From: Richard Thomas
We now enter the period between Easter and Pentecost. This Sunday will be the second Sunday of Easter. The Sunday following the seventh Sunday of Easter will be Pentecost.
The introit will be "We Are Here, Lord," with words by Herb Frombach sung to Robert Lau's arrangement of a tune originally composed by Herb Frombach. Herb Frombach attended Indiana University in Indiana County, Pennsylvania.
The opening hymn is "Christ Is Alive," no. 108. It is a hymn we regularly sing on the Second Sunday of Easter. The words are by Brian Wren.
Brian Wren has more hymns in our current Presbyterian Hymnal than any other author except Charles Wesley (b. 1707) and Fred R. Anderson (b. 1941). (Rev. Fred Anderson wrote "versifications" of the psalms.)
BRIAN WREN (b. 1936) is an internationally published hymn-poet whose work appears in hymnals from all denominations and traditions. Ordained in Britain's United Reformed Church, he lives in Decatur, Georgia, where he served as the first holder of the John and Miriam Conant Professorship in Worship at Columbia Theological Seminary until his retirement in 2007.
A Fellow of the Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada, Brian holds B.A. and D.Phil (= Ph.D.) degrees from Oxford University and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis.
Brian lives with his partner in marriage and ministry, Rev. Susan Heafield ("Hayfield"), a United Methodist Pastor and composer. Together they have published two worship song collections.
Brian Wren's hymn collections are published by Hope Publishing Company, which represents all his hymns in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
There are eleven Brian Wren hymns in our hymnal
The hymn is sung to the tune TRURO, an anonymous tune first published by Thomas Williams in 1789.
Truro is a small city in Cornwall, England, north of Falmouth, and west of Plymouth. I've driven through Truro, but not the one in England, the one on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. It is the last little village before Provincetown.
TRURO is the tune for "Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates" and "High in the Heav'ns, Eternal God."
https://youtu.be/IhsYkMOv5jg Organ improvisation on the tune TRURO, recorded by John Hosking
Here is an anthem arrangement by Hal Hopson:
http://www.jwpepper.com/sheet-music/media-player.jsp?&type=audio&productID=3185584 "Christ Is Alive!" by Brian Wren, arr. Hal H. Hopson, "for brass quartet or quintet, organ, handbells, and congregation"
Here is the Brian Wren hymn:
https://youtu.be/ylZ0G0WvD8g "Christ Is Alive!" with organ accompaniment
If the basses want to practice the bass part, here it is:
https://youtu.be/WfRNT8_6EQE "Christ Is Alive!," bass part
We sing another hymn to this tune also, Jane Parker Huber's "Live into Hope," hymn no. 332.
During Eastertide, a reading from Acts is substituted for a reading from the Old Testament in the Revised Common Lectionary.
For the Second Sunday of Easter, the lesson is Acts 2:14a, 22-32. It is a story of Peter preaching to the Jews. Peter quotes Psalm 16:8-11:
I keep Yahweh before me always,
for with him at my right hand,
nothing can shake me.
So my heart rejoices, my soul delights,
my body too will rest secure,
for you will not abandon me to Sheol,
or let your faithful servant see the Pit.
You will teach me the path of life.
In your presence there is unbounded joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Then Peter makes the astounding claim that in that psalm, David was being a prophet and was speaking of Jesus:
"Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne.
Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, 'He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.'
This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.
The English translation of Psalm 16:8-11 above is an English translation of the Hebrew. But, according to Acts, Peter did not quote the Hebrew scriptures when he was speaking to the Israelites!
According to the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Peter actually quoted directly from a Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint (or LXX). An English translation of Psalm 16:8-11 from the Greek in the Septuagint is:
'I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.'
Psalm 16 is a "Psalm of Confidence," as are Psalms 4, 11, 23, 27:1-6; 62; and 131.
Peter appears to be telling the Israelites that Psalm 16:8-11 is about resurrection.
Psalm 16 is not about resurrection. The writer of Psalm 16 faces unspecified immediate dangers. The psalm is an expression of the psalmist's confidence in Yahweh to keep him safe and protect him from an early death so that he may live a rich, full life with his Lord. (Earlier in the Psalm, Ps. 16:3-4, the psalmist writes of how the pains of leading officials have multiplied because they desired other gods. He then declares that he will not make offerings to other gods, then expresses his confidence that because he has devoted himself to Yahweh as his only god, that he, unlike the officials, will not have his troubles multiplied in this time of danger, but will instead be protected from physical harm.)
The writer of the Psalm is not saying he will never die, he is saying that, though faced with current dangers, he is confident that Yahweh will protect him and not let him die right now—that Yahweh will make it possible for him to get through perilous times.
Apologists argue that Peter's claim that David was writing about the resurrection has to be seen in a different way. Peter is calling David "prophetic" in an unusual sense—not that David was foretelling the future, only that the psalmist understood events in his time in a way that bears correspondence to the understanding of events that occurred in Jesus' time.
