Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Panis Angelicus - June 10

Bread of Angels

Before I get to the subject of today’s liturgical notes I need to share how Anita and I became friends and how she helped me to discover an important lesson.

On Pentecost Saturday in 1991 I walked to the microphone intending teach the people a new hymn: “One Spirit, One Church.” (#419)  I began as follows:  “What I like about this song is how it fuses an traditional hymn (Come Holy Ghost) with a new musical composition (the refrain). 

As I looked to the right I saw Anita sitting in the far corner of first row. “This is important (I continued) because we don’t want to throw out what is old, but rather honor it with new possibilities.” 

Anita’s smile accentuated her wrinkles as our eyes met. I wasn’t talking about a song. I was speaking about her.

Last week, on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi I introduced a similar song; Curtis Stephan’s “Bread of Angels.” (#367) The verses, composed in 2002 speak of Jesus in the Eucharist and as the Word of God. The refrain sets St. Thomas Aquinas’ latin text to a melody that cleverly begins exactly like Cesar Franck’s classic version.

During last week’s choir rehearsal I shared my reason for picking this song:  honoring the memories of those who grew up with a latin mass while appealing to the musical tastes of more recent generations.  I explained how the Solemnity of Corpus Christi focuses on Christ’s presence in:

1.  The Eucharist
2.  You and I as the Body of Christ
3.  The Communion of Saints

Ironically, I did not share the story of Anita at that time. Just the lesson she helped me learn. 

Today we will be using Bread of Angels at the part of the liturgy where it is most appropriate - communion. I’ll be thinking of my dear friend who for years would greet me with a raspy, “Hello Bruce, you got some good music for us tonight?”
Anita moved to an assisted living facility near her children sometime around 2000. I was honored to play and sing at her funeral at my home parish of St. Dominick’s several years later. 
See you at the resurrection, Anita!


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