As a church singer, I don't usually remember most of the events or services that I participate in. I get very into the music, as the Holy Spirit moves me, and I vaguely try to watch the service so that I don't get too lost. However, last Friday's service at the 2009 Episcopal church General Convention, a triennial event, struck me with particular joy and thankfulness for gifts granted to me.
It was a Eucharist service, with communion, brought to us at the Anaheim Hilton by Integrity. It was full of ubuntu incense, multiculturalism, love, and Christ. Episcopalians from across the country formed a standing room only congregation of perhaps 1600 people.
Bishop Gene Robinson celebrated the Eucharist. Integrity President Susan Russell and Integrity Founder Dr Louie Crew gave moving welcomes and invocations.
The sermon was outstanding, brought by the Episcopal Church's first female priest, retired-Bishop of Massachusetts Barbara Harris. This sermon was honestly poignant, assertive and frank. For the first time in my life, I had to restrain myself from standing and shouting "Allelujah", as I was sitting directly behind the Bishop during her sermon...
I found the music to be thoroughly uplifting. For those unfamiliar with All Saints Pasadena, our music program is exemplary and though we only practiced during the 45 minutes preceding the service, we were familiar with most of the program. I am blessed to sing with the All Saints's Coventry choir (and have previously been with the other adult choir, Canterbury). Members from choirs formed the Integrity choir this evening.
Wade in the Water - arranged by Carl Hayward
Wana Baraka, - traditional Kenyan folks song arranged by Shawn Kirchner
Sanctus - from Misa Bilingue, Kevin P Joyce
Savior of the world, save us - Community of Taize
Take, Oh Take me as I am - John L Bell
Sweet Hour of Prayer - words William W Walford, Music William Bradley, arranged by James Walker
Lead me, guide me - Dois Akers, arranged by Richard Smallwood
Nada te turbe - Community of Taize
Breathe on me, Breath of God - Nova Vita, Lister R Peace
Siyahamba - South African folk song
We also sang an unfamiliar processional song, along with a Cantor: Amen, we praise your name, O God, by Gobingca George Mxadana. Check out a supershort clip.
The words were:
Amen sia-kudu-misa! Amen sia-kudu-misa!
Amen, ba-wo. Amen, ba-wo. Amen, sia-kudo-misa!
The procession included drums and worked itself throughout the entire crowded ballroom.
Here's another short musical clips I found.
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