Quite a lot of to-ing and fro-ing from an early hour today. The Innkeeper was up before sunrise to head off for her school. The Innkeeper’s husband fetched breakfast for us, then left to take the children to school and college.
I was taking in our surroundings a bit more today – beside us are a number of figures surrounding a new born child, looked on by their parents and what appear to be cows and sheep.I do worry about where we will end up to give birth to my Son – am I destined to give birth in a stable too?
But I know God will provide – He is with us, in the Child in my belly, in the compassion of Joseph, in the strong back of our donkey, in the hearts of so many who welcome us into their lives and homes.
We have much to be thankful for, and all will be well.
We spent the day with the Innkeeper’s husband, in the Study while he worked. He seemed to welcome our presence there – God blesses us, even as we work and provide for our families, and I think we reminded him of that.
In the evening the family came together for tea but there was more to do. First, a bit more music recording (a song about Bethlehem – where we are heading!) and our hosts spent time writing cards. There really is a bustle to this time of year – I do wonder what can possibly excite people so.
We asked for blessings on our temporary home and once again let the night take us.
Our next stay took us across Newport, up a rather steep hill but with quite a view over the surrounding countryside. Joseph was particularly taken by the wooded slopes and has promised he could turn his hand to some new furniture for us if I would allow him some of that pine wood. I told him I would ponder it in my heart.
The Innkeeper and her family allowed me to settle in before they disappeared for a few hours in the afternoon to meet up with their extended family in a place called England. They invited us along but I politely declined. I promised to consider a future visit – I will suggest to my Son when he’s older that he may enjoy walking upon England’s mountains green.
The family returned and settled for the evening. As with other places we’ve stayed, there is a festal atmosphere to the decoration indoors. Many sparkling lights bringing to mind evenings as a young girl spent looking up the skies, wondering at the stars.
If only they could speak, I am sure they would tell of such wonderful things.
The Innkeeper’s husband is something of a musician and I spent some time turning pages for him as he recorded an accompaniment for a forthcoming Carol Service.
The carol was titled ‘Angels’ Carol’, and began “have you heard the sound of the angel voices?”
I explained that I certainly had!
The Innkeeper herself was preparing song words too, this time referring to a food called Figgy Pudding. Apparently people don’t go until they get some. In my current state, with unusual food cravings, it sounds quite appealing and I’ve suggested Joseph may like to source some the next time he’s down Nazareth way. He smiled affectionately but continued to look wistfully at the pine trees.
We said our devotion together with our hosts and turned in for the night.
I’ve spent a good part of this month listening to a CD of 100 Worship Songs. Not always as uplifting as it may sound, but all in the name of research to augment our repertoire of congregational music, particularly for All Age Mass. The CD presented the top 100 songs by usage (according to CCL copyright returns) so gave a quick insight into what is generally popular in worship at this time. I’ll write more on my findings in a future column.
It got me to thinking, though, just what is our repertoire? How varied are we? I only have records dating back to when I started as organist here, but that still gives me a good 4 years – easily covering a 3 year church cycle. So here’s a list of facts and figures about the St Julian’s Repertoire. The good news is; if you’ve been at mass most Sundays for the same period, you can boast down the pub that it’s your repertoire too! Note these are distinct pieces – some will have been used more than once so your actual singing rate is much higher.
• 303 different hymns & worship songs
• 26 mass settings or parts of mass settings known (of course, you’ve recently added one)
• 137 different psalm settings
• 7 types of sung intercession responses
• 103 different choir anthems/pieces
The most sung hymns/songs in that four year period (counting Sunday Masses only) were:
• Alleluia, sing to Jesus (8 times)
• Immortal, invisible, God only wise; Just as I am, without one plea; Shine, Jesus, shine (all 7 times)
You’ll be pleased to know that I’m working hard on increasing your hymn & worship song count by at least another six over the coming months. Time to start gargling with that brandy!
Feast of SS Alban, Julius & Aaron, Martyrs, 2013
I’m writing this on the feast of Pentecost, hours after being a part of two wonderful Masses at St Julian’s. First, a glorious afternoon where our Lady Chapel and New Build was dedicated anew to her patronage and prayer, and today the glorious end of Easter itself. In both cases, the message was about exciting new beginnings – first to ensure our new building is used well in the service of God’s church, and second to ensure our own lives show the Holy Spirit alive in mission and outreach.
I hope the music in our liturgy over these two days has helped to express that sense of ‘work to be done in and through us’.
In the Mass of Blessing itself we started with the hymn ‘Let us build a house where love can dwell’, words and music by Marty Haugen, a North American based composer who has written extensively for the Roman Catholic church. We make good use of his material (for example, the new sprinkling song at Easter this year, ‘Up from the waters’, was one of his pieces). ‘Let us build a house’ is an obvious metaphorical choice for dedication/building focussed events but it is written in a way that emphasises the contents of the building – the people, the reaching hands, the service to the outcast, the sentiment that ‘all are welcome in this place’. It speaks of the parish church we strive to be – the welcome at St Julian’s is something we rightly cherish. See More