Sacred Song provides send off, premieres Campbell prayer set to song

With three taps of the gavel, Chautauqua Institution President Thomas M. Becker will officially close the 2013 Season at Sunday’s 8 p.m. Sacred Song Service in the Amphitheater.

The longstanding tradition is one way for community members to find closure to the end of the season. Sunday’s service will build around an anthem by contemporary composer Rene Clausen, titled “Bless the Lord, O My Soul,” which is based on an old psalm of comfort and spiritual healing.

The service will premiere a piece composed by Chautauqua Choir member Joseph Musser, based on a prayer written by Joan Brown Campbell, the director of the Institution’s Department of Religion, titled “A Prayer for a Beloved Community.”

Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, sees the inclusion of a new piece in the service as a unique opportunity to showcase original music. Through this song, the service can celebrate Campbell, who will retire at the end of this year, as well as the community she loves.

“For the same reason that Chautauqua’s founders brought the best poets and the best musicians that they could find … I feel 140 years later like I still need to be doing this,” Jacobsen said.

Maggie Brockman, hostess of the Hall of Missions and a member of the Chautauqua Choir, will read at the service. Her voice is comforting, Jacobsen said, and will soothe those in attendance.

The last service of the season is emotional, he said. Closure is necessary for even those like Jacobsen who plan to be back next summer.

“As much as we talk about closure and finishing things off, it is open-ended,” he said, “because we have to allow for Chautauqua to blossom and bloom and evolve again.”