Today was the first Sunday in Lent, and for the last twenty-five years, we have begun the service with “The Great Litany” by Peter Hallock. Carl Crosier and I first heard this setting at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, and what I was struck by was the music’s power to “put you in another place.” The Litany is a series of many prayer bids, sung by a cantor, and each bid is punctuated with handbell peals and choral fauxbourdons.
At LCH today there was no organ prelude, and the litany began with the choir processing into the church from the courtyard. Led by crucifer Jerome Vasconcellos, the procession made many figure-eights around the congregation. This may have been the first time I sat at the organ console during the procession — in years past, I was part of the procession and rang a handbell.
Beginning with today’s Gospel Acclamation and continuing to Easter, we will be using proper settings by Aaron David Miller. Aaron is currently the Director of Music and Organist at House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. We first heard Aaron play a fabulous organ recital, including over-the-top improvisations, in Houston at the national biennial conference of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. It’s no wonder his improvisations are so fantastic — he studied the art with McNeil Robinson, the organist who dedicated our Beckerath organ in 1975 (and played for our wedding in 1977). At that conference, Aaron also did a joint lecture with his father, David L. Miller, formerly the editor of The Lutheran magazine. In 2009, Aaron David Miller played a concert at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Honolulu and we were thrilled to have him as our houseguest.
Today was also the introduction of a new bulletin format as well as a new seasonal booklet and people seemed to navigate it with no trouble. Amazing, since Lutherans don’t like change!