Baltimore Handel Choir supports diocesan ministries November 18

Celebrate Transcendence! with the Baltimore Handel Choir and the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland! During this one-time event, the Choir will be celebrating sacred music, with accompanied and unaccompanied performances from Baroque and modern eras. Concert goers will be treated to beautiful, moving a capella motets, as well as (of course!) selections from Handel’s incomparable Messiah.

Proceeds from this evening will be shared between the Bishops’ Annual Ministries Appeal and the Sutton Scholars High School Enrichment Program.

The Bishops’ Annual Ministries Appeal funds 14 diocesan ministries, both secular and nonsecular, that strive to create a “Community of Love” by reaching out to underserved persons both in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and abroad.

The Sutton Scholars® program partners with Morgan State University to teach soft skills and life skills to high school students in Baltimore, building future leaders for our community through mentoring and hands-on education.

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4:00pm – Reception in the Parish Hall
5:00pm – Concert in the Church Sanctuary

An enriching musician’s retreat in 2018 – join us in 2019

by John Repulski

About 45 church musicians and clergy gathered at Claggett Retreat Center in early September for the annual “Musician’s Retreat”, sponsored by the Diocesan Liturgy Resource Group (formerly known as the Diocesan Worship Team). It was a terrific gathering for enrichment and refreshment for musicians all over the diocese as they begin a new program year.

The opening Keynote Address was given by Marilyn Haskel, a Maryland resident and a well-known career church musician: organist, choir director, liturgist, and composer. During the Keynote session, Marilyn talked about her time at St. Paul’s chapel, near 9/11 “ground zero,” and included several examples of leading engaging congregations in song without use of the hymnal. It was a thoroughly enjoyable, inspirational, and informative session.

After the Keynote session, all gathered in the chapel for participation in a special Compline service which was led by Rev. Jim Hamilton, rector of Church on the Square in Baltimore. Almost entirely sung, it included chanting, anthems, and a generous amount of silence. It was beautifully administered, well-crafted for everyone to participate, and was a powerful and peaceful way to worship together.

The beloved and notorious Bachanalia, the annual Friday evening wine and cheese reception, followed Compline. The “meet-and-greet” was filled with fun and frivolity that faithfully progressed to sitting on the rocking chairs on the back porch, with lively conversation continuing to the wee hours of the morning. Special kudos to the catering service at Claggett who provided a lovely spread of hors d’oeuvres and tasty goodies.

Saturday morning in St. Andrew’s Chapel Ellen Johnston presented a practical and interesting workshop called Making Music for Small Choirs. John Repulski, Director of Music & Art at Emmanuel Episcopal, Baltimore, assisted as accompanist. Ellen is a career church musician is the wife of the Bishop of Virginia, The Right Rev. Shannon Johnston. Ellen is on the Standing Commission Liturgy and Music for the Episcopal Church and currently serves as the director of the Center for Liturgy and Music at Virginia Theological Seminary.

Later Saturday morning  Creative Use of Hand Bells in Worship was led by Beau Lochte who is a musician, teacher, composer & conductor with a degree in music composition from Towson University. In addition to directing the chancel handbell choir and youth handchimes programs at Second Presbyterian, he is Artistic Director and founder of Charm City Bronze, an independent handbell ensemble, and directs the handbell choir at the Cathedral of the Incarnation.

Organ and Instrument Duets for Worship was led by John Repulski and Ken Brown. Professional violinist Blair Skinner from Baltimore was guest instrumentalist who beautifully demonstrated a variety of pieces with impeccable musicianship. The compositions were accessible, interesting, and appropriate for liturgical use. Other instruments for organ duets were demonstrated using an electronic keyboard/synthesized that replicated a piano, harpsichord, trumpet, cello, chimes, oboe, flute and others. There was also a unique piece of avant-garde electronica for organ and pre-recorded tape. It was a fun, creative, and comprehensive session.

The final session of the retreat on Saturday afternoon was the popular annual Choral Reading Session the repertoire was a wide variety of titles chosen by the members of the diocesan Liturgy Resource Group, and everyone participated by singing their part in all the anthems.

Special acknowledgement goes to The Musical Source who again this year set up a fine display of music, books, and recordings for sale on site. Everyone left with a bag of at least a few purchases to support their own church’s music program. The Claggett Center is a beautiful diocesan facility, arguable the finest of its kind among all Episcopal dioceses, with comfortable, well-maintained and appealing accommodations. The meals in Sugarloaf Hall were enjoyable, flavorsome, and varied for carnivores, vegetarians and even hearty omnivores.

Colossal thanks to the members of the LRG 2018 Musician’s Retreat Planning Committee: Ken Brown, Rosemary Beakes, Richard Strattan, John Repulski, Linda Stowe, and Cynthia Dedakis. This event was well-organized with good and useful content. The comment cards show by all accounts a five-star success! If you missed this year’s retreat, mark your calendar for the 2019 Annual Diocesan Musician’s Retreat at the Claggett Center, September 6-7.


From the Archives: Retrieving Stolen Documents

By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist 

When Garner Ranney began his 40-year tenure as archivist for the Diocese of Maryland in 1960, he began to systematically catalogue the manuscripts in the collection, which had been in bundles, stored in several locations. As he slogged through this painstaking process, he began to notice large gaps in the holdings, and kept a logbook of items he could identify as missing. In 1971, he “discovered that many papers similar to ours were at a university in another state. I learned that those items had been sold to the university over a period of years by a man whom I shall call John Dover (not his real name), a resident of Baltimore. Valuable books and pamphlets had come from the same source.” As Ranney followed clues, he traced “John Dover’s” employment as a student-janitor in the diocesan library, the forerunner to today’s archives, from 1933, when he was given keys to the building. For the next 16 years, through his undergraduate and graduate student days, Dover “made himself useful” to the aging archivist, and stole over 13,000 manuscripts from the Diocesan archives collection, selling them to at least two universities, and to unknown dealers. Dover bankrolled his academic career this way, from undergraduate to Ph.D. (in history, no less!), going so far as having stationery printed touting “Rare Books and Manuscripts” for sale.

Garner Ranney compiled a 152-page document, which reads like a good mystery story, proving that the manuscripts sold to the university were the property of the Diocese of Maryland, and all 13,000 were returned. Another 739 documents, traced to a university in Maryland, were also returned. Confronted by the evidence, Mr. Dover said that the aged archivist had given him permission to take whatever he liked, and not wanting to cause the infirm archivist pain and embarrassment, the chancellor and Ranney declined to prosecute.

These thousands of documents are still being processed. Ranney sorted them by author, but was never able to do more. They live in the vault of the archives, and are being processed little by little. Some folders contain many letters, almost all having been written to Bp. Whittingham in the 19th century. One clergyman’s file holds 302 letters! As they are read and accessioned, details not previously available to researchers come to light. If you ever want to read Ranney’s 152-page “Mystery of the Stolen Documents”, I will lend you a copy. Fascinating reading, and an ode to the quiet yet determined defender of the intellectual property that is our legacy – Garner Ranney.

From the Archives: Music in Church

By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist

According to Maryland’s second bishop, James Kemp, “Musick is so congenial to the feelings and has such a happy effect upon the hearts of men that it has formed a principle part in the devotions of all nations.” These words, part of an undated manuscript, begin Kemp’s sermon on music in the church based on Psalm 150, verse 6: “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.”

Saying that to neglect music in worship would be unnatural, Kemp wrote, “The practice of praising God with vocal and instrumental music has so universally prevailed and is acknowledged to have such influence in raising every devout feeling of the soul, which its neglect in any church or society can only be accounted for upon the supposition of some fundamental defect.” Kemp urged everyone to be part of the singing. “Every member of the congregation is ardently to join in praise. It would seem to be the opinion of some that the choir only are to perform this part of the service. This is altogether wrong. Every member, even if he cannot sing, is to join in his heart in the praises of God.”

This manuscript may have been a collection of notes used by Kemp to write the sermon for the laying of the cornerstone for the new St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore on May 4, 1814. The Rev. Mr. Kemp was rector there, and only a month later was elected suffragan bishop of Maryland. In detailing the occasion, he said, “The congregation attended divine service in the old church, when an elegant anthem appropriated to the occasion was sung with great effect by a large number of singers.”

Clearly, James Kemp thought that music enhanced worship and led people to experience the presence of God, because he concluded that “the congregation devoutly engaged in singing may be considered as heaven in miniature. God is present though invisible. Music is the holy exercise of saints and angels.”