October 19, 2018

Old Lyme Church Continues 350th Celebrations with Concert Tomorrow Featuring Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’

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The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Photo by N.B. Logan

Throughout 2015, the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme is celebrating 350 years of history. A series of concerts and a talk on the historic landscape of Lyme Street have been scheduled to commemorate the rich legacy of the past and ongoing connections that link the church and the larger community.

The next event is a concert to be held at the church on Sunday, May 31, at 4 p.m. when the Senior Choir from the Congregational Church will be joined by choristers from Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church and Christ the King Church, both in Old Lyme, to perform Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria.’

Vivaldi composed the ‘Gloria’ in Venice, probably in 1715, for the choir of the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage for girls (or more probably a home, generously endowed by the girls’ “anonymous” fathers, for the illegitimate daughters of Venetian noblemen and their mistresses). The Ospedale prided itself on the quality of its musical education and the excellence of its choir and orchestra.

A priest, music teacher and virtuoso violinist, Vivaldi composed many sacred works for the Ospedale, where he spent most of his career, as well as hundreds of instrumental concertos to be played by the girls’ orchestra. This, his most famous choral piece, presents the traditional Gloria from the Latin Mass in 12 varied cantata-like sections.

The wonderfully sunny nature of the ‘Gloria’ with its distinctive melodies and rhythms is characteristic of all of Vivaldi’s music, giving it an immediate and universal appeal. It is written for female soloists, chorus and small orchestra.

All are welcome to attend this concert and join the continuing celebrations of this important year in the life of the Church. Admission is $10 per person or $20 per family.

Public worship on the east side of the Connecticut River can be traced back to 1664 when the Court acknowledged that there were “thymes and seasons” when inhabitants could not attend Sabbath meetings in Saybrook and ordered them to agree on a house where they would gather on the Lord’s Day. A year later, Articles of Agreement defined a “loving parting” that created a separate “plantation” on the river’s east side, which would soon be named Lyme.

The first three meetinghouses stood on a hill overlooking Long Island Sound. After a lightning strike destroyed the third of those structures in 1815, the church was relocated to its present site closer to the village. Master builder Samuel Belcher from Ellington was hired to design a fourth meetinghouse beside the town green and the cornerstone was laid on June 10, 1816. That stately white church with its graceful steeple and columned façade, painted repeatedly by the country’s most prominent landscape artists, burned to the ground on July 5, 1907, in what was almost certainly an act of arson.

Rebuilt to replicate Belcher’s design after a community-wide, fundraising campaign, the fifth meetinghouse, which was dedicated in 1910, remains today as both a vibrant center of faith and fellowship and Old Lyme’s most important historic landmark.

For more information on the concert of church life and events, visit www.fccol.org or call the church office at (860)-434-8686.

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme is located at the intersection of Ferry Rd. and Lyme St.in Old Lyme, CT.

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