Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter service on the "mount": some Franck, some modern polytonality, some controversy among the accounts in the Gospels




This morning,  at 7 AM EDT, I hiked up a 60-foot “mountain” (actually, an uplift along the Piedmont Fall Line) to the Easter Sunday sunrise service at 7 AM at Trinity Presbyterian in Arlington VA, to one  of the higher spots in Arlington (maybe 450 feet above sea level). As I approached, I could hear the congregation sing the main theme from the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony finale, but my camera didn’t pick it up very well.

I’ve always thought that it didn’t make sense that the observed day for Easter should vary with the position of the Moon.   That sounds pagan.  It seems to me Palm Sunday should always occur the first Sunday in April, which would make the range for Easter observance April 8 to 14.  

The main service started with an organ and brass rendition of Cesar Franck’s “Grand Choeur in C” (transcription by Craig Garner). The main rollicking theme is really in C Minor, and the piece sounds episodic, like a rondo. There followed an Antiphon by David Conte, “O filii et filae” (brothers and sisters) by Wilbur Held, and a rather polytonal “Easter Fantasy” by John Gardner.

The main anthem was “Three Days Had Passed” by John Thornburg and Joel Martinson. It was really more like a day and a half.  But the title of the anthem reminds me of David Day’s famous 1981 sermon at Metropolitan Community Church in Dallas, “It’s Friday but Sunday is coming.”  The offertory was “Jubliate Deo: Come Away to the Skies” as adapted by David Ashley White.

The Postlude, the popular, loud and modernist “No Thank We All Our God”  by Sigfried Karg-Elert. The congregation remained seated (as it should during "real" postludes) and applauded. 

The sermons focused on the accounts of the Resurrection in Mark and John. In Mark, the reader is left hanging. In John, Mary Magdalene does not recognize Jesus.  The revelations are made to women first, however, and angels are involved.  Wikipedia has a comparative synopsis here.  Screenwriters have long tried to piece together the surface contradictions in the several accounts.  I think it's interesting to try to identify the "angels", too. 

Here’s a brass-organ performance of the Franck Choeur from Italy in 2009, link.
  
When I lived in Dallas in the 1980s, the Dallas Symphony always held a free pops concert in Lee Park near Turtle Creek on Easter afternoon.  I don’t know if it still does. 
  

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