Music Notes for Palm Sunday

bryan anderson music notes

This week, as we all know, we are hoping to be back indoors in the church. I am very excited about this prospect, and about getting our organs back “online!” I can’t help but think that the Palm Sunday imagery of gate-opening and entrance will be especially apropos if this happens.

In this spirit, the opening voluntary will be the Marche religieuse of Alexandre Guilmant. Guilmant takes the opening motif of the chorus “Lift up your heads, O ye gates,” from Handel’s Messiah, and turns it into a regal tune and an inexorable build.

Later, at the singing of Psalm 24, which is the source of that refrain, “Lift up your heads…that the King of Glory may come in,” we will use the Anglican chant pairing familiar to anyone who has gone to school here: the first chant is by one William Felton, but it changes halfway through to a chant which we assume the STE choirmaster John Moseley wrote (it’s in his handwriting and he didn’t write a name down!) It is always a great thing when a parish has a tradition of music composed by members of its community.

Speaking of which, our communion anthem was penned by Saint Thomas’ parishioner and choir member Andy Wright, on a text by Samuel Wesley, Behold the Savior of Mankind. Andy is a multi-talented asset to the church (watch for him playing trombone on Easter!), and I am so happy to be able to sing this lovely piece by a faithful member of this parish.

There is much more to this service musically, including Philip Moore’s stunning “It Is a Thing Most Wonderful,” one of my favorite pieces in our repertoire. But regardless of the music, the heart of this service is the reading and remembrance of the Passion. I hope that all will come and walk with us on this journey from the triumphal entry to the cross, and give our worship to the one who died to wash away our sin.