We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Thirteen concert, Feb., 11, 2018

The Thirteen was our first concert almost five years ago in Oct. 2013. We brought them back to help begin our sixth year. Many things have changed with them including singers though they still have two singers from that period. Many of their concerts, including this one, are thematic. This concert, “From Tree to Shining Tree”, was based on the environment and how composers have expressed their feelings – wonder, delight as well horror to the destruction of nature through their music.

We had 50 people on a pretty dreary day though the music lightened it up. The rain held up and it was very warm in the 60’s in February. We thank the Heimbachs for a wonderful reception at 6pm including drinks, cheese and crab dip. Also Brad Volland provided two types of lasagna at dinner which was appreciated. Thanks to others such as Roger and Eunice who helped with the dinner and logistics.

Magical Strings in concert, April 22, 2017

We had 40 for this spring concert of Magical Strings, a duo of Philip and Pam Boulding. This was our concert for 2017. The story is here.

Pam is the spokesperson for the group and plays hammered dulcimer and ocarina. Philip plays 2 different sized celtic harps, hammered dulcimer, mountain dulicmer, guitar, pennywhistles and Iris Accordian. Besides this he made the dulcimers, harps, and guitar used in the concert! You read it right! He was apprenticed to a guitar maker and with a love of Irish music this was extended into instruments for his Irish pieces.

The group has been playing almost 30 years. Since 1980 Magical Strings has recorded 18 albums on Flying Fish/Rounder, EarthBeat Records, and their own label, Magic Hill Music.

Thomas Marshall Organ Concert Oct 10, 2010

175th Anniversary kickoff celebration. Thomas Marshall organist from William and Mary presented four centuries of organ music on the George Stevens 1850 organ. About 40 people attended, including Denise Symonds, former organist.

Lyra Concert, Sept 16, 2014

We were pleased to welcome Lyra, our second annual concert on Sept 16, 2014, a beautiful late summer evening in Port Royal. Lyra is a collective of over 20 musicians in St. Peterburg Russia established in 1994. Smaller groups tour the US and other countries giving concerts. Our group was 4. We had between 80-100 people enjoying the concert and we are hoping we can continue the series in the future. We thank the Heimbachs and Davis for housing the group and particularly the Davis for the wine/cheese reception.

The Thirteen in Concert, Oct 22, 2013

The Thirteen, twelve singers with conductor Matthew Robertson, brought the Renaissance to life for 100 concert goers on Oct. 22. It was a young group that tackled an ambitious program of two key Renaissance composers – Tallis and Palestrina, both 16th century /composers of sacred music in England and Italy, respectively. We thank Cookie, Catherine, the Pogues, the Carpenters, and the Heimbachs in particular for their help with the concert.

Organ Maintenance with Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson, our new organ support, came to Church at the end of August, 2011 for a number of key tasks which included: 1. Reshape a number of pipes which he describes here and place better fitting tuning collars 2. Repitching pipes ;3 Bringing the blower bellows from attic

Choir Retreat, Dec. 8, 2012

The Choir held a special rehearsal for their Christmas music on Sat. Dec. 8, 2012. After two hours of rehearsals they were ready for their own Christmas meal – Nino’s pizza, salad and Brad’s special cheese cake. Thom Guthrie was on hand also lending his voice.

A Unique Monastery in Africa

Keur Moussa means ‘House of Moses’. The House of Moses Monastery was founded in Senegal in Western Africa in 1961 by French monks from the order of St Benedict. The monastery is known for its art, music and its service with both African and European forms. You can see this in the following video.

Today, Keur Moussa has 30 to 40 brothers. The abbey also sponsors an elementary school and dispensary, run by sisters and laypeople. The monks themselves live from the work of their hands, tending fruit trees, making cheese, and hand-crafting their musical instrument known as koras.

The altar has images on both the wall and ceiling.

It also has one of the unique Death of John the Baptist depictions.

Robert Harding, photographer, took a series of photos there. This one is “Head of Baptist, mural by Father George Saget (1963) fits in with the Gospel on July 14.

