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U.S. Independence Day to be celebrated with hymns and picnic

July the Fourth will be celebrated at St. Mark’s Anglican/Episcopal Church in Guadalajara with two events on two weekends, one before and one after the holiday, which falls on a Thursday this year. Everyone is welcome to attend St. Mark’s and these special events.

Sunday, June 30, St. Mark’s 10-member choir with invited mezzosoprano Kimball Wheeler will sing at the 10:30 a.m. English Mass.

The opening hymn, “God of Our Fathers,” was written for the centennial of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in 1876. Other hymns were written for the occasion, but only this has survived. The gospel hymn, “O God Our Help in Ages Past,” with stirring lyrics paraphrasing Psalm 90, is sung on special occasions in the United States, England and Canada — for example, at Gerald Ford’s funeral.

“Let There Be Peace on Earth,” written in 1955 for an interfaith, interracial teen retreat in California, will be the choir anthem. The beloved hymn “God of Grace and God of Glory,” written for the opening of a church near Harlem in the early 1900s, is the communion hymn.

The congregation joins the choir in all songs except the anthem. The closing hymn is “America the Beautiful,” with optional sobs.

A coffee hour and snacks follow the Mass.

The following Saturday, July 6, 2 p.m., St. Mark’s will hold a “Fourth of July” picnic in the church garden. Hamburgers, hot dogs, a hat decorating contest for children, a three-legged race and a watermelon-seed-spitting contest are promised.

Pastor Jim Priddy noted that he once won a watermelon-seed-spitting contest at St. Andrew’s church in Chapala. “Nobody’s come close to that after, including me,” he said,.

Tickets cost 50 pesos, available in advance at the church. Those who do not attend St. Mark’s but want to come to the picnic may reserve tickets by calling (33) 3817-4511 or 3641-6620.

St. Mark’s is at Aztecas and Chichmecas, a two-minute drive north of Plaza Mexico. Map at Information: Father James Priddy (33) 3817-4511.

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