All posts filed under: Musical Culture

Imagining Musical Culture

Music was a primary reason that we became Anglican. Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on music for a series by Humane Pursuits. In this series, we’re addressing the ways that music shapes the soul and community and teaches us about the order of the world, as well as giving practical ways to build musical culture in the home, church, and wider community. Most of my thoughts on musical culture spring out of the influence of Ken Myers of Mars Hill Audio. My husband and I were his interns in the summer of 2012 and we are always aware of the debt of gratitude we owe to him. He is a major reason that we became Anglican (and don’t dread church every week). The first two posts have been just published. Imagining a Musical Culture In Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder remembers her Pa playing his fiddle as she waited to fall asleep. She “was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were …

Counterpoint & Marriage

I sat in the concert hall next to the only empty seat. The Bach Trios, with Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, and Edgar Meyer, had been sold out for months. The empty seat belonged to my husband. And, while I was listening alone to Bach, he was listening to the screams of our 9 month old as he drove around and waited for her to fall asleep. To explain how this happened would require too much background. But there really was no other way. In the weeks before the concert, my husband had started a great new job. And, while I was so thankful, I was also envious, comparing his new work environment with my limitations. Every toddler meltdown and baby night waking made me more frustrated. Knowing me, my husband saw I needed time to attend to beauty; and so, I ended up at the concert of a lifetime, with the music that my husband and I intensely love together, all by myself. And, that night, was an epiphany in sound. I remembered what I …

Holy Week Hymns (Or, When Nothing Else Gets Through)

If you, like me, are struggling with what it means to observe Holy Week as a parent, if you have little time to meditate in silence and find most of your observances to be hijacked by whiny toddlers, I was reminded today of the power God has given to music to reach and shape our souls (even when we are annoyed with our kids and foundering in Holy Week intentions). We sang the following two hymns during our Spy Wednesday service today and both managed to get through to my not-particularly-soft heart. Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power; Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour, Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray. See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned; O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained! Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross. Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet, Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice …

Why Community Needs Music

I recently wrote a piece for Humane Pursuits, in answer to their call for posts on community. I’m persistently, unceasingly thankful for our church community at Christ the King. And, I think some of the reason that we have grown to be who we are is because of our musical culture (mostly thanks to our priest, Fr. Wayne McNamara): At my husband’s big 30th birthday party, we sang the Doxology before eating, like we normally do in our church community. Later, a musical friend, dependable for understatements, dryly observed: “I like how we just sang the best rendition of the Doxology in the the greater Ohio area and it wasn’t any big deal.” We sing together a lot — not because our congregation is composed of vocalists; we’re actually extremely average. Instead, our church has slowly grown a musical culture because of our priest, who insists that the “congregation is the choir” (we are high church Anglican; so, for example, our “sung service” includes a lot of chanting and difficult hymns without time signatures). To make …