Wesley’s Life Remembered in Picton Celebration

SING! A Musical Tribute to Charles Wesley’s 300th

Because 2007 was the 300th anniversary of the birth of the great Anglican/Methodist hymn writer, Charles Wesley, we focused our efforts in celebrating the life of this marvelous Christian, by organizing a concert to share Charles Wesley’s musical heritage in a celebration of faith.

At a reception in the Ottawa area, I had met Phyllis Deeks, the Choral director of an outstanding choir in the nation’s capital – the Sanctuary Choir of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church of Ottawa. After speaking with Phyllis about the possibility of her choir coming to Picton for a Wesley 300th concert, she took it under advisement, discussed it with her choir members, and they decided that they would come to Picton to celebrate the Tercentenary of Charles Wesley.

The concert which was a highlight of 2007, was held on Saturday, October 27th, in the beautiful sanctuary of St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Picton ,with c250 in attendance. With its superb Casavant organ, beautiful grand piano, and exceptional acoustics, the church was the perfect setting for this musical tribute.

It was a moving experience to hear the choir and the soloists, and more than once, one could hear a collective appreciative sigh from the audience. Gloria Jean Nagy’s (pronounced Naage) presentation of Georges Bizet’s “Agneus Dei”(Lamb of God) accompanied by organ, piano and oboe, was so expressive that, when she finished there was a hush, and you could hear several people giving thanks to God.

A choral medley included “Praise the Lord Who Reigns Above”, “Sing With Glad Anticipation”, “Rejoice The Lord Is King”, and “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” .The collection included six Wesley hymn texts chosen for their messages: worship, love, thanksgiving, service, life

The audience was thrilled with Baritone Clive Talbot’s rendering of “The Lord is My Light and My Salvation”, and the applause was extraordinarily enthusiastic. Peggy Wilson-Botting, oboist with the National Capital Concert Band, played Handel’s Oboe Concerto, and it was a truly an outstanding rendition. It should be noted that Handel was a friend of Charles Wesley, and is said to

Jeanette Arsenault, a well known Canadian and Prince Edward County composer and singer, sang two numbers – “Yea, Though I Walk” based on Psalms 23 and 27, and Jeanette’s own composition, “The Lord’s Prayer”.

Phyllis Deeks at the grand piano, and Ross Dixon at the Casavant organ, played a beautiful duet, “Like A River Glorious” and one could almost hear the silence as people enveloped themselves in the music.

For the closing several people from the St. Mary Magdalene choir and others added to the St.Paul’s Choir for the final two selections, “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art”.

The evening was a tremendous success, and those in attendance were doubly blessed; encouraged by hearing once again, the great hymns of the faith, which are rapidly disappearing from evangelical and Free Methodist churches in the quest to be modern and contemporary; and thrilled with the uplifting nature of the evening.

The Rector of St. Mary Magdalene Church, inwardly reflecting on the Spirit’s presence, gave the closing Benediction and Prayer. He then went home to finish his sermon, expressing gratitude that he had set it aside long enough to join the concert audience.

The Lecture Series, a Christian endeavour in Picton, Ontario began in 2004. That year in January, the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa brought from Israel a display of the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered at Qumran in 1947. The Scrolls (DSS) generated a huge interest and response from the Ottawa public for presentations given at the museum by the leading Canadian expert and scrolls translator, Dr. Peter Flint. While in Ottawa Dr. Flint was staying at the Laurentian Leadership Centre (LLC). Dr. Flint’s host and the Executive Director at the LLC, Dr. Paul Wilson, had grown up in Picton. At our request, Paul asked Dr. Flint if he would give his scrolls presentation in Picton, and he agreed. Our local committee, Deacon Bill Gervais, of St. Gregory’s Church, Rev. David Mitchell, and Robert Wilson, reserved The Regent Theatre, and on February 18, 2004, Dr. Flint gave his Picton presentation to a “sold out” theatre.

This success was followed at the Regent Theatre in:

2005 – A presentation on the 60th Anniversary of the end of the war with an oral presentation followed by the showing of the classic film “The Hiding Place” – the story of Corrie ten Boom

2006 – A lecture by Dr. Brian Stiller, President of Tyndale University,College and Seminary, “Christians in the Public Square”

Robert C. Wilson
Picton, Ontario