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#1054, Let This Be a House of Peace

There’s a thing that’s been happening in our congregations that is reflective of what’s been happening in our society: anxiety. Anxiety about the current administration – its real and sustained attacks on our principles and the real and sustained traumas we are experiencing – spill over from our personal lives into our houses of worship. …

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STJ#1051, We Are…

More than once during my years at Union Theological Seminary, I said to myself “what is my life even like?” because of some improbable experience or another. To be clear, I didn’t choose to go to Union because of the possibility of meeting important or famous people;- I went because of the possibilities awaiting me …

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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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STLT#368, Now Let Us Sing

It’s 24 hours since nearly five dozen people died and nearly 600 were wounded by a single gunman wreaking terror in Las Vegas. And I still don’t have words, only the heaviness in my heart that is both sad and outraged. That is, I suppose, why the Universe keeps doing this: putting cheerful, aspirational, hopeful songs …

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STLT#360, Here We Have Gathered

Now this is an entrance song. Welcoming in all kinds of ways, with nothing for us to …wait…nothing for us to be upset… oh … Dammit. It’s not as good as I’d hoped. “We of all ages, women, children, men, infants and sages, sharing what we can” reads the second verse. It uses binary language for gender. …

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STLT#359, When We Are Gathered

When it comes to film, there are genres and directors I am a fan of, those I dislike, and those I appreciate. For purposes of today’s post, I will say that I dislike horror and appreciate the director Robert Rodriguez – especially his masterful work on Sin City. Now, if you ever saw his film From Dusk …

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STLT#349, We Gather Together

On December 9th, this tune first appeared, and I suggested that “later in the hymnal, we sing the usual words.” Well, that ‘later’ is today, and while the first three words are the same as the usual words, that is where ‘usual’ ends. And so I stand here in my wrongness being wrong. And thank …

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STLT#347, Gather the Spirit

This hymn almost got ruined for me in 2009. That spring, Saratoga Springs’ minister, Linda Hoddy, went on sabbatical, leaving a congregation well prepared to hold the fort down. As chair of the worship committee, I was also on the sabbatical team, and after a fall spent ensuring we had all our ducks in a …

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STLT#317, We Are Not Our Own

Before I dive into the hymn, a few words about Charlottesville, since my only pulpit today is this one: I am certain I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said more publicly and eloquently by colleagues, friends, and admired public figures. But I too must proclaim this as loudly as possible, because we …

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STLT#65, The Sweet June Days

Another season, another praise for the season song. Color me surprised. Now don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a bad thing. Hymns like this are wonderful openings for seasonal services, especially those that celebrate our seventh principle. And the tune is delightful and lively – this is a perfect opening hymn for the first …

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