A Brief History of the Pipe Organ and Church, by Jesse Ratcliff
The most attention-grabbing object in the church, aside from stained glass windows is the pipe organ. With its commanding appearance and rapturous tone, it’s difficult to ignore. In worship, its primary job is to lead hymns and accompany the choir. The prelude, on the other hand, though not integral to the service, is sometimes the most overlooked role of the organ.
The history of the prelude is extensive, but has always held an important role in regards to worship. In the Baroque era, (1600-1750) Bach utilized the prelude as a means of conveying a chorale/hymn melody to the congregation. He utilized numerous compositional tools to enhance the chorale text.
Below you will find photos and video of each service in Holy Week, and Scripture readings for each day of the week. We know that Holy Week can be an overwhelming time, with so many services and so many stories packed into such a short time. We hope that you will reflect on each day, and the power of each moment, at your own pace.
Easter Vigil is one of the most beautiful services of the church year as we segue from the reflective and somber atmosphere of Lent into the joy of Easter. The choral anthem for this service, Alleluia, composed by Randall Thompson conveys all the emotions of this holy day.
Thompson, born in 1899 and died in 1984, was an American composer who taught at many prestigious schools, including the University of Virginia (1941-1945), whose compositional style is regarded as “distinctly American”. Alleluia was composed in five days with the text being two words: “Alleluia, Amen”-with the latter being sung once at the final chord which spreads the choir into seven parts. This composition was a reaction to the war, especially the fall of France.
Corporate worship lies at the heart of Saint James’ spiritual life, and music plays an important role in almost all of the worship services that we offer. It is the mission of Saint James’ music ministry to aid the congregation in offering up praises to God.
As Episcopalians, we have a musical heritage that is one of the world’s richest and most deeply spiritual. For over 500 years, Anglican church music has sought to tell the Christian faith with authenticity and truth. Our music is an extremely diverse and multi-layered art form that celebrates and encompasses many different traditions. You might be interested, when singing hymns, to read the small print below each one and note the many and varied sources of the poetry and the music.
Bring the family and enjoy the reenactment of the Birth of Jesus. All children are encouraged to participate. Please arrive 15 minutes early for your child to be fitted for a costume. No prior rehearsal needed. The pageant includes the singing of familiar Christmas carols and is woven into the celebration of Holy Eucharist. This service is especially geared toward preschool and elementary age children but a joy to all!
At 5:30 we will have a festive yet more informal and abridged (than our late service) Christmas celebration as we incorporate our youth into the worship service. This service is intended for individuals and families whose children have aged out of the pageant (upper elementary and up) but find the hour of the late service…. well…just a bit too late. The service will also include Holy Eucharist and the singing of familiar carols.
This service is one of, if not the, most beautiful and holy services of the church year as our choir leads us in carols as we sing out that Christ is born! Carols begin at 10:15, followed by the service at 10:30.
This year’s program will feature the Saint James’ Adult Choir, Handbells, Youth Chorale, as well as a guest string quartet. The music ranges from plainsong, a chorus from the Messiah, to newly composed music, and it is supported by scripture readings that chronicle the story of Christ. A reception with seasonal treats will follow the concert.
Join us for the annual Saint James’ Episcopal School Elementary Christmas Pageant. Students will re-enact the nativity of Jesus Christ with costume, song, and prayer. It’s a beautiful program and you shouldn’t miss it! It will be streamed too.
A Blue Christmas Service or a Longest Night service acknowledges that Christmas is not always met with joy and celebration. Sometimes it can be difficult to participate in the glad carols and merriment of our Christmas services. This service provides an opportunity to light candles acknowledging the people we miss, the pain or emptiness we may feel. In lighting the candles we proclaim Christ’s presence and that foundational truth from that first chapter of John that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it”. We sing carols more reflective of Christmas hope than joy, we offer prayers for healing, we break bread together and (of course) we support one another.
Following the service there will be opportunity for continued prayer in the chapel and coffee and dessert in the parish hall.
CHORAL EVENSONG | SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5TH | 7:00 PM
Choral Evensong, the service of sung evening prayer, is held close to the hearts of Anglicans across the world. The service consists sung prayers and collects, chanting of the psalm, two scripture readings, the singing of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, hymns, and concludes with a choral anthem.
