One hundred years ago, the congregation of Knox celebrated the dedication of this beautiful building.
The original bulletin from that 1913 service has served as inspiration for today’s Centennial Celebration.
Today, we honour our history by connecting past to present through our music – singing hymns from 1913, and adding our songs and words of 2013 to the legacy of worship at Knox.
Knox’s celebration opens with a jubilant organ prelude by Healey Willan (1880-1968), one of Canada’s most well-known and beloved sacred composers of organ and choral music. British-born, Willan moved to Canada in 1913, and would have been living in Toronto when Calgary’s Knox United Church was dedicating its new building. The final two short preludes are based on the St. Anne hymn tune, “O God Our Help in Ages Past.”
The opening hymn, set to the music of Beethoven’s Hymn to Joy, uses a text written for our generation, by our generation (Jane Parker Huber, 1993).
The words of the choir’s Introit come from Psalm 122, “I Was Glad”. Throughout history, these glorious words have been set to music by various composers, and used in services to celebrate coronations, royal weddings and church anniversaries.
Today’s introit was originally written by Canadian composer, Canadian composer, Keith Bissell (1912-1992), for the occasion of the 85th anniversary of St. Matthew’s Church, Toronto in 1959. Bissell was also a conductor, music educator, and supervisor of music for school boards. His work with world-educator Carl Orff allowed Bissell to introduce the Orff music education methodology to Canadian schools.
The incidental music played as the children go to Sunday School reflects the hymn that was sung at the 3:00 pm Sunday School service in 1913 – “Jesus Loves Me.”
The duet/choral selection, “We Have Come this Far by Faith,” is a contemporary song (1996), which represents our acknowledgement of the dedication and faith of our ancestors.
The hymn that follows the sermon is one of the most well-known tunes in the Christian church – Old 100th – named for its association with the paraphrase of Psalm 100, “All People that on Earth do Dwell”. We will sing the same words as the 1913 congregation, taken from the Scottish Psalter 1650.
The organ offertory combines two musical settings of the St. Anne hymn tune, composed by David Lasky and Healey Willan. We then sing our offertory response with the words “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow,” also known as the Doxology, traditionally sung to the tune, Old 100th.
For our final hymn, we sing the special words of the 1913 Dedicatory Hymn (tune: St. Anne), and connect to those voices who stood in this very space one hundred years ago, and offered their sung prayer of hope for the dedication: “Thou, whose unmeasured temple stands, built over earth and sea; Accept the walls that human hands have raised, O God, to Thee.”
The postlude, composed by contemporary Canadian composer, Denis Bédard (1950- ), quotes the Old 100th hymn tune – music which has been a cornerstone of our worship this morning.
It is a privilege to make music that connects us with the spirits and voices of our forebearers.