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  • Writer's pictureHazel Somerville

Music of the Liturgy

Our prayer book offers a rich array of liturgy (form or structure) for the various kinds of services we have available.

The main liturgy we are using at the moment is Holy Eucharist: Rite Two found on page 355 of the prayer book. There are appointed scripture lessons, a choice of forms for Prayers of the People, a choice of Eucharistic Prayers and a choice of the short prayers that are called collects. The Prayer Book service lists the various places where hymns, psalms or anthems may be sung. We take advantage of as many of these opportunities as seem appropriate. We also sing portions of the service that are known as The Ordinary.

The Ordinary is based on the historical links to the ancient Latin Mass and include Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Benedictus, Agnus Dei. For Rite Two we like to sing the Gloria, Sanctus and Benedictus, and a Fraction Anthem which is sung just as the celebrate breaks the bread. Our hymnal provides a choice of settings for use and we try to vary them from time to time.

After the opening hymn we sing a hymn of praise which is usually a Gloria but other texts may be used. We have just begun to use S236 at that point in our service. The music for this piece is written by the English composer, John Rutter (b.1945). He has had a tremendous influence on contemporary church music with the composition of a large body of choral works.

We have also changed our Sanctus to S127 by Calvin Hampton (1938- 1984) who was an American composer who also had a large influence on the American scene, particularly in the 1970’s and early 80’s. When I was a graduate student in New York City, I and my fellow students enjoyed going to his church which was Calgary Episcopal Church in Manhattan. We particularly enjoyed the “Friday’s at Midnight” organ recital series which the church claimed was the most popular organ recital series in American History!

Hazel Somerville

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