Nigerian Sunday has come and gone. It was a joyful time of singing, dancing, clapping, and praying together. The Venerable Dr. Godson Ofoegbu was our preacher and visiting minister. The Rev. Dr. Godson brought greetings from Transfiguration Anglican Church of Los Angeles in California. He expounded the Gospel lesson that “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, while those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14) We shared the Eucharist together, and food and fellowship followed the liturgy. If you missed it, there is always next year!
This Sunday August 12, 2018 is our annual Nigerian Sunday Celebration.
There is a single service of communion at 10:30 a.m. We welcome our many guests with songs of praise and choruses of thanksgiving.
Drummers leading worship July 2013
Following the service enjoy fellowship and authentic Nigerian cuisine.
Praise to the Most High God with worship and honor.
Choristers in song July 2013
A previous post talked about the doxology written by Thomas Ken, beginning “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” These well-known words have an equally well-known tune, commonly called the “Old Hundredth.” For the origins of this tune and its name, we need to go back to the early days of the Reformation in Europe.
One point stressed by the early Reformers was that church services should be “in such a tongue as the people understandeth” (as the Thirty-Nine Articles have it). This included not only Bible readings and prayers, but also singing. Music in the traditional church services of the Sixteenth Century incorporated stately chants in Latin, usually by clergy or trained choirs. Both Luther in Germany and Calvin in Geneva set about to provide alternatives. Calvin began to translate the Psalms into French, but soon turned that task over to a poet named Clement Marot. Calvin commissioned composer Louis Bourgeois to prepare tunes suitable for the newly translated Psalms. Bourgeois and Marot did not complete the work, but others took it up. Various partial editions were published and by 1562 the entire set of Psalms (and some other Biblical texts) were available for use in French, set to 126 different tunes (some tunes were used more than once). The new tunes contrasted with the traditional chants (Queen Elizabeth of England reportedly called them “Genevan jigs”), but they became very popular. The whole collection was known as the Genevan Psalter and the tune we know as the “Old Hundredth,” was the setting for Psalm 134 (in French) in that collection. The tune is attributed to Louis Bourgeois.
Meanwhile, various people were working to translate the Psalms into English. One of them was William Kethe, who was active in Geneva. His best-known translation was of Psalm 100 (also known by its Latin name, the Jubilate Deo), which begins, “All people that on earth do dwell, sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.” Kethe’s translation of Psalm 100 was included in a collection of English Psalms published in 1562 and based in part on the Genevan tunes. This “Anglo-Genevan Psalter” used the tune from the French text of Psalm 134 and applied it to the English text of Psalm 100. That is the origin of the tune name, “Old Hundredth.” The Anglo-Genevan Psalter remained popular until the 18th Century, when tastes in church music changed and new hymns, not directly based on the Psalms, came into widespread use. Somewhere during this period it was noticed that the Old Hundredth tune worked well with Thomas Ken’s doxology, and the two have been paired ever since in many collections of hymns and sacred songs.
So we see that examination of one small part of the Anglican liturgy takes us back hundreds of years to appreciate the work of many hands working to promote fitting worship of God in the Church.
One of the glories of the Anglican tradition is its liturgy, its form of common worship. At St. Barnabas, we follow the traditional Anglican liturgy. Every part of it repays study. Here is one example. At the conclusion of the Offertory, we sing a doxology (a short hymn praising God) in the following words:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creature here below,
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
The words picture all things on earth (all creatures here below) joining with the angels (the heavenly host) in praising God for his many blessings. This is what heaven will be like: all sin, evil, and death will be destroyed and we will live forever with God in grateful love and harmony. The words were written by Thomas Ken (1637 – 1711), an English bishop who, as part of his work at Winchester College (a boarding school in Winchester that still exists), wrote prayers and hymns for the use of the students. Two of the hymns were intended for use at morning and evening devotions, and both ended with the words written above.
There is much more of interest about Thomas Ken, who lived in a tumultuous time under kings Charles II, James II, and William III, but was considered an honest and faithful gentleman throughout.
Watch this space for information about the tune used with this doxology.
Long time readers of this blog will recognize that this is part of a series that has been on hiatus recently. Earlier posts can be found farther down in the blog. We have been trying to discern who God is by discussing how God is depicted in the Old Testament. Our interlocutor is Anaiah, an educated Jew from the 500’s B.C.
St. Barnabas Blog: We have been talking about Moses and his encounter with God in the burning bush as related in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 3. “Exodus” means “a way out” in Greek, by the way.
Anaiah: It is a good name for the story, because as you will see it has to do with the Israelites finding a way out of Egypt. But first, you had some questions about the encounter Moses had with God.
SBB: Yes. What was God doing in a burning bush?
Anaiah: Recall that God is not a physical being; indeed, he created the entire physical universe. So any encounter with God is going to be unusual, to say the least. God can choose how to reveal himself, so we are probably meant to ponder this appearance and what symbolic meaning it may have.
SBB: Do you see any symbolism in it?
