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  • 1 Mar 2023 12:00 AM | HSEC Director of Operations (Administrator)

    Download ArticleThe feast of the Resurrection proves an especially delightful time to attend worship at the University of Chicagos spiritual center, the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. The chapel has appeared in these pages before,1 but that was during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, with its shut- down of in-person activities. This review attempts to capture a view of face-to-face worship in this formidable setting. The chapel sits in the middle of a stately series of gothic-style stone buildings, along the north side of the Midway Plaisance, a green space similar to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

    Visitors arriving for this Easter Day broadly Christian liturgy2 are welcomed in the narthex by a smiling security guard wearing a mask. She informs them that masks are optional, and gestures toward the nave behind her. They take their seats among perhaps a dozen gathered, and hear a childrens choir rehearsing. The crowd will swell to well over six hundred, more than this chapel has seen in some time but still far less than its capacity of more than fteen hundred. At 10:45 a.m., the organist begins his preludial music: Tocata by Giambattista Martini (17061784), Echo by Samuel Scheidt (15871654), Franc¸aise of Jean Langalais (1907 1991), and Moderato from the Water Music of George Frederic Handel (16851759). While these pieces exhibit some of the mastery of the organist, they do not reveal the fullness of riches that the E. M. Skinner instrument has to offer.

    A peal from the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon follows. This is located up some 271 steps atop the tower at the crossing. This peal is neither tunes (these will come later) nor the sort of change ringing one hears primarily in England but a lengthy and somewhat cacophonous and somehow also joyful call to worship for the university community.

    The Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago.
    Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago.
    (Photograph by the author).

    Next, the organist plays Processional by William Mathias (19341992). As this employs the trumpet en chamade from the rear gallery, one begins to hear more of what this organ can do.

    The chapel dean then emerges from a side aisle to greet the congregation gathered, making a special note that small children are very welcome, and parents need not be fussed about any noise they might make.

    Disruption is an Easter noise, he quips. The organ now accompanied by brass and timpani introduces the rst hymn, Jesus Christ is risen today (Easter Hymn) as the choir of thirty undergraduates rushes breathlessly down the aisle. The choir members wear red academic robes with white chevrons. The dean a priest of the Episcopal Church comes last, wearing an alb with white chasuble and stole. He alone reverences the rather diminutive altar table.

    The twenty-page service bulletin is one of the more elegant this reviewer has seen, and it contains all of the texts for todays service as well as helpful rubrical notes. The dean begins with the Easter Acclamation, which is followed by the Gloria in excelsis, sung rather unsuccessfully in a setting by John Weaver. (In their position at the farthest end of the chancel from the congregation, the choir can barely be heard in the nave.) The Collect of the Day follows, and all are seated as the children take their places on the chancel steps. Accompanied by piano, they sing Clap Your Hands! (<Pueblos todos, aplaudan!), with somewhat surprising vigor and clarity. The congregation responds with enthusiastic applause.

    A faculty member then reads Isaiah 65:1725, and the choir moves to the chancel steps to sing an anthem of Edward Bairstow (18741946), Sing Ye, to the Lord. The faculty member then reads Acts 10:3443, after which all stand to sing The strife is oer, the battle done (Victory). All remain standing to hear the dean proclaim the gospel from the pulpit (Luke 24:112).

    The deans sermon follows. It includes an amusing anecdote about his previous service at the Chicago of the West, when a diligent crew had trimmed palm trees for a grand celebration of Palm Sunday but another more diligent crew had discarded them. “‘Next year in Jerusalem, we said at the time, hinting of a more lavish feast to come and not just at Stanford, but for all humanity in the resurrection. Easter joy is a proleptic joy, he says, igniting much curiosity among the faithful and conversation after the service.

    After a pause for reection, all stand as the dean leads the Prayers of the People. These follow Form VI of the Book of Common Prayer, with a welcome added petition: For this university community; for all who teach and learn. An exchange of the Peace follows, with most nodding, waving, or smiling but a few shaking hands or hugging.

    The organist then improvises on O lii et llae as an offertory, as three young men pass baskets among the pews. This is followed by the hymn The day of resurrection (sung to Lancashire, a somewhat strange marriage of tune and text to these ears). Next comes Eucharistic Prayer B,

    with a masterfully sung preface. The choral Sanctus and Benedictus come from the Mass for the Quiet Hour of George Oldroyd (18861951). The Lords Prayer is sung (Elizabethan language, in the familiar plainsong set- ting from The Hymnal 1982, adapted by Charles Winfred Douglas). The dean breaks the bread, and the resonant young voices of the choir sing a plainsong fraction anthem.

