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Singing Once, Praying Twice

"He who sings, prays twice." This quote is attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo, a bishop in Northern Africa from the late 300s to the early-mid 400s. Music has been a part of Christian worship since the very beginning, and it is certainly an important part of our gathering at Epiphany Trumansburg, as I've gotten to see and hear over the course of Lent and Holy Week. Whether it's Helen at the organ, or Mark playing concertina/guitar/kora, or me playing the harp, or the choir breaking into their beautiful harmonies -- Epiphany is a parish that knows the beauty and importance of communal song.

When Helen Schmidt retired from playing the organ regularly in January, our community both mourned the loss of our beloved organist and also celebrate that Helen has been so steadfast for so many years and will continue to be present with us on Sundays even though she won't be playing regularly.

This week, we welcomed our new organist, Eric Machan Howd, who will be playing organ for us on a weekly basis. Even though I wasn't there in person to welcome him, I understand the community gathered around him and made him feel very much at home! For those of you who missed it, like me, I wanted to share Eric's bio, to give you a sense of who he is. We are very lucky to have him and look forward to many years of creating beautiful song together!

Here's Eric's bio:

Eric Machan Howd has been a church musician for over forty years. Eric began his work in music ministry in middle school when he became a soprano in the St. Uriel Episcopal Church choir. While with St. Uriel's, Eric twice attended the Royal Academy of Church Music, where he learned from choir masters from Great Britain on the Princeton University campus in a two-week program that culminated in a concert at St. Thomas church in New York City, NY. Eric was classically trained as a pianist since the first grade and he picked up playing the pipe organ in high school. Since his time with St. Uriel's Eric has worked with many other churches and denominations as a church music director; these include the Freeville United Methodist Church, Cornell University Religious Works, the King Ferry Presbyterian Church, the Newark Valley United Church of Christ, and the Jacksonville Community United Methodist Church. Eric is also a published poet and his fifth collection of poetry, "Universal Monsters," was recently published by The Orchard Street Press. He works full-time for Ithaca College as the Director of the Office of Extended Studies and teaches professional/technical writing part-time for a national technical/professional writing organization, JER Online. One of his favorite quotes about music is from author Hans Christian Andersen ... "Where words fail, Music speaks."

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