Dear Trinity Family,
I wanted to take this time to thank you for all of your support over the last 20 years. As a college student I had no idea that I would be in this position for this long of a time. I have been here through Robert Davenport, Martin Townsend/Jeff Patnaude, and Rob Banse. During those years you all have opened your hearts, homes and lives to me. I keep telling myself that I'm not getting older however after being involved with the graduations and marriages of many of your children over the years, I can no longer deny that I am in fact getting older. I also am beginning to realize that I'm not the same twenty-year old I once was. I would really like to see what else I can do with Labrador Entertainment before that window closes.
This year has been extremely difficult for me to keep the Thursday night choir rehearsal commitment as I had my opera debut with Maryland Lyric Opera and various other professional commitments throughout the year that I have had to keep. Although Christian has tried to work with me with those conflicts, we both have come to agree that because my professional career is blossoming, it was time to take a step back and get someone who can fully commit to the choir. We both feel that for the integrity of the choir and the integrity of the position, it needs to be filled by someone who can be present the majority of the time.
I have enjoyed my time immensely at Trinity Episcopal Church and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. I am the musician I am today because of Christian's guidance, your support and all of the opportunities that the church has given me and for that I am forever grateful! We have tackled many hurdles during my time at Trinity and it has been a valued learning experience throughout the years.
Please know that this is not the end, nor is it good-bye. Kyle and I do still plan to attend church at Trinity as our schedules allow. We do not plan on looking for another church. We are thankful to be part of a congregation that clearly cares about our concerns and well-being.
It has been an honor and a great pleasure to serve this congregation for the last twenty years and I sincerely appreciate the recognition during the church service on Sunday, June 16th. It was truly humbling and also a reaffirmation that Trinity was where I was supposed to be. Thank you again one and all. Kyle and I look forward to seeing you all in the future. Please continue to look out for one another. It is one of Trinity's strongest traits. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything!
Your Faithful Servant,
Jason J. Labrador
Summer Chamber Music & Orchestra Camp 2019
Monday June 17th - Friday June 21st
1pm to 5pm at Trinity Church, Upperville
for intermediate and advanced students
Chamber music coaching sessions
Chamber Orchestra featuring music from the award winning movie, Bohemian Rhapsody
Come for a week filled with great music, fun, and games! Concluding with a final concert on Friday June 21st at 4:00 pm. Hurry! Enrollment is limited- Registration deadline is June 5th !
Cost for the week is $300
Some financial assistance is available.
Register online at: piedmontmusic.org
Information or Questions?
Speak with your teacher or call 540-592-3040 or email: Piedmontmusic@aol.com
Creative Story Time with Music
Mon June 24 - Fri June 28
Friday, March 22, 2019
7: 30 PM
Musicians and the general public alike have a special opportunity on March 22 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville to hear an outstanding performer on an outstanding pipe organ. CLARA GERDES, the award-winning organist, will play works by Reubke, Hakim. Dupre and others. The program is designed to feature the talent of this exceptionally gifted virtuoso and to feature Trinity Church's recent tonal revision and regulation of the Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ.
The recital is free with a suggested donation of $10. Inquiries should be made to Dr. Steven Cooksey at email@example.com or to the chapter's web site at WAGO. org
Ms. Gerdes website is www.claragerdes.com
This Christmas is the 200th anniversary of “Silent Night”. Here is a brief history accord-ing the great source of all wisdom, Wikipedia.
The song was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in the Austrian Empire on the Salzach river in present-day Austria. A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. He had written the lyrics of the song "Stille Nacht" in 1816 at Mariapfarr, the hometown of his father in the Salzburg Lungau region, where Joseph had worked as a co-adjutor.
The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby vil-lage of Arnsdorf. Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the Christmas Eve mass. It is unknown what inspired Mohr to write the lyrics, or what prompted him to create a new carol.
