeux" from Suite du premier ton by Louis-Nicolas Clérambault (1676-1749) completes the morning services on a grand French high Baroque note.
During the 9:00 a.m. communion time, soprano Blair Carpenter sings a solo version of the Stephen Paulus choral anthem "The Road Home." Based on the folk tune "The Lone Wild Bird" from The Southern Harmony Companion of 1835, the text was written by Michael Browne in 2001 and speaks to returning home after being lost in the proverbial wilderness.
At the 11:00 a.m. choral service, the Chancel Choir offers "The Spheres" by Ola Gjeilo. This work is a selection from our March 16 Alice Tully Hall concert in New York City celebrating the music of Ola Gjeilo. It is an a cappella setting of the first movement from Gjeilo's 2008 Sunrise Mass.
At the 6:00 p.m. Dinner Church service, cantor Blair Carpenter and I lead you in songs by Iona Community composer John Bell and songs of wilderness travel.
Each week, Director of Music Mark Heiskanen writes a Music Minute previewing the upcoming Sunday's musical offerings and occasionally opines on other music-related topics.
We are blessed by an engaging music program at Plymouth!
Mark Heiskanen has been Plymouth's Director of Music since September 2017. Originally from Northeast Ohio, Mark has experience and great interest in a diverse range of musical styles including jazz, rock, musical theatre, and gospel. He is thrilled to serve a congregation and staff that values diversity and inclusion in all facets of life.