STJ#1044, Eli, Eli

Happy New Year! In the words of Colonel Sherman Potter (M*A*S*H), “may it be a damn sight better than the old one.” If today’s hymn is any indication, it will be full of beautiful reminders that there is a love holding us. This haunting song, composed by David Zehavi, is based on a poem by an …

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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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STJ#1034, De Noche

One of the Facebook memes going around right now is about memories – namely, asking for people to post memories of you, with a fair bit of delight at the answers. If my friend and colleague Ashley DeTar Birt were to ask, I would be hard pressed to pick just one memory, as our friendship, which began the first week …

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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#1026, If Every Woman in the World

Among the lessons I have learned during this spiritual practice is that the hymnals of a denomination reflect history. Yes, there’s theological history, and certainly musical history, but there’s also a reflection of political and cultural history, if you pay attention. Singing the Living Tradition reflects the world as it was in the early 1990s …

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STJ#1024, When the Spirit Says Do

I feel like I have fallen down a strange rabbit hole this morning. I have to begin by assuring you all that I have no doubt about the excellent work our STJ hymnal commission did in gathering, researching, and arranging the 75 songs in this hymnal supplement. I recognize that we are always learning more, …

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STJ#1022, Open the Window

For about a dozen years, my mother lived on the Outer Banks of North Carolina – it’s how I got to the state too. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I would come in from the Raleigh-Durham area, and the rest of my family would come down from New York to celebrate the holidays. And on Thanksgiving …

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