Harrowing Of Hell
August 23, 2023

Reflections on the Epiphany Choir and our Anglican Tradition

Dear Epiphany,

Words cannot describe how glorious your Epiphany choir sounded at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. I heard over and over again from people who attend Evensong at Saint Paul’s regularly and over the years, that this was one of the best visiting choirs that they had heard sing Evensong there. And mind you, these were random conversations with people who did not know I was Rector of Epiphany. Others from Epiphany who were there heard similar sentiments.  The three services the Epiphany choir sang at St. Paul’s were majestic and deeply moving. 

As I listened to the choir’s glorious rumble resonating for long seconds as they punctuated a particular chord or completed a psalm verse, I was swallowed up by kairos time, mindful of the 1400 years of services that have been said at Saint Paul’s, and the 500 years that Evensong has been sung there. In that time, there have been good times and there have been bad times. There have been times of prosperity, and there have been times of adversity.  And there have been long days of war. I heard it said that every morning during the blitzkrieg over London, the first thing out of Winston Churchill’s mouth was: “Is Saint Paul’s still standing?” It is so easy to forget the importance of sacred places for communities. It is so easy to focus singularly on ourselves, or our generation, or our small corner of the world. But how we are connected to one another across the globe and over the generations matters. Sacred places like Saint Paul’s, and even Epiphany, are made to remind us of this reality.

After the glory of the services at St. Paul’s began to subside, pride began to well up in my heart. I wrestle with that pride in Epiphany. You are a fabulous church, filled with dedicated, faithful people. You are a bright community, both in heart and mind, and to whom much is given by God, much is expected. It is our duty to do everything we can to honor and magnify our Anglican tradition, and one way we do that is through the sacred music that we support and integrate into our life at Epiphany, then share around the world through our Evensong podcasts, and, indeed, this choral pilgrimage to London and Durham. It is completely heartening for our brothers and sisters in England, and those who are visiting Saint Paul’s, to know that a little church in the hinterlands of the Anglican Communion, far, far away in the Pacific Northwest, maintains well-cared for worship for the sake of sharing Jesus Christ through our particular tradition.

You have made this possible because of your support for Epiphany’s choir over the years. And I don’t just mean financial support, though that is critical to do what we do, but also your support in side-by-side worship on Sunday. Thank you. Your presence in the sanctuary means so much to those who are singing in the choir for the glory of God. All our voices are lifted and amplified together, and that matters, it is good for our souls. It is in this way that worship is transformational. 

I am looking forward to worshiping with you this fall. September 10 will be an exciting day. Mark your calendar and plan to be there! The choir will return, there will be a picnic, and we will step back into the regular patterns of transforming worship.

Peace upon your soul.