Open Minds Blog

Open Minds Blog

Confronting Evil in Broad Daylight

Dear Siblings in Christ,

As many of you know, I am currently on vacation, sitting in a peaceful corner of northeast England watching the hills, the sheep, and the ponies. And yet I still have one eye on the news from the US, and what I see breaks my heart, makes me angry, and fills me with disgust.

I read the news in disbelief on Friday night—news that St. Paul’s Church, Charlottesville, filled with peaceful counter-protesters conducting a prayer service, was surrounded by an angry white mob carrying torches. I saw the picture of the clergy on Saturday morning (my dear friend the Rev. Elaine Thomas front and center) standing arms-linked and singing “This Little Light of Mine” feet away from heavily armed neo-Nazis and white supremacists screaming hate against black people and Jewish people. I read the horrifying news that a crowd of people was injured and Heather Heyer killed by a hate crazed person inflicting terror on the crowd, the city, the nation. And I watched in disgust as the President of the United States could not bring himself to clearly and unequivocally condemn neo-Nazism and white supremacists, claiming that there are two sides at fault. There are not, in fact, two sides. There is simply no moral equivalency here. Read more »

The Big Day is Here

The St. Peter’s Residency at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, comes to its culmination on Sunday, August 13. We have had a wonderful week, and it’s hard to believe that it’s coming so rapidly to its close!

Thursday’s “day off” included a trip to Hampton Court, which dates to the time of King Henry VIII. We toured the gardens, where we learned about period flowers and kitchen plants. As soprano Emma Levitt explains, “The fountains and teatime really made it feel like a historic mansion and its beautiful grounds. The ability to just sit and relax in the gardens made it a perfect day. There were velvet cloaks you could wear around to feel like you were part of the history which was fun.” (The photograph shows Emma and altos Bryan DeSilva and Ben Liberatore modeling the robes.)

We returned to “regular duties” on Friday and Saturday. We also learned that composer Vernon Williams had listened to the recording of our performance of his setting of the canticles (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) from Wednesday’s Evensong, and he sent along word that we had performed them wonderfully. Our rector, the Rev. Claire Nevin-Field, read the second lesson at Saturday’s Evensong. Read more »

A Rainy Day in London Town

Wednesday was rainy and cool in London – not very surprising, even in August! Like true Londoners (which some of us feel like we are becoming), we opened our brellies and carried on, enjoying as many indoor sites as we could find.

Evensong this evening brought praise from those who worshiped with us. One of our groupies said that the anthem made him feel as though he had been brought into the presence of God. Claire declared the same anthem to be “stunning.” An elderly gentleman who attends the Cathedral regularly asked Claire if she was associated with the visiting choir. She told him that she was the Rector of the church. His response: “Oh, very good. You must be awfully proud.” She said, “If I was any prouder I would burst.”

In Evensong, the Choir leads, but everyone prays. These comments prove it. Read more »

A New Day with New Experiences

Tuesday, August 8, was our second day “on duty” at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Since the choir has mornings and evenings free, you can find many of us walking on the sidewalks, eating in local pubs and restaurants, visiting palaces and galleries and other attractions, and riding London’s buses and
underground. London has so much to see and do, and we’re trying to see and do as much as we possibly can!

Dr. Roland had arranged a very special musical treat for us today: He invited Barry Rose, well-known Anglican music composer and organist, to lead our music at Evensong. Barry served as Master of the Choir at St. Paul’s and directed the music for the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. He also has a long-time relationship with the Choir of St. Peter’s, and we have sung many of his compositions. Read more »

St. Peter’s Choir is in Residence!

Every member of St. Peter’s Choir will remember Monday, August 7, 2017 for the rest of their life. While it was a whirlwind, we had a wonderful first day as the Choir-In-Residence at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.

We started with a guided tour of the cathedral. Even though worship has been occurring in this location for 1,400+ years, the current edifice replaced a medieval cathedral which was destroyed during the Great Fire of London in 1666. Sir Christopher Wren, mathematician, astronomer, and engineer, was the principal architect of this building (and of more than 50 other churches in London!). It is an architectural wonder: from its dome (which actually is two domes [inner and outer] separated by a conical structure which bears the weight of the outer dome) to the floating staircase of the Dean’s Entrance. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of visitors stop in each day to admire its beauty and grandeur. Read more »

We are in London!

We’re in London! All choir members, chaperones, and most of our “groupies” flew overnight Friday to arrive in London early Saturday morning. Some of us slept, some dozed, others were awake the entire time. Whether we slept or not, we were all a bit groggy, so we settled into the hotel and hostel, and took life pretty easy on Saturday. London has so many experiences and sites that are unlike anywhere else in the world, so most of us used Saturday to become familiar with buses, the tube, and learning to look right (not left like at home) before crossing the street.

Sunday had a couple “official duties:” The Choir of Trinity Cathedral in Portland, Oregon, under the direction of Bruce Neswick, was in residence this past week. We attended the principal Sunday Eucharist Service and Sunday Evensong to worship and to observe “how things work” at St. Paul’s. Read more »

So, What’s the Plan?

The choir members and most of their “groupies” (spouses, family, and friends who are traveling to London with us) travel overnight Friday, and we’ll land in London bright and early the next morning. Saturday, August 5, will be one of our two “days of rest and relaxation,” so we’ll take it easy that day, adjust our bodies to the UK time zone, and prepare for all that we’ll do over the following eight days.

St. Paul’s is a “tourist cathedral,” so it’s busy every day with people visiting it for its beauty and splendor. Many also want to worship in this amazing space, so the cathedral provides various services of worship each day. On Sundays, just like at any other church, God’s faithful gather for Eucharist. Many of these services involve music of some form. All this activity means that they plan everything very carefully and work diligently to carry out those plans.

Since singing and leading worship in St. Paul’s will be so different from our regular music leadership at St. Peter’s, we’ll go there on Sunday and observe the choir who are in-residence before us, the Choir of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral (Portland, Oregon), as they rehearse and sing at both the principal Sunday Eucharist Service and Sunday afternoon’s Evensong. After Evensong, we’ll head off to dinner at the Café in the Crypt of St. Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square. Read more »