How "I am the bread of life" was saved: the rest of the story

Many love it and others don't, but we almost lost it all together. Just in time for All Souls Day, The National Catholic Reporter has Sister Suzanne Toolan's story behind her hymn, "I am the bread of life."

Her memoir is here.

The song is copyrighted. The scriptural reference:

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All whom the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day."

John 6:35-40

Top 10 carols

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without singing a few carols, but what are the origins of the familiar words and tunes we sing every year? Read on to find out the history of the Christmas Carol and the top ten tunes that churches across the UK will be singing this year.

The Times Online reports that the top 10 carols of the Church of England are:
Church of England are:

O Come All Ye Faithful
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Silent Night
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Once in Royal David's City
In the Bleak Midwinter
Joy to the World
Away in a Manger
The First Nowell
Angels from the Realms of Glory
The article lists the top 10 for other denominations and gives the history of the carols and some of the myths that surround them:
O Come All Ye Faithful, is popularly thought to have been written by a 13th-century saint. But the crescendoing carol, originally in Latin and entitled Adeste Fidelis, dates instead to 1743. It was written by John Francis Wade, a Roman Catholic who fled France during the Jacobean rebellion and worked as a music teacher in England. The carol was first translated into English in 1789 for use in the Protestant Church. There are almost 50 different English versions, the most well known was translated in 1841 by Frederick Oakeley an Anglican priest who wrote “Ye faithful, approach ye”. But after his conversion to Catholicism in 1845 Oakeley rewrote the opening lines as ‘O come all ye faithful / Joyfully triumphant.
Read it here.

HT to Thinking Anglicans.

What is your favorite?

Music of the season on the Web

Saint Thomas' Church on Fifth Avenue in New York City is Web casting audio files of its Holy Week services.

Hat tip to bls at Topmost Apple, who also found some other wonderful music.

Easter music central to celebration

The "great triumph of God over death" conveyed in music is the focus of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly's Easter feature, with commentary by Canon Victoria Sirota of Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, author of Preaching to the Choir: Claiming the Role of Sacred Musician.. The piece features excerpts from raditional hymns, African-American spirituals, and contemporary praise music, and context to help people understand the motifs of the music and how they tie into the Holy Week experience.

LAWTON: Many of the crucifixion songs focus on the blood of Christ, which Christians believe atoned for the sins of the world.

Canon SIROTA: The truth of the reality that we are dealing with life and death issues; the idea of blood, which is so horrifying. And when you bleed you are terrified that you are going to die. But to use that as a symbol then of new life, it reminds us that the story doesn't end there, that we end in resurrection.

LAWTON: And so comes the great transition to Easter Sunday, from mourning to resurrection.

Canon SIROTA: We hear the joy, we hear the triumph. We sing fast music. We sing it joyously. It's in a major key and it helps us to feel that this is "the day the Lord has made."

LAWTON: Many Easter songs incorporate the words, "Alleluia" or "Hallelujah."

CHOIR #2 (singing): Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Canon SIROTA: Alleluia is the Latin form of "praise to God." Hallelujah is the Hebrew form of "praise to God." So they're both ecstatic. And I think the sound of it is why we haven't translated them. Hallelujah -- just that sense of almost moving into the non-verbal. Not a translation of praise to God, but "Hallelujah" -- that sheer joy, sheer ecstasy. Not only do we use them especially at Easter, but we don't say them in the Christian Church during Lent. We bury the Alleluias and return them on Easter Sunday.

Transcript and video here.

Bells, bells, bells

NY Times reports on the annual meeting of change ringers at Trinity Wall Street.

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Restored organ comes with familiar family name attached

Members of the Pierce family - including actor David Hyde Pierce - dedicated a newly refurbished organ at Bethesda Episcopal Church in Saratoga Springs, New York, this past weekend, local newspapers reported.

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Playing for the Yankees and an NJ church

As Cafe´ news-editor Ann Fontaine periodically reminds us, "baseball is a religion." Now we hear confirmation that the world of the church and of baseball are closer than ever. The Yankees' Stadium organist found an "off season" gig (via Craigslist!) for an New Jersey Episcopal Church in Morristown.

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For whom the bell tolls

Don't ask for whom the bell tolls in Pittsford, NY . . . they don't toll after 11pm?

N.Y. town at odds over church bells
From UPI

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The immigrant experience in worship

Hymn writer Carolyn Winfrey Gillette writes a new hymn on the immigrant experience:

Engaging the immigrant experience in worship;
Pastor produces a hymn to biblical refugees

From the National Council of Churches website

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Singing 'Hallelujah' in the mall: unlikely, yet sensible

Witnessing flash mobs has become a bit of a thing lately, hasn't it? Nonparticipants smile, nod, take photographs or video with their phones. Often they sport looks of stupefaction. They stop and watch because they feel they must, whatever the quality of talent on display.

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Mother's Day Magnificat

A performance of the Magnificat (by Bryan Kelly): from Evensong on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009, at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Sung by the Men and Boys of the Cathedral Choir, directed by Benjamin Bachmann, Canon Director of Music. Robert Gurney, organ.

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Is American evangelicalism's influence waning?

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life surveyed "2,196 evangelical leaders from 166 countries and territories" - the attendance list for the Third Lausanne Congress of World Evangelization in October 2010. Some of the results:

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Is organ music killing our churches?

As someone who happens to love love love classical sacred organ music, I cringed reading this piece by Jennifer Graham in the Boston Globe. She believes the decline in church attendance is directly related to the dogged and long-outdated use of church pipe organs. She focuses on the Catholic church, but let's face it, classical pipe organs continue to shake the rafters of most Episcopal churches as well. She writes:

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Mission statement as hymn

Would your church remember its mission statement better if it was set to music? Here is an idea from St Peter's Episcopal Church, Del Mar, CA. Listen here.

See below

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Ascension Day: blessing the City of Oxford

A choir and a priest climbed the tower of St John the Evangelist Church in the Iffley Road to offer prayers for the Ascension of the Lord, and to bless the congregation gathered on the lawn, and the City of Oxford. AKMA's Ascension Day: Blessing the City of Oxford:

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