Archive for December 2012

Proper 10, Year C   Leave a comment

good-samaritans-inn

Above:  The Good Samaritan’s Inn

Image Source = Library of Congress

Compassion and Scandal

The Sunday Closest to July 13

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 10, 2016

JULY 14, 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

Amos 7:7-14 and Psalm 82

or 

Deuteronomy 20:9-14 and Psalm 25:1-9

then 

Colossians 1:1-14

Luke 10:25-37

The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-eighth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/prayer-of-confession-for-the-eighth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-eighth-sunday-after-pentecost/

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The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was notoriously difficult due to its geography and the reality that robbers used it as site of frequent crimes.  Did only fools travel it alone?  If so, everyone except the inn keeper in the Parable of the Good Samaritan was foolish.  Those who passed by the crime victim probably did so for more than one reason.  Safety was a concern, for sometimes bandits preyed on compassionate responses.  Other reasons for moving along included apathy and a concern for maintaining ritual purity.  But the unlikely hero was a Samaritan–a heretic, a half-breed, and a marginalized person.

The scandal of the Parable of the Good Samaritan has at least two layers.  Even the possibility of a Good Samaritan proved scandalous to many people originally.  Unfortunately, the parable has become hackneyed for many modern Christians, so I propose pondering who our “Samaritans ” are then paraphrasing the story to restore its fully scandalous nature.  The “Samaritan” should always be the most “other ” person one can name.  So, for one hates Gypsies, the Samaritan might be a Gypsy.  For a xenophobe the Samaritan might be an immigrant.  For an ultra-orthodox person the Samaritan might be a the most relatively heretical individual.  For someone with an especially strong political point of view the Samaritan might be a person from the opposite end of the spectrum.  For a homophobe the Samaritan might be a homosexual.  For a homosexual the Samaritan might be a homophobe.  For an Orangeman the Samaritan might be a Roman Catholic.  The more provocative the paraphrase, the more accurate it is.

Another layer of scandal in the parable is the lesson that sometimes respectable religious concerns and practices obstruct active compassion.  I am convinced that most religious people seek to obey the divine will as they understand it.  But too often many of us do not love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  Too often we make excuses for those who exploit the weak and the vulnerable, including widows, orphans, and the poor.  Too often we seek God’s ways and follow other paths.  Too often we therefore sow the seeds not only of the destruction of others but also of ourselves.  Yet, as Deuteronomy 30:9-14 reminds us, the law of God is very near us–inside us, in fact.  Too often we look for this law in the wrong places.

This law is as simple and difficult as following our Lord and Savior’s instruction:

Go, and do the same yourself.

–Luke 10:37b, The New Jerusalem Bible

In 2001 or 2002 I listened one evening to a public radio program about Hanukkah.  My memory of one story from that program is partial, but the summary of that tale remains with me.  In ancient times there was a rabbi who lacked most of what he needed to observe Hanukkah properly.  He was an especially pious yet closed-minded man at the beginning of the story.  At the end, however, he was pious and open-minded, for a succession of especially unlikely outsiders provided all that he needed.  A Greek wrestler even gave the necessary oil.  That tale, a wonderful piece of Jewish wisdom, is consistent with the readings for this Sunday.  The “other” might be a means of grace, and neighborliness crosses a variety of human-created barriers.

Go, and do the same yourself.

Indeed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM REED HUNTINGTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

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Feast of Philip Armes (February 10)   Leave a comment

Durham Cathedral

Above:  Durham Cathedral, 1910-1920

Reproduction Number = LC-D4-73178

Image Copyright Owner = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

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PHILIP ARMES (AUGUST 15, 1836-FEBRUARY 10, 1908)

Anglican Church Organist and Composer

Philip Armes, as a boy, sang in the choirs of Norwich and Rochester Cathedrals.  He was a soloist at Rochester Cathedral.  The dean, impressed, gave him a pianoforte.