    All are welcome to receive Holy Communion in keeping with your own conscience and custom, the service bulletin tells us, and most of the more than two hundred worshipers come forward to receive the bread. The dean alone distributes communion (his assistant has yet to be hired); while this takes some considerable time, it does allow him personal pastoral contact with each communicant. During communion, the choir sings Rise up, My Love, My Fair One of Healey Willan (18801968), and the organist plays Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625 of Johann Sebastian Bach (16851750). Only four of the choir come forward for communion. The organist improvises briey, employing the organs zimbelstern (note: this organ has two, one in the chancel and one at the rear of the nave).

    The post-communion prayer is taken from Common Worship of the Church of England. This is followed by the Easter blessing from the Book of Occasional Services and a sung dismissal with alleluias. The closing hymn is Good Christians all, rejoice and sing! (Gelobt sei Gott) in a version from the Pilgrim Hymnal of 1958. During the hymn, the choir has rushed out, causing the dean to cantor up the aisle.

    The rst postlude is Gelobt set Gott of Healey Willan, which is followed by a carillon recital lasting nearly half an hour. This includes six Easter hymns and two pieces to mark the arrival of spring. The vernal season, incidentally, seems to have arrived during the service: what had been an overcast, windy, and cold day beforehand is now sunny, still, and warm as the dean greets his ock outside.

    Except fora few minor exceptions such as the lack of a proclamation of the Nicene Creed this liturgy could easily be replicated in many an Episcopal Church today. Texts came from the prayer book, the shape of the liturgy followed the Episcopal rite (and ecumenical consensus), and emendations echoed those approved by General Convention. The only quibbles this reviewer notes are the size of the communion table (far too small for such a grand space) and the speed of the processions (which would be mitigated by the return to having them led by a crucifer or at least a verger).

    The dean says that the tradition in this chapel is for worship to con- form mostly to the denomination of the incumbent dean. After the

    service, he shows these visitors his desk space just off the chancel. One could not reasonably call this either an ofce or a sacristy as the only windows are well above eye level and the only closet is sufcient for hanging a Geneva gown but hardly suitable for a full set of chasubles and stoles. The room does, however, have many bookshelves.

    If proleptic joy refers to our current delight anticipatory to heavenly bliss, this service helped foster such expectant hope. It also served as anamnesis, not simply a passive remembering but efcacious participation in the paschal mystery: recalling not only Jesus resurrection but also the sort of in-person worship one remembers from the pre-pandemic era. In this, the congregation at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel showed forth some of the fullness of Gods glory, being of diverse age, color, size, shape, and liturgical ability.

    J. Barrington Bates                                           Harbor Springs, Michigan

    1 J. Barrington Bates, Built for Something Better: A Podcast for Coronatide,” Anglican and Episcopal History 90:2 (June 2021).
    2 From the service bulletin of the day.

  • 1 Mar 2023 12:00 AM | HSEC Director of Operations (Administrator)

    Download reviewSt. Aidans, Bolinas, is not easy to nd. If you are driving north from the Golden Gate Bridge on California Highway 1, Bolinas is on a side road to the left, but the turn is unmarked. They say the highway department has put up signs, but the locals have taken them down. That tells you something. If you know your way and nd the correct turn, you will come in a few miles to a weather-beaten village such as you might nd along the New England coast on Cape Cod or in Maine. Theres a pro- duce store on the main street and another one hidden behind it where you will nd products not easily available in your neighborhood super- store such as agave ber wash for clothes, organic cake cones, and Japanese sweet potatoes.

    St. Aidans is on a side street and not well marked. It sits well back from the street behind a trellised lychgate. Looking as weather beaten as most of the other stores and houses in town, you might think it had been there forever, but in fact it was erected less than fty years ago and consecrated by Bishop James A. Pike. It retains something of the questioning, eccentric avor associated with that bishop.

