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Music Director's Monthly Newsletter Message

March 2009 - Music Notes

Music Notes by Jessica Baier

The Chancel Choir will be providing a cantata entitled “The Shadow of the Cross—a Contemporary Tenebrae Service”  for the Good Friday Evening Service on April 10th at 7:30 p.m. This cantata will feature both contemporary and traditional selections. Seven readings accompanied by the extinguishing of candles brings this service to a meditative conclusion shrouded in darkness.


The “service of darkness,” or Tenebrae (Latin for “darkness”), dates back to the 4th century according to some sources. Traditionally observed during Holy Week, it focuses on the final hours of Jesus’ life and crucifixion. The Shadow of the Cross is a reminder of the magnitude of God’s love, a love so great that it continues through all time and eternity. For shadows to exist, there must be light.  In the case of the Passion story of our Lord, that light, as the gospel of John tells us, “was the light of all people” (John 1:4).  The Shadow of the Cross walks us through the final hours of Jesus’ life including His crucifixion.  But as John affirms, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5).

In its original form, the cross was a tool of execution, or death. But in the eyes of faith, it symbolizes victory and life eternal! In a day when the powers of evil threaten to destroy our optimism for a brighter tomorrow, the cross stands as a reminder that love is stronger than hate, and that hope prevails in times of despair.  Standing in the shadow of the cross, we find comfort and courage in knowing that we can live in a future that is ultimately of God’s making! (Lloyd Larson, arranger and composer of The Shadow of the Cross)


Beneath the cross of Jesus

 I fain would take my stand,

The shadow of a mighty Rock

within a weary land…

I take, O cross, thy shadow

for my abiding place…

                        ~Elizabeth C. Clephane


In addition to the Chancel Choir’s preparations for Lent, Holy Week and Easter, the Handbell Choir is also quite busy. They are working on Lenten music, as well as practicing pieces for the North Hills Handbell Festival.  The festival will take place April 25th at Marshall Middle School (part of North Allegheny School District). There will be a public concert at 5:00 p.m.