Our Introit may come from the series taken from Psalms in numerical sequence, but Psalm 84 is most appropriate for any occasion of worship, and all the more so as on the one hand, the parish welcomes home Fr Chuck and perhaps others who have been traveling, and on the other, many still feel the pangs of separation from our church buildings and one another:
Behold, O God, our defender, and look upon the face of your anointed:
for one day in your courts is better than a thousand spent in my own room.
How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts!
My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord.
Psalm 84.8–9a, 1ab
Also relevant to both the ‘Welcome Home’ celebration and to any celebration of the Eucharist is Percy Dearmer’s fine text ‘Draw us in the Spirit’s tether’, set as an anthem by Harold Friedell and found in some hymnals as well. The first two stanzas particularly deal with Christ’s presence among the gathered faithful, first in general, referring to Our Lord’s own promise ‘where two are three or gathered in my name, I am there among them’ [Matt. 18.20], and then more specifically, describing the celebration of the Eucharist. Both these stanzas use the imagery of sewing and binding: ‘draw’, ‘tether’, ‘knit’, and then, in a neat summary, ‘touch we now thy garment’s hem’ [Matt. 9; Mark 5; Luke 8; the woman who had bled for twelve years had such faith, and Our Lord such power, that even to touch the fringe of his garment was enough; likewise, even though we only brush against the Lord, we too may be healed]. The last stanza moves the focus from the celebration of the Eucharist to what we pray will be one of the fruits thereof: ‘All our meals and all our living / make as sacraments of thee’, Dearmer asks the Lord: that is, may everything we do make Christ manifest to ourselves and to others; may we, having seen Christ most clearly in the celebration of the Eucharist, learn to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons’, as the Baptismal Covenant puts it.
Two metrical canticles from the Hymnal will serve for the rest of the season as the Song of Praise that may replace Gloria in excelsis: at 9:00, ‘Earth and all stars’ , and at 11:15, ‘Holy God, we praise thy Name’ . The former, a text by 20th-century avant-garde hymnist Herbert Brokering, is a sort of modern Benedicite omnia opera (the ‘Song of Creation’, as the Prayer Book titles it [BCP 47 & 88], taken from the Song of the Three Hebrews in the furnace in the Greek version of Daniel), which calls upon all things to praise God. The latter is a paraphrase of Te Deum laudamus [BCP 52 & 95], like the Gloria a very early Christian hymn, sung here to a German Catholic tune associated with a German Te Deum paraphrase, ‘Grosser Gott, wir loben dich’. The Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy) [S 124]and Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) [S 161] for both services come from David Hurd’s tuneful New Plainsong Mass setting.