Armes, as an adult, earned an M.A. and a doctorate from Durham University, served as organist at St. Andrew’s Church, Wells Street, London (1857-1861), functioned as an organist at Chichester Cathedral (1861-1862), and served as organist at Durham Cathedral (1862 forward).  He was a respected organist there.  Armes also taught music at Durham University (1897-1908) and composed a madrigal, hymn tunes, organ music, and oratorios (Hezekiah, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Barnabas).  He devoted his professional life to the worship and glory of God–surely a noble calling.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 15, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PROXMIRE, UNITED STATES SENATOR

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Philip Armes

and all those who with words and image have filled us with desire and love for you,

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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Revised on November 30, 2016

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Proper 9, Year C   Leave a comment

house-of-naaman-damascus

Above:  House of Naaman, Damascus, 1900-1920

Image Source = Library of Congress

Humility, Judgment, Mercy, and Enemies

The Sunday Closest to July 6

Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 3, 2016

JULY 7, 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 5:1-14 and Psalm 30

or 

Isaiah 66:10-14 and Psalm 66:1-8

then 

Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-seventh-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/seeds-of-destruction/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-seventh-sunday-after-pentecost/

A Prayer for Our Enemies:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/for-our-enemies/

Prayers for Forgiveness, Mercy, and Trust:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/prayers-for-forgiveness-mercy-and-trust/

A Prayer for Proper Priorities:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/a-prayer-for-proper-priorities/

A Prayer to Embrace Love, Empathy, and Compassion, and to Eschew Hatred, Invective, and Willful Ignorance:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/a-prayer-to-embrace-love-empathy-and-compassion-and-to-eschew-hatred-invective-and-willful-ignorance/

A Prayer for Humility:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/07/18/a-prayer-for-humility/

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I propose, O reader, a thought experiment:

Name two countries, A and B, with a recent history of warfare against each other and a current climate of mutual hostility.  Then imagine a general from B in search of a cure visiting a prominent religious figure from A.

The politics of the situation would be sensitive, would they not?    That is a partial summary of the Naaman and Elijah story.

The main intertwining threads I choose to follow today are:

  • humility (in 2 Kings 5, Galatians 6, and Luke 10),
  • judgment and mercy (in all four readings), and
  • enemies (in 2 Kings 5, Isaiah 66, and Luke 10).

Humility is having a realistic estimate of oneself; it recognizes both strengths and weaknesses.  This theme fits the Naaman story well, for he had to overcome his notions of self-importance and national pride, the latter of which informed the former, before God healed him.  In humility and a Christ-based identity we Christians are supposed to carry each other’s burdens and help each other through temptation and error; that is what Galatians 6 says.  And humility is part of curriculum for the disciples in Luke 10.

Judgment is for God.  The theme of judgment overlaps with that of enemies.  And who is an enemy of God?  I suspect that many, if not most, enemies of God think of themselves as disciples and friends of God.  Militant Islamists in western Africa are destroying allegedly un-Islamic buildings–architectural treasures–in the name of Allah.  Neither pluralism nor religious toleration are among the values of these individuals.  These militants think of themselves as faithful to God and of people such as me as not faithful to God.  I think that I am correct, obviously.

(Aside:  I have taught practicing Muslims and found them to be delightful human beings.  None have been militants.  Anyone who thinks that I condemn all Muslims when I criticize militant Islamists fails to grasp my meaning.)

Although judgment resides with God, so does mercy.  So Naaman became a follower.  Divine mercy extended even to enemies of Elisha’s people.  That is easy to say about the politics of antiquity, but what about today?  So I propose another thought experiment:

Name a hostile foreign government.  Can you, O reader, warm up to the idea that God loves agents of that regime?  Would you, in Christ, accept such agents as brothers and sisters in faith?

Mercy can prove difficult.  Often we prefer judgment for others–our enemies–and mercy for ourselves because this arrangement reinforces our egos.  Yet humility before God requires us, among other things, to move past those categories and our concepts of where we stand in relation to God.  That person whom we think of as an enemy might be a friend of God.  And we might not be as right with God as we imagine.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 21, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALBERT JOHN LUTHULI, WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IN SOUTH AFRICA

THE FEAST OF J. B. PHILLIPS, BIBLE TRANSLATOR AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

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Posted December 14, 2012 by neatnik2009 in July 7, Revised Common Lectionary Year C

Tagged with , , , ,

Feast of Adelaide Anne Procter (February 3)   Leave a comment

Flag of England

Above:  Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER (OCTOBER 30, 1825-FEBRUARY 2, 1864)

English Poet and Feminist

Adelaide Anne Procter was the daughter of Bryan Waller Procter (November 21, 1787-October 5, 1874), a London lawyer and published poet.  Family friends included Charles Dickens, a frequent guest in the Procter home.  Adelaide initially wrote poems under the pseudonym “Mary Berwick.”  Dickens, who published many of her early poems in Household Words, assumed for a long time that “Mary Berwick” was a household servant.  The discovery of the truth was a pleasant surprise for him.

