Evensong for Michaelmas and St. Cecilia, September 29, 2019

This month’s Evensong will honor both St. Michael the Archangel and St. Cecelia, the patron saint of music. It will start at 5:30 pm, preceded by the Cathedral bells.

St. Michael vanquishes an enemy of the Church

Saint Michael the Archangel isn’t a saint, but rather an angel, the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title “Archangel” means, that he is above all the others in rank.

St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, as we know from scripture and Christian tradition.

  • The first is to combat Satan.
  • The second is to escort the faithful to heaven at their hour of death.
  • The third is to be a champion of all Christians, and the Church itself.
  • And the fourth is to call men from life on Earth to their heavenly judgment.

    Michaelmas daisies
    Michaelmas daisies

St. Michel is invoked for protection, especially from lethal enemies. He is also the patron of soldiers, police and doctors. His feast day is known as “Michaelmas,” and the Michaelmas daisy was named in his honor.

Although Cecilia is one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs, the familiar stories about her are apparently not founded on authentic material. There is no trace of honor being paid her in early times. A fragmentary inscription of the late fourth century refers to a church named after her, and her feast was celebrated at least in 545.

According to legend, Cecilia was a young Christian of high rank betrothed to a Roman named Valerian. Through her influence, Valerian was converted, and was martyred along with his brother. The legend about Cecilia’s death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, and asked the pope to convert her home into a church. Since the time of the Renaissance she has usually been portrayed with a viola or a small organ.

The Evensong will feature the Cathedral Choir with the Orvis Choral Scholars. Music will include a setting for Evensong by Herbert Howells and Howells’ Hymn for St. Cecilia.

There will be a reception following the service to bid farewell to Director of Music Todd Beckham and his wife Jennifer. The Beckhams are moving to Massachusetts, where Todd will be the Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.