A live recording of a bluesy version of this beautiful spiritual from this past Sunday.
A live recording of a bluesy version of this beautiful spiritual from this past Sunday (04.29) at The Gathering @5:50pm ( a new worship service at Glenn Memorial UMC where I’m helping to coordinate the music for the worship).
This musical arrangement carries melodies which convey the solemn, yet hopeful words and tone of this hymn, which many consider to be Watts’ finest & most recognized hymn.
This is by far one of my favorite hymns for the season of Lent in the Christian tradition. The original hymn text was written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)–one of the greatest hymn writers of the English language (more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Watts). The modern refrain in this version was co-written in the year 2000 by JD Walt (Theologian, musician, professor of worship at Asbury Seminary–link here) along with Chris Tomlin and Jesse Reeves (two rather popular christian musicians–link here). The refrain adds a humble call to action and submission to ‘come and die’ with Christ during this season of lenten preparation for Holy Week. There is also an amount of light shining ever so slightly with hints of the resurrection Christ and resurrection for us–the promise of Easter.
Although a variety of tunes can be used for this Long Meter tune (220.127.116.11–that’s 8 syllables in 4 lines), the original tune ‘Hamburg’ (#298 in the United Methodist Hymnal) is still my favorite. Hamburg tune was written by Lowell Mason a prolific hymn tune composer who is responsible for many advancements in music education (wikipedia info here). For me, this musical setting carries with it the more helpful melodies and notes which convey the solemn, yet hopeful words and tone of this hymn, which many consider to be Watts’ finest and most recognized hymn.
This is my own arrangement with the guitar tuned to DADGAG: a common Irish/Scottish/bluegrass tuning which allows for the playing of ‘melody’ while playing ‘rhythm.’
verse D Bm G D D G A D Bm G D D G A D // refrain G D/F# G D/F#G D/F# A D
I believe that there IS excellent, theologically diverse, musically interesting, contextually indigenous, and beautiful music out there–some of it helpful for Christian worship. The challenge as pastors and musicians is to seek it out, sort through it, exegete/dissect it, and make it work in our context/setting.
Let me first say that I’m very skeptical of much modern christian worship music.Secondly, I’mespecially skeptical of the “Contemporary Christian Music Industry”–which appears to be mostly concerned with certain (most often very conservative) theological/social perspectives, the music’s ability to play on ‘pop-christian’ radio, and the its ability to sell–that is, to make money. When every band in all of musical Christendom comes out with a “christmas worship album” it is hard NOT to see the dollar signs overtaking and obscuring the Gospel–as well as the context and beauty of music. This is not simply the music industry’s fault, but also the blame lies in our tendency towards laziness and sticking to what we already know. I believe that there IS excellent, theologically diverse, musically interesting, contextually indigenous, and beautiful music out there–some of it helpful for Christian worship. The challenge as pastors and musicians is to seek it out, sort through it, exegete/dissect it, and make it work in our context/setting.
It seems like I’m always having conversations with other musicians, ministers, and college students about music–specifically in this case about WHERE to find good music for worship services in the Christian tradition. That’s at least in part of why I began writing here and posting recordings and thoughts on songs, theology, and media.One such source I’ve discovered is Sojourn Music from Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY. Sojourn is a great example of contextualized, indigenous, and thoughtful church community that produces EXCELLENT music and art. (I first heard about them while in seminary at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Rev. Barbara Day Miller, Associate Dean of Worship and Music, gave me a set of their CD’s and an article about them she’d run across. I looked at the article and then listened to the music–it was excellent!) Their songs are influenced by variety of musical styles including blues, folk, gospel, and indie rock. After some further research I found that they are a member of the Southern Baptist Convention–a discovery which, as a moderate United Methodist, I found both shocking AND refreshing! Sojourn musicians have a fond appreciation for the hymns of Isaac Watts and do great justice to his words with the original music and with some new arrangements drawing on the native sounds of their context and congregations in Louisville. One of my favorites of their new musical arrangements is “Oh God Our Help in Ages Past” arranged byBrooks Ritter (a gifted musician and song writer with lots of play on Louisville local radio stations). Here is a link to their recorded version.
Finding good worship music is a part of the process–implementing it in a worship setting is often the next step: A few weeks ago we tried it out in worship with the college students at Emory Wesley Fellowship in our Sunday Night Worship service held at Glenn Memorial UMC on Emory’s campus. Here is the resulting recording with guitar, voice, and event some harmonica too.
Today is a day of prayer for Exploration 2011. Exploration is a gathering of people ages 18-26 who are discerning, wrestling, or just trying to figure out their call into ministry. It is a weekend of people gathering from all over the church to pray, worship, teach, learn, listen, and hang out with other people who are asking some of the same questions about ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. Exploration 2011 will be held in St. Louis, MO at the Millenium Hotel November 11-13. Registration is online and TODAY is the last day of earlybird registration!
And now, a prayer for exploration 2011:
you know all people and you have made all people in your image, you love us and know us and we thank you for your love and call upon all of our lives:
for all of us: a call to work, live, and love people.
And today we especially pray for those who are discerning your call on their lives
to Ordained Ministry as Elders and Deacons in the United Methodist Church.
We pray that you would guide, equip, lead, and develop them into servants of the whole church and the whole world.
We pray for exploration 2011–that your Spirit will be obvious and apparent to all who gather.
