Archive for music

Other guests to share the feast

Rich Man and Lazarus Holman Pictorial Bible Salesman's sample

Rich Man and Lazarus
Holman Pictorial Bible
Salesman’s sample



As we gather at your table,
as we listen to your word,
help us know, O God, your presence;
let our hearts and minds be stirred.
Nourish us with sacred story
till we claim it as our own;
teach us through this holy banquet
how to make Love’s victory known.

Turn our worship into witness
in the sacrament of life;
send us forth to love and serve you,
bringing peace where there is strife.
Give us, Christ, your great compassion
to forgive as you forgave;
may we still behold your image
in the world you died to save.

Gracious Spirit, help us summon
other guests to share that feast
where triumphant Love will welcome
those who had been last and least.
There no more will envy blind us,
nor will pride our peace destroy,
as we join with saints and angels
to repeat the sounding joy.


Words: Carl P. Daw, Jr.
Words © 1989 by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188.

Tune: Raquel by Skinner Chávez-Melo

Canticle of the Turning

Christ Enthroned Book of Kells Trinity College Dublin

Christ Enthroned
Book of Kells
Trinity College, Dublin


I was feeling flat and tired one day when a Goshen college choir came on the radio to sing a rousing version of this hymn. The crowd roared their approval, and I too was energized. Turned around, if you will. The lyrics seem to me a curious mix of fury and tenderness, but not unlike the world itself. Perhaps that’s why people vary the tempo so much when they sing it. Meanwhile, I did find the creator’s blog and I’ll quote his thoughts below.

The idea of “turning” in the title was both a nod to the inner conceit of “revolution,” (derived from the Latin “volvere,” which means “to turn”) and to the message of Jesus’s preaching in all three of the synoptic gospels, the core message of which was, “Repent, and believe the good news.” “Repent” translates a Greek verb the noun form of which is metanoia, that is to say, a complete change of the self, of mind and heart, which might also be rendered as “turn around.”   — Rory Cooney


Canticle of the Turning
Author: Rory Cooney

1. My soul cries out with a joyful shout
that the God of my heart is great,
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things
that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight,
and my weakness you did not spurn,
So from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?

My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!


2. Though I am small, my God, my all,
you work great things in me,
And your mercy will last from the depths of the past
to the end of the age to be.
Your very name puts the proud to shame,
and to those who would for you yearn,
You will show your might, put the strong to flight,
for the world is about to turn.

3. From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
ev’ry tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread, ev’ry mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn.

4. Though the nations rage from age to age,
we remember who holds us fast:
God’s mercy must deliver us
from the conqueror’s crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forebears heard
is the promise which holds us bound,
‘Til the spear and rod can be crushed by God,
who is turning the world around.

Little David and the Chunky Flap Book

Little David and the Giant


Little David and the Giant is one of a series of “Bible Story Chunky Flap Books” put out by Random House in the 1990s. This one was written by Mary Josephs (is that a pseudonym?) and illustrated by David Wenzel.

Even when my kids were tiny I was incredibly picky about the Bible storybooks I bought. I had rules: no bad theology, no ugly pictures, don’t stray too far from the scriptural account. That excluded a lot of board books. Three Mary Josephs’ works passed my test and stood up to repeated reading: Little David and the Giant,

Daniel and the Lions (illustrated by Pamela Johnson)

Daniel and the Lions

Lions crop

and Jonah and the Whale (illustrated by Benrei Huang)

Jonah and the Whale

(I think that whale knows a secret.)

At about $3 for a board book that fits in your hand, you might not have expected a quality experience, but I really liked these Chunky Flap Books because their use of the flaps was fun and creative.

David Loaded Sling

Open the first flap to let the stone fly…

David slew the giant


And down Goliath goes!

Even the language is an occasion for happy discussion. How many books for 2-year olds include the word “slew?”

Just goes to show that sometimes there is treasure buried in the field, so keep digging!

Now, to add to the spirit of discovery and general merriment, here’s a jazzy song about Goliath with lyrics by J. Paul Williams and music by Joseph A. Martin. Everyone seems to enjoy singing this one. Hope you enjoy it too.

And why should kids have all the fun?

Goliath was a mighty man, he stood over ten feet tall.
Goliath was a mighty man, he had a lot of gall.
He laughed at David and David’s God
He made fun of old King Saul.
Goliath was a mighty man, but you should have seen him Fall.
Fee, fi, fo, fum,
Fee, fi fo, fum

Goliath was a mighty man, he was a warrior bold
Fee, fi, fo, fum,
Goliath was a mighty man,
fee, fi, fo
His temper uncontrolled
He laughed at David and David’s God
He made fun of old King Saul
Goliath was a mighty man
But you should have seen him,
Yes, you should have seen him,
O, you should have seen him fall.

