March 28, 2024

This is part 2 of an article exploring musical settings of the Stabat Mater. To read the first part, click here.   By Josh Rodriguez, guest contributor     Hawar Tawfiq Pain is universal, and classical concert music is a vast canvas used by people all over the world to communicate and empathize. Born in Sulaymaniya (Kurdish northern region of Iraq), Hawar Tawfiq fled his homeland in 1998, finding asylum in the Netherlands. There his musical talents were discovered by a teacher who... Read more

March 22, 2024

By Josh Rodriguez, guest contributor The world watched in horror as yet another Black man gasped for air, murdered on camera. In those final moments, George Floyd called out to his mother –  except his mother was not alive. She had passed away two years prior, giving this cry the transcendent anguish of one who knew he was about to die. But this was not the only image of death that we saw in 2020, nor was it the last.... Read more

January 17, 2024

He’s back! And trolling Christians once again. Since rocketing to fame with Old Town Road, the Georgia rapper has become infamous for his ability to provoke us and anger us. And he’s perfected it. First, in his music video for Montero (Call My By Your Name), he descended to Hell and gave Satan an enthusiastic lap-dance. Then – back on earth – he released a custom-made version of Nike Air Max 97’s he called “Satan Shoes”, which were supposedly made... Read more

July 3, 2023

God Bless America has become one of our country’s most beloved patriotic songs.  But its beauty and power mask an underlying danger for us Christians. Written in 1938 by Irving Berlin, the song celebrates the fertility and beauty of our land as evidence of God’s favor upon on us.  But it’s not just a song of thanks and praise. It is also, literally, a prayer.  It is a song that asks for God to stand beside us and guide us.... Read more

March 30, 2023

If you are like me, you can’t wait for Lent to end. Whether you gave up coffee, chocolate, alcohol – or even if you didn’t  – Lent can be a real slog.  The lectionary gives us prayers and psalms that constantly remind us of our sin. Our churches usually (or, in my opinion, ought to!) feature music that doesn’t shy away from the darkness of the season. There’s nary a trumpet in sight – and you can forget about alleluias!... Read more

March 12, 2023

“Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” This famous phrase is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Although there’s no proof the quote originated with him, its enduring legacy attests to its provocative power. Some have embraced it. They agree with the sentiment at its core: that true witness to our faith comes principally from our actions. Many others have challenged it. For some, the idea of focusing on actions can keep us from learning how to... Read more

June 2, 2022

Ruach is a new composition that dramatizes the sudden, chaotic, and shocking moment when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples on Pentecost. Composed in 2018 and revised in 2022, Ruach is a sacred concert work that is inspired – figuratively and literally – by this mysterious yet earth-shattering event: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole... Read more

April 5, 2022

Guest post by Rev. Jonathan Evens.     For over 50 years, pop musicians in all genres have explored the meaning and significance of Jesus in their music. The result is a rich collection of songs that consider important spiritual questions like faith, doubt, and prayer in unique and often provocative ways. Delvyn Case and I have recently been in conversation in a short series for HeartEdge to try to mine this rich resource to share rock and pop music for... Read more

December 17, 2021

There’s a Christmas song that makes me really uncomfortable. It makes me think about things I’d rather not – especially this time of year. And as a Christian, it makes me feel ashamed. No – it’s not “Baby it’s Cold Outside” – though that song has always been problematic. It’s not Santa Baby, with its creepy sexualization of old Kris Kringle. It’s not even Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ “I Believe in Santa Claus”, which – while starting out promisingly... Read more

August 10, 2021

Sam Cooke’s “Touch the Hem of His Garment” retells a famous Bible story – but with one significant omission. That’s why it’s so powerful. This classic 1956 song appears on a recording by the Soul Stirrers. Written several years before he “crossed over” to secular pop music, releasing romantic classics like “You Send Me” and “Wonderful World”, this great song is much more than just a musical version of a familiar story. Listen to the song here. Here is the... Read more

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