May 7, 2018
by Molly Mattingly
Creighton University's Music Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Lectionary: 291

Acts 16:11-15
Psalms 159:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6A, and 9B
John 15:26-16:4A

Daily Easter Prayer

Celebrating Easter Home

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Easter Joy in Everyday Life

For the last three years, my all-student ensemble has worked on Thomas Tallis’ “If Ye Love Me” for Easter season gospel readings like today’s. It is a short piece, but it takes some work to get right because it is polyphonic* and therefore more difficult than most of the music they work on for Mass. Each year, they are up to the challenge. The lines unfold from each other like a time-lapse video of a flower blooming, then fit beautifully back together at the cadences. My students are usually proud of themselves for having mastered it. We work on it long enough that the text sinks in: “If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he will give you another comforter. And he will ‘bide with you for ever, e’en the Spir’t of Truth.” It’s a comforting thought as finals and graduation approach, which while less life-threatening, may yet feel as daunting to some as the life and the death for which Jesus was preparing his disciples!

The summer after we first learned “If Ye Love Me,” I had a lovely email from one of the rising juniors, who was in London with her family that summer. “We went to an Evensong service at Westminster Abbey. And guess what they opened with? Tallis’s "If Ye Love Me" (the coolest part) and it was gorgeous! And I could actually follow along because I knew how it went and they sounded amazing...”  I was visiting Wexford, Ireland that week. I had planned to go to lunch with my friend, a diocesan priest, but he had been called upon last-minute to preside at a funeral. I felt underdressed to be attending a stranger’s burial; I was passing the time in the cemetery parking lot when I read my student’s note on my phone. Her delight brought a big smile to my face.

I bring this up because the Psalm today says, “The Lord takes delight in his people.” I think I get a taste of that when one of my students “gets it,” or when I can tell the group is praying the music rather than just singing it. I take delight in their delight! If we are to understand the Psalm as responding to the first reading, then I think it is fair to say God delights in God’s people in particular places and times. We get the disciples’ travel itinerary of four cities, and the name of Lydia’s hometown as well. God is in those places. Then we are told that God opened Lydia’s heart to receive the good news of Christ. God was there, in her heart, and in the events, practices, and relationships that had prepared her to receive. I picture Lydia with similar delight to my student, hearing something familiar from a foreign source and lighting up with recognition. She immediately wants to pay that forward, by offering hospitality to the disciples. Today, let us with God take delight in God’s people, and pay it forward!

*In polyphonic music, each voice part has its own independent line. Different sections of the choir sing the words at different times from each other. They really have to count, keep an internal beat, and listen to how the other lines lead into their entrances.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.

Sharing this reflection with others by Email, on Facebook or Twitter:

Email this pageFacebookTwitter

Print Friendly

See all the Resources we offer on our Online Ministries Home Page

Daily Reflection Home

Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook