STLT#322, Thanks Be for These

One of the delights of being an active member and now religious professional in the Saint Lawrence District (upstate NY and part of Ontario) is getting to know Richard and Joyce Gilbert a little. They are so much a part of my story, in the way peanuts are a part of a Snickers bar – …

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STLT#320, The Pen Is Greater

I wish… I wish I felt better so I could really dig into this hymn. I wish I had looked ahead and scheduled a Hymn-by-Hymn conversation with Suzanne Fast about this hymn. I’ll just say that having had a conversation with Suzanne at General Assembly, I now understand how difficult this embracing our bodies without …

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STLT#318, We Would Be One

If this spiritual practice (and yes, I still consider it a spiritual practice first and foremost) has taught me anything, it’s taught me that we are an aspirational faith. Even those hymns which were once cutting edge and are now problematic show us the truth of our assertion that revelation is not sealed – as …

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STLT#315, This Old World

Am I the only one who sees the first line of this song and thinks of “Man of Constant Sorrow” from O Brother, Where Are Thou? Really? It’s just me? Can’t be. Anyway…  this is another one I have never sung, and likely never would have chosen because it’s got a title “This Old World” and is …

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STLT#69, Give Thanks

I looked at the title and started singing the hymn before I’d even gotten to the page. I knew this was another one of those wonderful Southern Harmony tunes, and I relished in it as I flipped open the hymnal. “What more can I say about Southern Harmony?” I said to myself. “I don’t want …

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STLT#66, When the Summer Sun Is Shining

What is it about the Southern Harmony tunes? There’s something that just gets me about them – they get inside me and speak deeply to my soul. In a recent episode of Krista Tippett’s On Being with Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, two amazing banjo players and musicians, Washburn talks about hearing Doc Watson for the …

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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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STLT#61, Lo, the Earth Awakes Again

And with one turn of a page, we enter the sublimely ridiculous. Yes, it’s time, in these last days of autumn, as the nights grow dark and cold, to begin singing our Spring and Summer songs. Because if spiritual practice teaches us anything, it’s to expect bizarre coincidences and juxtapositions. Plus, this is what I …

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STLT#55, Dark of Winter

This is such a gorgeous hymn, and a comforting one too. First, let’s talk melody – Shelley Denham knew what she was doing, writing a sort of lullaby to winter in a gentle 3/2. It is both simple to sing and delicious to sing. I imagine my college choir director reminding us to sing through …

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