This image shows not just the execution but a diverse crowd reaction. People on the far right are very sad and withdrawn, a natural reaction. Those two to the left have their hands up. This can mean several things – they don’t want to be associated with it, they are appalled by it, they are reviled by it. They have at least confronted it.

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Larry’s new guitar, June 16, 2024

Larry Saylor played the prelude and offertory today June 16, 2024. What’s significant is that he played them on a new guitar. Not one bought but the second one he made! (His first one debuted in Feb. 2022). This one took 1.5 years compared to 3 years of the first one.

This guitar has a different design. It is closer to a Romantic guitar, smaller with two less frets. It was modelled after a Martin 1920’s model. Another quality is that Larry designed the moldings and resonator board himself rather than buying them. Thus this instrument has been more personalized

Two performances :

Prelude – “Study in A”

Offertory- “In the bulb there is a flower”

Trinity Sunday- Hymn of the Week – “Holy, Holy, Holy”

Reginald Heber (1783 – 1826) was an English clergyman, traveller, man of letters and hymn-writer who, after working as a country parson for 16 years, served as the Anglican Bishop of Calcutta until his sudden death at the age of 42.

Reginald Heber wrote "Holy, Holy, Holy" while serving as vicar of Hodnet, Shropshire, England. He was the first to compile a hymnal ordering hymns around the church calendar. Wanting to celebrate a triune God, Heber wrote "Holy, Holy, Holy" for Trinity Sunday–a day that reaffirmed the doctrine of the Trinity and was observed eight Sundays after Easter. The hymn was first published in 1826.

Years later, John Dykes composed the tune Nicaea especially for Heber’s "Holy, Holy, Holy."

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The Little Falls Bluegrass Band returns for Pentecost

The Little Falls Bluegrass Band from Stafford returns this Pentecost to entertain us as they did in 2023.

The gentlemen have played bluegrass music for many years in many bands, including this one. They have played for weddings, social and church services. They are tight both in music and friendship – and it shows! Several attend Community Baptist Church in Stafford.

Rogation Hymns

Rogation Sunday is the day when the Church has traditionally offered prayer for God’s blessings on the fruits of the earth and the labors of those who produce our food  

Our hymns today reflect the themes of Rogation Sunday. Here are two examples:

1. “Not here for high and holy things”

Geoffrey Anketel Suddert-Kennedy, 1883-1929

First three verses

Not here for high and holy things
we render thanks to thee,
but for the common things of earth,
the purple pageantry
of dawning and of dying days,
the splendor of the sea,

the royal robes of autumn moors,
the golden gates of spring,
the velvet of soft summer nights,
the silver glistering
of all the million million stars,
the silent song they sing,

of faith and hope and love undimmed,
undying still through death,
the resurrection of the world,
what time there comes the breath
of dawn that rustles through the trees,
and that clear voice that saith:

This list of “common things” is so long that it occupies three full stanzas of the hymn, culminating in that tantalizing “that clear voice that saith:”.

The remaining verses – continue this – the lark in the sky, giant sun soars up,

The last verse focuses on God

“to serve right gloriously the God who gave all worlds that are,
and all that are to be.

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The Good Shepherd in our hymns

“The Good Shepherd” – Jorge Cocco

The hymns today speak of the qualities of the Good Shepherd

1 Savior, like a shepherd lead us . Author  Dorothy Ann Thrupp (1779-1847) speaks of Jesus as guardian of us in our lives,  keeping away from sin and coming after us when we go astray, freeing us in the process. She calls upon Jesus help us do His Will in general

Thrupp compiled several hymnbooks for children. Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us appeared unsigned in her Hymns for the Young, published in 1836, but is commonly attributed to her.

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The 23rd Psalm Sung by Bobby McFerrin

From the SALT Project. “From the SALT project. “Bobby McFerrin’s virtuosic reimagining of that ancient, beloved song.

“The translation helps us hear the lyrics afresh, and the musical setting helps us feel the song’s emotional depths, echoing across the centuries.”