According to Gruber, Karl Mauracher, an organ builder who serviced the instrument at the Obendorf church, was enamoured with the song, and took the composition home with him to the Zillertal. From there, two travelling families of folk singers, the Strassers and the Rainers, included the tune in their shows. The Rainers were already singing it around Christmas 1819, and once performed it for an audience that included Franz I of Austria and Alexander I of Russia, as well as making the first performance of the song in the U.S., in New York City in 1839. By the 1840s the song was well known in Lower Saxony and was reported to be a favourite of Frederick William IV of Prussia. During this period, the melody changed slightly to become the version that is commonly played today.
Over the years, because the original manuscript had been lost, Mohr's name was forgotten and although Gruber was known to be the composer, many people assumed the melody was com-posed by a famous composer, and it was variously attributed to Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven. However, a manuscript was discovered in 1995 in Mohr's handwriting and dated by researchers as c..1820. It states that Mohr wrote the words in 1816 when he was assigned to a pilgrim church in Mariapfarr, Austria, and shows that the music was composed by Gruber in 1818. This is the earliest manuscript that exists and the only one in Mohr's handwriting.
As we do every year, we will sing some version of Silent Night at each of our Christmas Eve Services. However, at the 11:00 service we will sing it with guitar accompaniment just as it was written 200 years ago. We may even throw in a verse in German.
One of the catch phrases I often use both verbally and in print is that “Trinity Church has a long history of excellent music”. As I enter my 20th year as Trinity’s music director and my 28th year on the staff, I am reminded that my seemingly lengthy tenure here is really not that unusual. My dear friend and colleague, Betsy Crenshaw has been here a year and a half longer than I have. And before the two of us were Mary Holsinger and Jim Laster, each of whom began work here in the early 1970’s and served Trinity Church for similarly long periods of time. Mary was the Parish Administrator and Jim the Organist/Choirmaster when Betsy and I started, and we overlapped with both of them for several years.
Dr. James Laster came to Winchester and began work on the faculty of Shenandoah Conservatory and Trinity Church in 1973. He retired from Trinity in 1999 and from the college in 2000. Dr. Laster is an accomplished organist, choral conductor, author, and composer. Throughout his 25 years at Trinity he built and maintained a reputation for excellent music which we still benefit from today.
After almost 20 years of active retirement in the Winchester area, Jim and his wife, Madlon, are moving to Delaware to be near their son and grandchildren. As a parting gesture and in recognition of his significant contributions to the artistic life of this community, the Winchester Chapter of the American Guild of Organists is sponsoring a concert of Dr. Laster’s compositions, many of which were written for or at Trinity Church, on Sunday, October 21 at 4:00, at First Baptist Church in Winchester. Our own Richard McPherson will be providing much of the organ accompaniment and the combined choir will include members of the Arts Chorale of Winchester, and the Cantus Singers from Shenandoah Conservatory.
During this time of transition, as Trinity Church continues to grow and move forward, it is important to remember those who came before us and on who’s work our successes are built. We are grateful for the many years of service Jim Laster dedicated to our church and hope that many of you might pay tribute to him by attending this wonderful concert.
It’s been eleven years since Rev. Rob Banse made his way to Trinity Church and in that time, he has been my supportive supervisor, cheerful colleague, trusted pastor, and dear friend. I will miss him greatly. Rob’s steady temperament and calm demeanor were just what this congregation and staff needed after a very divisive period and difficult transition in the life of this church. His sincerity and integrity helped restore faith in the clergy for me, as I’m sure it did for many others. Since that time, I have had the privilege of working with Rob as he has pastored this community with great love and sensitivity. For eleven years he has baptized us, married and buried us, celebrated countless worship services, led bible studies and other spiritual programs, and counseled us all, including me personally, in times of sadness and joy. He has always been supportive and appreciative of music and served as frequent soloist for the 8:00 service.
While we will all miss Rob’s loving presence in our lives, I know that he has made the decision to leave with the same deep thoughtfulness that he has given to all his work here and completely trust that he has made a wise choice. We will all look forward to celebrating his ministry over the coming months and wish him the very best in his next endeavors.
