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Content about Music

January 22, 2018

Singing songs of the oecumene—the whole inhabited earth—is rooted in the feast of Pentecost, portrayed in the book of Acts, when people from the whole known world gathered in Jerusalem and heard the disciples singing of God’s glorious acts in many tongues.

Now, as then, we are assured that we are surrounded by the unseen host of the saints of God, who in countless tongues sing with us the unending song of praise.

January 22, 2018

Last fall I happened to be traveling to Dallas, arriving early Sunday morning. My travel companions and I were encouraged to attend a local Anglican church, where we were blessed by the preached Word and the fellowship of the table. The folk-style music that accompanied the liturgy included some re-tuned traditional hymns and some newly composed, with each text thoughtfully chosen for its placement in the liturgy. The spoken words of the liturgy were profoundly fresh and opened my imagination to a broader understanding of my Christian faith and relationships with God and others. To my delight, after the service I learned that some of the songs were written by congregational members, often as a collaboration between retired priest Fr. Nelson Koscheski and millennial-aged worship leader Ryan Flanigan, founder of Liturgical Folk. Two songs sung at the service are included with this article.

December 1, 2010

Easter Sunday celebrations are one of the high points of our Christian faith and worship. As such the worship planned for this day ought to be particularly festive. While there are many ways to heighten the festivities through visuals and movement, music is of particular importance on this day—especially music that includes trumpet and brass. Gathered below is a compilation of music for your consideration, including commentary about its difficulty level and other helpful information.

*Denotes optional timpani accompaniment.

August 31, 2010

I can’t imagine worship through the cycle of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany without music. Through the centuries, composers and arrangers have offered the church a wealth of music that is consistent with the themes of worship for these seasons.

May 31, 2010

"You are holding an unusual hymnal! The texts here are not grouped by theme, season of the year, or order of worship. Rather, they are presented in chronological order by text, beginning with a sampling of Old Testament psalms and continuing right up to songs written in the past few years. Paging through this book, then, is like taking a 3,000-year journey through the songs of God’s people.”

March 1, 2010

Dear Church Musicians:

Is it not time, perhaps, to sing reformer Martin Luther’s great songs with the sprightly rhythm in which they were originally composed? The new translation included here could give fresh vigor to the canonic status of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

March 1, 2010

These days we’re connected to people all over the globe. The Internet and other electronic media allow us to be as “plugged in” as we want to be: websites and e-news blasts provide us with up-to-date information on what’s happening in the world (see sidebar).

As Christians, this awareness informs our personal devotions and our corporate worship whenever we intercede on behalf of those suffering from injustice in our own communities and around the world. It’s a natural step to put those prayers to music so that they may be sung by God’s people.

March 1, 2008

For trumpet, clarinet, and French horn players, transposing is a normal part of playing their instrument. For singers, violinists, pianists, and flute players, on the other hand, it may seem like some strange secret code. Instruments that have their notes written differently than they actually sound? Up a step? Down a fifth? What’s that all about?

August 31, 2007

This article continues the conversation begun in RW 84 by Martin Tel on the state of congregational song. —JB

 

Martin Tel’s article “They Just Don’t Sing Like They Used To” (RW 84) outlines several cultural and architectural challenges to congregational singing.

First, our culture has turned music into a commodity that is professionally produced and passively received.

May 31, 2007

Choosing the right choral music has got to be the single most challenging task I have faced in the 35 years I have directed church choirs. I dread the idea of buying sixty copies of something that will not work well in the service; and I don’t want to spend even twenty minutes rehearsing an anthem that will not be edifying for the body of believers.

May 31, 2007

It occurred to me the other day that lining up my rather small CD collection in order of purchase date could provide an interesting study about my life.

May 31, 2007

The book of Psalms is the prayer book of the church, the template for how we express ourselves to God in worship. Yet the modern evangelical church has used psalms in worship haphazardly. Unlike the Roman Catholic tradition, which mandates the use of certain psalms on certain days; or the historic Reformed church, which allowed no other singing but psalms; the modern church feels no obligation to include psalms in worship.

