January 7, 2019

I recently read an online article entitled, “Where Next for Contemporary Worship?” It was actually an interesting read, but the title left me with one inescapable thought. Contemporary worship needs to die. It’s already dying a slow death, of course, along with the boomer generation that created and sustained it. But it’s happening waaay too slow. (Lest I get the usual email bag full of silly “All worship was contemporary once, Jonathan!” replies, let me insert this disclaimer: By contemporary,… Read more

January 3, 2019

  Neither praise nor worship have a style. They are to be spontaneous, unrehearsed, and not synchronized with the way anyone else praises and worships the Lord. . .The most important thing is that we praise and worship the Lord when we come together. The thing to keep in mind is that His spirit flows more freely when worship is done spontaneously and freely. – comment on the Ponder Anew Facebook page This is a common refrain from those who… Read more

December 24, 2018

Many of you may have heard that today is the 200th birthday of Silent Night. Actually, Austrian priest Josephus Franciscus Mohr supposedly wrote the poem in 1816, but whatever, it was first sung 200 years ago tonight. You probably know the story. The church organ flooded. Mohr gave his poem to Franz Xaver Gruber, who wrote the tune and accompanied it on guitar for the Christmas Eve mass that year. Again, supposedly. I know of no evidence to contradict the… Read more

December 23, 2018

I should preface the following remarks by saying I am not anti-technology. How could I be? I’m an early millennial, for goodness sake. (We once called ourselves “Generation Y” to distinguish ourselves from our supposedly disillusioned and ultra-pragmatic older siblings!) We were the first to grow up with computers in our homes and schools. I have trouble putting my iPhone down for more than a few anxious minutes. I don’t remember a world (or a church, frankly) without technology. So,… Read more

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

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