Monday, December 29, 2008

Added a Link: Indelible Grace

I have added a link in the left sidebar that our readers might appreciate. There is a growing trend of musicians reaching back into the old hymns, much like the recent Christmas song I posted. There are also efforts at writing new hymns that can be sung authentically accross generations. That is, rather than writing music that divides congregations, these new hymn writers are seeking to write music that can establish a common ground for all generations. This is exiting to me, as I believe we need to be producing new music while appreciating and continuing the heratige of Christian music that has been passed down to us over many hundreds of years.

Here is a quote from Indelible Grace that gives a window into their goals:
We want to be a voice calling our generation back to something rich and solid and beyond the fluff and the trendy. We want to remind God's people that thinking and worship are not mutually exclusive, and that not everything worth knowing happened in the last three years. We want to invite the Church to appreciate her heritage without idolizing it. We want to open up a world of passion and truth and make it more that just an archaic curiosity for the religiously sentimental. We believe worship is formative, and that it does matter what we think. So, we hope this site will prove helpful in encouraging and nurturing a growing movement. We want to provide resources such as chord charts, CDs, and useful links. But we also want to share with you the stories behind the authors of the hymns, and in many cases the stories behind the writing of the hymns themselves, as well as theological reflections upon the hymns. We believe that this theological poetry is supremely suited for expressing the seeming paradoxes of the faith that drive us to worship.

They have a wealth of resources, even for those of us on the conservative end of the church music spectrum. For example, they have an online hymn book that includes chords for many great hymns, some of which many churches have often neglected and forgotten.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New (sort of) Christmas Song

Well, this has been an interesting week. The counseling course syllabus is almost completed, and the recording of our next cd continues to move along. Same old, same old...However, our readers might find this interesting: I have been wanting to write a new Christmas song, but how do you do that without being completely cliche?

I was researching ancient Christian writings (pre-780 AD) for the "History of Biblical Counseling" section of my class. One search turned up a hymnal of early church hymns, and I was intrigued. I began reading through a few of them and ran across this one:

By St. John of Damascus, 780 A.D.

Bethlehem rejoices!
Hark the voices clear,
Singing in the starlight
Nearer and more near.

Unto God be glory,
Peace to men be given;
This His will who dwelleth
In the heights of heaven.

Heaven cannot contain Him,
Nor the bounds of earth,
Yet, oh glorious mystery!
Virgin gives Him birth.

Now the light ariseth
In the darkened skies,
Now the proud are humbled
And the lowly rise.

I set my computer on the floor and pulled out my guitar to see if I could come up with a decent melody / harmony. The end result isn't exactly like the translation by Brownlie (above), since I did alter a few turns of phrase while I was writing the tune, but I am happy with the result. I will post a recording on our Facebook "fan" page later tonight, for those who might be interested in hearing it.

It was a lot of fun to perform it at a Christmas concert this last week, and we will be doing it again at a concert in Raleigh, NC this Saturday. As always, thank you for your prayers!