This afternoon, I am coming down the stretch with some final decisions on anthems that our choirs will be singing between now and the end of June. It’s a complicated puzzle, a bit like the SAT’s all over again – coordinating assigned lectionary scripture readings with projected choir attendance, liturgical seasons, difficulty of anthems, variety of anthems, availability of youth and children on various weekends (taking school vacations into account), and allowing enough rehearsal time to prepare an exciting concert of sacred music by Haydn and Beethoven towards the end of the season.
The scheduling process always leads to some in-depth scripture study based on the lectionary (currently Year C) – which is, by design, seldom in biblical order. One of the most interesting parts of my life as a church musician is searching for the hymns that amplify the meaning of the readings each week. Unfortunately, some hymns that are most closely connected with certain Sunday readings are hymns that are unfamiliar to our congregation. Not everyone likes new hymns (or change!). This is a source of frustration, since it is often helpful for us to hear the scripture not only as it is proclaimed directly from the Bible but also as it is passed on to us through hymnody. If, therefore, you are stymied by a new hymn on a Sunday morning, stay involved by reading through the text while others take on the responsibility of singing that text. You will learn something new at that very moment – and you will be more prepared to deal with the melody next time around.
Back to the lectionary. I would like to recommend that you learn more about the lectionary. This website will be enlightening. Happy reading! And we will try to keep that music “on schedule.”