Friday, July 17, 2015

Dear Modern Protestant Pastor

I've recently been reading The Gift of Music: Great Composers and Their Influence by Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson. This book is a collection of short biographies (really, biographical essays) on the lives and works of many of Western classical music's greatest composers. The spiritual lives of the composers are a large focus of the book. In the chapter on Bach, Smith makes the statement (as have many others) that "if there had not been a Luther, there would not have been a Bach." This started me thinking: if modern protestant pastors love Luther so much, and enjoy sharing that love with others who are like-minded, why are they ignoring the music of Bach, who (like they) found his spiritual heritage in the Reformation?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Territory: Organ Offertories

During my recent trip to the state music teachers' conference, I picked up a couple of organ books by Gordon Young: Organ Voluntaries: Eleven Short Solos for Church or Recital, and Eight Organ Voluntaries on Familiar Hymn Tunes, both published by Theodore Presser Company. They are clearly a different style from what I usually play for the service (which would be Baroque-esque preludes or hymn arrangements), but majestic and perfect for Sunday mornings. From the first volume above, I recently played "Antiphon," a two-page selection with simple pedal points, modified by yours truly to be played with the left hand, since our church "organ" is actually a keyboard--no pedals available. Whether you have pedals or not, this is a lovely piece; and its form is conducive to repeats as needed, which makes it perfect for an offertory. I'm looking forward to checking out other pieces by Young in the coming weeks!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hymn Selections: Trinity Sunday through Trinity IV

As promised, here are some possible appropriate hymns for Trinity Sunday through Trinity IV. The numbers listed are for The Hymnal 1982.

My church uses 4 hymns in each service (in addition to service music, and two communion hymns), but some weeks will list additional hymns that would be appropriate for the occasion.

Liturgical Calendar Resources

In my last post, I discussed the selection of hymns according to the liturgical calendar. After writing this post, my priest found a couple of helpful reference books for me: A Liturgical Index to The Hymnal 1982, and A Scriptural Index to The Hymnal 1982, both by Marion J. Hatchett. These provide some assistance in the selection of hymns, but they are designed to follow the new 3-year lectionary, rather than the traditional 1-year that my church follows. The Scriptural Index will probably prove more helpful for me, since I can look up the passages we are reading for each Sunday and see a listing of appropriate hymns. The Liturgical Index will be helpful during seasons such as Advent and Lent, since the hymns selected would be more suited to the time of year than the specific scripture passage; but during seasons such as Trinity, which we are in now, the passages may be completely different.

If your church follows the 3-year lectionary (and uses this hymnal!), then by all means check out this resource! I intend to make use of these books as much as possible, and in the meantime, I will continue to keep track of the hymns I use throughout the year and compile my own resource, as I discuss in the post referenced above.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Help for the Liturgical Calendar

In the past year I have begun attending a church that follows the liturgical calendar. If you are in a church that follows such a calendar (most commonly Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran, Catholic, or Orthodox), you will be familiar with my context. I have previously written on the selection of hymns according to topic and to their placement in the service in this post. Most of those principles still apply in my new church (beginning with a hymn of praise, introducing new hymns one at a time alongside old favorites, etc.), but there are now additional considerations for selecting hymns appropriate for the theme of the worship service each Sunday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Music and the Power of Memory

Music and its association with memories is a common topic addressed in articles and blogs. It’s a beautiful, powerful thing. My dad was talking to me this week about how certain songs remind him of my mom. He’ll hear a song--and it can be any song, even a pop song--that they listened to together, and it’ll bring back memories of her. Music holds a powerful influence on our lives.

Because of this, music is one of the ways that the gospel message can be introduced and internalized in a believer’s life. I still remember Bible songs I learned in Sunday school when I was a little girl (books of the Bible in order? Go!). Psalm settings that we sing in Sunday worship help me to recall my favorite psalms when I meditate on them during the week, even when I’m driving or teaching, and I don’t have my Bible in front of me.

What are some ways to use this amazing power of music in your life and the life of your congregation?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Word of Encouragement

Do you feel frustrated as, week after week, you keep doing the same job, with no thanks from anyone? Do you ever get tired of the weekly drudge of trying to pick out hymns that somehow fit the obscure text your pastor chose (or worse, the same text as the last three sermons)? Why isn’t there a helpful hymn index, anyway? I know that for myself, it’s easy to fall into a rut of weekly frustration: “Did we sing this too recently? Not that anyone would remember, anyway….Do they really know this song? Do I feel like trying to teach them a new one this week?”