Anaiah: I’ll tell you what I think. The story does not indicate that there is anything unusual about this particular bush. What makes it unusual is the fire within it, which burns but does not consume. This could be a symbol of the Hebrew people, who (certainly at this point in the story) are humble in the eyes of the world, but in whom lives the spirit of God. God is often likened to a fire (we will see that later) because he is awesome, gives life, and does not consume those whom he favors.
SBB: What was Moses’ response to this appearance?
Anaiah: He hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.
SBB: Is fear of God a good thing?
Anaiah: We need to distinguish two kinds of fear. First, there is the fear of injury in which God is regarded as an enemy or personal threat. Second, there is awe, the recognition that God is unspeakably great and that the proper response is total surrender to God’s will. It is clear from the story that Moses experiences what we may call holy fear.
SBB: What happened at the burning bush?
Anaiah: God sent Moses back to the Israelites in Egypt and revealed his name.
SBB: He introduced himself?
Anaiah: Much more than that. Remember that the term “God” is a generic one. In Moses’ world, different peoples claimed different gods. So it was not unreasonable for Moses to ask for more information about the God that was appearing to him. He said, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them ‘the God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them? God said, “I am who I am. Say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
SBB: A curious name.
Anaiah: Indeed, and a mysterious one. Among other things, it appears to mean that God is not something that could exist or not, he is something that necessarily exists. You and I could exist or not, we exist because God, the source of all being, has caused us to exist. But the full meaning of the divine name is concealed from us, and to show respect we avoid saying it. Where it occurs in the Biblical text we usually substitute the word “Adonai” (meaning lord) for it. And your modern Bible translations continue this practice, using “LORD” (in all capital letters) where the divine name appears.
SBB: You said that God sent Moses to the Israelites in Egypt. For what purpose?
Anaiah: To bring them out, to return them to the land that God had promised to Abraham.
SBB: How did that work out?
Anaiah: That is a story for next time.
Moses and the Burning Bush – Stern Gallery
This Sunday – July 22, 2018 we will observe one Mass only at 10:30 am. Our 8:00 am service will resume on Sunday July 29, 2018. Also our Adult Christian Education class is postponed until August 19th. We will start a new series then created for A.C.N.A. parishes. See you this Sunday at 10:30am. Blessings!
Our patron saint was originally named Joseph. He hailed from the island of Cyprus but became an early member of the Christian church in Jerusalem. He sold some property he owned and devoted the proceeds to the church. Either for this reason or because of other services, the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement” or “son of consolation.” This is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (the fifth book in the New Testament), Chapter 4, verses 36-37. Some time later, when Saul (renamed Paul) was converted from a violent persecutor of Christianity to a disciple, it was Barnabas who vouched for him to the apostles. Acts 9:27. Barnabas was sent by the apostles to report on the growth of the church in Antioch. He sought out Paul, who was living in Tarsus, and brought him to Antioch where they worked together. Acts 11:19-26. Barnabas accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey to Asia Minor and he joined with Paul in arguing that non-Jews should be welcomed into the church. Acts 13-15. Barnabas undertook a second missionary journey to his homeland of Cyprus. Acts 15:36-39. After that he fades from the historical record, but it is clear that Barnabas was highly esteemed in the early church. Luke says (Acts 11:24) that he was “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” May the same be said of us.
On July 8 and 15, from 9:10 to 10:00 am (that is, between the 8:00 and 10:30 liturgies), St. Barnabas will present a class on Jewish Feasts and Festivals. These were established in Old Testament times to celebrate various aspects of God’s goodness to his people, and they remain in use today, sometimes with modifications. Jesus and his disciples themselves participated in the Jewish feasts and festivals, as shown by numerous references to them in the New Testament. Studying the Jewish feasts and festivals will help to develop our understanding of what Jesus meant when he said that he came, not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. All are welcome.
On this holiday, we remember our ancestors who fought and died so that we could be free. May we come together to celebrate the many good things that we share. One of those good things is that we can worship God without fear, at a time when Christians are oppressed in many parts of the world.
On this day we pray:
O Eternal God, through whose mighty power our fathers won their liberties of old; Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain these liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Independence Day – Collect 1928 BCP
One of the lessons from our recent class on Christian Ethics was this: study of ethics reveals that we do not and cannot behave well even according to our own standards, much less approach the perfect purity and goodness of God. We cannot by our own efforts make ourselves acceptable to God. But there is no need to despair. God has promised his own Spirit to live within us, not to make us perfectly good (we will never be that) but to make us part of himself. When we surrender to God and rely, not on our own merits, but on God’s free gift (through the death and resurrection of Jesus) then we become acceptable to Him. It’s both easy and hard. Easy because the work has been done for us, hard because we cannot rely wholly on God unless we smother our pride.
So why go to church? In our liturgy we remember and confess our unworthiness before God and we remember (and more than that, mystically connect with) the sacrifice of Jesus that made us acceptable to God. We experience a foretaste of our hope: to live in love with God forever. Church is not a bunch of pretty good people getting together for mutual congratulations, it is (as it has been said) one beggar telling another where to find bread.