Adelaide became a Roman Catholic in 1851.  She devoted her short life (one which tuberculosis ended) to worthwhile pursuits.  She was a skilled linguist, for she was proficient in French, German, and Italian.  Adelaide’s poetry was a worthy artistic vocation, of course.  She published two volumes of Legends and Lyrics, A Book of Verse (1858 and 1862) and was Queen Victoria’s favorite poet.  Adelaide also had the distinction of being the second-bestselling Victorian poet; Alfred, Lord Tennyson was number one.  James Moffatt, in his 1927 companion volume to the Scottish Presbyterian Hymnary, praised the poet while criticizing her Roman Catholicism:

…but her spirit was in the true sense catholic, and it is difficult to tell from her hymns to which communion she belonged.  (Page 463)

The 1962 Encyclopedia Americana was less kind:

While her work is not great, it is marked by deep feeling and tenderness.  (Volume 22, page 631)

Adelaide was a feminist.  In the English Victorian context that meant, for her, advocating for the cause of women becoming professionals.  In 1858 she co-founded The English Woman’s Journal (ceased publication in 1864) for that purpose.  And, beginning in 1859, she worked with the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science to do more to advance the noble cause.

Adelaide died in her mother’s arms.  Her final words were

It has come at last.

Dickens wrote effusively of her and contributed a biographical sketch of her to the tenth edition (1866) of Legends and Lyrics.

One method by which one might encounter some of the poet’s work is to pay to attention to hymns at a church with good musical taste.  One hymn which Adelaide wrote follows:

My God, I thank Thee, who hast made

The earth so bright,

So full of splendor and of joy,

Beauty and light,

So many glorious things are here,

Noble and right.

I thank Thee, too, that Thou hast made

Joy to abound,

So many gentle thoughts and deeds

Circling us ’round,

That in the darkest spot of earth

Some love is found.

I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast kept

The best in  store;

We have enough yet not too much,

To long for more;

A yearning for a deeper peace

Not known before.

I read those words and wonder why one would heap faint praise on the poet.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Adelaide Anne Procter

and all those who with words and image have filled us with desire and love for you,

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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Revised on November 29, 2016

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Proper 8, Year C   Leave a comment

arab-plowing

Above:  An Arab Plowing (1898-1946)–See Luke 9:62

Image Source = Library of Congress

Servanthood in Christ

The Sunday Closest to June 29

Third Sunday After Pentecost

JUNE 26, 2016

JUNE 30, 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14 and Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20

or 

1 Kings 19:15-16, 19-21 and Psalm 16

then 

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

Luke 9:51-62

The Collect:

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-sixth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/prayer-of-confession-for-the-sixth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-sixth-sunday-after-pentecost/

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Jesus modeled servanthood, which, according to Galatians 5, is the proper use of Christian liberty.  Our Lord, as the author of the Gospel of Luke put it poetically, turned his face toward Jerusalem.  Jesus rejected excuses for not following the difficult path he proclaimed, the path which led to his crucifixion.  Following God can put one at risk, he said.  The examples of Elijah, once on the run from Queen Jezebel, and Elisha, whose path led to the fomentation of a palace coup, testified to the truth of that statement.

Do we think of our fellow human beings as people to serve or to exploit?  A barrage of news stories regarding skulduggery in very large banks reveals that some people prefer the latter option.  The manipulation of interest rates,  the foreclosing on homes without checking whether the homeowners have made payments recently and consistently, et cetera do not indicate an ethos of mutual servanthood.

