Easter 2024

30 September 2007
orchestra - playing the

It seems to me that being a good soloist ultimately comes down to how you play your ensemble.

Take Augustin Hadelich, the young, Italian-born winner of the 2006 Indianapolis Violin Competition whom I heard perform Saturday. He played well, and with character, but there was a certain self-centeredness to his interpretation of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto. The tempo of each phrase was seemingly chosen with regard to how Hadelcih wanted his instrument to sound -- and the tempi fluctuated wildly.

This was distracting for me, as an audience member, because it seemed random. Maybe Hadelich doesn't really believe the Tchaikovsky is a worthy concerto and that he must put his own stamp on the piece for it to be effective. Or maybe he just has to be sure that his Gingold Strad will speak optimally at all times.

Either way, it seemed that Hadelich made these changes at the expense of the orchestra. I don't mean that he didn't talk about his ideas with the conductor ahead of time, I simply mean that the accompaniment didn't figure significantly in his decisions. To my thinking, this self-centered approach is a mistake.

As an organist, a soloist with a choral ensemble, if you will, I know that I play my best when I "play the choir" and the play to the choir's needs. Now granted, in modern terms, I am a soloist, but I could be considered an accompanying "ensemble".

I know that I am still learning to play the choir, and that it's not easy, but listening to Hadelich brought this concept into focus for me. Mature players are not musically self-centered, which actually brings the focus on their playing.

Life is better when we all get along.

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29 September 2007
Center - delicious Bovina

Here's a culinary tip from the New York Times for employees of Lake Delaware Boys' Camp in Delhi, New York:

It's Heaven, a bakery and café in Bovina Center (yes -- named after cows), just about 10 minutes from camp.

Oh, and the owners are one of those worldly model/photographer couples.

Fashion’s Just a Job; Baking’s a Destiny

Yeah, I'm bringing the animated .gif back. They're totally in style this season. You know you like it.

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28 September 2007
Liquida - Tibia

More about the Tibia Liquida (see yesterday's memory - aided by alcohol) from Barry Oakley on this discussion of Odd Gadgets on Organs:

The idea to incorporate a Tibia Liquida at St Paul's, Newcastle-under-Lyme, came from the late John Norris who was organist at the church for more than 40 years. He saw the device on a cathedral organ in Germany (can't remember the name) during a holiday there. When the St Paul's Hill organ was rebuilt and enlarged by George Sixsmith & Son during the last decade, John requested they incorporate such a facility on the new console. It's been cleverly designed and constructed, featuring interior illumination and is complete with lead crystal glasses and a selection of miniature strong stuff. It used to be replenished on a quite frequent basis.

The "cathedral organ in Germany" seems to have been the instrument at Ratzeburg Cathedral. It had another feature as described in the same discussion by Jim Treloar:

As well as the drinks cabinet at Ratzeburg Cathedral, I seem to recall that the organist there was also a part time fireman and he had an emergency light fitted in case he was needed on the fire engine. It's over 25 years since I was last there but I understand it activated in the middle of a service once and he disappeared much to the surprise of those in the congregation expecting an introduction to a hymn.


27 September 2007
memory - aided by alcohol

A new study finds that moderate drinking is good for memory.

At last, rationale for the "tibia liquida" (look under Accessories) on the organ at St. Paul's, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The way I understand it, this stop knob opens a secret liquor cabinet on the console (saw this in an organ periodical a while back).

There's a good bet that the organist there plays from memory.

What with the blurry vision and all.


26 September 2007
Osteen, Joel - better than you

Mega-pastor Joel Osteen is all mega-smiles on the cover of his new book.

It seems that if you are living "your best life" you are, in fact, better than other people.

Hooray for mega-Christianity.

Elsewhere: Don't be without your creepily pagan "I worship Joel Osteen" fish.


25 September 2007
Seltzer, Daniel - organist serial killer

Organists everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief: a man who killed two organists is not going anywhere soon.

Suspect charged, 26 years after Mishawaka man's murder


24 September 2007
liturgy - five year old Presbyterian draft

I found this draft of a liturgy stuck in my Presbyterian Hymnal Companion. It's dated September 22, 2002 (the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time).

