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  • 2019 March 17: A Prayer in the Still of the Night

    March 17, 2019 10:30

    In the Old Testament we find the story of Samuel — a prophet who ultimately anoints David as King of Israel. At a young age Samuel is apprenticed to the priest Eli, and one night he thinks he hears Eli calling. Samuel comes running, and Eli says, "It wasn’t I, go back to bed." This happens again, and Eli tells him again to go back to bed. The third time, however, Eli is awake enough to realize that it is the Lord calling to Samuel, and Eli instructs him, "If he calls again, say: Speak! Your servant is listening!" Which is exactly what Samuel does — the Lord speaks, Samuel listens, and the rest, as they say, is history.(more )

  • February 17, 2013: The 'Volcanic' Side of Lent

    March 10, 2019 10:30

    Lent of course is a time of quiet reflection. And we'll have plenty of music along those lines. But to me Lent also has a dimension of titanic struggle—the opposite side of the same coin. This morning's Scripture includes the story of Jesus' temptation (wrestling with Satan himself no less!). In Mark's Gospel it says that the Spirit DROVE Jesus into the desert to be tempted. Another place in the New Testament where that same Greek verb is used is when Jesus DRIVES the moneychangers out of the temple. Seriously 'tough love' in both instances! And of course the titanic struggles of Lent culminate in Passion Week and Good Friday.

  • 2014 August 23: Rinse and Repeat

    February 24, 2019 10:30

    The 'chaconne' (sha-KONE) is a musical form consisting of a repeating bass pattern, or alternatively a repeating chord sequence, with variations carrying on all the while. Some scholars have argued that a 'chaconne' is a repeating chord sequence while a 'passacaglia' has a repeating bass line, but it's too easy to find contrary examples (composers being a contrary bunch, after all). The form was rather popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, and dropped out of use for a while (although Beethoven's 32 "Diabelli variations" are arguably an example). Meanwhile I'm thinking the form is reincarnating in modern times in genres as varied as Taizé (sacred music built on a repeating choral phrase) and rap. Some may argue that humanity's history is an ever rising line from the swamps to the stars (I'm frequently not so sure), but I think the history of music is definitely more circular — ideas come into vogue, fall out of fashion, and then return from the underworld in new garb for another go. As the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes, "There is no new thing under heaven." (more )

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