“Lovely space – it just calls out to be filled with music!” exclaims the Rev. Jane McDougle, as she gives the InMenlo team a tour of the inside of St. Bede’s Church where she serves as Priest Associate and Music Director.
Trained as a teacher, Jane still teaches music to students at Trinity School. “My passion is to convince everybody they can sing. There is always this glorious moment when people – young and old – find their voice,” she says.
Jane has been Bede’s Music Director since 1992. Over the years, she increasingly found that role limited what she yearned to talk to people about, which prompted her to seek and attain ordination as an Episcopal priest. “I wanted the platform to engage people further, and I also wanted the theological education,” she explains. (She has a master of divinity from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.)
“Now I can dabble in everything – teaching, music, preaching – in the most wonderful way,” she says. “There’s a contrast. At choir practice it’s still ‘my way.’ At the altar it’s ‘come whoever you are and wherever you are.’
“I love working with people, engaging with them when they’re at their most honest. It’s the blessing of community.”
Jane and others at the church will be sharing their parish – and musical – life on Wednesday, May 26, beginning with a lecture by Nancy Stork (who sings in the choir and is on the faculty at San Jose State) titled “Tales from the Scriptorium: An Evening with Medieval Manuscripts” in honor of the feast day of St. Bede, the 8th century English monk and scholar.
“I’m officiating at the all-sung Evensong that follows,” says Jane. “It’s not a fancy music service, but the choir will be in attendance with most of the service being medieval chants (canticles, psalms, preces & responsories) – plus a couple of organ-accompanied hymns and an organ postlude. All are welcome!”
The lecture begins at 6:15 pm; Evensong is at 7:30 pm. St. Bede’s is located at 2650 Sand Hill Rd. in Menlo Park.
Photos by Chris Gulker