It's like my very own predestined time capsule!

The names of the innocent have been removed. The definite article has not.


        Welcome! The prophet Isaiah reminds us that "those who 
wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up 
with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall
walk and not faint" (40:31).  Let us claim that wonderful promise
as we present ourselves humble before God.



* HYMN NO.492                Bunessan

One: Come to the fountain of life.
All: Come to the streams of mercy.
One: Come, dip in the reservoir of forgiveness,
All: Immerse yourself in the waters of healing.
One: Come, be renewed by the eternal springs.,
All: Be filled with overflowing blessing.
One: Come, walk beside still waters,
All: Be empowered by the rivers of justice.
One: Come, all you yearning for meaning, 
     hoping for truth, thirsting for God.
All: Here, find your thirst quenched and your joy expanded.



    Loving Jesus, strong Shepherd, your love for us reaches
from the cradle to the grave.  there is no place or time or
situation in which we are cut off from your care.
    Remind us of that love whenever we doubt our own worth,
forget our blessing in baptism or act out of fear or anger.  Forgive
us for finding life boring or predictable, filled with routine and 
sameness when you have placed us in a garden.  Turn our world
upside down occasionally and surprise us with grace and joy.
Keep us forever amazed at your love.  You restore our souls and
lead us to the house of love.  Amen.

Leader: Jesus gave the most extravagant gift of all -- the
        offering of himself for us.  Through this selfless gift, we
        are set free, and our sins are forgiven.
People: Thanks be to God!

THE BAPTISMAL HYMN NO. 498                 Kingdom
        "Child of Blessing, Child of Promise"

Sacrament of Baptism




        Pew Bible        New Testament Pg. 21-22
        "The First& the Last"

HYMN NO. 338                African Melody
        "Kum ba Yah"

    Lord's Prayer Pg. 16 (Traditional)
    Choral Response




    Generous God, thank you for the gifts you bestow upon us 
daily.  Make us aware of each blessing that comes our way -- and
create in us the constant desire to be blessings for others.  Bless 
what we bring before you, we pray.  Amen.

HYMN No. 525                Isaiah 6-9
        "Here I Am Lord"



**The Christ Candle is brought in at the beginning of the service 
symbolizing the light of Christ that we seek to be illuminated by during 
the service.  The Christ Candle is taken out at the end of the service 
symbolizing the light of Christ that we are able to take with us out into 
the world.  

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20 September 2007
Sibelius, Jean (1865-1957) - 50th anniversary of the death of

The earth has been without Jean Sibelius for 50 years.

[He] was returning from his customary morning walk. Exhilarated, he told his wife Aino that he had seen a flock of cranes approaching. "There they come, the birds of my youth," he exclaimed. Suddenly, one of the birds broke away from the formation and circled once above Ainola. It then rejoined the flock to continue its journey. Two days afterwards Sibelius died of a brain haemorrhage, at age 91 (on September 20, 1957), in Ainola, where he is buried in a garden.

Janne, we love your music and we cherish every note you left us.

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors.

We miss you.


18 September 2007
club - gay clergy Communion

The first rule of gay clergy Communion club is that you do not talk about gay clergy Communion club.

Archbishop calls secret service for gay clergy to halt slide towards schism (from Times Online)

(And the second rule of gay clergy Communion club is like unto it . . .)


17 September 2007
fish - small (Mendelssohn)

Congratulations to organist Scott Montgomery, who gave a recital in Charleston, West Virginia. A reviewer had this to say about the slow movement of Mendelssohn's Sonata No. 3 in A Major:

For me, this is where the music began. He handled the work like one might prepare a small fish, very gently.

Justice, Rick. "Organ concert series begins with promising performance". Charleston Daily Mail 17 September 2007.

Um, what?

There's nothing fishy about Marilyn Mason's 60 years of service as a Professor of Organ at the University of Michigan.

A Houston music critic has a different fish to fry in his defense of traditional music and liturgy.

Though traditional Christian liturgy and music may seem flattened by the steamroller of "praise and worship" and other contemporary styles of worship, they remain the backbone of historical Christian services. Their roots lie in orders of worship formed at the start of Christianity and, for Western European and American denominations, music as old as the Middle Ages.

