Preparing for Worship – Jeff Brummel, associate minister of music/organist
Sunday, May 23, is the celebration of something new — something so extraordinary yet so pivotal to the life of the church. It’s Pentecost Sunday! The day that the breath of God, through the Holy Spirit, filled our hearts. Yes, this is something new.
I have always been moved by the phrase from Revelation 21:5, “God is making all things new.” God certainly made the church new that day at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit breathed upon us.
We see things becoming new as God breathes us through the spring, the blossoming flowers, the awakening grass, the cocooned butterflies emerging as we too are beginning to shed our masks and protective shelters because of the dark long-wintered pandemic.
Sunday’s prelude and postlude represent the old becoming new. The prelude, Holy Spirit Dwell with Me, is set to the tune ADORO TE DEVOTE, which can be traced back to the thirteenth century. The postlude set to the tune VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS, which is well known in the organist community, dates back to a ninth-century German monk.
However, these old tunes have become new. About three hundred years ago, Johann Sebastian Bach set the VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS, which you will hear in today’s postlude. The ADORO TE DEVOTE in the prelude was set in 2018 in honor of the monks at the Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon with gratitude for their generous hospitality to Wilshire’s Youth Choir on our mission tour that year. Both hymn tunes were made new when they were written, but also, they were made new as they were performed in today’s worship.
On a side note, you might be interested to know that even the organ pipes in the chapel have a little history of their own. The flute stops are over 100 years old, and John Fort repurposed those treasured pipes, placing them in our instrument, which has helped lead in worship in McIver Chapel for almost 40 years. Old pipes, yet the breath that passes through those pipes to our hearts is new with every note.
Music is a good metaphor for the Holy Spirit. We find elements from the past, even the ancient, in the texts, the notes, the rhythms, the harmonies and even the musical forms. However, music is a “now” type of experience. No two performances are ever the same. No two experiences of observing a performance are the same. Each time there is a performance of music, the music is full of new breath and new life.
How do you feel the breath of God today, in the moment? What beautiful experience of new life have you seen, heard, touched or even tasted? Very soon, the breath of God will fill our beautiful Sanctuary once more as we together “breathe deep, the deep breath of God.”