May 31, 2007

I remember my very first attack of goosebumps. I was thirteen, maybe, one raspy voice in a middle-school choir festival a half century ago in a small town in Wisconsin, dozens of kids drawn from regional schools. The music that did it was J. S. Bach—“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” For almost fifty years I’ve not been able to hear that piece without being zapped back into that pimply choir because I was seized so chillingly—heart, soul, mind, and strength—by the beauty of that moment.

March 1, 2007

In August 2006, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship sponsored an amazing trip to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Singapore. Nine Institute staff members, myself included, spent a month meeting with worshiping communities there.

May 31, 2001
Siyahamba
Psalm 8
O Lord, Our Lord
Shout to the Lord
May 31, 2000
“Household of Faith” by Brent Lamb and John Rosasco. Solo version in The Greatest Love (Sparrow; cassette available); duet version (low, medium/high voice) in Wedding Music (Word) and Enter In—101 Solos and Duets (Lillenas); moderate.

A couple’s commitment to build their marriage and family on a Christian foundation. For the conclusion of a marriage ceremony or during the unity candle ceremony.

December 1, 1999

African-American religious music has a life that is unique to its culture. Spirituals and black gospel music embody the rhythmic elements of syncopation, improvisation, metric variety, fervor, and simplicity with lyrical melodic phrases. The four songs on these pages use all of these elements and more. These hymns, all of which will be included in the new supplement Sing! A New Creation, are excellent choices for the Lent and Easter season. They transcend race, culture, and musical tradition, and are enjoyed by those who sing them.

May 31, 1999

According to the Revised Common Lectionary, most of the Sundays from September through November fall under the general heading “Ordinary Time.” This designation is not meant to imply that these weeks represent an unimportant part of the Christian year. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Ordinary Time is a valuable reminder that the Christian life is an everyday vocation and is not reserved simply for special occasions.

March 1, 1999

The liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter take lots of time and energy. By the time Ascension Day and Pentecost come around, sometimes our energy is waning. The school year is coming to a close, choirs are finishing up, and we are looking forward to the freer time of summer. Suddenly Ascension Day is upon us. Since Ascension Day and Pentecost are two of the major religious holidays of the year, they deserve some special musical attention.

March 1, 1999

This is the second of Hawn’s three-part series on global music.

MUSIC IN COMMUNITY: CONVERSATIONS WITH A WEST AFRICAN "TALKING DRUM" INSTRUCTOR

[The] community dimension is perhaps the essential aspect of African music. . . . [Africans] do not want to distinguish the audience from the musicians at a musical event. (1)
—John Miller Chernoff

August 31, 1998

While on vacation, a member of my congregation attended a jazz worship service that she enjoyed immensely. She wondered if we might try something similar. I had heard about jazz worship services but wasn't sure how to put one together. To take a regular order of service and insert jazz music into it seemed ill-advised, yet so did a radically altered worship service that bore little resemblance to what normally occurs on Sunday mornings.

August 31, 1998

The songs selected here are on the working list of a supplement scheduled for release in the year 2000.

TWO ADVENT HYMNS
As the Deer
May 31, 1998

On the first Sunday of October, increasing numbers of churches participate in World Communion Sunday, a time when Christians everywhere celebrate what it means to belong to "the holy catholic church, the communion of the saints." Indeed, the church is the one body of Christ, our head. In Holy Communion, we most deeply celebrate our oneness in Christ.

May 31, 1998

During the past generation, a wealth of new worship songs have been written. Many were inspired by the reforms of Vatican II during the 1960s, when the Roman Catholic Church translated their liturgy into the vernacular and began to encourage congregational singing. It should come as no surprise, then, that many of those new songs assume both Word and Table every Sunday. Also, since most Protestant churches celebrate the Lord's Supper more frequently than they did a generation ago, most hymnal sections on the Lord's Supper have steadily increased in size.

December 1, 1997

Planning worship for Good Friday is a challenging pastoral and theological task. How do we begin to acknowledge the power and the mystery of the cross of Jesus Christ? How do we proclaim, even on Good Friday, that Christ is crucified and risen? What emotions are appropriate to express? Do we rejoice or do we weep?

Three Typical Approaches to Good Friday

A quick study of thirty or more printed orders of service in my files suggests that most Good Friday services feature one of three strategies.