Sacred Song provides fitting sendoff

President Thomas M. Becker gavels a previous season to a close.

Jessica WhiteStaff Writer

Two short months ago, excitement, joy and greetings among old friends swirled through the Amphitheater as Institution President Tom Becker tapped the gavel three times to open the 2012 Season.

As the Sunday sun sets and the final note of the Massey Organ fades into the twilight hour, Becker will repeat the tradition in a totally different atmosphere. With three more taps, he will close the season during the final Sacred Song Service at 8 p.m. in the Amp.

“This is like the death of 2012 Chautauqua in a way,” said Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music. “We have to help people kind of get up to it and then get through it.”

The service will be filled with traditional prayers, hymns, organ tunes and other “Chautauqua triggers” — which Jacobsen said he was shameless about packing in. The evening is titled “ ‘When for eternal worlds we steer’: Final Chautauqua Thoughts,” which is based off an anthem of a similar title by composer Howard Helvey. Helvey was a piano student at Chautauqua in the early 1990s, and he remains a good friend of the Institution. His anthem was added to the Chautauqua choral library in memory of the Rev. William Lytle, who was a longtime Chautauquan and associate in the Department of Religion.

Other Chautauqua triggers include the song “Sometimes I Wish,” which was taken from Rebecca Richmond’s Chautauqua journal in 1944, and the prayer “Litany of Thanksgiving for Chautauqua,” which Jacobsen wrote in 1999.