Canfield Presbyterian to host joint Ash Wednesday choir

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Liturgical music sets the tone of a worship service.

Tom Scurich, director of music at Canfield Presbyterian Church, described the music for Lent as “reflective and contemplative.”

If you want to hear how that sounds, music will be part of a community Ash Wednesday service at 7 p.m. today at the church, 140 W. Main St.

Clergy participants will be the Rev. Larry Bowald of Canfield Presbyterian; the Rev. Steve Fortenberry of Common Ground Church Community in North Lima; the Rev. Peter Del Nagro of Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church in Youngstown; the Rev. David Gilbert of Poland Presbyterian Church; the Rev. David Joachim of Westminster Presbyterian in Boardman; and the Rev. Elmarie Parker of Wicklife Presbyterian in Austintown.

During Lent, Scurich said, “The alleluias are set aside until Easter.” He said Lent is another time of waiting, like Advent is to Christmas. “I think the music for Lent can be uplifting but in a different way ... it makes you think about getting closer to God,” he said.

In general, Scurich said he felt that was music’s role in worship ... bringing people closer to God. “It’s Scripture in song,” he said. “Composers have taken the word of God and set it to music.”

The musician noted that “styles change” but using music as a vehicle to share the word of God doesn’t. Scurich said he tries to use a variety of styles in his role as director of music at the church. “I want it to be educational and participatory,” he said. “And I want the music to bring glory to God.”

Scurich said singers from the six churches will form a community choir. They will present “God So Loved the World” by John Stainer and a contemporary piece, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Larry Shackley.

Stainer’s piece is based on John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Stainer was a Victorian composer of the late 19th century. The piece is traditional hymn style and will be sung a capella.

This is the second year for the joint service, said the Rev. Mr. Bowald. Last year it was at Westminster Presbyterian and there was a “good response.” “It also shows our unity,” he added.

Mr. Bowald said the service will include the traditional imposition of ashes in the sign of a cross and the reminder that “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return,” a passage from Genesis 3:19.

Lent is a penitential season, recalling the time Jesus spent in the desert, where he was tempted. “It’s a time of preparation,” the pastor said.

“In the early church, new converts were baptized on Easter Sunday,” he said.

The offering will be donated to the Needle’s Eye, a Christian counseling center in Youngstown.

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