12. August, 2010 - 'An Afternoon in Montclair' - I have the honor of presiding over Central Presbyterian Church's four manual Austin organ this coming Sunday and next. What better way to get to know and instrument and a space than to enter into dialog. Seven improvisations — the first is 'extra-musical thematic.' For the remaining six, I have co-opted tunes chosen for Sunday's service.
Afternoon in Montclair - One: 'The Glory of Might-Have-Been'
From the least of us to the greatest (as the World judges such things) I'm inclined to believe we've all experienced our 'Road Not Taken' moments - we all have, in however a transitory a state, flashes of regret over the missed connection, the misplaced opportunity, the lost love, or the promise of potential never fulfilled. This piece begins as a mournful if somewhat sardonic nod to commonality of that all too human experience while (hopefully!) pushing the listener towards the larger and inexorible reality that we are called to live in the 'eternal now' - making the most of our one truly non-renewable resource. (see Ephesians 5:16)
Afternoon in Montclair - Two: 'John Weaver Kyrie'
Based on John Weaver's tune composed for the Kyrie text published in Prayers We Have in Common. For the Christian, Kyrie is not so much a plaintive cry as it is an humble acknowledgement of the surety that the G-d who hates nothing He has made will have mercy on His beloved children - He will care for them and grant His Holy Spirit to all who ask.
Afternoon in Montclair - Three: 'John Weaver Gloria'
Improvisation on Weaver's Gloria, again the tune is linked to the text as it appears in Prayers We Have in Common. I believe the text intimates that giving glory to 'G-d on high' is inseparable from proclaiming peace to mankind on whom G-d's favor rests, for surely how can we say we love G-d, Whom we have not seen if we do not love our fellow human, whom we have seen? (see 1 John 4:20)
Afternoon in Montclair - Four: 'Tune Madrid '
This improvisation is based on the tune generally associated with Christian Bateman's text 'Come, Christians Join To Sing.' The invitation to sing about and to the One who is the author not only of our faith, but also the life of all the living makes this (sinner's) heart unabashedly giddy. I meet the invitation with a simultaneous effusion of laughter and joyful tears.
Afternoon in Montclair - Five: 'Tune Maryton'
Washington Gladden's poem, O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee, set to H. Percy Smith's tune is a brilliant encapsulated sermon on what it is to walk humbly with G-d - Not a goveling self-negation but rather a stepping out in quiet certainty, assured that one's profoundest strength is found in the One with Whom we walk.
Afternoon in Montclair - Six: 'Tune Old Hundredth'
The so-called Common Doxology set to the ubiquitous 'Old Hundredth' is as much an ecumenical property as any piece of liturgy in Western Christendom. For me, in the instance of this improvisation, a whole hearted commentary on the glorious and unfathomable nature of the Trinity. Please note the (probably unavoidable!) ironic elements of incomplete polytonality that creep into the middle of this piece: My less than subtle commentary/confession on/of the lack of unity among those who claim the Name which is above every name as their own.
Afternoon in Montclair - Seven: 'Tune Sine Nomine' .
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