STLT#251, Silent Night

Dear Hymnal Commission: I love you. I am grateful for all the hard work and hard decisions you made. You have taken some chances that pay off, found music that is amazing, fixed troubling texts. And yes, your choices to shift some of the language in this carol was not unfounded, based on the much needed …

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STLT#250, purer than purest

Remember how I said some of the music in Singing the Living Tradition was not for congregational singing? Welcome to this beauty. Its complex lyric by E.E. Cummings, and its complex composition by Vincent Persichetti, make this an amazing piece for a soloist. Like the one from folk duo River’s Voice: This is haunting and beautiful …

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STLT#249, On This Day Everywhere

I may be burning out on Christmas songs. How do I know? Because normally, this is a favorite hymn tune, but this morning when started singing, I felt like I was dying a little inside. Of course, this is how I feel every Christmas season, when we are bombarded with this music nonstop for weeks …

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STLT#248, O We Believe in Christmas

Um…yeah. Wow. Okay. Um… hooboy. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Not because I’m in awe or enraged, but because, well, wow… someone actually turned this into a song? Like, for us to sing? You see, I sing these words and what I hear is a minister trying to explain to …

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STLT#245, Joy to the World!

As I continue this practice (and actually find myself nearing the halfway point), I have become overall less critical of the Hymnal Commission that put together Singing the Living Tradition. I’ve grown to understand the reasons for decisions they were making at the time, even if we judge by different standards 25 years later. (You …

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STLT#243, Jesus, Our Brother

This is a sweet little carol, which I have used for the children’s message at Christmas. It’s earthy, it’s sweet, it’s an old French carol set to an old French melody. It works. And for kids, it is a creative way to enter the story of the nativity, especially if you have a crèche with these …

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STLT#242, In the Lonely Midnight

It’s been all about the tune for me this morning. I know this lyric as a choral piece by composer and music director Michael Harrison – a beautiful setting of these lyrics that evoke the hope of the lyrics (the cascading voice thing that happens on “peace, good will” is gorgeous and the intricacies of …

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STLT#241, In the Bleak Midwinter

This is a beautiful hymn. The tune is just lovely, and I have heard dozens of lush arrangements. And sure, unless you grew up with this hymnal, this is not the version you know. But the good news is that according to Hymnary, pretty much every denomination has changed the words of Christina Rossetti’s poem, …

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STLT#258, Whence, O Shepherd Maiden?

Sometimes all hope of focusing on a spiritual practice goes out the window – not because of the world events, or because of some deep tragedy. No, sometimes all hope disappears because there is a young squirrel running around the house wreaking havoc. Including running across my legs at 5am. My sister’s been dealing with this …

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STLT#238, Within the Shining of a Star

Oh my goodness. It’s the morning of my ordination. Just think – tomorrow, you’ll be reading the words of The REVEREND Kimberley Debus… how about that? Anyway, on to today’s carol, which is a light little lyric set to a light little tune. I spoke about the tune back in February, where I found it …

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STLT#237, The First Nowell

I am of two minds this morning (that is, of the minds that are focusing on this and not my ordination tomorrow): The first mind is so glad this traditional English* hymn is in our hymnal, lyrics unabridged. It’s familiar, it’s fun to sing the chorus, and it has a wonderful focus on the first …

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