Pathways through Lent

Weekday reflections from St. John’s in the season of Lent.

Friday in the Fifth Week of Lent: March 22, 2024

The music for Palm Sunday mirrors the drama of the day. The opening trumpet and organ prelude functions as a call to worship, like the muezzin at Ramadan calling the faithful to prayer. It is loud and clear, full of festive joy at the gathering of God’s people. The Introit, Ingrediente Domino by George Malcolm, is sung by the choir. Again, the music has a festive quality to it. There is an alternatim effect between the high and low voices, echoing one another one octave apart. We hear the message: “All the Hebrew children declare the resurrection of life.” The sound increases as the organ, trumpet, choir, plus congregation join together, walking and singing, “All glory, laud and honor to Thee, Redeemer, King!” At the Gradual, we sing, “Ride on, ride on, in majesty.” But here the text of the verses turns our gaze from Christ the King to Christ the victim. “In lowly pomp ride on to die . . . the last and fiercest strife is nigh.”

The Offertory anthem is, “There is a green hill far away” by Herbert Sumsion with text by Cecil Frances Alexander. The text, originally written for children, tells the story of the crucifixion in gentle words. “O dearly, dearly has he loved, and we must love him too, and trust in his redeeming blood, and try his works to do.” Herbert Sumsion’s gentle setting of the text reflects the language of Elgar, Vaughan Williams, and the warmth of English Romantic choral music.

The music becomes more austere with Salvator mundi (“Savior of the world”), plainchant, and silence. The last we sing on Palm Sunday will be the words from John Ireland’s hymn, “Love Unknown.”

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine:
Never was love, dear King,
Never was grief like thine.
This is my friend,
In whose sweet praise
I all my days
Could gladly spend.

Lyn Loewi
Associate Organist

Links to the appointed readings for the day