Sunday, November 07, 2010

All Saints Day--first Sunday in November

Today is All Saints Sunday, the day Christians remember those called to sainthood (all believers) and espcially particular individuals. My husband and I were communion servers, always a wonderful experience. However, it's also the day the pastor reads from the pulpit the names of the congregation's members who have died since October 31, last year, and the names of loved ones we submit. It's very moving. And Oh! the singing! We get to sing all the verses of "For all the Saints."

Unless I'm morphing some memories (easy to do at my age) I can remember the first time I heard and sang "For all the Saints," and it was interestingly enough, not in church, but at Camp Emmaus near Mt. Morris, Illinois. I wasn't even a camper--I was the cook's assistant, and had come upstairs after clearing tables and washing pots to sit in the back of the lodge main room to observe the campers (older teens). They were learning a "new" hymn, "For all the Saints," being led I believe by a gorgeous young woman from Chicago with a fabulous voice named Carol Hiller. (It's possible that I've morphed her into the hymn, but this is how I recall it.)

The lyrics seem to be much older than the music, having been written by Bishop William W. How in 1864, but the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams died in 1958, so it's possible that in the mid-1950s, we were learning it as a "new" hymn. However it came to my attention, it has always been a favorite, and the older I get, the more departed saints I have to remember and look forward to seeing again at the resurrection.

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