Sunday Service: Alleluia! Sacred Choral Music in New England

Archive Harvard University Choir Murray Forbes Somerville (far right) and the Harvard University Choir. Memorial Church file photo.



Professor Stephanie Paulsell,
Interim Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church and the Susan Shallcross Swartz Professor of the Practice of Christian Studies in the Harvard Divinity School

Good morning, and welcome to Sunday Worship with the Memorial Church of Harvard University. We pray that you are all safe and well. Wherever you are this morning, we are grateful to you for joining us. No matter where you are on your journey, you are very welcome here.

If you're looking for a place to be in conversation with others about the corrosive effects of White supremacy in our lives and the dangers it poses to communities of color and to society as a whole, we hope you'll join us for a reading group this summer that will read and discuss some recent works on anti-racism. We'll begin on Wednesday, July 1 with Robin DiAngelo's book, White Fragility: Why It's So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism. The book group will meet from 7 until 8 pm, but if you'd like to come 15 minutes early at 6:45, we'll have some time for informal interaction just as we would if we were meeting in person.

Everybody is welcome. If you'd like to participate, drop a note to Elizabeth Montgomery at, and we'll send you the information about how to access the gathering. We'll plan to meet three times in July, on the 1st, the 15th and the 29th. Now, a note about the reading. White Fragility is the number one bestseller in the country at the moment. And I've heard from several of you that you haven't been able to obtain a paper copy. It is available to download as an audio book or a digital book. So if you have some kind of e-reader or a phone or a computer on which you can download books or listen to books, Robin DiAngelo's book is downloadable today. I know many of us though, prefer to read books made of paper. So here's what I suggest. Please keep checking your local bookstores and other sources, and see if this book becomes available in paper this week.

If it doesn't, we'll discuss something else on July 1st, probably an article. So please stay tuned. I'll announce next week what we're going to do, and we'll update our schedule of events on our website as well.

A reminder also that we will be meeting for a virtual coffee hour over Zoom from 12:15 until 1 pm today. If you would like to join, but don't have a link, please write to Elizabeth before noon and she'll send it out to you. This is a chance to talk together informally about the life of our community, the life of faith, and the life of the world. We look forward to seeing you.

Today is the last Sunday before our regular services begin again with the start of the summer term next week. For the past two weeks, we've been blessed by sermons from Professor Jonathan L. Walton and the Reverend Peter J. Holmes. The words of our former ministers have lost no relevance across the years. They challenge us as powerfully in our own extraordinary moment as they did on the Sunday mornings when they were first preached.

This morning, we offer not a sermon, but rather music from our archive. A 1992 Harvard University choir recording of sacred choral music from New England, conducted by Murray Forbes Summerville, our former Gund University Organist and Choir Master, and Curator of the University Organs. We understand that choir members across the years are gathering to listen this morning, and we offer a special welcome to you, as well as our gratitude for the gift of choral music, which nourishes our spirits and lifts our prayers year after year. Our current UChoir, although dispersed around the world, remains connected to us and to each other.

And on their behalf, I'm pleased to announce that this morning's offering and next Sunday's offering will be matched by the choir and given to the Boston NAACP, whose mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality and rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination, to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race. I am grateful to Kath Courtemanche and Rena Cohen, our UChoir co-chairs for organizing this fundraiser, which gives us all the opportunity to contribute to the struggle for a world in which a dignified humane life is everyone's birthright.

And now, I'd like to invite Edward Jones, Gund University Organist and Choir Master, to say a further word about the music to which we will listen together this morning.

Edward Jones:
Gund University Organist and Chorimaster

For today's musical offering, it is a great pleasure to present the 1992 Harvard University Choir's recording Alleluia: Sacred Choral Music in New England. Conducted by my predecessor, Dr. Murray Forbes Somerville, this beautifully sung CD presents a wide variety of music from our surroundings.

Opening with Randall Thompson sublime Alleluia, it includes the old hundredth in the version found in the base Psalm book, the first book printed in British North America, continues through the music of the second New England school, Chadwick Beach, and of course the first university organist and choir master John Knowles Paine, and offers contemporary selections by, among others UChoir alum, Charles Boudreau. The full listing can be found on the church website. Framing the CD, assistant university organist and choir master David von Behren, presents Durufle's variations on the Pentecost hymn, Veni Creator.

Sunday Service Music List48 KB
See also: Sunday Service