Choral Eucharist

Sep 7, 2011     Category: Music

Choral Eucharist

“Eucharist” is another name for “mass” or “Holy Communion.”  At All Saints’, we celebrate communion at two services on Sunday mornings: at 9:15, in the contemporary language of the Book of Alternative Services, and at 11:00, the Choral Eucharist, in the traditional language of the Book of Common Prayer.

Both services include hymns, prayers, readings from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and a homily, and both culminate in the ritual of communion—the sharing of bread and wine that  represent the body and blood of Christ. The receiving of communion by the people is an act of remembrance and discipleship, as well as an act of fellowship with each other.

The Choral Eucharist, at 11:00 a.m., is characterized by heightened ceremony, traditional language, and the prominent roles of the organist and choir.  The choir leads the congregation in the singing of hymns, the psalm, and scripted responses throughout the service.  In addition, the choir sings choral settings of the Ordinary of the Mass, namely the Kyrie, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei.  While the congregation receives communion (the bread and wine) the choir sings a number of motetsThe service concludes with an organ voluntary.

The choral music is chosen from the rich Anglican tradition (from the sixteenth century to the present), as well as from the Catholic tradition predating the Reformation in England.  Much of the music is drawn from the Renaissance, a period considered by many to be the “golden age” of choral music.  Known for its beauty and serenity, this music helps to create a service which, at its best, becomes a place of contemplation and divine encounter.  The frequent use of Latin (and of  Greek in the Kyrie) may seem strange to newcomers at first, but it connects us with centuries of believers who came before, and it allows the spirit of the listener to rise with the music itself, unencumbered for the moment by the constraints of language.

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