July 17, 2021

The Music Ministry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Lee’s Summit will present a celebration of American freedom and liberty called “I Hear America Singing,” at 4:00 p.m. The celebration will include a 45-minute concert of festive choral selections followed by a reception with wine, lemonade, watermelon and cookies. The event is free and the public is welcome.

Dr. William Baker

St. Paul A Cappella will perform seven selections from the Colonial Period and the decades of the 19th century prior to the Civil War. These will include two works by America’s first composer, William Billings, songs from the Sacred Harp era of “shaped note singing” and African-American spirituals. St. Paul A Cappella is a ten voice ensemble of select voices that is one of the resident ensembles of the St. Paul Episcopal parish. The group sings weekly in the liturgies of the congregation, performing works from the Renaissance through the 20th century.

The main feature of the concert will be Randall Thompson’s The Testament of Freedom that will be sung by a men’s chorus of singers from the community. Participants will include the men of the St. Paul Choir, the Summer Singers of Lee’s Summit, and guests from other choirs across the region.

The Testament of Freedom was composed during World War II by prominent American composer Randall Thompson. The texts are from the writings of Thomas Jefferson and reveal the emerging ideas that culminated in The Declaration of Independence. The four movements include excerpts from A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774), Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms (1775), and a correspondence with fellow Founding Father John Adams. The work is deeply moving and inspiring in its central theme, “The God Who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time. The hand of force may destroy but cannot disjoin them.”

The concert portion of the celebration will culminate in the famous Peter Wilhousky setting of Battle Hymn of the Republic sung by the combined choirs and the audience. The choirs will be led by Dr. William Baker, who was appointed Music Director of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in September 2020. Michelle Reed, accompanist for the Summer Singers of Lee’s Summit, will be at the piano. The reception will be provided by the Friends of St. Paul’s Music. Located at 416 SE Grand Ave., Lees Summit, MO 64063.

Admission is free and the public is invited.

For additional information, please email Music@StPaulsLS.org or call 816-524-3651.