Now you’ve made me mad. You are just a lad.
Birds and beasts will have a feast.. Prepare to meet your God!

David stood up to Goliath, he didn’t even have a sword.
All he had was five round rocks and the power of the Lord.
He put a rock in his old sling-shot and when that stone had flown,
It hit Goliath between the eyes and he..let..out.. a..groan!

Goliath was a mighty man, he stood over ten feet tall.
Goliath was a mighty man, until he lost it all.
He laughed at David and David’s God
He made fun of old King Saul
He wasn’t really great at all
You should have seen him
Yes, you should have seen him,
You should have seen him…… fall!

Born this day

Shepherds and angel glory

The Christ Child as told by Matthew and Luke
Made by Maud and Miska Petersham
Doubleday and Co., 1931.


Christ Child Petersham crop

The Christ Child as told by Matthew and Luke
Made by Maud and Miska Petersham
Doubleday and Co., 1931.



Methinks I see an heav’nly host
Of angels on the wing;
Methinks I hear their cheerful notes
So merrily they sing.

Let all your fears be banish’d hence,
Glad tidings I proclaim;
For there’s a Savior born today,
And Jesus is his name.

Lay down your crooks, and quit your flocks,
To Bethlehem repair;
And let your wand’ring steps be squar’d
By yonder shining star.

Seek not in courts or palaces,
Nor royal curtains draw;
But search the stable, see your God
Extended on the straw.

Then suddenly a heav’nly host
Around the shepherds throng,
Exulting in the threefold God
And thus address their song.

To God the Father, Christ the Son,
And Holy Ghost ador’d;
The first and last, the last and first,
Eternal praise afford.

Shiloh by William Billings, 1746-1800


Billings NewEnglandPsalms00bill_0008  Billings Newenglandpsalms title page bill_0009



Christmas Day in the Morning!


On Christmas Day in the Morning! Cover illustration by Antony Groves-Raines Carols collected by John Langstaff

On Christmas Day in the Morning! Cover illustration by Antony Groves-Raines
Carols collected by John Langstaff


I can’t imagine celebrating Christmas without music. These joyous illustrations come from On Christmas Day in the Morning! a book of carols gathered by music educator and founder of Christmas Revels John Langstaff. The witty pictures were created by Antony Groves-Raines, an Irish artist especially known for his advertising work for the Guinness company.  To get in the spirit while you look at the pictures, listen to Orla Fallon’s rendition as you scroll down.

Angels making music half title page


Christmas Day



Christmas Day right

As the revels end, the angels pack up their instruments, climb what must be Jacob’s stepladder, and bid us adieu.


Angels packing up

Detail verso page

Merry Christmas!

Every tongue confess

Five Joyful Mysteries

Five Joyful Mysteries
from Catechetical Scenes: Grace and Holy Baptism by Rev. M. Coerezza, S.D.B.
Salesian Catechetical Centre c/o Tang King Po School, Hong Kong, 1957.


Conversion of Saul

The Conversion of Saul
from Catechetical Scenes: Grace and Holy Baptism by Rev. M. Coerezza, S.D.B.
Salesian Catechetical Centre c/o Tang King Po School, Hong Kong, 1957.



These pictures come from a 17-volume series of catechetical pop-up books created in 1957 by the Salesians of Don Bosco, a Roman Catholic religious institute whose primary focus is on Christian education of young people. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the Salesian Society’s work this way: “In carrying out its principal work, instead of the old punitive or repressive system, it adopts the preventive one, thus promoting confidence and love among the children, instead of fear and hatred.”


Catechetical Scenes dust jacket

Dust Jacket blurb Catechetical Scenes



And while we’re visiting Asia, here’s a Christmas anthem from the Cheung Lo Church, Church of Christ in China.


Title: In Bethlehem A Babe Was Born (有一嬰孩生在馬槽)
Words / Music: John Carter
Chinese: 劉永生
Arrangement: 陳供生
Date: Sunday Service, December 23, 2012
Choir: Cheung Lo Church, Church of Christ in China (中華基督教會長老堂)



Glimpses of eternity

Rosa Celeste: Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven, The Empyrean Artist: Gustave Doré Image: Wikimedia Commons

Rosa Celeste: Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven, The Empyrean
Artist: Gustave Doré
Image: Wikimedia Commons



Today we remember the contributions of three English composers: William Byrd, Thomas Merbecke, and Thomas Tallis.  Tallis holds a special place in my musical heart. He makes me hear the angels.



