Jan 23, 2015

Serendipity strikes again

Serendipity is not only a fun word to say, it's a joy to experience. It's generally defined as "fortunate happenstance" or "pleasant surprise" but when serendipity actually happens it's more a feeling than a definition.

My mother shared a serendipitous experience with me via the U.S. postal service and I thought I'd pass it on. Why? Because it's my blog and I can be serendipitous if I want to.

It turns out that the choir at her parish in Baltimore, the Church of the Redeemer (the same parish that sponsored me for ordination), will soon be singing the Bruckner Mass in E Minor. I guess it had been awhile since they sang this setting because one of the singers found an old service leaflet in his copy of the music.

Anyway, the bulletin for the Fourth Sunday in Advent in 1977 listed my late father as the Conductor of this special musical offering. When we lived in Baltimore, where he was the Associate Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony, he would occasionally lend his gifts in this way to the parish. As I think about it, what rector wouldn't love to have a symphony orchestra conductor in the congregation?

So they did the Bruckner Mass with the Redeemer choir, musicians from the Baltimore Symphony, and some singers from the Baltimore Symphony Chorus, which my father also directed. (Fun Fact: Bishop Carol Gallagher sang under my dad as a member of the Baltimore Symphony Chorus).

In looking over the service, I have to admit that from a churchmanship perspective, the liturgy gave me retroactive agita. They sang the mass settings as part of Choral Morning Prayer. Sigh. But from a church geekery historical perspective, it was fun seeing the congregation directed to the texts in the "New Prayer Book."

It's been 23 years since my father died so this was a particularly meaningful find. Indeed he's still there -- bodily at least -- in the columbarium at Redeemer.

Oh, and by the way, if you are an awesome priest, Redeemer is seeking a new rector at the moment. It's a special place which you can read about here. The former Bishop of Maryland, Bob Ihloff, is serving as interim. Plus, as a special perk of the job, you'd get to provide pastoral care to my mom when she complains that I don't call her enough.


Anonymous said...

I think it's terrific that you found this paperwork about your father's conducting at your old parish. I know you probably have a copy somewhere, but here's a link to your father's obit in the NY Times.

Yours, Ralegh

Tim Schenck said...

Thanks, Raleigh. He was a pretty amazing guy.