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Special anthem written, composed for Pentecost


MASSENA - When services are held on Pentecost next Sunday at St. John’s Episcopal Church and Emmanuel Congregational United Church of Christ, those in attendance will hear their choirs sing an anthem that was written and composed specifically for that day.

Organist and music director James Phillips composed the music and Miriam Morrow added lyrics to the anthem, “Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest.”

“It’s based on an old hymn tune found in the old hymn books. The original title was ‘Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest.’ The original hymn tune was written in the early 1800s by Louis Lanbilotte. The lyrics were originally written in Latin in 800 by Rabanus Maurus. We’re singing it in English,” Mr. Phillips said.

An anthem is usually sung toward the middle of a service, he said.

“It’s not a major piece, but a more advanced piece that the choir sings alone. It’s not a typical hymn that everybody sings along with,” he said.

Mr. Phillips took the old hymn tune and, together with Ms. Morrow, they added their own touch for Pentecost. Ms. Morrow wrote the additional lyrics for the piece.

“I took this old hymn, which maybe takes a couple of minutes to sing and expanded it into maybe a four- or five-minute anthem for the choir to sing. It has four parts. I have a lady (Ms. Morrow) that I’ve been writing a lot of music with. She’s been my lyricist. Miriam and I have written several anthems together. This one hasn’t been performed,” he said.

The hymn is familiar to some, according to Mr. Phillips.

“People still know this old hymn. On the first Sunday in December, Phillips Memorial Home does a memorial service at the congregational church. Kathy Baker and myself were doing the music and someone asked if she could sing the old hymn. We did last December. There were a lot of people singing along,” he said.

The anthem will premiere at the 9 a.m. service May 19 at St. John’s Episcopal Church. About an hour-and-a-half later, Mr. Phillips will be at Emmanuel Congregational United Church of Christ, where their choir will also be singing it.

“The problem I found being music director at two churches is the Sunday of Pentecost has very few anthems out there for the choir to sing. There are tons of anthems for Christmas, Easter and Lent, but this particularly day it’s hard to find something. I’m happy we were able to come up with something,” he said.

Pentecost takes place 50 days after Easter Sunday, according to the Rev. Elizabeth Papazoglakis, rector at St. John’s Church. It is remembered as the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles after Jesus told them He would not leave them unsupported in their ministry.

“(Jesus) said He would send an advocate. The advocate is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit descended on the disciples in 50 days,” she said.

The Rev. Papazoglakis pointed out that the shape of a bishop’s mitre, his head-dress, is flame-shaped representing the flames of Pentecost.

“The bishop’s mitre indicates he’s filled with the Holy Spirit,” she said.

The Rev. Papazoglakis said she appreciates the efforts of Mr. Phillips.

“He is a fabulous musician,” she said.

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