In the Kingdom of God, Jesus said, the first will be last, the last will be first, and the servant of all will be the greatest.  Our worth flows from who we are and whose we are, not how much we have.  In the Kingdom of God he who dies with the most toys does not win and greed is not good.  The Kingdom of God turns power, wealth, and prestige on their heads.  It is properly subversive of the human-created socio-economic realities.  Why, then, do not more churches proclaim the kingdom?  Why do so many function as apologists for an exploitative system?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 17, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BENNETT J. SIMS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF COMPIEGNE

THE FEAST OF SAINT NERSES LAMPRONATS, ARMENIAN APOSTOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF TARSUS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM WHITE, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

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Feast of Benjamin Schmolck (February 12)   Leave a comment

Europe 1648

Above:  Europe in 1648

Image in the Public Domain

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BENJAMIN SCHMOLCK (DECEMBER 21, 1672-FEBRUARY 12, 1737)

German Lutheran Pastor and Hymn Writer

Benjamin Schmolck entered the world at Brauchitzchdorf, Silesia (now Chrostnik, Poland).  He studied at Laubon and Leipzig before becoming a Lutheran pastor, assisting his father at Brauchitzchdorf.  Schmolck transferred to Schweidnitz, Silesia (now Swidnica, Poland), the next year.  There he labored under difficult circumstances for the next thirty-five years, for the Peace of Westphalia imposed restrictions on Lutheranism.  Schmolck and two other pastors had to serve thirty-six villages; more churches and pastors were forbidden.

Schmolck found the time to write over 900 hymns and the texts of many cantatas.  Robert Guy McCutchan, in his 1937 companion volume to the 1935 U.S. Methodist Hymnal, quoted an unidentified source, which said of Schmolck’s hymns:

A deep and genuine personal religion, and a fervent love to the Saviour, inspire his best hymns; and as they are not simply thought out but felt, they come from the heart to the heart.

Among Schmolck’s hymns were “Blessed Jesus, Here We Stand,” “My Jesus, as Thou Wilt,” and “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty.”

Schmolck died at Schweidnitz on February 12, 1737.  Many of his hymns remain popular.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servant Benjamin Schmolck,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Epheisans 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Revised from November 29, 2016

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Proper 7, Year C   Leave a comment

elijah-in-the-wilderness-washington-allston

Above:  Elijah in the Wilderness, by Washington Allston

Terrifying Grace

The Sunday Closest to June 22

Second Sunday After Pentecost

JUNE 19, 2016

JUNE 23, 2019

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 19:1-4 (5-7), 8-15a and Psalms 42 and 43

or 

Isaiah 65:1-9 and Psalm 22:18-27

then 

Galatians 3:23-29

Luke 8:26-39

The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/prayer-of-praise-and-adoration-for-the-fifth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Confession:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/prayer-of-confession-for-the-fifth-sunday-after-pentecost/

Prayer of Dedication:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/prayer-of-dedication-for-the-fifth-sunday-after-pentecost/

The Remnant:

http://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-remnant/

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As I took notes on the readings then pondered connections the first unifying thread I noticed was fear.  To begin with the Old Testament options, Elijah was a fugitive  from the wrath of Queen Jezebel after the contest with the priests of Baal.  Yet God, who was present in the silence, not the storm, encouraged the prophet and gave him more tasks to complete.  Third Isaiah reminded his audience that a remnant of the faithful would survive the destruction of the wicked.  So the faithful needed not to fear, although the wicked did.

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus healed a demoniac (whatever his modern psychiatric label would be) and killed a herd of swine.  Then fearful locals asked our Lord to depart the premises.  What scared them?  The loss of the swine, economic assets, disturbed some obvious reasons.  And the demonstration of such power certainly disturbed others.  But the healing was the scariest part of the sequence of events.  Who were the locals relative to the man if he, once ill, was now well?

Change disturbs many people profoundly.  We become accustomed to the status quo, even if we know that it is imperfect.  But at least it is familiar.  Some things, of course, should remain constant, so discomfort with some change is healthy and proper.  But resistance to change in general constitutes a spiritual dysfunction.  Besides, life is replete with change.  One who likes things just so and constant will not cope well with life.  And an organism that is not changing is dead.

Speaking of change, Christ Jesus overrides a variety of distinctions, such as slave and free person, male and female, and Jew and Gentile. Opposites such as these cease to matter in the context of our Lord.   That causes me great joy.  Yet many others find that breaking down barriers frightening.  If we define ourselves by who and what we are not rather than by who and what we are, it is terrifying news.

