Advent Purple

One of the things I love about being a church musician is the rhythm and flow of the church year, the way that the Sundays and seasons tell the story of Jesus’s life and the life of the church.  I delight in the things that we do (or don’t do) at a particular day or season that point to some aspect of our faith.   The colors of the various seasons are helpful signposts for me on this yearly journey: white for light and purity, green for growth, red for fire (or, in some cases, blood), purple for royalty.

I also appreciate how carefully, lovingly, and beautifully our altar and sanctuary are appointed for worship.  All of the paraments that we use at Trinity are beautiful, but I find the purple hangings that we use during Advent and Lent to be particularly stunning.  The cloth on the altar itself covers the table on all for sides (not just the front) and the embroidery on the crown of thorns is extraordinary.  In a chance conversation with a friend who is a long-time member of Trinity, I came to find out the story behind how these hangings came to be here. 

Alexander William (Bill) Kennedy and his wife, Fran, came to Trinity in 1981 when they retired to Myrtle Beach from the New York area.  Fran died in 1996 and Bill passed away in 2001, having sung tenor in the Trinity Choir for 20 years.  Bill was the son of poor Irish immigrants who settled in New York City and had few opportunities for an education.  But what Bill did have was a wonderful singing voice, and his mother was able to arrange for him to audition for the renowned St. Thomas Boy Choir, where he lived and performed for many years and gained a fine education.  When Bill died, he especially wanted to leave his beloved church with some tangible legacy, resulting in the gift of the aformentioned altar hangings.  I have always enjoyed the beauty of these vestments; knowing the story of where they came from only adds to my appreciation of them.

Above: The Trinity Choir in the late 1980’s, during the years that Sebron Hood (back row, far right) was Organist and Choirmaster.  Bill Kennedy is in the back row, second from the left.  Notice that picture was taken in the old church, where the present choir room is.

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