PostHeaderIcon Music at Epiphany

Music at Epiphany is a vital part of the life of the church. From robust congregational singing, mighty sounds from an outstanding, newly-restored organ, to stirring anthems, solos, and instrumental ensembles, worship at Epiphany utilizes music to underscore the message and uplift the spirit.

At the center of the music program at Epiphany is our outstanding Chancel Choir: a volunteer group open to everyone high school age and older. There is no audition. The choir rehearses and participates in worship from September until Pentecost. Soloists and ensembles often provide special music during this “vacation season.”

The choir specializes in preparing music of the Sacred Harp and other early American hymnody as well as the standard anthems of the Christian liturgy.  Each season, the choir will present major works at the Christmas season or at Lent/Easter. Their repertory has included “Gloria,” John Rutter; “Ceremony of Carols,” Benjamin Britten; “Crucifixion,” John Stainer; “Seven Last Words Of Christ,” Theodore Dubois; “Messiah,“ George Handel; “Christmas Oratorio,” Camille Saint-Saens; “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” Menotti. Search “Epiphany UCC” on to hear our choir.

A bass in our choir has this comment:

The famous cartoonist Charles Schulz inspired a musical where Charlie Brown and his friends described their fondest experiences in a song called "Happiness."  The simplest measures of contentment were held up in an ensemble, each cast member chiming in on queue " HAPPINESS IS TWO KINDS OF ICE CREAM. KNOWING A SECRET. CLIMBING A TREE."   Those of us who have the privilege of participating in bringing music into the strirring services at Epiphany know that feeling as each week we reflect on a little different aspect of our faith through music.   Sometimes it is pensive, sometimes joyful.  It is never disconnected, whether it is a classical work from Mozart, an enduring anthem like “How Firm a Foundation,” or a Southern ballad.  It's a way to form an ensemble with our brothers and sisters and a way to step beyond the circle, reaching out to our congregation and all who are present during worship.  It's a place where fellowship extends beyond Sunday and we share in each other's joys and burdens.   Some things make you want to sing out about the goodness of God - HAPPINESS IS  - A SPOT IN THE CHOIR LOFT.

And from an alto in our choir:

The choir at Epiphany not only gives me an outlet to express myself musically, but a community of wonderful people that enhance my experience as an Epiphany member. I enjoy learning and singing the selected music which accurately assesses the choir's talents and allows us to sing unique, heartfelt compositions. Sometimes we may at first think an anthem or larger work is beyond our abilities. Yet we have the confidence that with practice and dedication we can make it work. My time with the choir fulfills me in ways that the rest of my week cannot. I feel closer to God when I sing, and choir provides that outlet.

The organ at Epiphany was restored in 2009 and re-dedicated to the “glory of God” in the spring of 2010. It was first installed in 1931 by Hinners of Pekin, Illinois. The restoration way completed by Fowler Organ Company of Lansing, Michigan.

Children’s Music is directed by Karen Troy and Larry Blustain and takes place as a part of our Sunday School Program on Sunday mornings. The children sing in worship periodically during the year. Presently, they are preparing the children’s musical, “Cool In The Furnace” by Buryl Red. It is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo and their fate at the hands of Nebuchanezzar. It will be presented in May of 2011.

The Epiphany Musicians is a loosely formed group of those who play musical instruments and wish to share this with the congregation.  Recently, the Epiphany Strings performed the haunting “Adagio for Strings and Organ” by Tomasso Albinoni. We also have handbells for those interested. Our strong contingent of jazz musicians allows us to utilize this resource throughout the year. Periodically, a jazz trio will accompany worship to give an added dimension.

Epiphany is a congregation that loves strong and vibrant congregational singing whether it be a centuries-old hymn, a gospel song, or a spiritual. It is a congregation that enjoys great choral music and the sounds of children’s voices. Our services blend traditional hymnody with more current styles, according to the needs of the liturgy. Each week brings wonderful and inspiring sounds.

If you are interested in being a part of our music program, please contact Joe Burt. Everyone is welcome, so come be a part of making a joyful noise together.

The Chancel Choir rehearses each Sunday at 9 a.m. in the Sanctuary. Feel free to stop by and “try us out.” Worship is 10:30 a.m.

Click on Title for MP3

“Song of Simeon” by Joseph Burt is scored for baritone solo, chorus, violin, cello, two trumpets, chimes, and organ.  It was composed in 2006. The recording is from the premiere performance conducted by Donald McCullough, Music Director of the Master Chorale, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.  Vincent Amlin is the soloist. The choir is composed of the Chancel Choir, Epiphany United Church of Christ, and the choir of Trinity United Methodist Church, Wilmette, IL.

“Song of Simeon,” while a concert piece, is also designed to be used as a closing meditation for a funeral. The duet between the violin and the cello are symbolic of man’s lifelong dialogue with God. The trumpets are first reminiscent of the shofar, then later, the “last trumpet.” In the final section of the work, the choir chants, tonally centered around the note “E” which signifies the body being moved down the aisle of the church toward a final resting place. In the end, the bells of the church tower toll.

The text, taken from the Gospel of Luke, recounts the time when Simeon, an aged, devout man of God, has been promised that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.  Mary and Joseph take the baby, Jesus, to the Temple for the rites of purification, according to Judaic law. Simeon, taking the child into his arms, exclaims, "Now, Lord, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel." In the composition, the baritone sings the English text and the chorus sings the traditional Latin “Nunc Dimittis.”

The dedication reads, “for our fathers and our forefathers.”

"The Lone Wild Bird " Elise Kauzlaric, soloist    arranged from the Sacred Harp by Joseph Burt
Notes:  This setting of a hymn by Henry Richard MacFayden is an arrangement of the tune, Prospect, which first appeared in Walker's Southern Harmony in 1835.  It speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit and is traditionally heard at Pentecost.

"Lift Thine Eyes " is a three-part chorus for treble voices from the oratorio, ELIJAH,  by Felix Mendelssohn, 1848.  The text is a paraphrase of Psalm 121.

This week at Epiphany
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