Ward, Charles. "A sacred tie that binds. Houston Chronicle 14 September 2007.

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16 September 2007
communion - chocolate chip

Earlier today, Scott encounters Apostles Church (New York NY) with a free, seemingly heaven-sent granola bar.

For a minute on the subway, I was afraid my Judaism would cause the granola bar to react to my stomach like holy water to a vampire, but I took my chances. No heartburn yet.

According to their obnoxiously-designed website, Apostles Church NYC believes in proclaiming Jesus, assimilating believers like in Star Trek, developing leaders, renewing the city, and planting churches, which is my favorite part. I imagine little sapling churches springing up in Central Park trying like hell heaven to sprout a few buds before the athiest [sic] lawnmowers plow them into oblivion, laughing maniacally.

The Body of Christ: Now with Chocolate Chips! from in the what?

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15 September 2007
segregation - hymn tune

Always pioneering in our hymnological research, we at are using Google to research the tunes associated with "In Christ there is no east or west".

Before we begin, however, please note that many hymnals (and web authors) credit the words of this hymn to John Oxenham, the author's pseudonymn.

We're thinking here of the tunes ST. PETER, which seems to us to be the mainline, evangelical choice, and McKEE, which is the upstart "liturgical hymnal" choice.

Google gives us the Cyberhymnal, which lists ST. PETER as the tune, with McKEE as an "alternate tune".

We must face the sad fact that when we stand to sing, "In Christ there is no East or West," we stand in the most segregated hour of America.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Oremus Hymnal, ever the Anglican choice, lists McKEE first, and another tune, ST. BERNARD, about which I cannot say I know anything.

Christian Web Resources (UK) lists ST. STEPHEN as the tune, but the MIDI file plays what I know as ST. PETER. There might be naming confusion here.

The blog Hymns of the Spirit Three, about a hymnal of the same name, lists McKEE in this entry.

Of course, the wonderful thing about a Google search is that you can run across a wide variety of sound and video.

These video results reveal the popularity Josiah Fahey's McKEE arrangement among folk musicians (note the ASCII tablature at a domain named after him). It's popularity was likely helped by guitarist Leo Kottke.


Google also cleverly pulls up books these days. And here's where things get a little interesting.

ST. PETER is the tune of choice in the 1919 Hymnal for American Youth. This is noteworthy, because the text to "In Christ there is no east or west" was written in 1913, and some sources don't have it coming to American hymnals until 1925, at which point it is apparently sung to ST. PETER. This Hymnal for American Youth is copywritten in 1919, and the copy digitized by Google appears to be a 1922 edition.

Am I actually doing groundbreaking hymnological research using the internet? Can someone check me on this, please? Have I just moved the earliest known American publication of this hymn up three, possibly six years?

Presumably "In Christ" was first published to ST. PETER, as it is in this early source. Harry T. Burleigh wed the hymn to McKEE in the late 1930s, in time for publication in the Episcopal Hymnal 1940. But now the groups that share interest in McKEE are guitarists, mainline protestants and Episcopalians. How exciting.

It seems that McKEE is a tune that knows no east or west.

Bonus: points out that "In Christ there is no east or west" is best understood in relation to Kipling poem.


11 September 2007
Dudamel, Gustavo - exciting leadership of

It looks as though the Venezuelan Olympic team has taken a detour from the opening ceremonies to the Royal Albert Hall in London. They might still be in their track suits, but you should still hear/see what they do.

(Thanks Alexis!)

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09 September 2007
Watts, Isaac - lost verses of "Jesus shall reign"

Have you heard these lost verses of "Jesus shall reign"?

Behold the islands with their kings,
And Europe her best tribute brings;
From north and south the princes meet
To pay their homage at his feet.

There Persia, glorious to behold,
There India shines in eastern gold,
And barb’rous nations at his word
Submit and bow, and own their Lord.

Where he displays his healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more.
In him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.

Eloquent Christan triumphalism and thinly veiled anti-Semitism anyone?

