As Catholics, the most important moment in the life of the parish is the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! At Mass, we bring our joys and sorrows, our concerns, our griefs and moments of great thanksgiving, our deepest prayer, the celebration of the sacraments, and offerings of thanksgiving to God the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son and in the power of Holy Spirit.
In light of this, our 200th Anniversary celebration will begin and end with the feast of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15th of this year and will conclude on the same feast day in 2020. The entire year will be a celebration of this beautiful church and parish.
As one of many elements created to highlight the anniversary of our parish this year, we have commissioned a hymn text and hymn tune to be written for this occasion. You may or may not know that texts and tunes are actually two different items. The texts have a name, given by the author/poet, and the tunes are named by the composer. Many texts are written by one writer, and the tune by another composer. Occasionally they are written centuries apart.
Father Thomas Buffer is a Columbus Diocesan parish priest. He is presently the pastor at St. Mary in Marion. He is a scholar and professor, an organist, a composer, enjoys all sacred music, especially hymnody and he occasionally conducts a men’s schola at his parish. We asked Father Buffer to consider writing a tune for our anniversary hymn. We mentioned that we could ask another poet to wed this to his tune, or Father might like to try his hand at both. He was eager to work on both a text and tune.
We asked him to think about Lancaster, an agrarian heritage of farmers and many fields and pastures surrounding this beautiful town. We asked him to ask Our Blessed Mother for her blessing and continued intercessions for our parish. We asked for a hymn that would express our praise and thanks to God for all that St. Mary has been and will still be in the future. We asked him to make it beautiful, but also very singable and easy to learn.
Sacred Music Director, Sharon Silleck, personally hoped that the tune might be named “Lancaster,” for obvious reasons, but that name was already taken some 250 years ago! So Father Buffer wrote the tune and named it “Fair Fields.” A most winsome and appropriate name for our hymn. He then penned a text.
We have been singing the hymn in preparation for our patronal feast day Mass to begin our 200th Anniversary celebration. We will already know it and will be able to sing it with energy and confidence. Father Buffer has composed an arrangement of the hymn for brass, strings, organ, choirs and congregation. We enjoy the subtle reference to Mt. Pleasant in the opening line of the hymn. It beautifully sings a specially-crafted prayer of praise and thanksgiving for all that St. Mary of the Assumption has been in the lives of our ancestors and will be for generations to come.