Music to End the Day Sunday, 28 February 2021
In St Mark’s Gospel chapter 8, set for the second Sunday of Lent, Jesus declares:
‘Anyone who wants to be a follower of mine must renounce self; he must take up his cross and follow me. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel’s will save it.’
Mark 8: 34b–35
It seems appropriate to begin Music to End the Day with wonderful words of George Herbert. We hear them sung in an original setting by Canon Denys Ruddy. Many will remember Canon Ruddy, a truly inspirational scholar and teacher, who collaborated with our choir in many special choral services before moving to a clergy retirement home near Cheltenham. The choral version of the setting was sung in a celebration service at Cornerstone marking the 400th anniversary of Herbert’s birth.
Come, my way, my truth, my life:
such a way, as gives us breath;
such a truth, as ends all strife;
such a life, as killeth death.
Come, my light, my feast, my strength:
such a light, as shows a feast;
such a feast, as mends in length;
such a strength, as makes his guest.
Come, my joy, my love, my heart:
such a joy, as none can move;
such a love, as none can part;
such a heart, as joys in love.
George Herbert (1593–1633)
Come, my way, my truth, my life (Denys Ruddy)
During Lent we reflect on the trials and temptations of Jesus in the wilderness at the beginning of his Galilean ministry. St Mark tells us,
At once the Spirit drove him into the wilderness, and there he remained for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels attended his needs.
Mark 1: 12–13
We now hear a wonderful double chorus (eight parts) from Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’, based on verses from Psalm 91, in a recent performance by the Cornerstone Chamber Choir and Orchestra.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee
that they shall protect thee in all the ways thou goest;
that their hands shall uphold and guide thee
lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Psalm 91: 11–12
For he shall give his angels
Mendelssohn was responsible for reviving the music of Bach in the Romantic Era. In 1829 he conducted the first performance of the St Matthew Passion for over a century. We end this sequence with the beautiful Andante (3rd movement) from Bach’s Flute Sonata in E minor, written three years before the Passion settings. The soloist is prizewinning flautist Abigail Burrows, a wonderful friend of Christ the Cornerstone since her first appearance aged ten, twenty-five years ago.
Andante in E minor
Finally, the collect for the second Sunday of Lent:
Almighty God, who sees that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul, through Jesus Christ our Lord.