A gift a reporter receives is visiting a wide array of parishes and experiencing the many beautiful ways the liturgy is celebrated across North Georgia.
Last Wednesday night at St. Jude's Church (Sandy Springs), a prayer vigil was celebrated for Msgr. Daniel J. O'Connor the night before his funeral Mass. Many elements went into this very well-attended wake service, but one catching my attention was the music.
Music director Alan Brown later told me that the choir, at his invitation, was made up of singers who came from not only St. Jude's, but also Sacred Heart (Atlanta) and St. Thomas Aquinas (Alpharetta), where Msgr. O'Connor had been pastor over the years.
Alan Brown said, "I knew he was highly regarded at both churches. This would be an opportunity for musicians from both churches to be at the celebration of his life and to pray for him."
The beautiful soprano solo "Pie Jesu" from Faure's "Requiem" had been requested by Msgr. O'Connor. He once asked Brown to be sure that it was sung at his funeral liturgy by Jeanné Brown, a celebrated soloist whom he had heard at the Atlanta Symphony under Robert Shaw as well as on occasion at St. Jude's.
Sam Hagan, also celebrated in Atlanta and familiar to parishioners at St. Jude and other parishes as a soloist, was the cantor.
The night before, when the 40-member combined choir met for the first and only time to rehearse, a violent storm broke out and the church lost all power and air conditioning. "Everyone got out their cell phones to back light their music," Brown said. Not everything was able to be covered in the rehearsal as a result.
But none of this was evident the following evening in the prayer service that honored the pastor who also loved music.
The next Georgia Bulletin will include an article about the prayer service and the funeral the next day at the Cathedral of Christ the King.
Gretchen Keiser, Editor