Musical ecumenism

Last Sunday, I was at the Church of the Holy Trinity to hear Fr. Randall Frew, an acquaintance I made over breakfasts at Pancake House, preach at the 9:30 Eucharist. Fr. Rand is the founder of the Holy Apostles soup kitchen in New York, the biggest of its kind in the Episcopal Church (USA) and is the head of AIDS Action International. I know him also as one who has been engaged with the Church here in the Philippines, sponsoring students at St. Andrew’s and helping start projects up North.

The guest choir was the University of the East Chorale, who is the “choir in semi-residence” at Trinity. Apart from singing the hymns and service music, they also perform an anthem or two at the liturgy. For the preparation of the altar and the gifts, they sang a setting of the Pater Noster that was quite haunting and solemn. But for the communion, their anthem was awfully familiar. They sang a Filipino version of the Suscipe, by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ, and Jandi Arboleda, which is quite popular in RC circles as a song for the preparation/offertory. So I sang along, happy that this was the first time in living memory that one of Fr. Manoling’s pieces was being sung in an Anglican liturgy.

Now the placement of this song is really unusual for those who know this tune and many in its vein. I think it’s about time we use songs like this at times like communion, where it serves a more appropriate purpose, as a reflection on Christ’s sacrifice that we remember and re-live in the Eucharist. In fact, I think the Suscipe is appropriate—its place in the Spiritual Exercises is that of a response to an earlier recollection of the events in Christ’s life and our response to the love which Christ showed in his life.


Coming up: panic at the disco with William Shakespeare. Why a recent production of Measure for Measure did not leave me laughing. Seriously.


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