"Great Is Thy Faithfulness"

In 1923, Thomas O. Chisholm (1866-1960) wrote a poem about God’s faithfulness to us,  based on the scripture found in Lamentations 3:22-23. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Thomas Chisholm’s life began in a Kentucky log cabin…

"Called As Partners in Christ's Service"

There are things in my life that remind me of the people in my life.  It could be a recipe, a style of shoes, a particular color, most anything really.  Often, it is a song. In some of the churches I have served, the pastor selects the hymns to be sung by the congregation.  Pastors,…

"When Morning Gilds the Skies"

In Psalm 34:1, David proclaims, ” I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” (NIV)  To praise God morning, noon and night, and by everyone, everywhere, is exactly what the author of When Morning Gilds the Skies had in mind.  The original German text of fourteen stanzas first…

"Agnus Dei" (Georges Bizet)

Talk of recycling or repurposing often includes tires, newspapers, pallets, books (shudder!), cooking oil and plastic bottles.  What does that have to do with music?  Of all man-made things, music is surely towards the top of the list of things that have been recycled.  A few notes, a phrase, a theme or entire song may show…

"Precious Lord, Take My Hand"

Have you ever had one of those seasons when it seems everything you touch crumbles and everything you try to do fails?  Me, too.  Have you had the kind of tragedy in your life that took your breath away, shook you to your core and you couldn’t imagine how to go on? I have, and if…

"Trumpet Voluntary" Henry Heron

Imagine what the keyboard of a piano looks like.  Whether an upright or grand, a piano has one set of keys.  Now imagine what an organ looks like.  Most people visualize multiple rows of keys (called manuals) which are played by the hands, and one big set of keys on the floor (called pedals)  which are…

"People, Look East"

As a church musician, I’ve heard the complaint that the songs of Advent don’t seem as joyful as Christmas songs.  I’ll agree that some of them can feel a little heavy.  After all, Advent is a time of reflection and preparation, and reflections and preparations don’t always come easily or lightly.  Then along comes People,…

"Comfort, Comfort Ye My People"

The hymn, Comfort, Comfort Ye My People, has been around for hundreds of years, but it may not be as familiar as some hymns of the same age.  Why?  Maybe because we only sing it once a year, during Advent.  Maybe because some congregations do not observe Advent.  Maybe, sadly, because some congregations no longer sing hymns. French…

"We Gather Together"

Think of the main dish on the menu for Thanksgiving.  You probably thought of turkey.  Think of a hymn about Thanksgiving.  You probably thought of We Gather Together.  Did you know that the words “thanks” and “thanksgiving” do not appear in the hymn?  Although it is a song of praise for the blessings God gives, it…

"Eternal Father, Strong to Save"

I’m nervous around water.  Not the water-in-the-sink kind of water, but the it’s-over-my-head-and-I-can’t-swim kind of water.  Water makes a lot of people nervous.  Storms make a lot of people nervous.  Storms on the water can be downright terrifying.  Have you ever had any storms in your life?  Those can be terrifying, too. William Whiting was the headmaster of…

"For All the Saints"

Some churches celebrate the Feast of All Saints on November 1.  Others set aside the first Sunday in November as All Saints Sunday.  As predictable as singing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve, those congregations will be singing “For All The Saints” sometime in early November.  The day is set aside to honor departed saints, whether known or unknown.   This…

"Come, Ye Disconsolate"

Turn on the evening news and your home will be invaded with images of war, disease, famine and cruelty.   These stories aren’t just from some distant land.  It doesn’t matter where you live.  Every nation, state, province, county and town has its own version of corruption, lawlessness and injustice.  And if that isn’t enough, many families turn on one another…