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Music at St. Patrick’s enhances Holy Week services

Though we continue to try, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to express with words alone the magnitude of the events that took place in the life of Christ during the week prior to his resurrection, the week Christians refer to as Holy Week.

Christians over the centuries have, therefore, looked to the arts — music, visual arts, poetry, and theater — to more fully use our human senses to take us to another spiritual level of understanding. The arts allow us to enhance our intellectual understanding, and free our hearts and minds to feel the spiritual essence of the immensity of God’s love for humankind.

The Episcopal Church is known for utilizing all the human senses during worship as we listen to the spoken word, prayers, and music, taste the bread and wine, smell the occasional incense, see the priest consecrate the elements of the Eucharist, utilize the church’s visual religious art to enhance prayer and meditation, and touch and hold the sanctified bread in our hands as we receive communion.

On Maundy Thursday, April 5, at 6 p.m., the Choir of St. Patrick’s will be present to enhance the words of the liturgy and the sermon of Fr. Doug Neel at the service of foot washing and Holy Eucharist, the commemoration of the Last Supper of Christ with his disciples prior to his arrest, conviction and crucifixion. The service will conclude with a very powerful visual statement, as the congregation watches the complete removal of the symbolic presence of Christ in the church, with the stripping of the altar, and the removal of the sacramental bread and wine, along with religious art and decor. The congregation leaves the church in complete silence as we journey with Christ to the Garden of Gethsemane and to his brutal death at Golgotha (the place of the skull).

On Good Friday, April 6, at 5:15 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, organist/pianist Sally Neel, flutist Jessica Peterson, and violinist Heidi Tanner will present Music For Holy Contemplation as a prelude to the 6 p.m. Good Friday service. They will present classical music by Handel, Bach, Loeillet and Franck as a means for worshippers to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by Christ at the time of his crucifixion. The public is invited to attend, to reflect and then to hear the reading of the biblical account of the crucifixion, pray and give thanks for this ultimate gift of love.

On Saturday evening, April 7, at 7:30 p.m., music will again accompany a very beautiful and powerful service of word and liturgy at St. Patrick’s, as we celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter, a continuation of our journey from darkness into light. The choir of St. Patrick’s, under the direction of organist/director Sally Neel, will sing special chants and anthems to enhance the Old Testament readings of God’s continued redemptive love for his people and to celebrate our ultimate redemption through the death and resurrection of Christ.

On Easter Day, Sunday, April 8, at 10 a.m., Jessica Peterson and Heidi Tanner will once again join Sally Neel and the choir to celebrate the Feast of the Resurrection. Special festival music will punctuate Fr. Doug Neel’s sermon, the reading of the Gospel story of the empty tomb, the feast of the Holy Eucharist, and enhance our joy as we meet and praise the Risen Lord. The service will conclude with Sally Neel’s annual festival postlude, “Toccata” from the “Fifth Organ Symphony” by Charles M. Widor.

The public is invited to share with the congregation of St. Patrick’s as we sing the powerful hymns, and hear the beautiful music of Jessica Peterson, Heidi Tanner, Sally Neel and the Choir of St. Patrick’s, and experience through word, proclamation and sacraments the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For more information, call the office of St. Patrick’s at 731-5801, or go to the church website, www.stpatrickspagosa.org.

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