Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Today we conclude the fall sermon series, Apocalypse Then / Apocalypse Now, on the Book of Revelation. Our guest preacher is the Rev. Dr. Thomas G. Long, the Bandy Professor of Preaching Emeritus at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta.
Sermon: "Can You See the Bright Morning Star?"
Text: Revelation 21:22-27; 22:1-5, 16-17
I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.Its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
“It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
Nun danket alle Gott (“Now Thank We All Our God”), BWV 657 • J. S. Bach (1685–1750)
Thou Visitest the Earth • Maurice Greene (1695–1755), Text: Psalm 65:9, 11
The Promise of Living, from The Tender Land • Aaron Copland (1900–1990)
Text by Horace Everett (1927–2001)
Nun danket alle Gott (“Now Thank We All Our God”) • Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877–1933)
The Anthem this morning is an arrangement of the ancient plainsong hymn, Ubi caritas, by the famous Canadian choral conductor Elmer Iseler. The melody of Ubi caritas, one of the oldest hymns in the Christian tradition, is a perfect fit for the beautiful poem by George Herbert, "King of Glory." Herbert wrote devotional verse throughout his life, but only after his death in 1633 were his poems published. Referring to his poetry in the ancient tradition as "song," Herbert used simple and common words, conversational speech rhythms, musical imagery, and witty, unexpected metaphors. His titles are short, sometimes direct, sometimes enigmatic, such as "Discipline," "Prayer" and "The Pulley." In his poetry, Herbert explores his vision of Christian life, "a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul." Today, critics consider Herbert to be "one of the purest and most ravishing of English poets."
The Offertory Anthem is a moving chorus from Aaron Copland's opera, The Tender Land, which tells the story of a farm family in the Midwest. Copland was inspired to write this opera after viewing the Depression-era photographs of Walker Evans and reading James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. He wrote the work between 1952 and 1954 for the NBC Television Opera Workshop, intending it for broadcast, but it was rejected by the producers. Eventually the work had its premiere on April 1, 1954 at the New York City Opera. "The Promise of Living" is perhaps The Tender Land's most famous excerpt. Originally composed for vocal quintet and orchestra, the arrangement heard this morning is Copland's famous anthem arrangement for five-part choir accompanied by piano duet.