Submitted by Lisa Bogardus
We missed writing updates for the last two days of the music conference because we stayed out late both nights and were too tired to be clever or creative. Wednesday night we didn’t get back to the hotel until almost 10:30 PM after practicing the hymns for Thursday morning worship.
A little background on the Shenandoah Church Music Institute. During the week of 20 -25 June, Becky and I attended Week 1 of the summer program for Church Musicians at Shenandoah University. Our class consisted of about 18 students, ranging in age from a 20 year old college junior (and the best organist of the group) to the sixty something sisters. The focus of the week was Hymnology. Each day’s activities included lectures, bell rehearsal, choral singing and planning/preparation time for services. All students were required to participate in the planning and presentation of an evening and morning service, each with a different theme for use in selecting Scripture and music. The morning services were held at Goodson Chapel on campus. Evening services were held at a different church in the Winchester area each night.
The service on Wednesday was held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville. Although the church was built in the 1950’s, it was designed to replicate 12 th & 13 th century French churches. It worked – I felt like I was in France as soon as I walked in the door! As you read in day 2, Becky and I chose the service of psalms for our evening service – it was a great success.
Our morning service was on Thursday, an Ash Wednesday service with spirituals. It turned out that Evelyn, one of the sisters, had been waiting for a chance to “show her stuff,” so she led the music. We selected “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me” as our opening hymn. We used a cantor for the Psalm and sang “Take, O Take Me As I Am” during the imposition of ashes. The closing hymn was “Hush, Hush, Somebody’s Calling My Name” which we did in the tradition of the spiritual with no accompaniment or printed word, using a call and response with Evelyn leading and Becky, myself and a delightful young man named Michael serving as the choir (yes, we clapped on 2 and 4!). Once again, we escaped the criticism that most of the other groups received. You know you’ve done a good job when all the instructors could find to argue about was whether the imposition of ashes should be at the beginning or the end of the service!
Thursday night was the “grand finale” evening service, a hymn fest at a Lutheran church in Winchester followed by a reception at Dr. Cooksey’s house. The week ended with a Palm Sunday service on Friday morning and then we all said our good-byes and headed home full of new and creative ideas for utilizing music in worship. The trip home from Winchester was uneventful – no flat tires or car problems.