    At 9:50 a.m., on a shining Easter Day, the church, once found, stood open and welcoming. Only four or ve of the forty seats were occupied, and the vicar, fully vested, stood in the aisle chatting with parishioners and welcoming new arrivals. A woman wandered down to the front left, sat down at the piano, poked at a few keys, and left again. More people arrived. When it was 10:00 a.m., the vicar said, Good morning! and Welcome! and announced that we would begin by singing The Light of Christ three times on successively higher notes while she held a short, thick, lighted candle, and we did. She also announced an opening hymn, but the pianist had disappeared. The vicar walked back to the front door looking for the pianist, who returned, sat at the piano, and gave us a belated prelude before accompanying the opening hymn, Jesus Christ is risn today. All but two or three of the forty seats were now lled and the singing was hearty.

    Lychgate at St. Aidan’s Church, Bolinas, California

    The lychgate at St. Aidans Church, Bolinas, California
    (photo by the author; re-printed by permission).

    Light from the east window created a cross-shaped pattern on the west (liturgical east) wall of the church behind the altar and moved slowly to the right until it briey aligned with the cross on the wall behind the altar before moving on. The voices of children playing in a small tree outside the open front door could be heard.

    The Gloria was sung to a simple and familiar tune, and the vicar then called on the congregation to say the Collect of the Day in unison. A member of the congregation went to the lectern and read the Hebrew Bible lesson from the Prophet Isaiah. Another member, in the front row, then stood and explained how the psalm verses were to be said antiphonally and assured us, Youll gure it out. After that, the Epistle was read from the lectern. Hymn 199, Come, ye faithful, raise the strain, was sung and the gospel was read by the vicar.

    All then sat, including the vicar who was presiding from a plain wooden chair placed directly in front of the altar. The sermon, delivered without notes, wandered around a number of subjects Buddhist meditation, science, life in general raising questions that were not always answered, but, as they say, It gave us a lot to think about. One sentence that stuck in this listeners mind was, The church wants us to believe that love has triumphed, but we know better. Resurrection was questioned – though strongly afrmed in the liturgy and life was proclaimed.

    The usual practice following the sermon at St Aidans is to pass a simple wooden cross from hand to hand around the congregation and each holder in turn is invited to make some comments about the sermon. In the usual congregation of twenty or so, thats feasible. For an Easter congregation nearer forty, we were gratied to hear that it would be omitted. Instead, we moved directly to the Nicene Creed and a peremptory intercessory prayer was led by a lay reader. (Peremptory in that it told God what to do rather than asking God to do it: Forgive us and all people, Bring your peace to the world, Guide Christians everywhere, Reassure those who are troubled by doubts  ) The petitions built on various resurrection appearances to invoke Gods blessing as appropriate. The statement that Your Son appeared to Mary Magdalene as she was grieving, for example, led to a demand that God Comfort those who are sad, lonely, or grieving now.

    The Peace was exchanged almost everyone greeted almost everyone and we were asked to rehearse the elaborate setting for the dismissal before launching into an Offertory Hymn, At the Lambs high feast we sing. The Sursum Corda was sung toa tune that seemed familiar, though it isnt in The Hymnal 1982. The Eucharistic Prayer had familiar para- graphs as well as unfamiliar ones possibly from supplemental materials with which your observer is unfamiliar. The closing paragraph was sung and so was a seven-fold Amen, the music for which was provided in the service leaet. Christ our Passover was sung at the Fraction and the leaet provided the full setting, which was not in the hymnal. The leaf- let also provided an Invitation and response. Invitation: The gifts of God for the People of God. Response: May we be found in Christ and Christ in us.

    During Communion, the members of the congregation made their way to the head of the crowded, narrow aisle where the vicar and a lay member stood with the chalice and paten. Meanwhile a member of the congregation came forward to the piano and sang Hymn 186, Christ Jesus lay in deaths strong bands. The words are by Martin Luther and the music by Johann Sebastian Bach, but the feeling conveyed was somber and somehow more Lenten than Easter-y.

    The post-Communion prayer and blessing were unfamiliar but brief and appropriate. The closing hymn, He is risen, he is risen, was familiar and well sung but not as familiar and joyous in your reviewers opinion as Jesus Christ is risn today with its four-fold alleluias in every stanza.

    The hymn being ended, we sang the elaborate dismissal that we had rehearsed at the Offertory and the vicar then walked down the aisle to greet us between the door and the lychgate as we stepped out into the brilliant sunshine.

    Christopher Webber                                 All Saints Church, San Francisco

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