In that spirit, we will do our best to continue God’s work here in Upperville as we begin yet another season of ministry at Trinity Church. We will kick things off with the annual Activities Fair on Sunday, Sept. 9, and various choir rehearsals will begin in the following weeks. I hope you might all take the opportunity to encourage people to join one of our choirs as we prepare to have our upcoming transition accompanied by music that is both beautiful and spiritually uplifting.
Fall Music Dates
Thursday, Sept. 6, 7:00pm
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 4:00pm
Children’s Choir Room
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 4:45pm
Children’s Choir Room
Handbell Choir Tuesday, Sept. 18, 5:00pm
Sunday, Sept. 9
Full choir resumes for 10:30 service
Commissioning of choirs and other ministries
Sunday, Sept. 30, 10:30 service
Credo. In Latin it means, believe, and is commonly used to mean a statement of belief. The Credo is also the central (third of five) movement of the Latin Mass and in that form is what we know as the Nicene Creed. We say the creed, in English, every Sunday and while it is a very powerful part of the Eucharist Service, it can’t compare to singing it in Latin.
First there is the language. Here is an excerpt in both English and Latin so you can decide for yourself.
God from God
Light from Light
True God from true God
Deum de Deo
Lumen de Lumine
Deum verum de Deo vero
Now really, which is the more inspiring, or even just fun to say. Add to this the emotion that music can bring to words and you have the perfect anthem for the day of the Bishop’s visit and Confirmation.
For this occasion, on Sunday, June 17, we sang the version of the Credo from the Mass in G by Franz Schubert which he composed in less than a week during 1815 when he was just 18 years old. The musical scholar can find examples of inexperience in this work but they are far outweighed by Schubert’s youthful romanticism which is both beautiful and expressive but also innocent and light. It is earnest in a way that later, dark and heavy romanticism could only reminisce about. The defining characteristic of Schubert’s Credo is the juxtaposition of smooth drawn out vocal lines over a staccato walking bass line which never stops through the entire piece. Together it creates the sense of a relentless pilgrimage, a journey towards an unwavering faith. It is a journey that our confirmands are just beginning and which we hope will be relentless and unwavering. And for the times when it is not? That is why we all recite the creed together, each and every Sunday, at the sacred hour, on the sacred day, in this sacred space.
One of my great joys at Trinity Church is working with our Church Music Interns. The program is designed to be one of mutual ministry, giving a music student the opportunity for practical, hands-on experience with our wonderful choirs while also sharing their unique gifts with the congregation and providing valuable assistance to me. Over the years we have been blessed with many wonderful and talented interns who have enriched our music and our lives in many ways as well as letting me feel like I have, in some small way, also offered them something of value. Our current Intern, Sarah Saul, has most ably continued that tradition.
All, of our interns have had different gifts, but Sarah has been more out of the ordinary than most. Usually the interns are here for just one year, much of which is spent just learning the ropes. Having served in this position for two years, Sarah is easily able to read my mind and usually know what needs to be done before I do. While most of our interns come from a choral background, Sarah is a supremely gifted flutist with an orchestral background. Not only have we had the pleasure of her artistry on the flute, we have also benefited from her instrumental perspective.
Due to Sarah’s instrumental training and skill, I gave her an opportunity that no previous intern has had. Last month, Sarah conducted the prelude for brass and organ on Easter Sunday. It has been exactly ten years since the first and only time I have used this wonderful piece of music and in the second part of this article I include what I wrote about it at the time.
Sarah will be conducting her final anthem on Pentecost Sunday and then winding up her time here in June leaving us all a few weeks to thank her for her service and wish her well as she pursues a graduate degree in flute. In her time here, Sarah has touched the lives of many, both young and old, and been a dear friend and trusted colleague to me. And so, I offer to Sarah, Farmer Hogget’s words of highest praise on a job well done. “That’ll do pig, that’ll do”.