Grace scandalizes many of us.  It calls us as we are and leads us to become a new creation.  Grace ignores categories we use to make sense of the world and destroys our illusion that we know more than we do.  Grace tell sus that we need not hide from our enemies if God is with us.  We still might die–the Romans did crucify Jesus–but divine power remains unrivaled.  And God will preserve a remnant of the faithful as the wicked perish.  The members of that remnant will have a responsibility to minister grace to others, for grace is free, not cheap.

Dare we embrace this potentially upsetting and terrifying grace?  Or do we prefer the comfortable fictions and realities which comfort us while afflicting others?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, QUAKER THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP

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Posted December 14, 2012 by neatnik2009 in June 23, Revised Common Lectionary Year C

Tagged with , , , ,

Feast of William Boyce and John Alcock (February 7)   Leave a comment

St. Paul's Cathedral, London

Above:  St. Paul’s Cathedral and Blackfriars Bridge, London, England, United Kingdom, 1880s

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-06814

Image Source = Library of Congress

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WILLIAM BOYCE (1711-FEBRUARY 7, 1779)

Anglican Composer and Conductor

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JOHN ALCOCK (APRIL 11, 1718-FEBRUARY 23, 1806)

Anglican Composer, Organist, and Musical Scholar

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Today I add two contemporaries to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  William Boyce and John Alcock devoted their lives to God and music.  Much of the contents of their legacies is largely forgotten in 2012, unfortunately.  Perhaps this post will bring them to the attention of some people, rending Boyce and Alcock slightly less forgotten.

William Boyce (1711-1779), son of a cabinet maker in London, England, became a chorister of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  He lost much of his hearing when young yet functioned as a parish organist and choir director and a Composer to the Chapel Royal and as Master of the King’s Band.  Boyce’s increasingly bad hearing forced him to cease teaching, conducting, and playing at about age sixty.  Then he dedicated himself full-time to another extant pursuit, the study of music history.  His three volume Cathedral Music, Being a Collection in Score of the Most Valuable and Useful Compositions for That Service by the Several Masters of the Last Two Hundred Years  (1760-1778) was the last main part of his legacy.  Other works included the following:

  • forty-six anthems,
  • five services,
  • eight symphonies,
  • twelve sonatas,
  • Psalms of David, According to the Version of Christopher Smart, A.M. (1765), and
  • various works of incidental music.

James Moffatt, in his 1927 companion volume to the Scottish Presbyterian Hymnary, described Boyce as

An amiable man, of blameless life, and an excellent musician

and as

…the last of the old English school of church composers.

Perhaps the most poetic obituary for Boyce came from the pen of his good friend, Charles Wesley:

Father of harmony, farewell!

Farewell for a few fleeting years!

Translated from the mournful vale,

Jehovah’s flaming ministers

Have borne thee to thy place above,

Where all is harmony and love.

Boyce’s Cathedral Music (1760-1778) depended greatly on the research of John Alcock (1718-1806).  Alcock became a chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, at age seven.  He studied under John Stanley, a famed and respected blind organist, before becoming a parish organist and choir director.  His time (1749-1761) at Lichfield Cathedral proved less than satisfactory for him.  Alcock found a dearth of of music books he considered suitable, he disliked many of the services, and the cathedral was too damp.  His final assignments as an organist were at Sutton Coldfield parish church (1761-1766) and at St. Editha’s Church, Tamworth (1766-1790).

Alcock composed and published the following:

  • Six Lessons for the Harpsichord;
  • Twelve Songs;
  • A Collection of Psalms, Hymns, and Anthems;
  • Six and Twenty Select Anthems;
  • Divine Harmony, a Collection of Fifty-Five Double and Single Chants;
  • The Harmony of Sion (a collection of Psalms); and
  • Harmonia Festi (a volume of canons, et cetera).

Those who have contributed to the beauty of worship deserve our gratitude and respect.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 14, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VENANTIUS HONORIUS CLEMENTIUS FORTUNATUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF POITIERS

THE FEAST OF CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN OF THE CROSS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MYSTIC

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servants

William Boyce and John Alcock.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder,

that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible richness

of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 46

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 61

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Revised on November 27 2016

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