Monday, April 6, 2009

Palm Sunday -- Pluperfect! Supernal!

This past weekend finishing up with Palm Sunday (also known as "Passion Sunday") was a time for supernal music for me! If you're unfamiliar with the word "supernal", think "heavenly"! And "pluperfect" is a verb tense, and also means "more than perfect".

However, "pluperfectly supernal" music began for me on Friday nite. I was listening to the Friday Nite Opry on WSM. Ricky Skaggs hosted the final half hour, which is a great start to how good that half hour becomes! I've always liked his style of singing, whether it's pop country -- he's one of the artists who along with George Strait saved country music in the 1980s from going so pop that "country-ness" would have been completely lost -- or outright bluegrass with great acoustics.

His first guest artists were my now-favorite quartet, Riders in the Sky. And wow! did my guys sound great! Among the two songs they did was "Timber Trail". This song took me back to my boyhood, growing up among the tall timbers of Idaho and listening to my folks' vinyl albums of cowboy songs, one of which was this song. Also on stage during this final half hour were The Whites. They sang "There's a Big Wheel" an up-tempo Gospel number.

Sunday morning I took the bus to church as usual, but unlike usual I didn't have to then wait awhile for others to arrive and Sunday School to begin. You see, Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples) has a tradition of a Palm Sunday breakfast. We feasted on various breakfast casseroles, quiches and other breakfast items. Mm-mm-mm! Delicious!

Our Worship commenced with the choir filing down each side aisle and spacing out evenly. ECC(DC)'s Vandy D-School intern, Steven Gower, read Mark 11:1-11. Then Pastor Jay (Hartley), garbed in full Scots regalia, entered the main door playing "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee" (actually the melody is based on Beethoven's "Ode to Joy") on his bagpipes. He strolled up the center aisle, followed by Eastwood children bearing palm fronds; we the choir followed the children. Shortly afterward the choir and the children together sang a lively yet easy song, "Hosanna! Hosanna!"

Later, in our usual point in the order of worship the choir sang our anthem "Ride On! Ride On in Majesty" by Darst. Right afterward, Pastor Jay gave another of his terrific sermons -- I tell you, this brother can PREACH! -- entitled "The Passion and Com-passion of Jesus". I would not call it a standard or typical Palm Sunday or Passion Week message; it was broader than that!

Sunday evening I attended the third annual "Community Hymn Sing" at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. This featured not only the Nashville Symphony and Nashville Community Choir but other artists. And us the audience! Some of the listed songs and hymns were done solely by the professionals. But most were for all voices in the hall to sing. Guest artists who joined with the Symphony for various songs included Phil Keaggy and Jars of Clay. Singing a cappella was a choir of about two dozen Dominican nuns, clad in white habits and black wimples.

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