November is a month of great richness in our liturgical calendar. The celebrations of All Saints Day, Thanksgiving Day, and the Sunday before Advent, all serve as a fitting conclusion to the church year, as well as lending variety and focus to our worship. This year we also begin our Advent season on the final Sunday of the month, and more will be said about our Advent music in next month’s column.
The celebration on Thanksgiving Eve provides a special opportunity to experience the “beauty of holiness” at Trinity Church. The hymn “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come” analogizes the autumn harvest with the gathering of God’s people at the end of time, with reference to St. Mark 4: 26-9, and St. Matthew 13: 24-30. The composer George Elvey named his tune St. George’s Windsor after the royal chapel where Elvey served as music director for many years. Although the Reformation-era hymn “Now Thank We All Our God” is not particular to an American Thanksgiving service, it seems to gain greater meaning when sung as a final hymn at that liturgy, as we will do. Martin Rinckhart’s words are an example of perseverance amidst adversity: he penned this inspiring text during the Thirty Years War in the seventeenth century, and after his village had been sacked three times by invading forces. In spite of this disaster, Rinckhart turns to God in thanks and praise for his deliverance. Finally, on Thanksgiving Eve be sure to listen for this hymn’s great Reformation tune as the basis of the organ postlude by Bach, in an arrangement by the American concert organist Virgil Fox; a great twentieth-century virtuoso paying tribute to the greatest organist of the eighteenth-century!
All are warmly invited to partake of this harvest of liturgical riches at Trinity Anglican Church, and to join us as we move into Advent and Christmas.