Posts Tagged ‘Episcopal’

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Happening and Worship Music

February 16, 2009

Just got back from Happening in New Jersey.   It was marvelous, one of the best I’ve been a part of!  One of the Spiritual Directors, Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton has some especially profound reflections on the weekend and, in particular, the music.

This is the second time I’ve worked with Elizabeth (I provided music for her parish’s youth service in November) and I’m always grateful for her welcoming grace towards this Texan.  Our work in tandem is kind of like the beginning of a bad joke (a Ft. Worth church musician and a Newark priest walk into a bar…), but it has been marked by mutual respect in a way that, I think, makes Jesus smile.  She says:

We agreed that it’s important for kids to get exposed to both [images of God]. Heck, it’s important that we ALL get reminded that God is, in fact, so glorious as to be beyond our wildest imaginings. No one has been able to get God to stay in our safe little box of who we think God is and what we think God is capable of doing in our lives.

I wish that more of the clergy in Massachusetts who clamored for my removal had her perspective and gracious spirit.  I used to want to tell upset priests that if the songs their kids merely sang with me turned them into misogynistic fundamentalists, perhaps they should reevaluate how convicting the teaching in their home parishes is.

It’s true that divine feminine imagery is sorely lacking in my repertoire.  I should devote more time to creating songs that a) illustrate the motherly character of God and b) motivate, excite and incite youth to praise the same.

I am, therefore, grateful for some of the Happening liturgies which nicely fit this purpose, allowing me to expand on the embedded theologies of New Jersey Episcopal students with images of a heavenly father (where some earthly fathers aren’t doing such a hot job) or a King of Kings who is far more deserving of our pride and allegiance than any earthly power.

Elizabeth and Tim (youth minister and cherished friend of Suzy and me) have done an incredible job in their ministry with the young people of Chatham.  It didn’t take much to get them fired up about God.  And that’s the kind of rich communal spirit that fills me with worship energy even after sleeping on the floor for a few hours a night.

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Essentials Blue Final Project (song)

February 11, 2009

[Skip to the bottom of the post for the recording…]

So, after five intense weeks of worship theology, we’ve all been asked to post a creative project, a response to our learnings that could possibly be of use to our spiritual communities.  Well, you can take the worshiper out of the Anglican  church, but you can’t take the Anglican out of the worshiper.   I’ve chosen to rework a quasi-classic hymn, originally titled “Rise Up, O Men of God”.  The text was written in 1911 by William Merrill, a Presbyterian minister who would undoubtedly hate what I’ve done.  I follow in a long line of hymnal revisionists who have toyed with the lyrics to change the text from an exhortation towards men (actual males, not mankind) to a more broad congregational spectrum.  My own spiritual upbringing was in a church that sang “Rise Up, Ye Saints of God” each year on the first Sunday in November (All Saints’ Day).

Below are my lyrics.  The first verse is [roughly] Merrill’s original, and I kept the last line of the second verse intact, but everything else was written by me (I think).

Rise up, ye saints of God; be done with lesser things
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
to serve the King of Kings

Rise up, ye saints of God; Earth’s suffering doth prolong
all join in bringing Kingdom power
to end the night of wrong

Rise up, ye saints of God; as Jesus on the cross
He died to cover all our sins
and make a way for us

Rise up, ye saints of God; as Jesus rose to save
triumphant over pain and death
King Jesus, o’er the grave

We’re alive, we’re alive
in King Jesus, we’re alive
rising up, rising up to view the breaking dawn
we’re alive, we’re alive
in King Jesus, we’re alive
rising up, rising up with all our souls to you

The call is to all people to awaken to and join in God’s work of resurrection.  It is not just future resurrection, but present.  God’s kingdom is not separate, but coterminous with ours and getting closer.  This hymn specifically calls us to consider Jesus as we go about this awakening.  We look to him as the example, the one who gave his life for the kingdom being lifted on a cross and was then risen from the dead as we and God’s creation will be.  We also look to Jesus as the executor of this coming kingdom; more than just an example, his death and resurrection actually triggered this intersection of worlds, cancelling human sin and defeating the power of death.  Boo-yah!!!

Finally, upon contemplating Jesus’ importance, we celebrate the life he has won for us and we proclaim him Lord, our king.  Just as early Christians said, “Jesus, not Caesar is Lord”, we say Jesus is deserving of our full allegiance.  He has given life and we follow him, ushering in the new creation.

Here is a recording. I wish I had more time to polish it, but this week is crazy at work and I won’t get to it for another week if I don’t post it tonight.

This is the chord chart

Please leave feedback of any kind.

For: The Institute of Contemporary and Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship Theology Course with Dan Wilt