Tag Archives: Music

Ancestor Memorial Liturgy, welcoming Canon Peter Ng and listening to Joanna Fu’s wonderful Organ Music @ St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei!

Yes, a special day at St. John’s Cathedral, Taipei yesterday ~ and in all our churches too!

For the Taiwan Episcopal Church, the Sunday before Chinese New Year’s Eve is celebrated every year with a special liturgy to honour the ancestors.  The liturgy takes place within the main Sunday service, usually at the end, with prayers and readings, and there’s a table for everyone to place lighted candles.  At the cathedral, the table is placed in the main entrance on the left side, and everyone lights their candle as they enter the church.  The red cards on the table list the names of all the people being remembered that day.  In other churches, the table is in the main part of the church, or near the front, and people light the candles on the way back to their seats after receiving communion.


The desire for some sort of Ancestor Memorial Liturgy was really initiated by our beloved Canon Chancellor, Professor Herbert H. P. Ma many years ago, partly in response to his father, who for a long time would not commit himself to the Christian faith. Professor Ma’s father, Ma Shou-Hwa 馬壽華 (1893-1977) was one of the very first judges of the newly-formed Republic of China (1912 onwards), and was also well-known for his great talent as a calligrapher and painter, especially portraying bamboo. His work includes the set of 2 Chinese calligraphy vertical couplets and the horizontal one around the door above – all words appropriate for the Ancestor Memorial Liturgy.  An extract from an article in our diocesan Friendship Magazine in 2014 about Professor Ma, describing life after his marriage in 1957, says, as follows:

“Although Professor and Mrs. Ma and the children were active in St. John’s Cathedral, his parents were not. For his father, the major obstacle continued to be ancestor worship, and yet Professor Ma himself felt no conflict. At an ecumenical conference on this subject, he discussed with the participants how the Christian faith and Chinese tradition could be reconciled. He also published articles on this subject, and later instigated the Ancestor Memorial Liturgy for the Taiwan Episcopal Church. In the articles, he wrote that our ancestors are human beings, and when they die, they are still human beings, not gods. There is only one Almighty God, and we need to separate our ancestors from the divine. We can still pay our respects to our ancestors without regarding them as gods. After much thought, Professor Ma’s father accepted his explanation, and henceforth adopted an attitude of respect rather than worship of his ancestors. Having resolved this issue, his parents were now ready to be baptized and became Christians”.

So, yesterday was THE day, and off I went to St. John’s Cathedral, hoping to experience the Ancestor Memorial Liturgy, and also see Chancellor Herbert Ma and his lovely wife, Mrs. Aline Ma. YES!  Here they are lighting their candles…

A warm welcome is always guaranteed from everyone at the cathedral, Rev. Elizabeth Wei and her husband, Rev. Peter Chen, Rev. Michael Liou and his wife Grace, Rev. Ching-Yi Tsai, plus all the church members and many old friends, including Na Mama originally from Advent Church – all so lovely!  Bishop Lai was also at the service yesterday, as was Mrs. Lily Lai. They had just arrived back from Japan the night before, after a trip with Good Shepherd Kindergarten teachers and staff.

Also just flown in the night before was our good friend, Canon Peter Ng, Asia-Pacific Officer for the Episcopal Church, based in New York.  It was Peter who had organized for the St. John’s Cathedral’s organist, Ms. Joanna Fu 傅麗萍, to spend 3 months on a church placement in Anglican Liturgical Music at the Church of Our Saviour, San Gabriel, Los Angeles, California, under Rector Rev. Gary Bradley, and Associate Rector, Rev. Ada Wong-Nagata. Ada is a good friend of us all in Taiwan, and plays a big part in EAM, Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries.  The placement was from September 1 to November 29, 2015, and this is the first time Peter had been able to meet Joanna since then and to see the fruits of her placement.  Me too.  Her playing was fantastic!

