Making Music with Jeremiah

Posted on August 18, 2023

It may seem odd to others why I would write and record an entire album from the Book of Jeremiah. As a singer-songwriter who writes music for the Church, this certainly isn’t typical. Many albums, especially of music written for worship, focus on themes within Scripture, but rarely does an album focus on one book…

Hymn Guide: Tell Out My Soul

Posted on August 14, 2023

Tell Out My Soul is an elegant and fun-to-sing paraphrase of Mary’s Song from Luke 1:46-55. Written in 1961 by Anglican Priest Timothy Dudley Smith, the hymn draws its title and opening line from the New English Bible published in the same year. The New English Bible was controversial for its use of contemporary idioms….

Hymn Guide: Be Still My Soul

Posted on July 8, 2023

Little is known about the life of Catharina von Schlegel, the 18th-century German author of “Be Still My Soul.” She was likely never married, which may have appealed to her unmarried translator, the 19th-century English hymn writer Jane Laurie Borthwick. Then there’s another striking similarity: Borthwick’s most famous hymn is “Come Labor On,” which, like…

Hymn Guide: Joyful, Joyful

Posted on June 21, 2023

“Joyful, Joyful” is a hymn so classic that it sometimes feels cliche. Presbyterian clergyman Henry van Dyke wrote the text alongside the Ode to Joy, from the finale of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. But inside this familiar topic, set to a familiar tune, there is unexpected theological substance. It does not treat joy as mere happiness….

Hymn Guide: And Can It Be

Posted on June 7, 2023

Charles Wesley was an Anglican Priest and itinerant preacher who wrote around 6500 hymns in his life. One of the first and best was “And Can It Be.” Likely written shortly after his evangelical conversion in May 1738, it reflects a personal relationship with Jesus through the experience of spiritual rebirth. Charles published “And Can…

Hymn Guide: St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Posted on June 3, 2023

St. Patrick’s Breastplate is one of the great hymns of the church, sung especially for Saint Patrick’s Day, on Trinity Sunday, and at baptisms, confirmations, and ordinations. It is an Old Irish prayer of protection called a lorica, and the text is attributed to St. Patrick or his followers in early Celtic monasticism. Literally, lorica is…

Hymn Guide: Zadok the Priest

Posted on May 6, 2023

Zadok the Priest is a choral work by George Frideric Handel, and one of his four Coronation Anthems. It adapts the text of 1 Kings 1:38-40, which recounts the anointing of Solomon as the King of Israel, by Zadok the priest. Written for the crowning of George II in 1727, this anthem has been used in every British coronation…

Hymn Guide: The Angel Gabriel

Posted on March 25, 2023

“Gabriel’s Message,” also known by its first line “The Angel Gabriel from heaven came,” is a hymn often sung at Christmas or the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25. Originally a folk carol from the Basque Country in northern Spain and southern France, the English paraphrase was written in 1895 by Anglican priest Sabine Baring-Gould….

Hymn Guide: All Glory be to Christ

Posted on January 14, 2023

What happens when you sing a new set of lyrics to a tune everybody knows? Either the new lyrics fall flat, and you want to go back to the original words. Or, on a rare occasion, the new lyrics create an added dimension of meaning, not erasing the original but adding something new. Then everyone…

Hymn Guide: Mary, Did You Know?

Posted on December 24, 2022

Yes, Mary knew. Ok, it’s a bit more complicated than that. In this article we’ll consider “Mary Did You Know?,” exploring not only its history, but also seeking to answer the question the song asks. With lyrics by Mark Lowry in 1984, and music by Buddy Greene in 1991, “Mary Did You Know?” is a…