Spem in alium
I have never put my hope in any other
but in You,
O God of Israel
who can show both anger and graciousness,
and who absolves all the sins of suffering man
Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth
be mindful of our lowliness


O God most glorious, whose praises art sung night and day by thy saints and angels in heaven: We offer thanks for William Byrd, John Merbecke and Thomas Tallis, whose music hath enriched the praise that thy Church offers thee here on earth. Grant, we pray thee, to all who are touched by the power of music such glimpses of eternity that we may be made ready to join thy saints in heaven and behold thy glory unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


What kind of world…

One of things that I enjoy most about the lectionary is the way a particular grouping of readings will set me to thinking. It’s a bit like a puzzle; a springboard; an invitation.

So let me offer you a few passages. They set me to thinking, what is the true nature of this world? Is it worth the trouble? Does it matter? Some days the answer comes easy, some days it doesn’t, and even on the easy days, the answer’s not always the same.


Exodus 16: 2-15 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”


Job 3  Why is light given to him that is in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul,
who long for death, but it comes not,
and dig for it more than for hid treasures;
who rejoice exceedingly,
and are glad, when they find the grave?


Jonah 3 – 4

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.  And he prayed to the Lord and said, “I pray thee, Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repentest of evil.  Therefore now, OLord, take my life from me, I beseech thee, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?


Philippians 1

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.



Sunday night relaxing with Tony and Wyatt Rice

I am a pilgrim and a stranger
Traveling through this wearisome land
And I’ve got a home in that yonder city, good Lord
And it’s not, not made by hand

I got a mother, a sister and a brother
Who have gone to that sweet home
And I am determined to go and see them, good Lord
Over on that distant shore

As I go down to that river Jordan
Just to bathe my weary soul
If I could touch but just the hem of His garment, good Lord
I believe (good Lordy I believe) that it would make me whole

Radiant gladness

At my church we sometimes sing a hymn which so clearly illustrates the way music can be stitched together across centuries and nations. The melody is a terrific German folk tune (which Brink and Polman’s Psalter Hymnal Handbook describes as “a sturdy tune and an able harmonization” that “calls for energetic art singing.”). You may know it best as “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” or perhaps “O Day of Rest and Gladness.”

The words for “O Day of Radiant Gladness” come from three different sources. The first two stanzas are a reworking of Christopher Wordsworth’s 19th century hymn “O Day of Rest and Gladness.” The third stanza comes from Charles P. Price,  a Pittsburgh native born in 1920 who became a professor at Virginia Theological Seminary. The final stanza isn’t credited to a single author, but is ©1982 Church Pension Fund–which is to say, the Episcopalians.

I love the way this hymn rejoices in the Sabbath as a day of triple light: each Sunday reminding us of and participating in creation, Resurrection Day, and Pentecost. A joyful Sabbath is a foretaste of heaven. Honestly, it just thrills me to stand with a congregation and sing these thoughts.

Alas, YouTube didn’t have a good version of the hymn for me to share with you, so I’ll let you listen to the original German song while you read along. Perhaps–if you don’t know German very well–you’ll catch a bit of the feeling.

O day of radiant gladness,
O day of joy and light,
O balm of care and sadness,
most beautiful, most bright;
this day the high and lowly,
through ages joined in tune,
sing, “Holy, holy, holy,”
to the great God Triune.

This day at the creation,
the light first had its birth;
this day for our salvation
Christ rose from depths of earth;
this day our Lord victorious
the Spirit sent from heaven,
and thus this day most glorious
a triple light was given.

This day, God’s people meeting,
his Holy Scripture hear;
his living presence greeting,
through Bread and Wine made near.
We journey on, believing,
renewed with heavenly might,
from grace more grace receiving
on this blest day of light.

That light our hope sustaining,
we walk the pilgrim way,
at length our rest attaining,
our endless Sabbath day.
We sing to thee our praises,
O Father, Spirit, Son;
the Church her voice upraises
to thee, blest Three in One.

Tune: Es flog ein klein’s Waldvögelein (Woodbird). German folk tune, first published in the 17th c.

Text: Stanzas 1-2, Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1855), alt.;
stanza 3, Charles P. Price (b. 1920);
stanza 4, Hymnal 1982.