Fellowship of Miracles (Henri Nouwen) for SATB choir and organ; commissioned for the installation of Rev. Judith Sullivan as fourth Dean of the Philadelphia Cathedral, on October 17, 2010, performed by the Church of the Redeemer Choir, Michael Diorio, director.
This anthem was composed on a text selected by the Rev. Judith Sullivan for her installation as Dean of the Philadelphia Cathedral on October 17, 2010. It seemed especially appropriate for this occasion because of the profoundly pastoral nature of the words and the importance of pastoral caring to Judy’s ministry, and because the composer remembers gratefully his work as music leader for a number of Henri Nouwen’s liturgies while a student at Yale Divinity School in the mid-1970’s.
There are two older musical sources inspiring this anthem - the old Slavonic Troparion hymn used by Tchaikovsky at the beginning of his 1812 Overture as a symbolic prayer for peace, and the surprisingly similar melody of the Roman plainchant Ubi caritas, most familiar to us in its setting by Maurice Duruflé. The first phrase of Duruflé’s arrangement is directly quoted at the end of this anthem.
Every human being has a great, yet often unknown, gift to care, to be compassionate,
to become present to the other, to listen, to hear and to receive.
If that gift would be set free and made available, miracles could take place,
Those who really care can receive bread from a stranger and smile in gratitude,
can feed many without even realizing it.
Those who can sit in silence with their fellowman not knowing what to say
but knowing that they should be there, can bring new life in a dying heart.
Those who are not afraid to hold a hand in gratitude, to shed tears in grief, and to let a sigh
of distress arise straight from the heart, can break through paralyzing boundaries
and witness the birth of a new fellowship, the fellowship of the broken.
[Henri Nouwen, from Out of Solitude. Copyright 1974, Ave Maria Pres, used with permission]
Ubi caritas et amo, Deus ibi est. Where there is charity and love, God is there also.
duration: 4 minutes