All Saints’ Day (also called All Souls’ Day) is a part of the church calendar that dates back to the early church. Originally a day was set to commemorate the life and death of each martyr. As the number of martyrs increased, a special day was set aside to remember these many saints and their commitment to Christ and his church—a commitment that led to their suffering and death. More recently this service has also come to include a time of reflection and thanksgiving for friends and loved ones who have died in the past year.
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I saw a cartoon the other day that most church musicians would find amusing. It was a two-paneled drawing depicting the gateways into the afterlife. In the first, an angel greeted the new arrivals with "Welcome to heaven. Here's your harp." In the second, a devil carried out similar duties by saying, "Welcome to hell. Here's your accordian." That cartoon reflects what most musicians know—that opinions on what constitutes appropriate music and appropriate instrumentation for church music are highly charged.