From Genesis – April 2008:
I must admit, I’m curious as to how many people recognized it…
A month or so ago I was reviewing pieces for brass quintet and organ to use for the Prelude on Easter Sunday when I found an arrangement of the Maestoso from the Organ Symphony by French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. It was everything I was looking for. It was the right length, used the instruments I had available, made a grand musical statement to set the tone for the service and expressed the triumph of Easter. There was only one problem. This very piece of music was used as the main theme for the children’s movie “Babe” and I wanted this first piece of music heard on Easter Day to create images of victory over death and not visions of a talking pig. I went back and forth on it for a few days soliciting opinions from a trusted few. I shared my dilemma with the rest of the church staff who assured me that very few people would make the connection. I felt more confident. Just before a children’s choir rehearsal I asked our music intern, Drew, about it and he agreed that no one would recognize it. I felt more confident still. Not ten minutes later, as the children were coming into the choir room, I was diddling on the piano a few bars of the main theme. Completely unsolicited, they immediately asked, isn’t that the song Farmer Hogget sings in “Babe”? So much for confidence.
And so it was that I began the greatest celebration of the Christian year wondering if my choice of prelude music was a mistake. At 10:25 I gave the downbeat, a grand fortissimo C major chord in the organ followed by an introductory fanfare in the brass. Then came the moment of truth; Farmer Hogget’s theme. It is introduced by just the organ so softly that I felt sure I could hear a murmur in the congregation. As the piece went on to its triumphant conclusion and into the opening hymn, I hoped that it had conveyed the desired effect and that I had not turned Easter into a secular farce.
Through the next bit of the service, I continued to privately fret about what the reaction to this music would be: And then came the sermon. The first words out of our beloved Rector’s mouth were “What’s the deal with the Easter Bunny”. My concern vanished instantly. First of all I now knew that anyone who had a problem with music used in a children’s movie would probably have a much bigger issue with a sermon about the Easter Bunny and forget all about my prelude; (Thanks, Rob). More importantly, I realized that this sermon was drawing everyone into the story of new life. A church brimful of people of all ages and backgrounds, some regulars and others who had not been here since Christmas, all found something familiar and accessible about this sermon introduction and then listened carefully to its real message of Jesus’ Resurrection. I can only hope that the same is true for a piece of music that has been played in the greatest of concert halls and churches for more than a century as well as accompanying a little pig who also triumphed over death.
CMSP is delighted to announce that Jennifer Riddle has joined our faculty as a trumpet instructor. Jennifer received her Masters in Music, Trumpet Performance, in December 2017 from Shenandoah Conservatory. A graduate of Guilford College, she has performed with the National Concert Band of America where she is first trumpet, and has also played with the Shenandoah Conservatory Wind Ensemble, and the Mid-Atlantic Wind Symphony. She is a founding member of the Luminous Brass Quintet.
If you are interested in trumpet studies please give us a call! 540-592-3040
Executive Director, The Community Music School of the Piedmont
For high school and college singers, Spring break often means going on a choir tour. I remember many years in my youth being jealous of my friends at the beach while I endured endless hours in a smelly bus, multitudes of meals of frozen lasagna in often smelly church basements, and restless nights on host family fold out sofas with, you guessed it, a smelly roommate. Mixed in there somewhere however, were many wonderful experiences. For a budding church musician, visiting a different church every evening for weeks on end was incredibly valuable, and getting to know host families was often extremely rewarding. Being on the other end of the choir tour spectrum gives me the privilege of providing this same opportunity for today’s students and hopefully making it smell a little better for them.
On Monday, March 12 at 7:00 pm, the Schola Cantorum from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ will give a concert here as part of their Spring tour. In addition to being my alma mater, Westminster is home to some of the finest choirs in the country so this should be a superb program.
Hosting these student choirs is a wonderfully collaborative ministry for us to be involved in. We help provide an invaluable experience for the students and support them in their studies and in return they give us a beautiful musical experience which I hope you will all plan to attend. By getting further involved, we have the chance to get to know these students and share in their stories and they in ours. We are responsible for keeping the 70 Westminster students over Monday night so I hope many of you will consider signing up to give a group of students a comfortable bed for the night in your sweet smelling homes. I will be airing out the church basement and hope to provide this wonderful choir with a truly fragrant experience at Trinity Church. Sorry, I can’t do anything about the buses or roommates.
