Dear Friends,

I love the context of Lent, sandwiched between the glow of Epiphany and the exuberant celebration of Easter. The contrast of moods makes each of these seasons a little more poignant. The liturgies each have some seasonal variations, from the Eucharistic Prayer to the Prayers of the People to the choices of service music. And each Sunday in Lent invites us into an introspective examination of where we are and where we might be called.

It is almost too much fun to plan, prepare, and present the music of Lent. On Ash Wednesday, we explored music from the Renaissance and Tudor eras to tone down where we were a few days earlier on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, when the anthem by a living American composer (born the year I graduated from high school!) feted Jesus the Light. Then on the First Sunday of Lent, we heard Samuel Barber’s stirring “Adagio for Strings” in its choral version (Agnus Dei). In the coming weeks, choral music by Brahms, Gibbons, Purcell, Stopford, Sumsion, Blow, and Walton will take us deeper into our reflection toward Holy Week. Witnessing ever-fuller pews each Sunday, during this incredible growth spurt at Bethesda, prompts the refrain: “who are you inviting to share this journey?”

Evensong is always an easy opportunity to bring someone to join in our choral service of Evening Prayer. No knowledge or experience of the Episcopal Church is needed, other than simply to be there. Susan Dodd will present an organ recital at 3:30 p.m. of Mendelssohn, Clérambault (French Classical), and Cherwien (contemporary American) before the Bethesda Choir leads us through our 50-minute service of worship. The canticles this month will be Orlando Gibbons’ “Short Service,” which refers to the syllabic nature of this a cappella set from the Tudor composer. The anthem will be a luxurious offering from Edward Bairstow (York Minster), called “Lord, thou hast been our refuge.” Text and music rotate between themes of hope, comfort, and assurance, ably balancing out some of those brooding moments. The warm reception afterwards completes our connection of worship and hospitality to prepare us perfectly for the week ahead.

Who are you inviting to share this journey