Music Happenings – March 2015

Music Notes from Robin:

Lent has arrived, and Main Street musicians are preparing some beautiful music for the season. The Junior Handbell Choir, The Sarah Allen Handbell Choir, and The Charles Wesley Choir all give so generously of their time and talents to provide music for the services; and I want to thank each person involved for making my job as Director of Music such a pleasure.

A musical highlight for March will be Main Street’s Annual Passion Festival to be held at 7:00 p.m. on Palm Sunday, March 29. This service is one of my personal favorites, and the music that is being presented this year truly touches my heart. The service will begin with a prelude by The Sarah Allen Handbell Choir playing Lloyd Larson’s arrangements of “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” and “How Firm A Foundation”.

The Charles Wesley Choir, guest singers and instrumentalists will begin the journey of Christ’s final week on earth with the classic arrangement of John Stainer of “God So Loved the World” sung a cappela.

The featured work completing the presentation is a new cantata by Lloyd Larson and Mark Hayes entitled “The Passion And The Promise”. This work has narrations written by Pamela Stewart. The narration is written for two narrators (one to tell of the Lord’s suffering and passion, and the other to tell of the promise related to his suffering.) Arlene Boyd and Gerald Berry will be the narrators.

In the words of Pamela Stewart:

“We often focus on the Passion during Holy Week, not speaking of the promise of resurrection until Easter Sunday. By doing so, we can more fully appreciate the magnitude of our Lord’s suffering. It is also a way of imagining what it was like for the people at the time, who saw the death of Christ as the final chapter. It was not until that first Easter that they remembered His promise: “The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.”

Just as day follows night and hope follows disappointment, other promises are associated with each of the Passion events. This work provides an opportunity to be reminded of those yet-to-be fulfilled promises, which we look to with hope and anticipation. Christ was rejected as King on Good Friday, but He has promised that one day every tongue will confess Him as Lord. And though He last took part in the Feast on Maundy Thursday, He has promised that we will join Him at the wedding feast of the Lamb in the coming kingdom.

In the words of Jesus himself, “You will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again. You will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. For if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” This is the promise in the passion and suffering of the Lord. It is the hope of our salvation in Him.”

The musical selections arranged in this work by Lloyd Larson and Mark Hayes are some of the most beautiful that I have ever heard. They include “Hosanna To The King, “Come To The Feast”, “Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley”, “All Hail King Jesus! Behold The King!”, and “Were You There?”

After “Were You There?”, the choir will sing Gilbert M. Martin’s powerful arrangement of “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross”, which will showcase Main Street’s organ.

The service will conclude with a foretaste of the celebration of Easter with the final selection from the cantata…a stirring arrangement of “Christ Is Risen! Alleluia!”

The congregation will be asked to join in singing with the choir on several of the pieces.

A reception will be held in Asbury Hall immediately following the service. Please make plans to include this special service in your observance of Holy Week. In the words of the composers,

“The many moods of Holy Week, followed by the triumph of Easter, are captured in this moving work. From the celebration of Palm Sunday – to the despair of Good Friday – followed by the Resurrection.”