STJ#1074, Turn the World Around

I may be wildly speculating here, but I am pretty sure there isn’t a person my age brought up in the United States that wasn’t in some way inspired by/shaped by/comforted by/taught by/entertained by the Muppets. Now this is likely also true for people not in their early 50s, but I know that we who …

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STJ#1068, Rising Green

This may be one of the most elegantly crafted songs in our hymnals. I mean no offense to other composers who read this, or to those songs that are also beloved. But there is something absolutely wondrous in this composition by Carolyn McDade. On its surface, the song is another earth based song of praise …

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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#1065, Alabanza

From so much to say to little to say. (Which is, of course, the nature of spiritual practice.) This is a lovely tune, by  Pablo Fernández Badillo, a Puerto Rican lay minister and federal judge who held various positions in the Puerto Rican government. Yet it is his time as a missionary that led to …

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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#1060, As We Sing of Hope and Joy

I am torn this morning between heartbreak and duty: my duty to myself to follow through on this spiritual practice and write something – anything – in response to the day’s singing; my heartbreak over yesterday’s death of one of my cats, a 15 year old black cat named Chelsea who was found dumpster diving …

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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#1057, Go Lifted Up

Lord, the days are hard. No sooner do we wrap our brains around one major news story than another one, or ten comes barreling down on us. What we need is something warm and loving and sweet. Sometimes it’s a sweet song that is just what the doctor ordered. And to be honest, there isn’t …

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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#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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