See the complete hymn in the Harvard Classics, Vol. 45, Part 2.


weekend - busy liturgical

Here's a breakdown of the services I was at this weekend.

Saturday: 2:20, 0:50

Sunday: 1:15, 1:20, 1:50.

That's 3:10 on Saturday, and 4:25 today.

I've been in liturgical events for seven hours and thirty-five minutes in the last two days.

Does life get any better than this?


04 September 2007
17,013 - the power of

I like Drew Carey, who now hosts "The Power of 10" on CBS, but I doubt he's ever read anything by Lutheran theologian Marva Dawn. In several of her books, Dawn draws our attention to a disparity between what we know and what we do. Dawn shows us that our postmodern society's information-based economy causes us to have Low Information-Action Ratios. The acronym here is LIAR.

We hear nightly reports about hunger, disease and suffering all over the world (even in our own neighborhoods?), and we do nothing about it.

On "The Power of 10" this evening it was revealed that, according to a survey, 38% of Americans have driven a car after having too much to drink.

What bothered me about the announcement of the survey result on the game show as that not a single person in the studio was bothered by this figure. Everyone was smiling, happy to see that the contestant had guessed correctly.

Things are getting worse from what Dawn wrote about. There's no reaction, let alone action. Low Information-Action/Recation Ration (LIARR).

Usually Drew Carey is not afraid to offer some commentary on the figures, but who can blame him for hesitating when both our President and our Vice-President have driven while intoxicated, not to mention Paris Hilton and her entourage?

The problem with this game show format is that it takes very serious information, like this drunk driving statistic, and presents is solely as entertainment. This instance is perhaps a perfect example of "infotainment".

But I for one am not entertained by the 17,013 deaths from alcohol-related collisions in 2003.

And if the fact that more than 46 people per day die in alcohol-related collisions remains buried in the applause, we will, in the title of Neil Postman's book, be "entertaining ourselves to death".

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03 September 2007
paper - toilet, "Hallelujah" Chorus

I've often found myself making the case that the "Hallelujah" Chorus is overused.

Tonight, I heard the piece in question used in a Charmin ad. Charmin, in case you have forgotten, sells toilet paper. The add campaign features red and blue bears, as does the website. As far as I can tell, colored bears have no bearing (!) on the use of this piece of music, but there it is nonetheless.

The use of Handel's music here is an aberration, but it proves my point that society has commandeered this piece of music in its ongoing worship of consumerism. If it's being used to sell things (let alone being used to sell toilet tissue) it should only be used very carefully in our liturgies.

we worship a God who is both strong and soft

Marva Dawn would probably point out the device/commodity relationship in the advertising here. The chorus here functions as a "device" that produces the "commodity" of good feelings about toilet paper.

Here, the ad sets up the choice of strength versus softness. Perhaps the chorus summons up a feeling of victory over the other bath tissue brands who have failed to provide for our society's desperate need for this distinction. "At last!" we say. "Strong and soft paper! Charmin saves the Jew and the Gentile alike! Halleluja!"

Naturally advertising is about us, but Handel's music is not. How ironic is it that we worship a God who is both strong and soft? A dialectical tension that cannot exist in material things does exist in our God. Music describing this multifaceted God is stripped from its subject/object and given to the service of material things.

It's not our fault, but the "Hallelujah" chorus has been tainted. Because of its cultural connotations, however, church musicians must employ it judiciously. After all, we aren't in the business of "selling" the resurrection, are we?

This Charmin ad in particular is a hard sell for me. Didn't King George II stand up when he heard this music? It seems to me that the product in question has more to do with sitting down.

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©MMXVII a site for fun and prophet

Organ and church music, esoteric liturgics, and a site that changes color with the liturgical year.


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The author of this website is an organist whom the New York Times calls “repeatedly, insisting that he pay for his subscription”. He likes to read parking meters, music, Indianapolis Monthly, and weather forecasts in Celsius, particularly whilst wearing cassock and surplice. He serves lasagna, overhand, as an example to many, and on ecclesiastical juries. He mixes salads, drinks, and metaphors. He takes photos, lots of dinner mints, and a little bit of time to get to know.




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