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Home Worship and Music

postheadericon Worship and Service Music

Someone once said “Anything can happen at a Bathurst service.”

While this is certainly true, there is also something familiar to be found for regular worshipers and visitors on a Sunday morning.



Bathurst worship services are often clustered in themes, like “Many Gardens – One World” (Autumn 2003) or “Dreams in the Night – Stories for the Journey--a look at the vision stories from the Hebrew scriptures. (Lent 2003), “SpiritWorks” (Autumn 2004), and “That We May Know Each Other: Muslim – United Church Dialogue” (Winter 2005).

Each theme is examined in a series of services on specific topics. The Autumn 2004 series, “SpiritWorks” explored the presence and relationship of creative Spirit in some of our members’ workplaces, school-days, and creative writing.


Special Events and Topics

Often, compelling topics arise which lead Bathurst to respond with a special service or to do something out of the ordinary. Since 2002 we have attended a screening at Planet In Focus: the Toronto International Environmental Film and Video Festival. The festival takes place on the first Sunday of October. We have also taken part in a multi-faith celebration organized as part of Planet in Focus.

Other services that called our attention to special themes or events have included “Braiding Remembrance and Hope: A Service to Commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women,” (December 2002), the Ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence (February 2002) and the United Church of Canada HIV/AIDS campaign, Beads of Hope (January 2002).

We also celebrate traditional events like Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter in our own way, and non-traditional festivals like Black History Month in February, and Summer Solstice and Pride Sunday in June.



Bathurst is committed to a multi-faith sensitivity. We seek to be attentive to the important religious festivals our neighbours in Toronto’s pluralistic mosaic celebrate. For example, we would try to pray for members of the Jewish community during Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. Our prayers embody the principles established by the United Church of Canada on relations with Jews and Judaism in “Bearing Faithful Witness" and for our Muslim neighbors during Ramadan. Likewise, as part of our commitment to Right Relation with Peoples of the First Nations, we try to draw on traditional Aboriginal teachings in a sensitive way.


Worship Planning

The seasonal worship themes are based on suggestions from the congregation or are prompted by issues in church and society. The themes are chosen by our Worship Committee.

Individual services are planned and led by a worship team and team leader. Since our minister is half-time, there are many opportunities for lay members to preach, plan and lead services. .

Services will likely include singing – old favourites and contempary songs from global and feminist collections - scripture, prayer, silence, tactile activities and body movement. We are committed to using inclusive language that is non-sexist and non-militarist in our hymns and texts.


Every Generation is Included

Bathurst is committed to an inclusive presence of young and old and the differently-abled in all of our services. We don’t have a Sunday School, but chose to encourage children and youth to be present throughout the service. A round table, a focal point for our services, always has inviting crafts that the young – or young at heart – can work on during the service. Children and youth often share in a ministry of leadership by preaching the sermon, offering prayers and assisting with Holy Communion. We believe that by having the children present in the service they are able to offer the whole congregation the ministry of their presence, and unique contributions based on their age and abilities. At the same time the spiritual formation of children occurs in an ongoing way by "osmosis" and through inter-generational activities during the "Table Talk."

Child-care volunteers are available on a weekly rotation to support parents with infants and young children, but taking restless children out if necessary to play in the gym or do a craft in the office, although most of the time the children are happy staying at the table.


Communion and Special Liturgies

Bathurst usually celebrates Holy Communion on the first Sunday of the month. We use a communion liturgy developed by members on the congregation.

Baptism (Christening) is celebrated at Bathurst; for infants and for youth or adults, after suitable preparation. A blessing or welcome rite for an infant can also be planned.

Bathurst also marks the passing of it members with suitable memorial or funeral services in consultation with the family and friends of those who have died.

Bathurst’s ministers are available for weddings.


Summer Worship

We do not hold Sunday services during July and August. Instead, members meet informally on Wednesday evenings for a pot-luck supper and discussion. The mid-week gatherings are at College Street United Church.


Service Music

Music at Bathurst United is an eclectic mix of traditional hymns and contemporary songs.

We use the United Church Hymnbook, Voices United, as well as More Voices. We also sing hymns from other hymnals and from what we call our “Bathurst Songbook” – songs people have learned at conferences or other worship services.

Bathurst worshippers prefer inclusive, non-militaristic, non-hierarchical lyrics. People have been known to change words on the spot! Still, we do try not to destroy beautiful poetry in the name of political correctness.

Several years ago, some members identified individual hymns they loved but felt had out-of-date lyrics. So, our Music Director, Bev Lewis, wrote two booklets of inclusive hymns.

The examples here are favourites of some older congregation members. We now sing these traditional tunes without militaristic language.

The first is to the same melody as Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord.

We're brothers and we're sisters in God's holy family.

As we care for those in need and as we act collectively,

And as we embrace each other, showing hospitality,

We feel the love of God.


Chorus:          God, whose spirit lives within us,

God, whose presence dwells among us,

God, whose grace and peace unites us

In one community.


In our work and through our worship, at our meals and in our play,

We will join our hands together, going forth as one today,

All God's children are connected: no more "we" and no more "they"!

We feel the love of God.


The second is to Onward, Christian Soldiers:

Let us now remember those who died for peace,

Fervently in hopes that war and strife might cease.

Make their dreams reality; end the shows of might;

Brothers, sisters, stand together; all the world unite!


