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Reimagining the Requiem Mass with Rachel Wilhelm

 

As the Minister of Music and Worship Arts at Apostles Anglican Church in Knoxville, TN, Rachel Wilhelm understands the significance of lament. In the midst of a pandemic, Rachel wrote Requiem, an album setting the traditional requiem mass to the more contemporary sounds of folk music. Releasing in March of this year, Requiem guides and invites the listener to bring all their sorrows to our Lord and to lay them at His feet. Rachel graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the album itself and the place of the arts in the Church.

Requiem and Rachel’s other music can be found on Bandcamp or most streaming services.

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This album grew out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our usual routines were disrupted, and many of our relationships became distanced. Can you speak to the importance of making space for lament? How can Requiem help us keep this practice as a staple in our Christian lives well beyond this particular COVID season?

Corporate lament is really important in our church life so members of our community don’t slip through the cracks and we fail to bear their burdens as it is said we should do. In the Anglican Church, we already have times of lament in penitential seasons like Advent and Lent. We should try to make the most of those seasons to heighten the others. In my own experience as a music minister, I try to create an “atmosphere” of lament by choosing minor keyed songs, contemplative instrumentation, and songs of confession and identification with Jesus as the Man of Sorrows. If the environment is created, we can show that it is safe to be sad in church if we are sad—or come alongside others and bear their sadness with them.

Rachel’s first album, Songs of Lament

What I love about the mp3 or the compact disc is that they are portable atmospheres for us. Music takes us to a place or invites us to enter into a place. My 2017 record, Songs of Lament, and this last one, Requiem, are very intentional albums. They wait until you are ready to settle into lament and become a tool to bring you into a vulnerable place before the Lord. This is for devotional life. I think when we think of devotional life, we think reading our Bibles and praying through a list of items. Those things are good. But the kind of devotional life I mean is where you feel comfortable enough with God to tell him how you really think with no fear. Life is hard. God wants to hear it all. What I hope to accomplish with Requiem is to provide an environment for mourning loss from the pandemic, like the loss of loved ones. Many were not able to hold memorial services or funerals, so I brought a funeral to them. They just need to know it’s out there!

Requiem dresses the bones of a traditional requiem mass in folk-style musical clothing. Although there are no grand choral arrangements, the subtlety and quiet emotion are no less powerful. What are the benefits to this kind of stylistic alchemy for music in the Church?

Requiem album cover

I love classical and choral music, but some people are not there. I’m sure there are many reading this who don’t know what a requiem even is. By making the requiem a little more accessible, I hope to create a means to mourn without the daunting and grand arrangements that others simply cannot relate to. My friend Amber Salladin, a choral arranger, is actually making choral arrangements for all the songs—for those chief musicians that could minister well with it with a regular church choir. The album itself is a template for those chief musicians in my camp who want more of an artistic license if they want to perform any of it in church.

I know collaboration is so important to you. Tell us a bit about how collaboration with other artists affected this album.

I love collaboration so much! I collaborate in pretty much everything that I do musically. On Sunday mornings I am much better with my team of musicians than I would be on my own, and the same with this album. With any album there are droves of people involved, and Requiem is no different. I just had all my friends collaborate with me! One specific collaboration I am especially excited about is my songwriting partner, Kate Bluett. She wrote or co-wrote the lyrics to 6 of the 10 songs. She’s a Catholic poet who lives in Dallas, and I met her at a songwriting retreat, but knew her from a Facebook group called Liturgy Fellowship before that. She’s incredibly gifted and writes prolifically. She also knows her Bible backwards and forwards because she writes poems based off the readings each Sunday. This album would not have happened without her. It was her idea!

Cast your vision of the arts for me. What are some ways Christians who make art can best serve the Church and the wider world?

The Church cannot be served or serve the world with the arts and her artists without the Church embracing the artist and placing value on beauty and the artist’s role in that. Dostoyevsky said, “Beauty will save the world.” This should originate in the Church because the Church shows the beauty of Jesus to the world. How is beauty shown to the world? Through art. I think one of the devil’s biggest triumphs is separating the Church from the arts, causing such division that its people can’t understand why we need something beautiful at all—everything has to be utilitarian or of some use in order to be approved. A vision I have for art in the Church is for artistry (music, fine art, craftsmanship, etc.) to be valued and patronized, for artists in the Church to be honored by giving them a place to hone their craft and use it for God’s glory.

