Changes coming for fall

Ah, fall! With the promise of the blessing of cooler temperatures, it’s time for us at St. James to pull out our heavy vestments that we’d packed away for summer and return to bit more formal look during worship. In fact, starting this coming Sunday, you’ll notice quite a few changes to our worship service as we settle into our autumnal routine.

The first thing you’ll notice is the vestments. The choir, which begins practicing this week after taking a summer break, will again don their cassocks and cottas. So will our acolytes. And I’ll resume wearing my chasuble, the poncho-like vestment traditionally worn by priests presiding at the Eucharist. (Let’s hope for cool Sunday mornings!)

The liturgy itself will also change for fall. During August, we surveyed worshipers to see what changes you’d appreciate, and our new fall liturgy reflects your responses. Some of you indicated you would like to return to saying – rather than chanting – the psalm, so that’s what we’ll be doing this fall. You also indicated you preferred shorter Prayers of the People, so for fall we’ll be using Form VI from the Book of Common Prayer, which still allows us to personalize our prayers, but isn’t as wordy as some other options.

The language for the other prayers in the service this fall will come from Enriching Our Worship, an approved alternative that is more inclusive and gender-neutral in its references to God than the language in our Book of Common Prayer. It’s nothing we haven’t used in the past, but ever since Epiphany we’ve been using prayers straight out of the BCP. The Enriching Our Worshipprayers will just sound a little fresher to us. 

The biggest change involves our service music. We heard loud and clear that people profoundly missed singing the Gloria, the Sanctus and the Fraction anthem on that Sunday that we didn’t. So we’ll keep singing them, and we’re going to learn a new Gloria and a new Sanctus. The first couple of weeks with the new music may be daunting, but I think you’ll learn them quickly, and will love, love, love them.

Ever hear of John Rutter? He’s one of the most acclaimed composers of our day, and he’s the founder of the Cambridge Singers. He composed the version of the Gloria (“Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth …”) we’ll be singing this fall. You can hear a little snippet of it here.

Our Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy…) comes from the Freedom Mass, written by Betty Carr Pulkingham, based on extensive travel and experiences in South Africa. This Sanctus is based on a South African protest song. Again, a snippet.

And our Fraction anthem will be an old familiar one, a setting by David Hurd that we’ve sung many times. Here it is.

As always, I hope that our worship service is beautiful and meaningful and glorifies God. But as I like to tell the acolytes, who worry when they forget to do something, or make a little flub that may or may not be noticeable to the congregation: “There’s no such thing as a mistake in liturgy. Only variations!” Hope you’ll like the variations we have planned this fall.