Refrain:         Those who work for freedom,

Those who are oppressed,

Those who act for justice,

With God's grace, are blessed.


In a world of tumult, selfishness and greed,

All the poor who labour, struggling to be freed:

Christ would have us help them, those who have been wronged,

Changing swords to ploughshares and turning weak to strong!

A unique feature of Bathurst is that we have built a small repertoire of two-, three- and four-part rounds that the congregation occasionally sings in services, such as Dona Nobis Pacem, By the Waters of Babylon, Shalom Chaverim, O Give Thanks Unto the Lord, Holy Spirit, Fill Me and Come, Shekinah, Come.

Sometimes, the music emerges out of our congregational life. Holy Spirit, Fill Me is based on a round that a visitor taught us many years ago at one of our weekend retreats. Our minister then, Frances Combs, loved the melody but not the original words. So, she did a rewrite. We now sing Holy Spirit, Fill Me as a call to prayer. The suggestion came from Cheryl Curtis, a student intern at the time from the Centre for Christian Studies.

Come, Shekinah, Come is a three-part round composed by Bathurst member Shirley Endicott Small in the early 1990s.

We also sing action songs and even break out the rhythm instruments and drums so that everyone can make a joyful noise.

Bathurst service music reflects diverse cultures. We love to sing African songs such as Thuma Mina and Siyahamba. We sometimes draw upon other faith traditions or secular music.

Choir and Instrumental Music

At one time, Bathurst United Church boasted a large traditional choir. It rehearsed and sang regularly at services and other church events and frequently performed concerts. The choir was especially popular from the 1940s to the 1960s. That was when the congregation was in its original building on Lennox Street near Bathurst and Bloor.

Today, the Bathurst choir is smaller but still vibrant. The dedicated singers perform challenging four-part SATB (often with divisi) and have maintained a fairly high level of choral competency. The choir leads the annual Carol Service in December.

Members sing (or have sung) in many other choirs. They include the Annex Singers, the Canadian Opera Children’s Chorus, Jubilate Singers, North Toronto Women’s Chamber Choir, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and VOCA Choir (formerly East York Choir).

Our Music Director, Beverly Lewis, has been with us since the early 1980s. Bev holds B. Mus. and B. Ed. degrees from Mount Allison University. She plays chamber music on a regular basis with oboist Donald Boere. Bev is also a published composer (Alfred Music & Oceanna Music) of vocal, woodwind, choral and piano music. Her compositions have been performed in Canada, the United States, England, France, Sweden, Austria and Italy. In 2006 her oboe composition, He Sits, Spinning, was broadcast on CBC Radio.

Bev has won several awards (Amadeus Choir Carol competition & Toronto Arts Council) and various musicians have recorded her compositions. She currently teaches piano at the University Settlement Music and Arts School and is a freelance accompanist. She is also the Supervisor of Examinations for the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto.

The Bathurst Choir’s repertoire includes:

  • Balulalow by Peter Tiefenbach
  • Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriel Fauré
  • The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee by Jean Berger
  • Hilariter (German music from the 1623)
  • If Ye Love me by Thomas Tallis
  • In Remembrance from Requiem by Eleanor Daley
  • Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen
  • Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One by Healey Willan
  • Riu, Riu, Chiu (Anonymous)
  • Soon and Very Soon by Andrae Crouch
  • This is the Record of John by Orlando Gibbons
  • Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day by John Gardner
  • Who is at My Window, Who? by Welford Russell

The Choir loves and often sings chorales by Johann Sebastian Bach. A few of our favourites...

  • Brich an o schönes morgenlicht (Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light)
  • Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands)
  • Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier (I Stand Beside Thy Cradle Here)

The Choir sings spirituals, both new and traditional...

  • The Angel Rolled the Stone Away
  • Down By the Riverside
  • Go and Tell Mary and Martha
  • Hush! Somebody’s Callin’ My Name
  • I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me
  • Keep Your Lamps!
  • Over My Head
  • Same Train
  • This Little Light of Mine
  • Wade in the Water

The Choir has also performed compositions and/or arrangements by members...

  • Did It Snow in Bethlehem?
  • A Dusty Manger
  • Or Ever the Silver Cord

-- Lawrence Goudge

  • Hodie Christus natus est
  • Niño Lindo
  • Wade in the Water

--Beverly Lewis

When the choir is preparing for an upcoming service, members rehearse on Sundays, 1:00-2:00 p.m. in the Trinity St. Paul's chapel. If you would like to join, contact Bev Lewis at 416-921-4967. If sight-reading is a concern, not a problem: everyone is happy to go over individual parts.

The congregation also has several instrumentalists who play for us on occasion. For many years, our principal flautist for the Carol Service has been Cathy Combs.

In 2010 we formed a small recorder consort. In recent years, members of the choir and/or church have regularly played instruments at the Carol Service. These include violin, cello, flutes, English horn, clarinet, guitars, ukulele and even a tin whistle!

Also in 2010, Bathurst United Church acquired a brand new Boston Studio piano (made by Steinway). The instrument has greatly enhanced the music at Bathurst.

Next Service:

Sunday, June 25

10:30 am in the Chapel at Trinity St. Paul's Centre
427 Bloor St. West

Pride Service - The Gates Shall Not Be Shut
Caro Ibrahim

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