The service held on Nov 5 combines the vocal forces of Saint James’ adult choir and the adult choir of Grace, The Plains at which Dr. Jason Farris is the Choir Master and organist. The choral anthem and introit reflect the theme of All Saints.
The adult choir had a very inspiring retreat at Grace Lutheran in Winchester today, and they went out for dinner afterwards. But they couldn’t just say a pre-meal prayer like normal people — they sang it, of course!
During the last three years it has been a privilege and a joy to watch and hear the music at Saint James’ develop into a robust extension of our liturgy. The adult choir has grown into a vibrant and supportive group of folks who love each other and love to sing. The Saint James’ Youth Chorale began two years ago with only five members and now has tripled in size, and the choristers have brought home a trophy from an adjudicated event! The fun-loving handbell ringers have adjusted to my direction and are eager to learn more music and ring at more events inside and outside the church. Lastly, as I’ve said before, it is the strong and full-voiced congregational singing that makes our services so special.
While we are starting a new program year, much feels like an extension or culmination of where we have already been.
We continue to celebrate our bicentennial year with a service in September taken from the 1789 Prayer Book. Our annual Gala in October will celebrate the light we have been in the town of Warrenton and the exciting and important ministry ahead. And we will celebrate our place among the communion of saints with an All Saint’s organ recital and choral evensong. It has been a rich experience to learn more about our history, the people and the pivotal events, and see our place in God’s still unfolding story.
Hymn singing is vital to Christian worship—if you take the time to glance over many of the Psalms, you’ll notice that we are repeatedly directed to “come unto his presence with a song”. Through song we connect to each other during worship and it carries us forward as we depart on our separate journeys.
This Sunday, during the offertory anthem, we’ll learn a new hymn (maybe familiar to a few!) We The Lord’s People found on page 51. The hymn’s melody was composed by Richard Dirksen, the long-standing music director of the Washington National Cathedral. Dirksen’s nearly four decade tenure at the Cathedral not only fostered centuries of Anglican music, but expanded the national church’s acceptance of challenging newly-composed music.
Come celebrate Easter Day with us! Having completed our journey and walked through the sorrow of Holy Week, we now come ready to experience Easter joy.
Our 10:15 service begins with the children flowering the cross and following behind it in procession. The joyful music fills the space as we tell the story of the empty tomb and the reverberations of that moment throughout history and in our lives. Following the service our children will continue the celebration as they search for Easter eggs.
Good Friday | Stations of the Cross, 12pm | Good Friday Liturgy, 7pm
At noon we gather in the nave and tell the story of Christ’s crucifixion as an acolyte moves from station to station as we read and respond to each event. The readings for each station are distributed to members of the congregation prior to the beginning of the service.
Eucharist with foot washing and the stripping of the altar.
There is heaviness in the air as Jesus gathers his closest friends with the knowledge this will be the last meal they will share together on this side of the grave. We also remember that on this night Jesus washed his friends feet and to illustrate his new commandment that we love one another the way that he had loved them. Then after we break bread together for the last time before Easter, we acknowledge Christ’s impending death by stripping the altar and departing in silence. Continue reading “Holy Week | Worship Services”
In 1982, the late Jeanne Davis compiled personal reminiscences of Saint James’ congregants, mostly elder, as part of a nationwide Episcopal celebration reminding us that our church is a body of people with rich and varied gifts. The following is taken from these recollections found in “Gifts of the Generations” (St. James’ Church, September 1982).
“Many remembrances of personalities center around the organists and choir members. Among the organists was Charlotte Holt, daughter of the Rev. George Washington Nelson, Rector 1880-1903. Also, Dr. Bromley, organist during the early tenure of Mr. Bowden, organized a boys’ choir made up in part of boys from Stuyvesant School.
To the people of Saint James’, I give my sincere thanks for the vestry resolution presented to me and the music program last month. It is an honor to serve as organist and music director at Saint James’. I am most grateful for the hard work and dedication of everyone in the adult choir, handbells, and youth chorale as they lift their talents to God to provide inspiration and encouragement to the member s of Saint James’ and beyond.