I spent Saturday morning at an excellent diocesan workshop on choosing music for worship...Well presented, lots of reminders of important things it's too easy to forget in the hurly burly of parish life, and some bright ideas and new resources. It confirmed me in my awful suspicion that the hymn book I'd thought of investing in at Church in the Valley was not, after all, the best one for the job - and that there really IS no perfect hymn book out there. With very limited funds, it's annoying that we can't find one book to do the whole job, but I'll just have to resign myself to life with a few extraneous sheets along the way even after AMNS has been consigned to the great hereafter.
However, I didn't start this post to whinge about hymn books but rather to share a treat. At one point, we were working in groups to pick 3 hymns for the following day, based on the Lectionary and working with one book (with all its limitations). My group was given the Morning Prayer readings, - with the result that I found it almost impossible to come up with any hymns at all, because all I could think of was this.
In my 6th form years I was a chorister at Eastbourne College, where each year there was an early Eucharist on Ascension Day - at which we sang this as the anthem. I had to catch the first train of the day, and it was exciting to be about when it seemed most of the world was still asleep. I'll never forget the journey across the Pevensey Levels, the mist rising slowly, just a few feet off the ground while above the sky was clear and blue...
I'd walk from the station through still deserted streets, to reach the school chapel where suddenly all was activity. This was one of the feasts where we used incense, I think...certainly there's a firm connection in my mind between the swirling morning mists on the marshes and clouds of incense as we processed in.
I guess the Mass setting would probably have been Darke in F, or maybe Wood in the Phryg....but I was living for the moment when, having received Communion, we'd sing the Elgar
We certainly didn't sound like this - but oh, what a piece!