The psalmist (David, according to Peter) understood that Yahweh does not abandon his hasid (his holy one). Just as Yahweh protected David from an immediate death, he raised Jesus, the ultimate hasid, from death, and because David understood how Yahweh relates to those who devote themselves entirely to Yahweh, David was being "prophetic."
One apologist writes (https://bible.org/article/use-psalm-168-11-acts-225-28 ) that because Peter could see Psalm 16:8-11 as relating to Peter's own experience of the resurrection of Jesus, the psalm is "prophetic" even though David himself was not writing, or even thinking, about resurrection himself when he wrote it.
The psalm did not speak of a resurrection until there was one, then it did.
Though not at all convincing, it is an ingenious argument.
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The epistle lesson is 1 Peter 1:3-9. Most scholars agree the epistle was not actually written by Peter. The writer has a better understanding of Greek rhetoric and philosophy and also of the Greek language itself than would be likely for Simon Peter of Galilee.
The reading is about how suffering is good for the soul.
"Trials show the character of your faith . . . and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
The author says, "the goal of your faith is the salvation of your soul," and "salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time." Salvation is "an inheritance reserved in heaven" for those "who have not seen him, yet love him, and who do not see him now, but believe in him."
According to a recent Presbyterian Panel survey of Presbyterian Church (USA) pastors and members, 6% of both members and pastors believe "Salvation is an outdated concept." (The results of the survey were published 22 October 2016.)
The survey indicates that half of the ministers are still Calvinists when it comes to who does the saving. Only 20% of the members believe that salvation is by the grace of a sovereign God who alone chooses the Elect. (The idea of being one of God's elect seems to have fallen out of favor.) Is Presbyterianism still a kind of Reformed Christianity or has it become some other kind of Protestantism?
The second hymn is no. 117 "O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing!" and has special stanzas for the Second Sunday of Easter.
The tune is the French melody O FILII ET FILIAE, (O Sons and Daughters).
Here is a smartly dressed high school choir in Santa Barbara singing a piece by the same name as the tune (but it's not the tune of the hymn). However, it is a very good video (and it's short):
http://youtu.be/ys-Kl_gFddA O Filii Et Filiae (O Sons and Daughters), San Marcos High School Choirs, Santa Barbara, California
Here is the tune we're singing (the tune of "O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing"):
https://youtu.be/6RrpKKD8Rlo O Filii Et Filiae (O Sons and Daughters), sung by the Choir of the Great Opera of Budapest with Xaver Varnus (organ).
Sermon: "The Future Is Now"
"I Danced in the Morning," hymn no. 302, is the closing hymn. It is by Sydney Carter.
"Lord of the Dance" is sung to the Shaker melody SIMPLE GIFTS. Some sources say Elder Joseph Brackett, a Shaker, composed the tune in 1848.
Elder Joseph Brackett
You can see the words originally sung with the tune and hear it sung here (highly recommended):
http://youtu.be/c_g4rEPXkyI "Simple Gifts" sung by the vocal chamber ensemble Cantus (VERY GOOD)
The words we will be singing were authored by Sydney Carter in 1963.
You can hear those words here:
http://youtu.be/ZGX9IobyIIE "Lord of the Dance," sung by the Central Islip High School Concert Choir
According to Wikipedia, Sydney Bertram Carter was "an English poet, songwriter, and folk musician." He was born 06 May 1915 in Camden Town, London, and died 13 Mar 2004 in Herne Hill, London.
He also wrote a song called "Julian of Norwich." She was an English anchoress and Christian mystic (1342-1416).
Carter attended Balliol College, Oxford, where (as they say in England) "he read history" and graduated in 1936. He was a pacifist and a conscientious objector in World War II. He served in an Ambulance Unit in Egypt, Palestine, and Greece.
His most controversial lyrics are:
It was on a Friday morning that they took me from my cell
And I saw they had a carpenter to crucify as well.
You can blame it on to Pilate, you can blame it on the Jews,
You can blame it on the Devil, it's God I accuse.
It's God they ought to crucify, instead of you and me,
I said to the carpenter a-hanging on the tree.
He was right, of course, according to sound Calvinistic theology, the death of Jesus on a cross was precisely what God intended. In fact, it was not only what God wanted, it was what God demanded according to the penal substitutionary atonement theory of the reformation. The penal substitution theory is a substitutionary atonement theory that is derived from a merit-based system of righteousness. It replaced the older ransom-to-Satan theory.
According to Wikipedia:
Many, but by no means all, ancient and modern branches of Christianity embrace substitutionary atonement as the central meaning of Jesus' death on the cross.
Oddly, in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, substitutionary atonement is not incorporated in their doctrine of the Cross and Resurrection.
C. S. Lewis rejected the penal substitutionary atonement theory, but he did believe in some kind of substitutionary atonement.
All of the substitutionary atonement theories attempt to provide some logical explanation of what was the point of the crucifixion.