I have always loved taking pictures–since being a kid and capturing images using one-time-use cameras to “borrowing” my mom’s film camera…
I have always loved taking pictures–since being a kid and capturing images using one-time-use cameras to “borrowing” my mom’s film camera (a Canon EOS Rebel…which I STILL have in my possession…oops). Recently I’ve really enjoyed shooting video on my Digital SLR camera–formerly a Canon T1i and I have recently upgraded to a Canon 60D! (Christmas & Birthday until I’m 35 or so…). The video quality and the shallow depth of focus on these kinds of cameras is changing the way films are being made. Last year an entire episode of the TV show House was filmed on a Canon DLSR camera! They are also the tools of choice for amateur and aspiring film makers–both in the commercial and non-profit film world.
This spring and this summer I have had the privilege of working with a Design Team for Prepare 2011, which is a new collegiate minister training event (both meanings in there–it is both a NEW event and for those NEW to the field). The design team is made up of campus ministers and chaplains who are experienced veterans of ministry with college students. Prepare 2011, a mentor-based training event for those new to ministry with college students, will be held July 17-19th in Nashville, TN (a few days before the United Methodist Campus Minister Association gathering July 20-23 in Nashville, TN).
At a planning session back in April a few members of the design team allowed me to film a couple of quick takes about what to expect at Prepare 2011 and why new campus ministers and chaplains should come to Prepare. Using my Canon T1i and a 50mm 1.8 II lens I quickly captured a few minutes of video (literally we filmed the whole thing in 5 mins) and then created the following promo video. Enjoy.
Today was the first day of Refresh 2010: a 3 Day United Methodist Campus Ministry Conference.
Today (12.14) was the first day of Refresh 2010: a 3 Day United Methodist Campus Ministry Conference. This is the 5th Annual gathering of Campus Ministers & those who work with college students. The purpose of Refresh is to encourage and strengthen those who work with college students through prayer, worship, dialogue, & workshops. This year’s conference is being held at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas–home of lead pastor Adam Hamilton, who will be a keynote speaker on Day 3 of Refresh.
Things kicked off today with Rev. Olu Brown of Impact Church (Atlanta) as the keynote speaker and worship music led by Laura Story(author of “Indescribable” & other excellent worship songs). Olu brought a word entitled “Gifted” centering in on 1 Timothy 4:11-14–“These are the things you must insist on and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.”
Rev. Brown admonished the some 150+ campus ministers in attendance that each is uniquely gifted and he help us to to hear what Paul was saying to Timothy in the letter:
1) Stay Connected to God (it’s easy to become disconnected–if disconnected, RE-connect)
2) Remember who you are (both your identity & that you’re a child of God)
3) use what you have (your gifts & talents–as well as your innate abilities)
4) stay in the game (don’t give up on yourself or God)
Afterward we shared in a large group skype conversation/discussion with Trent Sheppard, author of God on Campus: Sacred Causes and Global Effects. The evening continued into dinner on the town and a chance for all in attendance to connect & re-connect with friends new & old. Refresh is sponsored by the Foundation for Evangelism and has the support of a number of other UM Agencies including the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry.
Many people have questions about death–about what happens afterward and about what things in our lives NOW will mean LATER. In this story, a group of religious leaders are asking Jesus about what happens in “The Resurrection”–about what it means for people later in light of what is happening now.
Many people have questions about death…about what happens afterward and about what things in our lives NOW will mean LATER. In this story, a group of religious leaders are asking Jesus about what happens in “The Resurrection”–about what it means for people later in light of what is happening now. All Saints Day is a time to remember those who have gone on before us and remember how they have shaped and are shaping our lives still. The scripture will be presented three times–each time will have a set of questions and a time to think, pray, and reflect.
the Intro: The group asks Jesus what becomes of one’s marital status after death and the supposed resurrection. According to Levite laws of the time, if a man were to die leaving a widower, his brother was then to marry the widower. This was practiced not only so the family of the deceased was taken care of and all property remained within the family, but also because they believed that the spirit and memory of the dead was carried on within relatives. Jesus says, as you’ll hear, that death is not the end—that God is a God of the living.
After the video: Today we affirm that the people who have impacted our lives—that they are alive and well in Christ through the resurrection and through our memories. Today we honor their memory through the lighting of candles—praying that they continue to impact our living Christ through remembrance of the impact they have had in our lives. I invite you to pray and reflect upon the memories of those who you consider saints in your life. May we continue to live our lives being shaped by and in their memory.
This video may be used (with permission) to help augment the reading of the Gospel text for All Saints Day (often celebrated the Sunday before or after Nov. 1). It was created by the Emory Wesley Fellowship and shown at our Sunday Night Worship Service on Oct. 31, 2010.
“That ultimate message of hope and healing…is the product of creative tension between awareness of painful oppressive circumstances and the simultaneous envisioning of a hopeful future. This is not a naive optimism, but rather a genuine inner transformation.” Arthur C. Jones
This is a sermon I wrote and preached on Sept 19th, 2010 at the 8:30am Service at Glenn Memorial UMC in Atlanta, GA for Glenn-Emory Day. I really enjoyed working on this one–special thanks to Rev. Michael Hunt for his collaboration and help in interpreting and working with the Spiritual “There Is a Balm in Gilead.” Great quote from author & musician Arthur C. Jones about There is a Balm In Gilead: “That ultimate message of hope and healing…is the product of creative tension between awareness of painful oppressive circumstances and the simultaneous envisioning of a hopeful future. This is not a naive optimism, but rather a genuine inner transformation.”
video of my sermon on Luke 24:44-53 (the Ascension of Jesus) May 16th, 2010 at Glenn Memorial UMC
As friends, family, and students have requested, here is the video of my sermon on Luke 24:44-53 (the Ascension of Jesus) May 16th, 2010 at the 8:30am Worship Service at Glenn Memorial UMC (glennumc.org) in the Little Chapel. (the audio is not super awesome–sorry)
For a pdf of the sermon’s text, click here (no plagiarizing please)