Sacred Song Service to showcase songs, hymns of patriotism, protest

Joshua Stafford, director of sacred music and Jared Jacobsen Chair for Organist, leads the Chautauqua Choir during the annual Sacred Song Service of Remembrance last Sunday in the Amphitheater. HG Biggs/Staff Photographer

Mary Lee Talbot
Staff writer

Red Jacket. Samuel Adams. Harriet Tubman. Susan B. Anthony. Martin Luther King Jr. Gene Robinson. John Lewis. Amanda Gorman. “America the Beautiful.” “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.” “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” “The Law of Laws.” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

What ties these names and songs together? The theme for the Sacred Song Service, “Of Patriotism and Protest,” at 8 p.m. Sunday in the Amphitheater. A similar service was given in 2021 by Joshua Stafford, director of sacred music and Jared Jacobsen Chair for the Organist.

The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, senior pastor for Chautauqua Institution will preside. The Rev. Carolyn Grohman will be the reader. 

The service is wrapped in the traditional music of the Sacred Song Service, “Day is Dying in the West,” “Now the Day is Over,” and “Largo,” from Handel’s opera Xerxes

Readings come from Red Jacket (Sagoyewatha), a leader of the Seneca Nation in the early 19th century; Samuel Adams, a Revolutionary War leader; Harriet Tubman, formerly enslaved activist who led many to freedom; Frederick Douglass, formerly enslaved abolitionist; Susan B. Anthony, women’s suffrage leader who spoke at Chautauqua in 1892; Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights icon; The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal bishop and LGBTQ+ rights leader; John Lewis, U.S. Congressman who advocated “create(ing) good trouble;” and Amanda Gorman, Inaugural poet.

The hymns include “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies,” “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory,” “The Law of Laws,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The Chautauqua Choir will sing “Earth Teach Me,” “There is a Balm in Gilead,” and “We Shall Overcome.”


The author Mary Lee Talbot

Mary Lee Talbot writes the recap of the morning worship service. A life-long Chautauquan, she is a Presbyterian minister, author of Chautauqua’s Heart: 100 Years of Beauty and a history of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. She edited The Streets Where We Live and Shalom Chautauqua. She lives in Chautauqua year-round with her Stabyhoun, Sammi.