STJ#1067, Mother Earth, Beloved Garden

One of the things I love best about pagan ritual is the embodiment of creating sacred space. It’s not just about entering a room and calling it sacred, it’s about being present to the physicality of the room, recognizing our connection to and grounding as part of creation, and visualizing the protective and enlivening presence of …

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STJ#1066, O Brother Sun

Rejected intro paragraphs: This makes me think of Greg Greenway, Joe Jencks, and Pat Wictor – the members of the musical group Brother Sun. Except they’ve broken up now, and any memory I have of them has nothing to do with the song. It’s nice to have a song that’s good to call the directions with…except…wait… …

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STJ#1064, Blue Boat Home

FREEBIRD! Let me explain (updated 1/22/2018): at General Assembly in Louisville in 2013, despite terrible cell reception, many attendees endeavored to live tweet the events as they unfolded. On Friday morning, we sang Blue Boat Home. Friend and colleague Hannah Roberts made a comment to her friend Meredith Lukow, who tweeted: … because like “Freebird” by …

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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#1027, Cuando el Pobre

One of my favorite December Sundays is the one a minister designates as “Mitten Tree Sunday.” For those who haven’t experienced this wonderful service, it begins with a Christmas tree on the chancel, empty but for some lights. Often, the Candace Christiansen story that inspired the service is told, other times different stories about giving …

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STJ#1020, Woyaya

This song has been in the water for me since the late 70s, when somewhere (maybe Girl Scout camp?) I was taught the piece in the style of Art Garfunkel from his 1973 album Angel Clare. Sometime in the early 1990s, I sang a choral version that had the mark of Sweet Honey in the …

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STJ#1019, Everything Possible

Things I wonder: Do some congregations sing this together fairly regularly? Do some music directors and ministers flip past it because it is somewhat complex if you don’t know it already? Do others flip past it because in 13 years we’ve learned that binary language is too restrictive? Does composer and colleague Fred Small have …

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STJ#1012, When I am Frightened

Back in the 1980s, there was a series of commercials produced by the group Partnership for a Drug-Free America that became memes before memes were a thing; perhaps most famous is the “this is your brain on drugs” one, featuring an egg in a hot frying pan. But in second place is the one featuring a man …

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STJ#1004, Busca el Amor

There’s a terrible film from 1999 called The 13th Warrior featuring Antonio Banderas playing a 10th century Arab ambassador to northern Europe; he somehow finds himself included in a group of Vikings setting out to deal with a threat in a distant Viking land.  At the start of this quest, Banderas understands no Norse and …

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STLT#411, Part in Peace

Hmmm. I really don’t have much to say, because I don’t know how I feel about this one. (Also, I’m squeezing this reflection into a day full of fall house cleaning.) What I can tell you is the lyrics, by Sarah Flower Adams (of Abide with Me fame), set to the Charleston tune (which you …

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