Yes! I want to help host students from Westminster Choir College!
How can I help? What are my next steps? We are so glad you asked those questions!
Please contact Marguerite Sweeny 703-431-9962 / firstname.lastname@example.org, or Betsy Crenshaw 592-3343 / Betsy@TrinityUpperville.org
Let us know a few things:
- How many students would you be willing to host?
- Would you prefer to house men or women? (Students are college sophomores).
- Do you have dogs or cats? (A few students have allergies).
The date: Monday, March 12, pick up after concert and return to church the next morning having been fed breakfast.
Details will be provided closer to concert time. Thank you in advance!
What is it…worship or concert?
What are its origins?
The Anglican Office of Evensong, as established in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, resulted from the fusing together of elements from the Roman Offices of Vespers and Compline. Evensong, a liturgical pattern of psalms followed by lessons and canticles, always includes choral settings of the Magnificat, a hymn of praise expressing the joy and thanksgiving of The Virgin Mary following her Annunciation; and the Song of Simeon, a salutation of God’s promise of salvation as found in The New Testament. In addition to the singing of the established psalms and canticles, hymns and anthems are normally included in Evensong services today.
“Evensong comes from a time when the arts were understood as a gift from God, meant to lead people into a deeper understanding and love of God. We moderns perceive a distinction between worship and performance that would not be audible to Evensong’s first hearers; for them, to listen to sacred music was itself an act of meditative devotion. Can you adjust your ears accordingly?
Evensong was peace and solace. These people worked hard. From Water-Pic to John Deere, the machines that make our life easier were missing. Evensong at the end of the workday must have been a blessed rest to them. They didn’t have our expectation that the whole congregation should participate in the liturgy, sitting quietly for half an hour or so felt good. Can you put aside your labors and be at rest with Evensong?
Evensong was delight. Sixteenth century Anglicans did not own CD players— understandably, since electricity had not yet been domesticated. They did not have the option of staying home and listening to sacred music in their own cottage, or even watching 60 Minutes. Evensong was an experience of special, extraordinary richness, a musical message about a beautiful, orderly transcendent reality that underlies the human experience of risk, pain, and need. Can you, through sacred rest, encounter this beauty and order?
Finally, Evensong was an experience of unity. Modern Christians live out their faith in differing traditions of interpretation and practice, but in earlier times all the Christian people of a nation generally belonged to one church. The concept of “denomination” was unknown. Anybody and everybody in a community might show up at Evensong. They still do!” -- (copyright Pamela Grenfell Smith, 1998)
Sunday, February 18, 2018 5:30 pm
Celebrate Chopin with Brian Ganz
The Ballroom at Barton Oaks
2750 Landmark School Road
The Plains, Va.
The Community Music School of the Piedmont cordially invites you to join us for our 11th annual Candlelight Concert Fundraiser: an all-Chopin program by renowned pianist and Chopin specialist, Brian Ganz. DMV Classical raves, "His Chopin always blends the wisdom of age with the enthusiasm of youth, and he tells you from the stage what parts of the music strike sparks in him, so you can appreciate them too." Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to enjoy Chopin gems in the intimacy of the ballroom at Barton Oaks!
CMSP's Candlelight Concert is the sole annual fundraiser for the school and benefits our scholarship fund and other programs.
Tickets are $125 and may be purchased by calling 540-592-3040 or visiting https://piedmontmusic.ticketleap.com/. Doors open at 5:00. Seating is limited; purchase tickets early!
Each year we see it at the Christmas Pageant hanging from a glorified fishing pole with a crew of 4-foot-tall kings following it down the aisle. Twelve days later it takes its place in the pulpit as the central symbol of Epiphany. Ours is a little bit raggedy but the star is much more than just the guiding light of the monarchs of Lilliput, it is a symbol of the Son of God.
Jesus is the Light of the World, bringing light to the darkness, showing us the way to our God who we have not understood without him. The Old Testament records centuries of the tribes of Israel fumbling with God. The many books often describe a God in the only terms their primitive culture could understand; one of many rules and judgment, and belonging only to them. They were people who walked in darkness. The birth of Jesus changed all of that. God came to us in human form and dwelt among us to bring us enlightenment; to show us that he is a loving God of all creation and that his is the way of peace.
