On Easter morning I attended the American Cathedral in Paris and I can honestly say that I had one of the nicest Easters I have ever had. In part that was due to the fact that I did not have to do anything to prepare for the service. The music and choirs, accompanied by members of the Paris Brass Ensemble, also were fantastic. After the service I spoke with the Bishop of Europe whom I knew when we were both priests resident in the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
I was planning to attend the 11AM service but getting there took much less time than I expected so I joined the 9AM service already in progress, sat through the choir rehearsal from 10 to 11, and then took part at the 11AM service. That is not so unusual for a priest used to three services on Sunday. It just seemed natural to me. It was also wonderful that my friends Barbara and Hugh were able to sit next to me at the 11AM service. They had just flow in from the US that morning, had dropped their bags off at the hotel, and taken a taxi right to the cathedral. After the service we had a wonderful lunch together at a bistro on Ile St. Louis in the heart of Paris. It was wonderful to be with friends in a foreign country on Easter Day.
Because I attended two services at the Cathedral I got to hear the famous Tocatta by Charles-Marie Widor twice by a very good organist on a substantial pipe organ in a church with great acoustics. I also got to sing some of my favorite Easter hymns, including “Welcome Happy Morning” twice.
I mused on the fact that almost all of the music at the service was arranged or composed by the American composer, Craig Phillips. He is no connection to me even though we share the same first and last names. As I looked though the service bulletin, however, “my name” appeared almost on every page. But it nothing to do with me.
Several years ago at St. Peter’s a woman I did not recognize, leaving at the end of one of our Christmas Eve services, shook my hand and thanked me for the wonderful music. I said, “you’re welcome,” thinking she was complimenting the choir and the hymns we had sung. It was later, with some chagrin that I realized that she was referring to the postlude composed by Craig Phillips and played by our organist that she thought I had written.
It was a happy morning. I have found that Easter hope and Easter joy is found in the midst of the difficulties and struggles of life, but under, within, and beyond them there is life, new life beginning now and running into eternity. Welcome Happy Morning!