Children’s Choir Visits Retirement Home

The  children’s choir has an annual outreach through music when can fit it in, usually at the end of the choir year. This entire event is important, as through it children participate in caring for others and the church in several small and big ways:

  • We clean out our folders, sort music, and straighten up the choir room
  • We organize ourselves and our folders for singing at a retirement home
  • We talk about the infirmities of age and how we can help
  • We sing with and for those who hear our performance, and greet them after we sing
  • We go eat pizza with our choir and families afterwards (YAY!!)

For our final get together this school year the Our Saviour Children’s Choir visited Westminster Health Center, Westminster Manor, and Westminster Towers. We have visited Westminster previously, and it is always a marathon! Thank goodness for my fantastic helper, Judy Crozier. She understands children and anticipates their needs, as well as being a stickler for good worship and leadership habits. The kids love her and so do I.

On the day we sang, we gathered in the small Health Center Chapel by getting ourselves organized and singing through some of the harder music. We then went upstairs and sang a few pieces unaccompanied to those in the Health Center, many of whom do not get out except for meals. After greeting them and shaking hands, we walked through the building to the Manor and sang a few unaccompanied song at mealtime in the cafeteria. A lot of those people know us and they are always complimentary of the children, who converse with them a few minutes before running off down the hall to the Towers.

At the Towers we use the piano and have a more formal presentation. The music consists of songs we have sung over the previous year, and included J. S. Bach’s “Loving Shepherd” (the tune is “Sheep may safely graze”); “Hodie Christus natus est” by Michael Bedford; “Jesus was born”, a piece which the children’s choir composed for Christmas; and a gospel song, “This little light of mine”, on which every single child sang a short solo; and several other pieces. We closed singing our Royal Schol of Church Musicians song, “Non nobis, Domine” by William Byrd, preceded by singing two hymns with the audience,  “Amazing Grace” and “All things bright and beautiful”.

The audience loves that our children sing well and sing a variety of music, rather than all contemporary or pop songs, and they particularly remark that we sing in other languages, especially Latin. One woman told the children she had been a music teacher and appreciated their good musicianship, and another said both her daughters majored in Latin in college and complimented the children on their pronunciation.

We all went to eat pizza afterwards, and had a good time. This summer we will keep in contact, and will start back weekly rehearsals in the fall. Thanks to all parents and others who help us with this choir.









Bach at Our Saviour

This Sunday, May 7, 2017, the Our Saviour Adult Choir with soloists Alice Craighead and David Caines will sing two movements from J. S. Bach’s Cantata No. 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden. At Our Saviour we sing this hymn (No. 186) with the translated English text beginning “Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands”, and have also used the first line as a refrain when the choir sings Anglican Chant for our psalms.

Johann Sebastian Bach was hired as organist at the smaller of two Protestant churches in the historic city of Arnstadt, Germany, at the age of 18. He received council criticism for famously absenting himself from Arnstadt for some months to study with Buxtehude, but he came back with an interest in choral music. Though he had few choir duties, he soon began composing choir cantatas, and “Christ lag in Todesbanden” was probably composed in 1707 when he was 22, in application for a new post in Mühlhausen, where he served until 1708. (Arnstadt was where Bach worked off some of his youthful indiscretions, receiving censure for calling a bassoon player a “weenie”, swordfighting in the streets, drinking communion wine with a woman in the choir loft, insisting that she was no ordinary woman, but a fine soprano. In fact, she was his cousin,Maria Barbara Bach, whom he married while in in Mühlhausen.)

“Christ lag in Todesbanden” is an elaborate setting of the seven verses of Martin Luther’s German Easter hymn which is itself based on the text and tune of the Gregorian Chant “Victimae paschali laudes”. It ends with a chorale (hymn verse) preceded by the celebratory duet which will be sung Sunday. In the duet, the chorale is echoed in the two solo voices leading to a virtuostic Hallelujah closing section. The entire movement is accompanied by cello playing French Overture rhythms, giving the movement a dance-like quality. The final chorale is for choir, and will be sung first in German, then in English, by our Adult Choir.

I am excited to have Adam Sullivan playing cello for this service. He will be heard on all the music played Sunday, but cello is an important feature of this Bach. Thanks to David and Alice for their extra work on this dramatic piece celebrating the victory of Life over Death, and the joyful observance of Christ’s Easter triumph.



Alleluia! Christ is risen!

(I hope you immediately replied “The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!” as we heard preached yesterday!)

On Maundy Thursday our lections told us how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as a sign of his own servanthood. The readings were followed with an inspiring sermon by Senior Warden Susanne Okey about the reciprocal nature of servanthood, how we can receive and give and grow. I give thanks for the servanthood ministry of all who helped with the beautiful services at Our Saviour during the last month.

Thank you to the adult choir for their calm and faithful servanthood in rehearsal and services every week. Your singing and leadership during Holy Week was especially meaningful to everyone. Thank you to our children’s choir and our very organized helper, Judy Crozier. Thank you to the Early Dance Class from Withrop University and their teacher, Dr. Andrew Vorder Bruegge. Thank you to Early Music Our Saviour and my assistant director, Dr. Julia McCallum. Thanks to Rich Hart and our other instrumentalists for their Holy Week music. And thank you to our wonderfully supportive congregation for caring for the organ, for elevating music to a position of ministry, and for special donations to support the music of Our Saviour. And, as always, thank you to our Rector, The Rev. Janice Melbourne Chalaron, for her vision of what Our Saviour can be.