It is easy and safe to cling to the darkness and tempting to believe that its ways are righteous. The loving path of Jesus can seem counterintuitive at times. Part of why the church exists is to remind us of the way of Light. In this Epiphany season the music of the church will be filled with symbols of the Light of Christ. I hope that they may be a reminder and source of inspiration. As Jesus is shown to the Gentiles our God is recognized as universal. In this light our divisions seem petty. Let us choose love over hate, peace over war, unity over division, and light over darkness. God has sent his Son to all of us. Both great and small, no matter how tall, he will show us the way.
January is a great time to join a choir. We start all new music after Christmas and will welcome any new members.
How many times did my mother tell me “no dessert until you eat your vegetables,” or “no television until you finish your homework”? This is how it often seems in the church during December. “No Christmas Carols until after Advent.” It’s understandable that it sometimes feels unreasonable. After all, the other kids get to do it. Christmas carols are everywhere starting right after Thanksgiving; on the radio and TV, at the mall and grocery store, in the elevator, and even in many non-liturgical churches. We are swamped with Christmas the very minute we stop buying turkeys. But, just because the other kids are doing it doesn’t mean we have to also.
The Anglican Communion is a liturgical church. This means, in part, that we follow a prescribed liturgy in our daily worship and a yearly lectionary which determines the readings for each service in conjunction with the liturgical seasons. The first of these seasons is Advent. In following the lectionary, we observe Advent for the four Sundays leading up to Christmas and wait until the eve of the blessed day to recognize Christmas in all aspects of our worship. This is the case in all liturgical traditions including the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Lutheran churches.
Like most kids, I didn’t like being told to eat my vegetables, but it was mostly because I didn’t understand. As I got older, I began to appreciate delayed gratification. I saw the truth in the axiom that good things come to those who wait, and that dessert is even sweeter when we have anticipated it for a while. One of the things about Advent is that it makes Christmas all the more special. However, there is much more to it than that. After many years of having them both prescribed, I find that in addition to being good for me, I actually like Advent and vegetables. Advent is not just a time to wait for Christmas. It is a time to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”.
Advent is the season of John the Baptist, the angel Gabriel visiting Mary, of Gregorian chant and Handel’s “Messiah”. It is a season filled with inspiring imagery and symbols of darkness and light. It is like those magical moments just before dawn. Take time to appreciate the unique beauty of Advent. Jesus will be here soon. Until then, look both ways before you cross the street, brush your teeth before bed, and never run with scissors in your hand.
Advent Music Highlights:
Sunday, Dec. 10 at 10:30
Excerpts from Handel’s “Messiah” with strings and tenor soloist Michael Forest.
Sunday, Dec. 17 at 4:00
Service of Lessons and Carols with the Mastersingers of Virginia. Featuring “Ceremony of Carols” by Benjamin Britten.
Wednesday, Dec. 20 at 7:30
Concerti for Strings by Arcangelo Corelli including Christmas Concerto to benefit hurricane victims through The Episcopal Relief and Development Fund.
Once upon a time there were ten virgins (yes, it was a long time ago). Five of them were wise and five were foolish. When they went to meet the bridegroom for the big wedding banquet, the wise virgins took flasks of oil to refill their lamps. The foolish did not. When the bridegroom was delayed the ten virgins fell asleep waiting. At midnight there came a shout that the bridegroom was on his way so they awoke in the dark and trimmed their lamps at which point the foolish asked the wise for some of their extra oil. The wise said no and sent them off to the Palestinian Southern States to get more. While they were gone, the bridegroom ar-rived and took the five wise virgins to the wedding banquet while the foolish ones missed out. And so it is with the coming of the Kingdom of God. Wake up and be ready or you will miss out.