Are there any other exciting projects on the horizon for you?

I love the local church. I just moved to Knoxville, TN, and started serving Apostles Anglican Church this past January. I am really excited to dig in and become a part of the artistic life of the church and build relationships within the community. There are some murmurings of a possible Appalachian hymns album on the horizon in the future, but nothing too soon. My other job is traveling the country for the ACNA ministry called United Adoration, which helps the local church build creative community right where they are. Pre-pandemic, I led songwriting and worship arts retreats. But for now, I’m just trying to glorify God where I am, masks, social distancing, and all.

by Meagan Logsdon
ADOTS Communications Associate
meagan@adots.org

 

Live into the Legacy of Saint Patrick, ‘Apostle of Ireland’

Statue of St. Patrick at the footstep of Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo, Ireland
Fr. Wesley Brown, with Bishop Frank Lyons
By Fr. Wesley Brown
Associate Priest, St. Patrick’s Anglican, Murfreesboro, TN

What sticks out in your mind when you think of St. Patrick’s Day? I think of the color green, shamrocks, corned beef and cabbage, and for my inner child, Lucky Charms cereal. It turns out that for me, and for many of whom I’ve asked the same question, St. Patrick himself plays a very minor role in the celebrations that take place on his feast day. That being the case, let’s take a brief look at the life and mission of St. Patrick.

St. Patrick’s Call, in His Own Words

Tradition tells us that he was born in Roman Britain and in his work St. Patrick’s Confessio, or The Confession of St. Patrick, he tells us himself that he was the son of a Deacon and grandson of a Priest. He goes on to say that he was kidnapped at the age of 16 by Irish pirates and was sold into slavery in Ireland where he remained for the next six years. During this time Patrick came to develop a strong faith in Jesus Christ, and at the end of those six years of captivity he heard a voice telling him to go to the coast and look for a ship which will take him home. After heeding that call and persuading the owner of a ship to let him aboard, Patrick arrived back home among his family in Roman Britain where he continued to grow in faith and began studying Christianity.

A few years after Patrick returned home, he was given a vision urging him to return to the people of Ireland. In his own words from his Confessio:

A few years later I was again with my parents in Britain. They welcomed me as a son, and they pleaded with me that, after all the many tribulations I had undergone, I should never leave them again. It was while I was there that I saw, in a vision in the night, a man whose name was Victoricus coming as it were from Ireland with so many letters they could not be counted. He gave me one of these, and I read the beginning of the letter, the voice of the Irish people. While I was reading out the beginning of the letter, I thought I heard at that moment the voice of those who were beside the wood of Voclut, near the western sea. They called out as it were with one voice: ‘We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk again among us.’ This touched my heart deeply, and I could not read any further; I woke up then. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord granted them what they were calling for.

St. Patrick’s Dream, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, County Armagh, Northern Ireland

After returning to Ireland as a missionary we know that Patrick had a fruitful ministry, a ministry that is still bearing fruit to this very day. Many churches still in existence are attributed to his discipleship and church planting. There have been countless volumes written about St. Patrick, the man and the legend. His Confessio is available for free online and I encourage you to read and study his life and ministry.

Follow in the Footsteps of St. Patrick

This St. Patrick’s Day, I want to encourage you to shift your focus from parties and secular revelry and remember that the call that St. Patrick heard is alive and well today. Our world is in desperate need of salvation. In my lifetime I have never seen so many people searching for hope, meaning, and mercy. We are surrounded on every side by a ministry field that is ripe and ready for the harvest.

At St. Patrick’s we strive to answer that call by being a church that exists to invite, train, and send. Our world has had its fill of cultural Christianity. It’s time that we as believers hear the call to “come and walk among us.” Pray to God that you may grow in your faith. Desire to follow Jesus by forsaking the things of this world and devoting yourself wholly to Him. Listen for the Holy Spirit and be ready to move at His urging. Follow in the footsteps of St. Patrick and be a believer that grows disciples who grow disciples.

