Fox Valley churches join for Palm Sunday concert

Palm Sunday — the day Christian churches around the world celebrate the joyful, palm-strewn entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem — will be commemorated in the Fox Valley with an ecumenical concert featuring musicians from eight area churches.

There was jubilant singing outside the Holy City that long-ago day, and there will be some of the same April 17 at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 845 W. Main St., West Dundee.

Choirs, handbells, brass, strings and clergy will be primarily provided by Bethlehem Lutheran Church, First Congregational Church, First United Methodist Church, St. James Episcopal Church and St. Catherine of Siena, all of West Dundee; Immanuel Lutheran Church, East Dundee; and First Presbyterian Church and St. Thomas More Catholic Church, both of Elgin.

First Congregational Church of Huntley and Bethel Lutheran Church of Palatine also are participating.

The 17th annual Palm Sunday Interfaith Concert is a daughter program and culmination of the Dundee Area Lenten Recital Series, six weeks of organ concerts rotating among some of these same churches. Both programs were created by organist Phyllis Connelly.

She gives credit, however, to the late Rev. Chester Boynton, who was the rector at St. James Episcopal Church when Connelly was the music director there.

“He said something he had always wanted to do was have a Lenten recital series in a different church each week,” Connelly said. “It just really struck a chord with me. No pun intended, but I thought that was a very good idea.”

Once she got the series going, audiences agreed.

“I can’t tell you how many times people came up to me after a recital, and still do, and said, ‘I’ve lived in Dundee for 30 years, 40 years, and I’ve never been in that church,’” Connelly said.

Two years later, she introduced the Palm Sunday festival idea.

“It just sort of took off,” she said. By last year, the audience numbered nearly 700.

The concert program symbolically follows a Holy Week formula.

“We start out the concert, because it’s Palm Sunday, with a joyous celebration,” she said, “and then we select music that moves in a more somber direction because we’re coming into Good Friday. We don’t get to Easter because really, technically, we shouldn’t.”

Admission to the concert and prayer service is free, with a freewill offering to defray expenses. The event begins at 3 p.m., with a prelude of instrumental music beginning at 2:45 p.m.

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