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The Rose of Calvary

Our Palm Sunday celebration begins with children leading a triumphant parade around our building.

This year’s cantata conveys the emotional roller-coaster from the triumphant entry of Palm Sunday to the loss of hope at the crucifixion in nine movements.

  1. The overture samples themes of the entire work and introduces the Jesus as the Rose of Calvary.
  2. Isaiah’s prophecies of restoration of creation lie behind the rejoicing in second movement. Here Jesus is called the Rose of Sharon, an alternate translation from Isaiah 35:1-2.
    • Our offerings and prayers between the second and third movements will embody our rejoicing for God’s creation.
  3. The prophets also pointed to the need for people to turn from their sins. The aptly named third movement, “Call to Repentance,” portrays both our need and Jesus’s answer; his standing ready to save with love and power.
    • Between movements, the congregation will publicly confess our imperfections and failings.
  4. This movement, “A Rose in the Valley,” expresses God’s promise of pardon for our failings.
  5. The excitement of the fifth movement will have you bouncing in your seat as the people triumphantly “Shout to God” with a loud hosanna, musically evoking Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday.
  6. During his few days in Jerusalem Jesus taught us to live gently with loving kindness for one another and to love our neighbors as ourselves, for that is “Love’s Way.”
    • After this movement the congregation will demonstrate our compassion for one another in prayer.
  7. Not everyone was pleased by Jesus’s popularity. Leading the Rose to the Garden of Gethsemane to weep deep in prayer for his disciples and for release from the cup that the lay ahead, while also praying: “Father, let Thy will be done.”
  8. Meanwhile the priests had excited the mob “In the Praetorium” now to shout “crucify him!” The eighth movement resonates with anger at the Rose of Sharon, urging Pilate to plant the Rose on Calvary.
  9. Even the thorns had beg not to be placed upon the head of the Rose of Calvary as His petals fall and the flower dies.
    • Our Palm Sunday worship service will conclude with the congregation singing “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” receiving the benediction, then leaving.
  10. Joseph M. Martin’s The Rose of Calvary offers one more movement, but we must wait a full week to celebrate God’s surprise ending.

The fine voices of our choir will be supplemented by professional soloists and instrumentalists. You, your family, your friends, and your neighbors will not want to miss this musical account of Christ’s passion. Please share this invitation to experience the journey of the Rose of Calvary at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday April 9th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Christmas Cantata

Daniel Pinkham titled his opus “Christmas Cantata,” but it conveys the feel of Advent. Jesus is coming into the world, but did the shepherds, their neighbors, or even Mary have questions about what this would mean for them? Read our director’s note below.

IMG_1433A brass choir will complement our expanded choir for “God Rest You Merry Gentlemen” and “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” plus Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata. Scripture readings and prayers will complete this unique worship service.

Please invite your friends and family members to this special worship service at 10 am on Sunday, December 11th. There will be no early morning worship service this Sunday.

Director’s Note

Daniel Pinkham’s “Christmas Cantata” is divided into three distinct movements, each with their own story to tell. This work challenges the listener with its unusual harmonies and uneven rhythmic ideas. The composer also uses a technique called text painting to create images and layers of sound that try to portray the lyrics. To best enjoy the music, the listener must put themselves in the position of the characters in the Christmas story and what it must have been like to hear the good news told to them.

The first movement begins with a call to action from the choir, asking the shepherds to share what they have heard. In the same movement, the choir transitions into the role of the nervous shepherds who repeat the same rhythmic idea–“Born, for us, was Christ Jesus.” Although they are excited to share the good news, there is an inherent uneasiness in the composition which symbolizes the chaotic energy that must have existed. Even the brass parts feel somewhat frantic and disjunct. Wouldn’t you also feel excited and uneasy if a choir of heavenly angels descended upon you?

The second movement uses the “O magnum mysterium” text, depicting the wonder of the manger scene with Jesus Christ lying next to cows, sheep, and goats. The text also praises the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. This tribute to the mother is signified by the female soloist who begins the movement. The melody that she sings and the harmony used once the choir enters, is made up of unusual chords that move in and out of tonality. These harmonies, and the overlapping text by the different parts of the choir, create that mysterious quality that the lyrics are referring to. Again nothing is quite settled or resolved, and the movement ends on a bit of a question mark which is somewhat fitting for a Virgin birth.

The final movement represents the joy that all Christians feel during this time of year. We finally have resolved harmonies in major keys set to the text of “Gloria in excelsis deo.” It begins softly and slowly builds to the end, painting a perfect picture of Christ’s coming. The soloists interject with bouncing and celebratory verses and further add to the joyful atmosphere.

The whole work takes the listener on a journey through all of the emotions that would have been felt in Bethlehem that night. They range from bewilderment, to joy, to fear, to nervousness, to praise, and everything in between.

Kavan Gilespie,
Co-Choir Director