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#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#1063, Winter Solstice Chant

I’m sure there is someone who loves this piece. I’m sure there is someone who isn’t bothered by gendered language. I’m sure there is someone who thinks four verses makes a chant. I am not that someone. Children of the Earth, we have come to sing to each other, Sister to Brother, songs of our …

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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#1052, The Oneness of Everything

I don’t know if it’s still true, but I remember in high school learning a bit about quantum physics – enough at least to know that physicists at the time weren’t sure if the universe is made of particles or waves. (Google suggests that there’s now an uncomfortable acceptance of a duality, but that’s a …

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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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STJ#1041, Santo

I suspect this piece doesn’t get used much in our congregations. The reason is probably that it’s in Spanish and is unfamiliar. And that’s too bad. I’d rather the reason be that we don’t often preach on Oscar Romero and liberation theology, or that we don’t often use any part of a Catholic mass in …

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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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