Sacred Song’s annual Service of Remembrance set for Sunday

Joshua Stafford, the Jared Jacobsen Chair for the Organist and director of sacred music, turns to direct the audience during the Sacred Song Service July 23 in the Amphitheater. Brett Phelps/Staff Photographer

Mary Lee Talbot
Staff writer

Chautauqua has several traditions to honor those who have come to the grounds and have since passed. As the world looks at stars that have long since died, human beings keep the memories of people they have loved shining brightly even though they are gone. At 8 p.m. Sunday in the Amphitheater, the theme of the Sacred Song Service will be “A Service of Remembrance.” 

At the beginning of the summer on the first Sunday, as a list of “milestones,” all those who have died since the Chautauqua Assembly opened the year before are listed in the Sunday service bulletin, and “Taps” is played.

During the Old First Night Celebration, the Drooping of the Lilies, or raising and lowering a white handkerchief or tissue, honors all those who have provided leadership to Chautauqua and have died, especially its presidents and trustees. 

The tradition associated with the Sacred Song service of remembrance is signing Books of Memory, held each summer at the denominational houses for guests and others to write about friends who have died. These books will be on the front of the stage in the Amp during the service the congregation will be invited to come forward and leave memories in the books.

The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, senior pastor for Chautauqua Institution, will preside. The Chautauqua Choir will sing under the direction of Joshua Stafford, director of sacred music and Jared Jacobsen Chair for the Organist. The mixture of hymns, poems and sacred texts will enlarge the theme of remembrance.


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.