By The Reverend Mrs. Silence DoGood
Covid was very difficult for all of us. But what Willie my husband and I have learned over the years is that when there is a crisis … be practical. That’s exactly what we both did in carrying out our missions at The First Church of God’s Love in the bucolic-farming hamlet of Halo, Pennsylvania. Willie carried out his mission as Organist and Choir Master. I carried out my mission as Senior Pastor.
Willie was committed to having choir music at our Church services. So instead of having the choir members stand next to each other during practices he placed each one of them in alternating pews giving them a safe distance from each other. He then conducted the choir from the front of the Church. He placed them there during services as well.
I created two Church services instead of one so that there would be half of the congregation at each service thereby separating people from each other. The congregation registered for the service they wanted so I could manage the numbers.
But Covid also gave us the time to be creative. Dr. William A. DoGood, or Willie as I call him, is a musical scholar and composer. He has a Ph.D. in liturgical music from Bellingshire University in Sussex, England. Having always composed choir and orchestral pieces during his tenure at the Church, he waited until Covid arrived to compose his magnum opus … his oratorio.
An oratorio is a large scale musical work for orchestra and voices, typically a narrative on a religious theme, performed without the use of costumes, scenes or action. Well known examples include Bach’s Christmas Oration, Handel’s Messiah and Hayden’s Creation. But Willie took his oratorio in a new direction. He wrote his oratorio Eden on the theme of love by incorporating love poetry written by some of the world’s greatest writers.
Eden’s arias with full orchestra include works by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Butler Yeats, William Shakespeare, e.e.cummimgs, Pablo Neruda, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Rabindranath Tagore, Lisel Mueller and of course John Donne. In fact Willie’s oratorio begins with excerpts from John Donne’s poem The Good –Morrow written in 1633:
I wonder by my truth, what thou, and I
Did till we loved? Were we not wean’d till then?
But sucked on country pleasure childishly?
The words between the arias were written by Willie with the music following the free rhythm of the words. These were accompanied by a cello and harpsicord.
When Willie first finished his work he didn’t know what to do with it. But then he sent it to his mentor at Bellingshire University, Dr. Littlefield Whipplebaum, who is now the University’s President. He also sent him an early copy of my book Recipes for Overcoming the Fear of Living and the Fear of Dying asking him if he knew anyone who would enjoy reading it.
Last week we received an unbelievably wonderful letter from Dr. Whipplebaum. He explained that the University had just finished the refurbishment of a Tudor church on the University’s campus which will be their principle performance space. To mark its opening the Board of Directors has chosen Willie’s Eden to have its world premiere in the four hundred year old structure. He added that the church has fantastic acoustics.
In addition, he explained that his sister Ms. Abigail Snow is the Minister of the Essex Unitarian Church in Kensington, London and that she wants me to speak and to have a book signing there. She was delighted to read my book and is looking forward to meeting me.
That night after reading the letter Willie and I sat at our kitchen table, drank green tea, ate my homemade oatmeal cookies and talked about life. Yes it is filled with crisis. Yes it is filled with disappointments. Yes it is filled with the unknown. But we gave thanks. We were thankful for being able to work. And for our work having found two homes abroad. We leave for London in a week.
The Reverend Mrs. Silence DoGood
Choir Master (part-time)
The First Church of God’s Love
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