Jared Jacobsen was looking for something to base his penultimate Sacred Song Service of the season around when he was introduced to the hymn, “In Christ There Is No East or West,” by English poet John Oxenham.
“It’s this hymn text that informs this whole service,” said Jacobsen, Chautauqua’s organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music. “There’s also a huge resurgence in interest in music from beyond our borders right now. So I just arbitrarily picked some corners of hymn-singing from which I could draw hymns, anthems and texts for this Sunday.”
At 8 p.m. Sunday in the Amphitheater, Jacobsen will lead the Chautauqua Choir in the Sacred Song Service, “In Christ There Is No East or West.” The service will feature music from various Christian traditions around the globe.
“Protestants, of course, are a given,” Jacobsen said. “Many Protestant churches pride themselves on their mission work in other countries. Instead of paying lip service to that, from us looking out there, a lot of new hymnals have incorporated music out there that’s coming back to us.”
Jacobsen said the service will also include hymns from Roman Catholicism.
“Roman Catholics have the advantage of being a worldwide organization,” he said. “If the pope says, ‘Everybody do thus and so,’ everybody does thus and so all over the world. So there is a lot of music in an amazing variety of traditions, in all sorts of languages, that is filtering back to the Catholic Church in the United States.”
Jacobsen said the Catholic Church had “its head in the sand” at one point, but that ever since Pope Paul VI instituted reforms in the 19th century, the Church was brought into the “then-present day.”
“There was an explosion of music in the Catholic Church of writing and music arranging,” he said. “People were sending stuff back and forth, and then it started filtering away from Catholic musicians to their Protestant friends. All of a sudden, all of us had our feet in the water of global music.”
Another musical and religious tradition to be featured in the program is Gospel music, Jacobsen said.
“I love Gospel music, which has its roots in African American music, which has its roots in the slave trade,” he said. “Over the years, we’ve created a way of doing that pretty well for what is essentially a white congregation and a white choir.”
Jacobsen said the music for Sunday’s service is “by no means an exhaustive list of ‘No East or West,’ but it certainly is representative of many of the things that are going on around this planet.”
“This is a very ‘Christo-centric’ service, by virtue of ‘No East or West’ informing the way Christians worship around the world,” Jacobsen said. “I’m not trying to exclude anybody else, and say that their faith journey isn’t as important or as valid as ours. This particular service, I’ve chosen to narrow my focus.”