Bobby McFerrins VOCAbuLarieS featuring SLIXS & Friends, live in Gdansk, Poland at the Solidarity of Arts Festival, 17 August 2013

Offertory, Trey Clifton, April 14, 2024

Trey was an organ substitute this Sunday and he wowed us with this offertory medley. The piano is to the right beyond the camera’s viewport so he can’t be seen.

Irish Elements in our service, March 17, 2024

On St. Patrick’s day we give thanks for our Irish Heritage. The Irish are the second largest nationality, behind the Germans.

The day is marked with the accomplishments of St. Patrick. Patrick while not Irish was determined to convert Ireland to Christianity from the Druids. In 431, St. Patrick was consecrated Bishop of the Irish and went to Ireland to spread “the Good news” there. He baptized thousands and ordained many priests to lead new communities of Christians.

Patrick is said to have used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, demonstrating that God is both three (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), yet one, as the shamrock is both three-leafed, yet a single plant. Shamrocks were sacred plants for the Druids, symbolizing eternal life. So he re-interpreted known symbols.

While this day is considered a festive, party day in America, it is a religious celebration in Ireland. (In fact until 1961 you could not buy drink in Dublin, Ireland on this day.) We are celebrating with the following Irish elements in our service:

1. The opening hymn, “Be thou my vision,” is a traditional Irish hymn.

It was on Slane Hill in County Meath around 433 CE that St. Patrick risked his life by climbing to the tallest hill in the area and lighting a huge fire. King Logaire of Tara proclaimed no one could light a fire before the king signaled the beginning of the pagan Druid spring festival.

As the ancient Irish people woke up, they could all see Patrick’s defiance of the king. Patrick wanted to show the world that God’s light shines in darkness, and that only He deserves praise.  King Logaire was so impressed by Patrick’s devotion that, despite his defiance, he was permitted to continue his work as Ireland’s first Christian missionary.

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2023 Highlights at St. Peter’s

This is a topical summary. We have another page that is a chronological listing of 2023 events with table of contents with links to the events.

The highlights can be grouped as follows:

A. New ministry
God’s Garden
Chancellors Village
Advent Worskhop

B. New expressions in ministry
Stewardship tree
Lent -Stations of the Cross in the graveyard and more services

C. Expanded and revised ministries
Mission trip to Jamaica
Anniversary Village Harvest Food Ministry
Sacred Ground revised
ECM (Episcopal Church Men) end of year expanded donations and use of an art auction.
Community – Prayer service, Outside Christmas pageant, Work with community organizations
Key parishioner volunteering
ECW (Episcopal Church Women) projects

D. Music provided new delights
Easter, the summer and Christmas
Blue grass concert

E. Losses connected with two historic trees and two heating systems.

1. New ministry – God’s Garden

A new ministry debuted Sept 17, 2023. God’s Garden for 5 to 9 year olds began with 4 children and two experienced teachers, Elizabeth Heimbach, the originator of the class and Jan Saylor.

One of the first activities was to “God’s Garden” which explored what it meant to be a saint, today (Oct. 1, 2023) for St. Francis Day on Oct. 4. As an example they told the story of St. Francis taming the Wolf of Gubbio. Then, they made Pet blessings with treats to give out in church to make pets happy on St. Francis Day, Oct. 4.

2. Expanded ministry in Jamaica

Even before the mission began, we hosted Annette Steele, principal of Victoria Primary School who enjoyed a full day at St. Peter’s on Sun, Aug. 13. She addressed the church at announcements about our joint mission to help the students in her elementary school get ready for school in Sept, both in 2021 and 2023. She explained how much it meant to the students and her community.

After the service, she enjoyed St. Peter’s hospitality at a luncheon and met our parishioners and guests.

The group of 3 on the mission team distributed our donations in Jamaica on Aug. 26

We not only brought the usual school supplies but added 6 tablets. Separately, 7 used computers were donated to a school that had never had a computer.  

There were different ways of distributing the items.  There were contests for tablets and food baskets won by answering questions. Certificates given out based on merit overall and in areas like math. A number of students won $1,000 Jamaican dollars for math competency. Teachers were not forgotten – 2 footballs were given out to the coach!