In Taiwan there is no formal training school or college for church organists, and most professional organists in Taiwan have trained overseas. Joanna graduated in Church Music from Taiwan Theological College (run by the Presbyterian Church), and says that although she learned a lot about church music at the college, she had no opportunity to learn traditional Anglican liturgical music, and never really learned how to use a pipe organ to its fullest extent. Until a few years ago, St. John’s Cathedral had only an electronic organ for use in worship; now it has a beautiful new pipe organ. Joanna thought that her training and experience were really insufficient to make the most of the new pipe organ, so Rev. Michael Liou contacted Canon Peter Ng to see if there was an opportunity for Joanna to spend some time in the USA to develop her organ skills and learn some new ones.

And so off to LA she went!  Here’s Joanna, Rev. Michael Liou (left) and Canon Peter Ng (right) together yesterday after the service….


The organist at the Church of Our Saviour is Canon Phil Smith, and he kindly gave Joanna twice-weekly organ lessons for all the 3 months, plus she had plenty of time to practice, take part in choir practice and services, as well as visit lots of other Episcopal Churches in the LA area to experience other kinds of worship, such as evensong and compline.  So a really successful church placement, and it was wonderful to hear such beautiful music yesterday.  In fact, Rev. Michael Liou kept giving me the thumbs up every time Joanna started playing!  Here she is in the following photos, practicing with the choir before the service, then playing throughout, and Peter bringing us warm greetings from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and friends in the Episcopal Church – and translated by Mr. Winston Yu.

Hope you notice Joanna’s very special and very gold ‘organ shoes’ in the photos above – aren’t they beautiful?!

A great morning, with lovely people ~ and a very meaningful service!

And after the service?  Well Professor Ma and his wife kindly invited me for lunch, then in the afternoon I tried to keep up with a very energetic Mrs. Ma and her daughter, Gabrielle (and what seemed like the whole of Taipei!) as we went around the Jianguo Flower Market buying flowers for Chinese New Year – wow, so very very beautiful, and so very very busy ~ but hey, that’s a whole other story, ha ha!

Happy New Year 2016!

New Year’s Eve extravaganza at Taipei City Hall and the fireworks at Taipei 101 ~ THE place to be on New Year’s Eve in Taiwan!


An extract from the Taipei Times report of the evening, sums it all up wonderfully …..

Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義) on Thursday night for the city government’s New Year’s Eve countdown party and to celebrate the new year.  The star-studded party was organized by the Taipei Department of Information and Tourism and a coalition of private enterprises, including Taipei 101, SET-TV media group and Union Bank of Taiwan.

Taiwanese techno diva Jeannie Hsieh (謝金燕) appeared before the crowd on an elevator platform and began the event by performing one of her hits, sending the audience gathered in the plaza in front of Taipei City Hall into a frenzy.  Accompanied by a group of back-up dancers, Hsieh performed six songs while going through several very quick costume changes.

Other performers included singers Wilbur Pan (潘瑋柏) and Elva Hsiao (蕭亞軒), while hosts Jacky Wu (吳宗憲), Lin Yu-chih (林郁智, better known as Na-Dou) and Lulu (黃路梓茵) sang two covers of Western pop classics, including the Beatles’ Hey Jude.

Baltimore Orioles pitcher Chen Wei-yin (陳偉殷) was also called onstage, where he was asked to demonstrate his pitching skills by passing a baseball to Wu.  Chen later presented Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) with a baseball glove bearing the logo of the 2017 Summer Universiade, which Taipei will host, and said that he wish the city success in organizing the sporting event.  However, Ko declined to catch a ball thrown by Chen when the hosts suggested that he do so, saying that Chen did not seem to have good control of his pitching.  Chen agreed with the mayor, saying his jacket was too tight and impeded his movements.

Later on, Ko was back on stage to preside over an opening ceremony for the World Design Capital (WDC) 2016, during which he and WDC selection committee member Mugendi M’Rithaa placed miniatures of five iconic buildings on a map of Taipei to signify the launch of the event.

Ko also sang a Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) song by pop group Mayday (五月天), which his aides said he had been practicing for days.  However, he got off to a rocky start, missing his cue to start by two full verses, and beginning during what should have been the chorus, which led organizers to stop the backing track so that the mayor could finish the song a cappella.  Despite his less-than-ideal performance, the crowd cheered Ko for his effort.  “That scared me to death,” the mayor said afterward about his performance.  Before leaving, Ko told the crowd to “have fun and go back to work tomorrow,” before reminding the partygoers to “take your trash with you” to lessen the workload of Taipei Department of Environmental Protection personnel.

The countdown party culminated in an extravagant 238-second firework show designed by French pyrotechnic firm Groupe F, for which the Taipei 101 management said it spent about NT$50 million (US$1.51 million).

Pop superstar Chang Hui-mei (張惠妹), better known as A-mei (阿妹), finished the show with a one-hour set that ended at about 1:30am.

The Taipei Department of Environmental Protection deployed 800 employees at the party — some of whom held up placards reading “Please hand me your garbage” — to collect trash, including cigarette butts.  The agency said it collected 12.35 tonnes of trash after the event, 670kg less than the amount collected after the 2014 New Year’s Eve event.

The concert was incredible, as always ~ such talent!  Dancing and singing, standing and sitting, and taking photos all night.  Great atmosphere, and couldn’t fail to be amazed at the organization and crowd control with record numbers in attendance.

Definitely THE place to be!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year 2016!


The Episcopal Church House of Bishops @ Taiwan ~ Sunday Worship

Purple and pink everywhere today!  And lots of other colours besides, just look at the lovely spouses from Panama in the photo below…. and check out the bishop and spouse with matching purple and black outfit!

3 choices of churches on offer for our bishops and spouses to join the Sunday worship today, St. John’s Cathedral, Good Shepherd Church or Advent Church ~ and guess what, I was on the trip to Advent Church ~ yippee!

Beautiful service as always, great sermon from Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce, then a buffet lunch, and back to the Grand Hotel – well before the deadline, and just in time to get out to the way of the typhoon which is barreling towards Taipei…

And then after that, what next? Well somehow found myself accompanying Mary, one of the lovely spouses (OK, not just ONE of the lovely spouses, but THE lovely spouse from Upper South Carolina!) to a specially arranged children’s Suzuki recorder concert given in her honour…. y’know, it was really quite something!  Right in the depths of deepest Taipei, down some dark alley and stairs to the basement of an apartment block – and there’s all these great kids learning recorder to the Suzuki Method…. Amazing!

Seems you really never quite know where you’re gonna end up on a Sunday afternoon round here – and in a typhoon too!

高雄聖保羅堂60週年感恩禮拜 St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung celebrates 60 years!

Big Celebrations in Kaohsiung this past weekend!  St. Paul’s Church, Kaohsiung was established in 1954, and the present building was consecrated on May 31, 1964 ~ so a double celebration of 60 years of mission and 50 years of the church YES!

On Saturday we celebrated with a special Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul’s, attended by many from all over Taiwan….

For those of us from the far north, we started out very early in order to be on the 7:30am HSR train from Taipei… fortunately after days of heavy rain, finally the sun came out, and in fact shone all day YES!

What a great service, and what lovely people!  Everyone knows everyone in the Taiwan Episcopal Church, just like one big family, so there were lots of reunions and of course photos (always photos ha ha!), and all followed by birthday cake and buffet lunch…

After lunch, off to 美麗島車站 Formosa Boulevard Station on the Kaohsiung MRT, famous for its Dome of Light, apparently the largest glass work in the world….

And so to St. Timothy’s Church, Kaohsiung for a concert in the evening by our good friends, Cynthia Lawing on the piano, and her husband Bill Lawing on the trumpet (both from Davidson College, North Carolina) in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Taiwan Episcopal Church ~ they had also played a piece earlier in the day during the service at St. Paul’s Church so we were doubly blessed, what a great day!

Thanking God for his many blessings on St. Paul’s Church during these past 60 years and for a wonderful day on Saturday ~ and please do pray for St. Paul’s and their wonderful ministry….