Shades of Carl

O Antiphon music and bulletin

O Antiphon music and bulletin

I’ve just returned home from attending the 42nd Annual Advent Procession at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, and a number of people came up to me to say that they had remembrances of Carl Crosier tonight. It was not only in the choice of music—I believe there was only one piece which director Scott Fikse programmed which we had not done previously during Carl’s time (1972-2011) as Cantor. I have written several posts about the “O” Antiphon service which you can review here:

The “O” Antiphons (December 3, 2012)
The Great “O” Antiphons (November 23, 2010)
Hallock’s music for Advent (November 18, 2011)

As I said in the last post, it just wouldn’t be Advent without the music of Hallock! Tonight’s service was based on Peter Hallock’s “The ‘O’ Antiphons,” which uses the organ and handbells to accompany the antiphons. The closing recessional was Carl’s setting of Veni veni Emmanuel for choir, congregation, organ and handbells—his music lives on!

The program attributed the tradition of Advent Procession at LCH to Carl Crosier in 1975, but it was because of our friendship and collaboration with Peter Hallock of St. Mark’s Cathedral Seattle, that the O Antiphons came to be a part of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu.

Here are Peter Hallock’s liner notes of the CD produced by Loft Recordings of the “Great ‘O’ Antiphons” as recorded at St. Mark’s Cathedral Seattle:


Available from Loft Recordings. (Click picture to go to their website)

For more than fifty years, special evening celebrations on the First Sunday of Advent have been important events in the liturgical life of St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle. The format of these services has followed the tried and true formula of readings from scripture with a variety of musical responses: processionals, psalms, carols, anthems and hymns.

That such a reasonable format should eventually suggest other possibilities did not arise until the use of that format (i.e. Lessons and Carols à la King’s College, Cambridge) seemed, not only in its redundancy, but also in its singular association with Christmas, to confuse and negate the distinctions appropriate to these important celebrations of Advent. Thus the question, “what to do?”

Thanks to an opportunity for creative dialogue with Dr. William Bertolas, at that time a member of the Compline Choir, we investigated the potential that seemed inherent in the Gregorian Chant settings of the Great “O” Antiphons, which have languished for too long on the dusty back shelves of liturgical disuse. While Christians of numerous denominations have for many years been singing the “O” Antiphons in the form of the hymn O come, O come, Emmanuel it seemed likely that this practice in itself had not really brought to life the vibrant images of Christ drawn form the Old Testament: Wisdom, Adonai, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Rising Dawn, King of Nations, and Emmanuel. Thus to celebrate the beginning for the Advent seasons with a liturgy in which the power of these images might be more vividly displayed and discovered anew became our goal.

The shape of the liturgy is quite simple: banners displaying the symbols of each antiphon are brought from the rear of the church, one at a time, as each antiphon is sung. After each banner is placed in the chancel a reading from scripture, a musical response (congregational hymn, carol or motet) and a prayer are offered. As a final musical response the hymn Veni, veni Emmanuel is sung with all of the banners carried in a grand exit procession.

The "O" Antiphon banners at LCH.

The “O” Antiphon banners at LCH.

Involved in the preparation of the first “O” Antiphon liturgy at St. Mark’s were the following: the officiant, thurifer, seven readers, the Cathedral Choir, the Compline Choir, the organist, seven acolytes to carry banners, seven torchbearers to precede each banner in the procession. Various choir members and friends made the banners and the wooden stands that held the banners in the chancel. The generous hands on help of two members of the Altar Guild were of invaluable assistance in dealing with candles and innumerable back-stage details essential to successful execution of such and elaborate liturgy.

Few liturgies offer the opportunity for such wide and diverse participation of the laity, both in preparation and execution. It is from this standpoint that I feel those who prepare and offer this liturgy will find their greatest rewards and satisfaction.

Our first visit was to Diamond Head Memorial Park to visit Carl's grave.

Our first visit was to Diamond Head Memorial Park to visit Carl’s grave.

This of course was Thanksgiving weekend, and it was my daughter-in-law Jessica’s first visit to Hawaii. In addition to hosting Thanksgiving dinner and cooking the turkey, my son Stephen and I played tour guide in the last three days. As you can see by the photo on the left, our first visit was to Diamond Head Memorial Park to see Carl’s grave.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was a feast in the Crosier tradition—all because we heard a lecture by Jeff Smith (The Frugal Gourmet) at a conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians in 1992. I’ll never forget Smith’s statement that Americans have forgotten how to feast, and held up a TV dinner tray as an example. Ever since, the Crosier and the Frank Haas families (plus friends) have celebrated each of the holidays with a veritable 6-hour feast, beginning with many pupus, soup, salad, main course and side dishes, and dessert, with each family contributing several dishes. As I posted on Facebook, there was a special person missing from this year’s gathering, but somehow, we carry on.

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About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
This entry was posted in Carl Crosier, Choral Music, Katherine Crosier, Peter Hallock and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Shades of Carl

  1. Curt Zimmerman says:

    I remember the “Frug”s sermon at Christ Church, Tacoma, as well. Episcopal Presiding Bishop, Ed Browning (former Bp of Hawaii) presided and I was asked to be his chaplain. Who would have known that evening that within a year I would be rector of that congregation? There are sermon images that do stay with us.

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