3. Village Harvest ended its 9th year and began its 10th year in August, 2023 and ended the year serving the most people since 2019.

For the year, we recovered from a slow 1st quarter, 2023 and ended the year serving 1,063 people compared to 1,051 in 2022. It was the best yearly total since 2019.

Unfortunately, the same trend overall wasn’t present with food. Food increased from 2021 to 2022 (14,303 to 15,302 pounds) but dipped to 13,859 pounds in 2023. The first quarter was the problem. We had 2,913 pounds in that quarter compared over 4,000 for 2022 and 2021.

As a result, pounds provided per individual dropped from 14.56 in 2022 to 13.04. In 2021, it was in the same range at 14.32. Overall, pounds per individual are substantially higher since 2019 than in earlier periods.

The 2023 collection on Giving Tuesday, Nov 28 of $1,205 was the highest Giving Tuesday figure since 2019 and provides over 5 months of support for purchasing food for 2024

4. Sacred Ground revised their scholarship program

Representatives from Sacred Ground met with Jessica Thompson, Executive Director of the Germanna Educational Foundation, for lunch at Castiglias in Fredericksburg on Oct. 10, 2023.  The goal was to determine how we could move forward with a new focus on our scholarships for students.

Sacred Ground voted unanimously by email in early December to fund the recommendation forwarded by Jessica Thompson at Germanna for scholarships for students entering the trades. Each student is “in financial need and from underserved populations.” The $2,700 would be split equally to pay for their training.

Each student owes approximately $1,500 for the classes to complete the training. We will pay for the additional expense for each student through additional scholarship funds

They also toured Patawomeck Village in November. The goal of the visit was to understand their history and culture as well as our role

Earlier, the Sacred Ground group had the pleasure of meeting with Alanna Gray (beside Catherine), and her mother and grandmother (opposite Alanna) at Cuppa Cheer in February

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Caroling Dec. 20, 2023

We had a small, but vocal group to go caroling in Port Royal, VA and Portobago on Wed. evening Dec. 20. Attendance was affected by the chill of the evening, sickness among prospective carolers and simply the many things to do 5 days before Christmas.

We visited 4 homes in Port Royal and 4 in Portobago singing the classics “O Come all Yet Faithful,”Joy to the World”, “Silent Night”, “Angels we have heard on High” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem”. We rounded off each visit with “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

Despite the challenges, we enjoyed the evening and spreading good cheer among the homes we visited.

Music of Compline Dec. 7, 2023

The compline service is in the prayer book but there are several opportunities for variations. One being the prayers, akin to the prayers of the people which will change with services. There is also an opportunity to the congregation to add their own prayers.

The second main variation is in the music which changes for the service.

There were three main pieces for this service:

1. O Come O Come Emmanuel. Performed by the “Piano Guys”, in this case a pianist and cellist. From their website “What do you get when you mix up a marketing genius that does video, a studio engineer that writes music, a pianist that had a successful solo career, and a cellist that does pretty much everything? The Piano Guys: a miraculous meeting of “guys” with the same intrinsic purpose – to make a positive impact in the lives of people all over the world through music videos…Our story is a miracle. We’re just a bunch of ordinary “guys” playing classically influenced instrumental music in videos that showcase incredible locations.”

2. Give Thanks. Performed by Michael Eldridge who writes “I’m a pharmacist with a passion for singing.” All the parts! “I’ve been blessed by God with the opportunity to share my love for the classic acapella hymns I grew up singing, and still sing today.”

3. Come Divine Messiah – Advent at Ephesus From their website “We are a religious community of women seeking to emulate the hidden life of Mary as love in the heart of the Church.” They were founded by Sr Mary Wilhelmina Lancaster OSB, in Gower, Missouri.

“The nuns are also recording artists, and their first two albums of recorded chants and hymns reached number one on the classical traditional Billboard charts. They were thereafter named Billboard’s Classical Traditional artists of the year in 2013, the first order of nuns to win an award in the history of Billboard…Their album sales have been used to improve the monastery and pay off the abbey’s debt.”