 


Statue image credit: Tom Szustek / CC BY-SA 4.0
Icon image credit: Father Ted on Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
St. Patrick’s Dream image credit: Andreas F. Borchert / CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Related:

Remember Again Our Heroes and Saints, with Fr. Michael Fry

 

Practice Both ‘Giving Up’ and ‘Giving To’ during Lent

‘The Widow’s Mite’ by James Tissot, ca. 1886, The Brooklyn Museum

By the Rev. Christine Maddux, Deacon
Christ Anglican Church, Cashiers, NC

“What are you giving up for Lent?”

I have heard this question ever since I was a child. Back then, giving up candy (which we seldom had at home anyway) was much easier than giving up bickering with my siblings, with whom I lived in close quarters day and night.

Even people who do not observe Lent sometimes ask, “What are you giving up?”, because that particular practice seems to be the best-known aspect of Lent. And indeed, fasting from something enjoyable like candy (or something self-centered, like bickering) for 40 days is powerful, as we deny ourselves for the sake of drawing closer to God. But giving something up – fasting – is not the only way we do this during Lent.

Prayer, a powerful practice year-round, is traditionally intensified during Lent. It dovetails readily with fasting, as each occasion to rein in our personal desires prompts us to pray. As we pray for the strength to resist temptation and maintain our fast, we enter into Christ’s suffering in some small way, which strengthens our spiritual backbone.

But there is another Lenten practice which receives less attention: alms-giving.

Giving to the poor has been inherent in Christianity from the very outset, rooted in its Jewish heritage. Jesus, a faithful Jew, just assumed that his followers would give alms, telling them, “when (not if) you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do… But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:2-4, emphasis added).

Therefore, alms-giving was integral to the early Church. The Christians in Antioch gave generously to their brothers and sisters in Christ who were soon to suffer from the famine prophesied for Judea (Acts 11:27-30). The Church was also instructed to care for widows who had no family to support them (1 Timothy 5:16). As a deacon, I am reminded that distributing food to the needy widows was the initial impetus in establishing diaconal ministry (Acts 6:1-6). Perhaps that is why God brought the sometimes-neglected practice of alms-giving to my attention with rather convicting insistence this Lent.

But no one ever asks, “Whom are you giving to for Lent?”

Is that because we want to be secretive, to honor Jesus’ admonition to not let our right hand know what our left hand is doing regarding alms-giving?

Or, might it be that we are not truly focused on giving to the poor, especially as we lick our own financial wounds of late? Perhaps we need to reflect anew on alms-giving, and how it aligns with God’s heart.

‘Gleaners, as in Deuteronomy’ by James Tissot

God’s concern for the poor is clearly revealed in almost every book of the Bible. Early on, He instructed his people through the Mosaic law to leave the crops on the edges of the fields and the gleanings for the poor, and likewise the fallen grapes in the vineyards (Leviticus 19:9-10). And by Jesus’ own testimony, we can see that God is pleased when we give sacrificially, instead of just giving spare change (Mark 12:41-44).

This understanding is echoed in Paul’s remarks about the churches in Macedonia, whose “abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:2-4). Paul saw their joyful generosity as an act of grace and proof of their genuine love for God and others, and calls us to emulate them in both attitude and action (v. 5-7).

And this becomes easy when we ponder “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). This thought alone should move us to eager generosity, knowing that whenever we give “to one of the least of these,” we give to Him (Matthew 25:40).

When we see needy people through the loving eyes of Jesus, we will no longer view sacrificial alms-giving as a spiritual discipline or moral duty. We will see it as the joyful privilege of giving freely to Jesus, by sharing his grace, love, and provision with others in just a fraction of the way He has showered it upon us.

Read more from Deacon Christine Maddux in her Deacon’s Column for Christ Anglican Church, Cashiers, NC.

Almsgiving and the Persecuted Church

“Throughout the Church’s history, Christians have given alms as a Lenten discipline, following Christ’s command to love the lost and least.” – Archbishop Foley Beach, 2018

Anglican Church of the Redeemer in Chattanooga, TN is encouraging a two-fold focus during Lent for its parishioners: Daily home worship, and the Persecuted Church.

