December 22, 2018

One of the most frustrating misconceptions borne out of the commercial Christian worship movement is the idea that music equals worship. This misconception can take on several forms, at least. That the music part of a liturgy, mass, or service is the “worship time,” and everything else the “preaching” or “teaching time.” That music activates deep emotions that become worship when paired with spiritual feelings. That music itself is a sacrament, ushering worshipers into God’s presence. In fact, I would… Read more

December 19, 2018

As a professional church musician, Christmas Eve is probably my favorite holy day of the year. December is all but over, and the frenetic, sleep deprived existence I’ve led over the past month is slowing down. Most churches I’ve served or attended have loved Christmas Eve, as well, because it’s usually the second highest attended service of the entire year. And our contemporary church culture, in which butts in our seats mean everything, tells us we have to roll out… Read more

December 17, 2018

Relevant online recently shared Hillsong’s new version of O Holy Night, claiming it will “give you chills.” From the post: “Hillsong Worship has released a stirring version of the Christmas classic, “O Holy Night”. The fully orchestrated take on the holiday staple not only features a full choir, but also the powerful lead vocals of Taya Smith.” I’m really not sure what Relevant was seeing and hearing here. As with practically everything Hillsong does, it’s high on production value and… Read more

December 6, 2018

George Herbert Walker Bush June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018 The Burial of the Dead: Rite One Organ Prelude Music Brass Voluntary America the Beautiful arr. Jari A Villanueva Hymn 719 O Beautiful for Spacious Skies (stand) MATERNA Anthem “This Is My Country” St. Martin’s Parish Choir arr. Moses Hogan Reception of the Body The Celebrant meets the body at the door of the church and says: With faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the body of our brother… Read more

December 4, 2018

In Celebration of and in Thanksgiving For the Life Of George Herbert Walker Bush June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018 Wednesday, December 5, 2018 11:00am Washington National Cathedral Carillon Prelude God of our fathers NATIONAL HYMN; arr. Edward M. Nassor (b. 1957) Praise my soul, the King of Heaven LAUDA ANIMA; arr. James B. Slater (b. 1927) My Shepherd will supply my need RESIGNATION; arr. E. Nassor Eternal Father, strong to save MELITA; arr. Sally Slade Warner (1932-2009) O… Read more

December 3, 2018

Someone asked me the other day if I was planning to check out the new film entitled The Young Messiah. I’m not planning to, because, A) I’m pretty busy right now, and B) I’m fairly certain I know how the plot turns out. If I’m missing something spectacular, please let me know, and I’ll pencil some time in to check it out in, say, June. But the title reminded me of an unrelated musical work from the genius of late-80s/early… Read more

November 30, 2018

It’s that time of year again. For the next few weeks in the majority of Protestant churches, at least in the megachurches and those who aspire to be like them, you’ll see a microcosmic example of how worship in the church has gone horribly wrong. As Christians, our liturgical life has long demonstrated that we are a people set apart. Our liturgical rhythm finds us repeating and retelling the drama of salvation history year upon year. We aren’t, in theory… Read more

October 30, 2018

When my old, usually reliable car is giving me trouble, there’s only one person I will trust with it. His name is Juan Marquez, and he’s the septuagenarian owner of Gulf Freeway Auto Service. His place is not easy to find among the rows of nondescript light industrial sheet metal buildings in South Houston, Texas, but as long as he’s in business, I will find Juan. He’s a hardworking, self-employed family man who is as honest, fair, and reliable as… Read more

October 29, 2018

As a professional Christian, I don’t get many Sundays off. In fact, I tend to take fewer off than I am allowed, since I enjoy my work immensely and am not traveling much these days. But a couple weeks ago I was in Boston on a Sunday morning, and following the recommendation of a few friends, found my way to The Church of the Advent, an Episcopal parish serving Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood since 1844. Google maps directed me from… Read more

October 25, 2018

You might notice I said “‘hymns’ are better than contemporary worship songs.” Not “old hymns.” Or “classic hymns.” Just “hymns.” There are a couple reasons for this. First, there are good hymns still being written, though they are overshadowed in popularity by the dreck put forth by the so-called “worship industry.” So some hymns aren’t old, and there are brand new hymns being written as I write this. Second, most of the time when people talk about “old” or “classic”… Read more

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