Jan. 10th, 2010

meanfreepath: (Default)
During this January Term, Sunday services continue at Memorial Church, but the choir is off and there are no Morning Prayers -- I would venture to guess that only UChoir's grad students and maybe a handful of the undergrads are in town. So tomorrow and next Sunday are rare opportunities to check out other churches in the area. Given how many churches there are in Boston, choosing one or two is no easy task.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to limit myself to Episcopalian, for now. There are some other traditions I would be very interested in checking out at some point, in particular the Society of Friends -- I was playing the piano for Mass nearly every Sunday at Swarthmore, and never went to Quaker meeting. I find much to respect in the Quakers, but I could never be a pacifist.

It's enough of a hike that I don't think I'd be going there regularly, but I'd like to check out Trinity Episcopal down in Copley Square tomorrow morning for their 11:15 service with choir. Liturgy looks like it'll be sufficiently high church for my taste, they've got one of the best organs in Boston, and it is encouraging that their website mentions an LGBT fellowship.
meanfreepath: (Default)
In keeping with the decision I arrived at last night, I attended the 11:15 service at Trinity Episcopal in Copley Square this morning. I'd been in front of the church plenty of times, when [livejournal.com profile] gallian had talked me into going to outdoor international dancing a few summers back, but had never gone in. It was a mostly pleasant 5 mile bike ride downtown from my apartment, save for one maniac of a driver speeding and swerving on the Harvard Bridge. And I hadn't realized before how pretty the stretch of Comm Ave that runs through the Back Bay is with snow on the ground.

As for the service -- a lot of Episcopal churches do Communion every Sunday. Trinity has a weekly communion at 9:00, but their principal 11:15 service is Morning Prayer on all but the 1st Sunday of the month. One of the things I'd like to find out is the rationale for doing Morning Prayer vs. Holy Eucharist as a Sunday service.

The full Episcopalian Morning Prayer is considerably more involved, and richer, than the brief service customary at Harvard. (I would not be surprised if Harvard's Morning Prayers were much more extensive than the current 15 minutes in days of yore when attendance was compulsory.) Early in the service I was surprised that the entire congregation was asked to sing the plainchant canticle with the choir -- it's so easy to trip over the words or move incorrectly when not on the reciting tone. The canticle was followed by a spoken psalm and two Scripture lessons, with an anthem after each lesson. These were the Magnificat and Nunc Dimmitis in Bb of Stanford (pretty -- in UChoir we almost never get to sing Magnificats). During the Nunc I was surprised to see a woman in the front of the sanctuary waving a kite mounted to a pole; this was apparently the signal for the children in the congregation to assemble downstairs for the childrens' sermon.

The preacher's text this morning was the baptism of Christ, according to Luke. The preacher spoke about the imago Dei, our recognition of that through Baptism, and of the need to be listening to God's call in our lives -- a focused and relatively concise sermon. Following the sermon there was another anthem during the offertory, the "Three Kings" of Cornelius, the one with the bass solo over a serene "Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern." The service concluded with the usual blessing and hymn, and a choral benediction.

I stopped by the Welcome Table in the church foyer after the postlude (Buxtehude, Praludium in F). The lady there happened to be a convert from Catholicism, as well. She invited me downstairs for the coffee hour, where I chatted with a couple of people. It seemed relatively friendly for a large church, and certainly way more so than most Catholic churches. I could definitely see myself coming back.


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