Sunday, April 27, 2008
A Magnificent Sunday
This afternoon I hitched a ride with my Lake Murray pals Kitty and Linda to Point Loma Nazarene University where they were performing Bach's Magnificat and Beethoven's Choral Fantasy with the PLNU Choral Union and PLNU Orchestra. What a magnificent way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
The words of the Magnificat, although sung in Latin, are very familiar to me in English as they are part of the Vespers service for the Anglican and Catholic traditions. The Magnificat is Scripture -- Luke 1:46+, to be precise -- the song of Mary after the visit from the Angel Gabriel and after she has given God her "Yes."
From the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, Evening Prayer Service:
My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me; and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen [helped] his servant Israel; as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.
Kitty and Linda were part of a large choir -- well over a hundred people from the San Diego area. There are no tryouts for the Point Loma Choral Union, just the desire to sing God's praises and the request that one sings the notes one can sing well. Linda and Kitty have been attending weekly practices for the past two months, and this afternoon was the big show. And was it ever lovely! I had shivers running up and down my spine as "The Magnificat" closes with the "Gloria Patri":
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
To hear over a hundred voices burst forth in glorious praise, backed by a full orchestra -- it was a little taste of heavenly joys!
Following an intermission, we listened to a string quarter play Grieg's Quartet in G Minor, Op. 27, which was lovely. After that the full orchestra performed Beethoven's Choral Fantasy (Op. 80 for Piano, Choir, and Orchestra), a prelude in a way to his masterpiece, the Choral Symphony (the Ninth). It began with piano, joined with the orchestra in the middle, and finished with the first the soloists and finally the full choir, all of whom sang auf deutsch. The final stanza, the one sang by the full choir along with the soloists, reads:
Grosses, das ins Herz gedrungen,
bluht dann neu un schon empor.
Hat ein Geist sich aufgeschwungen,
hallt ihm stets ein Geisterchor.
Nehmt denn hin, ihn schonen Seelen,
froh die Gaben schoner Kunst
Wenn sich Lieb und Kraft vermahlen,
lohnt den Menschen Gottergunst.
(Please pardon the absence of umlauts -- I don't have a German keyboard.)
Something great, into the heart
Blooms anew when in all its beauty,
Which spirit taken flight,
And all a choir of spirits resounds in response.
Accept then, on you beautiful spirits
Joyously of the gifts of art.
When love and strength are united,
The favour of God rewards humanity.
After the concert, Linda, Kitty, Kitty's husband Guy, and I enjoyed smoothies and other snacks at The Living Room, a cool coffee hangout/restaurant and discussed the performance and art, writing, and other topics. Kitty lent me a wonderful book, Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande, that discusses HOW to be a writer not in technicality or skill but in mindset. Sounds right up my alley.
The concert was a lovely way to end a lovely day which started at Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity as my Sunday School class at Lake Murray was meeting at Starbucks as the men were away at their retreat and Nathan, our new Sunday School leader, was preaching in Stephen's place. We were able to attend Rogation Sunday, the Sunday before the Ascension of Christ, and were surprised when the preservice music consisted of praise songs we often sing at Lake Murray: "Days of Elijah," "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High," etc., led by Father Acker and two of his guitar students. Then the service started with their "Walk Through the Bible" which covered the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, focusing mostly on the rebuilding of the Temple and Jerusalem under Cyrus the Great of Persia, complete with maps of the area. Following came the Communion liturgy from the 1928 BCP, concluding with the singing of the Doxology (which I understand Lake Murray sang today also, an extreme rarity!), prayers for and anointing of the sick, and after the service finished, fellowship and snacks.
We drove from Alpine to La Mesa for Lake Murray's second service, but the fumes from the new carpeting upstairs was still too strong, and Keith took the kids home while I sat under the trees on the grass and caught up my Bible Book Club Scripture readings and also read the daily morning devotionals in The Diary of Private Prayer, the 1928 BCP, and this morning and midday readings in Divine Hours. I was able to chat with a few people before and after the service on the patio outside the building, but I definitely couldn't go in. After the service, I stopped by Wendy's for a small grilled chicken wrap and mandarin oranges rather than fries. (Aren't I a good girl!) And I had a blueberry smoothie (all fruit and fruit juice) at The Living Room rather than cake, scones, etc., although Kitty, Guy, and I shared a slice of lemon tart.
So today was truly a magnificent day, with worship, Scripture, gorgeous music, and the fellowship of dear friends. A Sabbath can't get much better than this!