Festal Eucharist

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Sunday, December 16, 2012
11:00 am


Gaudete literally means "rejoice," for the Lord is coming! And so on this Sunday you'll notice that the Advent purple gives way to a splash of rose. The frontal on the altar changes, the vestments of the clergy change, there are flowers, and the third candle—a rose one—is lit on the advent wreath. All of this is a bit of joy breaking into what is otherwise a penetential season.

If you pay attention to the order of service at the 11am Festal Eucharist, you'll notice that it includes (for the first time this Church Year) the Summary of the Law (Matthew 22:37-40) and the Comfortable Words (Matthew 11:28, John 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:15 and 1 John 2:1-2). Why do these suddenly appear in the liturgy when, on typical Sunday mornings at Saint Thomas, they are not said? Because these words are indeed a comfort to all faithful who are penitent, and therefore are appropriate for this Sunday of joy and comfort in the midst of a penetential season. You'll hear the same words said in Lent, on Laetare Sunday, which is the Lenten equivalent to Advent's Gaudete.

Joy also permeates the Liturgy of the Word. Notice, for example, that both the Old Testament Lesson and the Epistle for Year C have the word "rejoice" in them—Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem [Zephaniah 3:14] and Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice [Philippians 4:4].


Stir up thy power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let thy bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

Above: From the Joy Window of Saint Thomas Church, now fully restored. "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem." [Zephaniah 3:14]

On Gaudete Sunday, we light the rose candle on the Advent wreath and rejoice as our King and Savior draweth nigh.

Included in this Festal Eucharist are hymns sung by the congregation and choir, additional music sung exclusively by the choir, lessons, prayers, a sermon, and a Rite I Mass. All baptized Christians are welcome to receive Holy Communion. Details of the service may be seen in the leaflet, which is posted at the bottom of this page a few days prior to the service, where you will also find links to the webcast during and after the service. Those of you familiar with Sunday liturgy at Saint Thomas will notice that while this service proceeds as nearly any other Festal Eucharist, this week the Rector also says The Summary of the Law and The Comfortable Words

►The Rector speaks about the Gaudete Sunday in his weekly audio message. Follow the entire liturgical year from start to finish here.

Music notes: The music of the Swiss composer, Frank Martin (1890-1974), first came to prominence through the festivals of the International Society for Contemporary Music. His output includes a number of orchestral and chamber works, but only one piece of unaccompanied sacred choral music, the Mass for Double Choir written in 1922. The piece was not premiered until 1963, a fact largely attributed to the composer’s deeply-felt Christian faith. At the time of the work’s first performance in Hamburg, Martin wrote “I did not want it to be performed… I considered it as being a matter between God and myself. I felt then that an expression of religious feelings should remain secret and removed from public opinion.” There is no doubt that the setting is a profound statement of personal faith. The Kyrie unfolds with a gentle, melismatic dialogue between the upper voices. The music becomes more animated and intense exploring the full range of the double choir texture. In the Sanctus we hear the increasing persistence in the upper parts of the cry of the Cherubim and Seraphim, the Benedictus concludes with a vibrant ‘Hosanna’ and in the Agnus Dei, added in 1926, one choir sings a lyrical plainsong-like melody against the gently pulsating chords of the other, until the two unite in one of the most beautiful passages in all unaccompanied choral music, the final petition for peace.

Celebrant: Fr Mead

Preacher: Fr Spurlock

Deacon: Fr Daniels

Subdeacon: Fr Austin

Sung by: The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys

Prelude: Sonata in one movement, Alan Gibbs (b. 1932)

Lesson: Zephaniah 3:14-20

Epistle: Philippians 4:4-7

Gospel: Luke 3:7-18

Service: Mass for Double Choir, Frank Martin (1890-1974)

Psalm: 85:7-13, Anglican Chant (Parratt)

Anthem: Laetentur coeli, William Byrd (c. 1540-1623)

Anthem: Alma Redemptoris Mater, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525-1594)

Voluntary: Overture to ‘St. Paul’ Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) arranged by W.T. Best (1826-1897)

Hymn: [in leaflet]
Wake, awake for night is flying

Hymn: 67
Comfort, comfort ye my people,

Hymn: 72
Hark! the glad sound! the Savior comes,

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