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Photo credit:  Jennifer Andrews-Weckerly; reuse with permission only

Sixteen pilgrims from Hickory Neck Church traveled to England for 8 days of pilgrimage.  Our focus was on choral music, hearing Evensong or Choral Mass at a Cathedral, Minster, or college everyday.  This is the fifth entry, initially posted on our church Facebook page.  For those of you who do not follow us on Facebook, I am repeating the journey’s daily entries here.  Enjoy!

Salisbury/Winchester

Today, I was struck by the tremendous power of liturgy. We stumbled into a midday Eucharist at Salisbury Cathedral. It was spoken, and the homily was humbly short, but poignant. Then, as the priest set the table, she asked if anyone was a licensed Chalicist. I didn’t volunteer for fear someone else would want to help, and even unsure what the rules were in the Mother Church. But as the priest finished the Eucharistic Prayer, I determined I would just go up and offer to help. As soon as the priest saw my collar, she gratefully handed me the chalice. I found myself profoundly moved: doing something almost innate, but something that also felt foreign in the vast space, in a country not my own. And yet the power of Christ’s meal knows no boundaries. His blood is shed for you, and my body is His instrument.

Later this evening, we attended Evensong at Winchester Cathedral. The Adult singers and boy Chorister’s voices sang in perfection: clean and clear, expressive and moving. Their anthem, Deep River, is the third movement of Michael Tippett’s oratorio about the Nazi government’s violent pogrom against its Jewish population—called Kristallnacht. Pulling from African-American spirituals, this last movement holds a message of hope for the possible healing that would come from Man’s acceptance of his Shadow in relation to his Light. Combining the sound of spirituals and Anglican Choral singing, and the message of justice and reconciliation, I felt all my spiritual worlds colliding, and the words and sounds brought me to tears. I was amazed by how evocative a piece a liturgical music could be. I left Evensong feeling like I had journeyed with God somewhere deeply intimate and profoundly beautiful.

I don’t know if you have had one of those liturgical moments lately. If you are longing for that kind of connection, you are always welcome at Hickory Neck. And if you have found that liturgical blessing, do share it with someone who needs it!

The lyrics for Deep River:

Deep river,
My home is over Jordan.
Deep river, Lord.
I want to cross over into campground.

Deep River,
My home is over Jordan.
Deep river, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.

Oh, don’t you want to go,
To the Gospel feast;
That Promised Land,
Where all is peace?

Oh, deep river, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.

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Photo credit:  Jennifer Andrews-Weckerly; reuse with permission only