Fr. Philip Hanner, Redeemer Chattanooga

“We’ve made weekly guides with new songs, scriptures, and prayers to help orient us in harmony with our weekly lessons on Sundays,” says Rector Fr. Philip Hanner. The guides encourage individuals and families to establish regular worship practices throughout Lent – especially for families to gather at dinner or in the evening to pray and worship.

“This has been going really well,” he says. “We are delighted that so many of our folks are trying to be faithful in worship.”

Part of that home worship includes prayer and alms for the Persecuted Church around the world – the home worship guide stating, “We will be making an intentional effort to understand more specifically the various sources of Christian persecution and how to better understand the needs of our brothers and sisters who undergo tremendous hardships and even death simply because they are Christians.”

“Every week we are praying for a country where Christians are suffering under religious persecution — Myanmar, N. Korea, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Colombia – and every week we are fasting from one meal and saving our money and putting it in the ARDF mite box,” says Fr. Philip.

Mite boxes are simply almsgiving collection boxes that can be ordered from The Anglican Relief and Development Fund, to give your parish or family a visual and tangible goal with Lenten donations. It’s early in Lent, so you can still request them – expect to receive your boxes a week after ordering. ARDF says that past seasonal mite box collections “have strengthened communities by improving agriculture, healthcare, or access to water” through their sustainable model of working through local churches globally.

For a little more info on the ARDF Mite Box, the organization recently published this article on their blog: “What’s an ARDF Mite Box – Lenten Version!”

“At the end of Lent, we will collect our monies and give them to the Anglican Church in Myanmar,” says Fr. Philip. “We’ve been in contact with Canon Keith Allen, the Canon to Myanmar, and we’ll be presenting them with money to wire directly through ARDF to the Church. They’ve been hit pretty hard on a lot of fronts — COVID, government insurrection, etc.”

Redeemer Chattanooga has provided us with a PDF download of the scriptures on persecution they’re praying and meditating on during Lent, plus information on numerous other organizations that support persecuted Christians around the world, including the New Wineskin Missionary Network – which is the communication contact for the Anglican Persecuted Church Network.

Download the PDF here:


Additional Almsgiving Resources

Within the Diocese
As a starting point, check out this video produced for the 2020 Synod, highlighting ministries from around the Diocese – including non-profit Route 78 Coffee Company whose proceeds help provide for the immediate needs of refugees in the Clarkston, GA area.

The Bishop’s Live Love Campaign
This fundraising effort helps Archbishop Foley give to needs around the Diocese concerning Church Planting, Benevolence (Homeless & Needy), Multi-Ethnic Ministry, and Student Ministry. Donate here.

Texas Disaster Relief – ARDF
In addition to raising funds for global aid projects, ARDF assists in domestic disaster relief by working through local churches on the ground. Your gift to the ARDF General Relief Fund goes to the most urgent needs.

Or, choose to support a global project that still needs funding! Donate here.

Lenten Activities for Families & Youth

Are you looking for Lenten devotionals and activities to engage the whole family? ADOTS Canon for Youth & Family Ministry, Jessica Greiner, shares a list of her favorite resources for this season.

Devotional and activity guides:

  • Good Dirt by Lacy Finn Borgo & Ben Barczi. Good Dirt takes a cue from nature and the garden and combines kid-friendly seasonal activities and daily devotionals with readings from the Gospels. Children and adults participate together as they learn to “till, plant, water, and weed their souls,” while readings guide families through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Canon Jessica highly recommends this seasonal guide!
  • Camels, Carols, Crosses and Crowns – Advent and Lent Activities for Children, by Shiela Kielly & Sheila Geraghty. This book explores the imagery, history, and traditions of the seasons of Advent and Lent, incorporating them into worship.
  • Before and After Easter – Activities and Ideas from Lent to Pentecost, by Debbie Trafton O’Neal. Offering daily activities, this colorful book combines crafts, recipes, and “fascinating facts” for all of Lent, Easter Day, and each week of the Easter season.

Storybooks to enjoy during Lent and Easter: