APRIL 27, 2014

The Second Sunday of Easter has come to be known historically under various titles. The origin of the designation “Low Sunday” is uncertain although many authorities believe that it simply meant that this feast was of a lower degree of solemnity than the great day of Easter. Others believe that “Low” is a corruption of the Latin word “Laudes,” which begins the Sequence Hymn appointed in the Missal for this Sunday. In the Roman Catholic tradition, the Sunday after Easter has two names: “Quasimodo,” the first word of the Introit from II Peter, “as newborn babes” and “Dominica in albis” (The Lord’s Day in White), referring to the ancient custom that those who had been newly baptized at the Easter Vigil would put off the white garments with which they had been clothed and which they had worn throughout Easter Week.

At both the 9 am and 5 pm services, we will sing “Lord of the Dance” by the English poet, song writer and folk musician Sydney Carter. Inspired by Jesus as well as by a statue of the Hindu deity Shiva as Nataraja (Lord of the Dance), Sydney wrote this popular song in 1963, as an adaptation of Joseph Brackett’s “Simple Gifts” and a tribute to Shaker music. He later stated, “I did not think the churches would like it at all. I thought many people would find it pretty far flown, probably heretical and anyway dubiously Christian. But in fact people did sing it and, unknown to me, it touched a chord . . . Anyway, it’s the sort of Christianity I believe in.”

The composer Peter Phillips (1561-1628), although English by birth, spent his mature years in Brussels as organist of the vice-regal chapel in service to the Archduke Albert and Isabella of Spain. A Roman Catholic, he fled England in his youth to avoid religious persecution. Apart from Byrd, he was the most published English composer of his era with over 150 motets to his credit. His motet “Surgens Jesus,” sung at 11 am, relates the story of Jesus’ first appearance to his disciples following his resurrection. The awe of that moment is magically conveyed, particularly through the words “Dixit: Pax vobis.”

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