June 17, 2020

The war against the once-beloved “Onward, Christian Soldiers” is decades old, now. When the United Methodist Church was in the process of revising its hymnal in the mid-80s, it made the mistake of trying to drop this hymn from what would soon become the current United Methodist Hymnal. Well, good Methodists, and Methodists tend to be good people, started a war of their own, essentially inundating the hymnal committee with correspondence which, according to Carlton Young, made it “impossible for… Read more

June 16, 2020

Yes, I said it. A bunch of boomers didn’t make it past the title of this post. That’s okay. It’s mostly not for them, anyway. But most of you, boomers included, know well enough to know that I don’t mean all boomer or boomer hymns. I just mean a certain type, which I’ll get to. This is not a slam against all boomers, since there are lots of great ones who grieve over the things other boomers introduced into the… Read more

June 15, 2020

An honest evaluation of the characteristics of commercial pop music clearly reveals that it’s not appropriate for liturgy. At least, it will be clear to Christians who understand the proper function and purpose of corporate worship in the first place. Pop music isn’t written with any eye toward beauty, nor is it carefully crafted to set a text. It’s simply created to pander to the lowest common denominator, so that people feel good and buy it. Pop music in worship… Read more

June 13, 2020

(Note: In the past, I have too quickly jumped on a social justice warpath when these sorts of allegations were made public. I now believe that I was wrong to do so, and have no desire to do that anymore. Just be informed. Of course, since my blog is, in part, about avoiding bad worship and church music, I will talk about my opinion of his music briefly at the end of this post with candor. For that, no apologies.)… Read more

June 12, 2020

On this week’s installment of “Worship Leaders Say the Darndest Things,” we are confronting a fundamental misunderstanding of corporate worship. I was watching a live-streamed service this week from a medium-sized United Methodist church near my house. It was from last summer, last Father’s Day, actually, so it was before they entered the COVID-19 wilderness. The next song in the “set” was, *cringe, “Good, Good Father” (It’s a bad, bad song, that’s what it is, that’s what it is, that’s… Read more

June 10, 2020

In January, I joined a gym and signed myself up for some personal training. My previous personal attitude to strenuous physical activity could be summed up with this great t-shirt slogan, “No Pain, No Pain,” but now in my mid-30s, you might say I’ve lost a bit of my fire, which honestly never burned too hot to begin with. I worked out off and on in college, always stopping when my biceps and waistline started showing the first signs of… Read more

June 7, 2020

Trinity Sunday is colloquially known among clergy and theologians as “Heresy Sunday.” The reasoning behind this is probably two-fold. Firstly, no one can adequately explain the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. It is a mystery we cannot comprehend. Secondly, many of the heresies identified by the early church had to do with beliefs that failed to maintain the delicate tension of the Three-in-One. When I was doing my graduate theological work a number of years ago, I once wrote a… Read more

June 6, 2020

Here is a series of comments I received on my Facebook page this morning, along with my responses. It’s a perfect example of what it’s like to try and counter mistaken pop-worship beliefs about the role and function of liturgy in the Christian life. Ama: Instead of trying to belittle those who don’t worship like you, why don’t you express the simple message of salvation? Jesus did to that THIEF on the CROSS next to him. HE TOLD that dirty… Read more

June 5, 2020

I’ve observed a number of discussions taking place on social media this week regarding favorite choral pieces by African-American composers. I thought that would be a great idea for a post, where I could share more than just one or two titles. These are all pieces I have sung or conducted that have made an impression on me. Psalm 1 Nathan Carter I first learned about Nathan Carter and his work at when I stumbled onto a few YouTube videos…. Read more

June 4, 2020

One of my favorite preachers, the Rev’d Dr. Jeffrey Hanson from Boston’s Church of the Advent, shared a helpful and amusing illustration on the peace of Christ in a 2019 sermon. The Gospel lesson for that day was John 14:23-29, which reads in part: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I… Read more

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