STJ#1058 Be Ours a Religion

I want to start with a word of gratitude for the STJ hymnal commission, who thought to include some short responses in this slim volume. It would have been easy to only include bigger songs and hymns, but they knew (probably because most of them were music directors themselves) that we needed fresh music to …

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STJ#1050, Jazz Alleluia

As I have mentioned before, I love an Alleluia. And as I have mentioned before, I love music in 5, whether it’s 5/4 or 5/8, as we find here. And as I have mentioned before, I am a huge fan of composer Tom Benjamin. So there’s not much left to say, except this is a perfect storm …

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STJ#1039, Be Thou with Us

I’ve been wandering around the house for the better part of an hour, singing this sweet little piece by Tom Benjamin, with two questions on my mind: First, what can I possibly say about this piece I quite like, when it’s short, theologically and ethically sound, and just plain pretty? Second, and perhaps more importantly: is …

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STJ#1036, Calypso Alleluia

Happy Christmas Eve – let’s sing an Alleluia! A number of years ago, Tom Benjamin (whose work graces many pages of both hymnals) put out a collection of 62 Responses, Benedictions, Introits, and Chalice Lighting Songs, which add music to many elements we think of as spoken. Some are short, some are longer. Some are …

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STLT#323, Break Not the Circle

Just before I opened the hymnal, I saw a Facebook post from a dear friend who asked ‘But what if this world runs out of lovers? What then?” Then for me was opening the hymnal to this wonderful hymn, reminding us to draw the circle ever wider, because – as Susan Frederick Gray has reminded us, “no …

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STLT#124, Be That Guide

This is a beautiful benediction. A sustaining send-off. An alliterative affirmation. What I love about the lyrics is the acknowledgement that this work is hard, and it’s always been good. Something I’m not entirely certain I noticed until now, as many times as I have sung this. (Another favorite of my former minister’s, plus another …

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Give Them Not Hell

A Time for All Ages John Murray and The Winds of Change by Christy Olson and Jessica York Sermon True or false: In April of 1775, Paul Revere rode through the streets from Boston to Lexington yelling “The British Are Coming”. True or false: The Declaration of Independence was signed by everyone on July 4, …

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Talkin’ bout your generation

You may be looking around your congregation wondering “who are these people, and why can’t I lead them?” Every generation has its own style, flair, needs, and triggers. Churches, more than most other places, are significantly multigenerational, which means we’re often trying to serve as many as five different generations with one set of programs, …

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