This famous parable, another eschatological allegory, is appointed for one of the last Sundays in year A of the three year lectionary and this year falls on Sunday Nov. 12. Our music that morning will follow this theme using the great German hymn “Wachet Auf” (Sleepers Wake). Often called “the King of Chorales”, both words and hymntune were written by the German pastor Philipp Nicolai around 1597 in Unna, Westphalia using the parable of the wise and foolish virgins as its foundation. More than a hundred years later, the ever energetic J.S. Bach, who wrote sacred cantatas for every Sunday of the three year lectionary and then some, composed his cantata 140 for the 27th Sunday after the Trinity using the Wachet Auf Chorale as its theme. It is Bach’s harmonization of the tune that we will sing from our hymnal and the choir will sing a movement from the cantata at the Offertory. In a somewhat more indirect reference to this theme, the Handbell Choir will play during communion a piece based on Westminster Quarters which is the tune clocks play indicating it is time to Wachet Auf (Wake Up)!
It should also be noted that reading the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in church does not hap-pen very often. This parable is only in Matthew and only in year A of the lectionary which means it on-ly comes up every three years at best. Further, the 27th Sunday after the Trinity does not happen eve-ry year A, but only when Easter comes early enough to allow that many Sundays after Trinity Sunday which moves with Easter. It is believed that Bach performed his Wachet Auf Cantata only once, in part because of how rarely the appointed Sunday comes up. And yet, Bach composed what many musicians and scholars believe is one of his finest cantatas for this infrequent occasion. I like to think it is because this famously devout musician well understood the lesson of this special parable that is applicable to so many parts of our lives. From the Boy Scout motto to birth control to the coming of the Kingdom of God: always be prepared, for you never know when the time will come. Don’t be caught sleeping. Wachet Auf!
I've never been to Wittenburg nor seen the church there, but I've always imagined that it's door must be very similar to ours with it's arched top and heavy timbers bound together with iron straps and hand cut nails. I have also, on a few occasions when I disagreed with church policy, imagined nailing my own set of theses to the door as a German monk did exactly 500 years ago this month. While I would be hard pressed to come up with more than just a few insignificant ones, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg church in October of 1517 and set in motion the most significant event in the history of the Christian Church outside of the life of Jesus and the conversion of Constantine.
With a little help from John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and Johannes Gutenberg, Luther's Reformation transformed both the Christian faith and Western culture leading to the development of the Protestant church, the English Reformation, the Counter Reformation, and the 30 Years War. Luther's initial gripe was with the Catholic doctrine of the merits of the saints and the selling of indulgences where the pope essentially offered credits for heaven in exchange for money to help build St. Peter's Basilica. Luther believed that salvation could only come by grace through faith in God and that scripture was the ultimate religious authority rather than the Pope.
The effect of the Reformation on western music was trans-formative as well. The Protestant doctrine made worship more participatory and accessible to the average person in many ways including the translation of both the Gospel and the language of the service to the vernacular. While Calvin and some of the other reformers wanted to reign in the role of music in the church, Luther believed that music was the greatest gift from God after only religion itself. He wanted the congregation to be able to participate and not just listen to the beautiful polyphony of the choir, and so he applied sacred texts to simple unison tunes including well known secular ones that the people could easily sing. The classic example of this is Martin Luther's great hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" set to the tune of a common German drinking song. These chorale tunes were then harmonized by composers such as J.S. Bach and hymn singing as we know it today was born.
My observation over the years is that Episcopalians, somewhere in between Catholics and Protestants, are not quite sure what to make of the Reformation. While Lutherans, Presbyterians, and other Protestants see it as the birth of their denominations, for the Anglican tradition, of which we are a part, it is not quite so clear. Although the less than noble genesis of the Anglican Church was born out of Henry the VIII's lust and desire for a male heir, the influence of the Reformation on the development of the Anglican Church is still enormously significant. Signs of this can be seen in both word and song. If you are in doubt, take a stroll up the aisle to see the image of Martin Luther carved into our pulpit and browse the index of the hymnal to see the multitude of hymn tunes with German names. And finally, on Sunday, October 29, Reformation Day, remember, as you walk through those heavy oaken doors, the 95 theses that started it all exactly 500 years ago.