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Mar 29, 2017

Combined choirs, brass to open Holy Week in Liberty

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Liberty, will use music to proclaim the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday afternoon, April 9, in a special concert with St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, Houston. The combined choirs will be accompanied by pipe organ, the Eastgate Brass and additional instrumentalists to begin Holy Week.

St. Stephen’s choir director, Jim Sterling, and St. Timothy’s choir-master, David Taylor, will lead the music at the church beginning at 3 p.m. The service, Sterling estimated, will be approximately 30-45 minutes long.

Holy Week for Christendom begins on Palm Sunday and leads to the three days of worship services known in liturgical circles as the “Holy Triduum” and includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday and ends with Easter Sunday, the highest feast day on the church calendar.

“This music highlights the final days of Christ from His entry into Jerusalem, to Calvary and then His triumphant resurrection,” Taylor said.

Sterling is preparing the brass and Taylor will lead the choir and accompany on the pipe organ at St. Stephen’s.

“Our service will include the exciting anthem crying ‘Hosanna, laud hosanna’ to the chilling modern song ‘To Calvary’ remembering the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross,” he said.

The selections encompass the early music of St. Thomas Aquinas’ beloved tune “Pange lingua,” a plain-song from the 13th century whose message of the blood of Christ has transitioned through the centuries to remain an important part of the repertoire of the church.

“Nothing could be more sobering than John Stainer’s ‘God So Loved The World,’” Taylor said.

The message in music, taken from the passage of John 3:16, reflects the ultimate love of Christ in the salvation of His people. The musical tribute around the crucifixion will reach its climax with the soulful rendition of “Amazing Grace” played on violin by special guest, Liberty County Judge Jay Knight.

“I am happy to have my friend Judge Jay Knight share his beautiful talent on this auspicious occasion,” Taylor said. “This only deepens the meaningfulness for me, and I know for others, to share this moment together.”

The concert will conclude with “What Wondrous Love Is This,” a reminder of the journey of the week from triumph, to death and then again to life.

“This will be a wonderful exercise in Lenten reflections and we hope the music will provoke, not only deep thought, but action in our lives to slow down and consider the gospel message that has continued to offer hope for more than 2,000 years,” the directors said.

The collaboration is not the first for Sterling and Taylor. Sterling, a trombonist, played in the orchestra for the world premiere of Taylor’s “Requiem” in 2011.

“Jim is a dear friend and a rare talent,” Taylor said. “I admire his commitment to the Liberty community and to the art of music.”

There will be a wine and cheese reception following the concert in the parish hall. St. Stephen’s is located at 2041 Trinity Avenue in Liberty.

Reprinted from Dayton News/Houston Chronicle

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