Atonement theories first require that one decide what is sin and how sin relates to God.
If you define sin as merely being a failure to do what God has designed humans to do, and believe that God can forgive sins, then one doesn't need one of the more exacting substitutionary atonement theories. One can just say that through the crucifixion Jesus was providing a moral example—and be done with it.
Prelude: "Kyrie Eleison" by Charles-François Gounod
"Kyrie, eleison" (Greek for "Lord, have mercy") is a part of the liturgy of the mass.
https://youtu.be/WmxJc6Ujl_8 "Kyre, eleison" in Gounod's Short Mass for Chapels, No. 7 in C Major
https://youtu.be/O4vzxePf6WY "Kyre, eleison" in Gounod's Short Mass for Chapels, No. 7 in C Major (sung by the National Taiwan University Chorus)
https://youtu.be/Xb6ISI7Jwz8 "Kyrie Eleison," of Gounod's Solemn Mass in Honor of St. Cecilia (sung by the Busan Catholic Choir, Korea)
The best known works of Charles Gounod are Ave Maria and his opera Faust.
Gounod also wrote Marche Pontifcale, the official anthem of the Pope, the Holy see and the Vatican City State.
https://youtu.be/wKJZSNZ4Zgg Marche Pontificale by Charles Gounod, the National Anthem of Vatican City
https://youtu.be/K7IiR3ek-08 Marche Pontificale, sung, a cappella
Gounod was born in Paris on 17 Jun 1818. His mother was a pianist and his father, an artist. He died 18 Oct 1893 in Saint-Cloud (a commune in the western suburbs of Paris).
The music for the offertory is "Sacred Piece" by Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély (13 Nov 1817 – 31 Dec 1869).
"Sacred Piece" may be a name given to a composition of Lefébure-Wély that has another name. I couldn't find a "Morceau Sacré," so perhaps it is one of the ten parts of Lefébure-Wély's Opus 122, Meditaciones religiosas, first published in 1858.
I rather like the "Andante in F Major."
https://youtu.be/fRxK9iZhTfQ "Andante in F Major, 'Chœur de Voix humaines' " No. 7 from Meditaciones religiosas, Op. 122, played by Mikail Mishcenko in the Maltese Chapel of the Vorontsov Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia
Léfébure-Wély was born in Paris and was the son of an organist. He became the official organist of a fashionable church, Saint-Roch, at age 14 upon the death of his father. He began attending the Paris Conservatory in 1832, and won first prize for organ in 1835.
Louis Alfred James Léfébure-Wély, 1840
Here is another composition of Léfébure-Wély. It takes three people to play this piece on an organ. One to play the music and two to pull out and push in the stops, and turn the pages of the music.
It's fun to watch:
http://youtu.be/4Px3_MOEySM "Sortie in E-flat major" by Louis Alfred James Léfébure-Wély, played by Gert van Hoef in the Stephanuskerk, Hasselt, The Netherlands
You can learn more about the organ Gert van Hoef is playing here: http://www.pleasuresofthepipes.info/Hasselt-StStephanusKerk.html. The organ has many little statues of angels sitting atop the woodwork that holds the pipes. The angels are playing a flute, a horn, a lyre, etc.
"Gloria" by Ignaz Joseph Ritter von Seyfried is the postlude. (He is also known more simply as "Ignaz von Seyfried.") "Ritter" is the German word for "Knight." There is a place in the middle of Austria called Seyfried, but Ignaz Ritter von Seyfried spent his life in Vienna.
Ignaz von Seyfried was born in Vienna on 15 August 1776, and he died there on 27 August 1841.
Ignaz Joseph Ritter von Seyfried
(also known as Ignaz Xaver Ritter von Seyfried)
He was a musician, conductor, and composer. He had been a student of Mozart and of Johann Albrechtsberger. He became music director of the Theater auf der Wieden in Vienna in 1797 and continued in that post until 1826. (After the organization moved to a new building, it was known as the Theater an der Wien.)
He conducted the première of Beethoven's Fidelio in 1805.
His compositions have not achieved much fame and are rarely performed.
He did receive a somewhat favorable review in an 1827 issue of The Harmonicon for his compositions for Zum goldenen Löwen:
From The Harmonicon (London), No. 49, 1827, p. 53.
I did find this piece by him on YouTube called "Fest-Chor."
https://youtu.be/lewe-m2U8rM "Fest-Chor" by Ignaz von Seyfried, sung in Prague by two choirs (the audio quality isn't great)
Also, here is a part of the "Gloria" from his solemn mass in B minor:
https://youtu.be/XaiSJxyGFzM "Gloria: Gloria in excelsis Deo" of Missa solemnis in B Minor by Ignaz Ritter von Seyfried
https://youtu.be/opEJtTcDERU "Gloria: Quoniam tu solus Sanctus" of Missa solemnis in B Minor by Ignaz Ritter von Seyfried
Both are sung by the choir of Rzeszów University in Rzeszów, Poland.