Thinking Out Loud

November 21, 2016

Make Bethlehem Great Again

make-bethlehem-great-again

Every year my wife performs at a really cool thing they do in our part of the world where people take a 25-minute walk through the various stations or aspects of the Christmas story called The Bethlehem Walk. After entering, groups wait in a waiting area until their number is called and while there, they listen to live music with choirs, soloists and contemporary bands performing Christmas-themed music.

Lately I’ve been joining her on some of these excursions, and this year I played two songs, and backed her on two; she did the rest herself. While doing a very hurried sound check, I asked the people in the waiting room how many were there for the first time, and then said, “We’re gonna make Bethlehem great again.”

People liked that line. After that, my contribution to the evening went downhill.

But she did well. Here’s a sample of her songwriting.

 

November 24, 2015

(Re) Introducing David Wesley

Filed under: Christmas, music — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:12 am

David Wesley Simply ChristmasSeveral months ago we took a day here to introduce you to David Wesley and his first  album, Basement Praise.  Now just three months later, David is back with Simply Christmas.

It’s not every day that I meet someone with 30,000+ YouTube subscribers who is also closing in on 4.8 million views. The music channel has flown him to the west coast twice in recognition of his song stats. David lives in the same part of the world as I, where he is mild-mannered reporter by day and video superstar by night. (Well, not the reporter part, but he has another life.)

On the first album he sings multiple parts which are also recorded for the videos. Offering the latter for sale is prohibitive because of the royalty structure, but many fans — including people who already own the album — would be willing to buy the visual versions if they could. On the new album, one song (see below) is also filmed that way, while the others have embedded links for purchasing individual songs or the entire album.

And this is where you come in. After listening to a few songs below, you can probably think of someone who would appreciate David’s unique sound, and there are links where you can download his music. (Physical CDs also exist for retailers or quantity buyers.)

Or you might just want to keep it all for yourself! Sit back and enjoy some early Christmas music:

 

 

YouTube: DavidWesley on YouTube

Facebook: David Wesley Music

Physical CDs / Retailers: Collide Media


Physical CD: http://www.collidemedia.ca/…
iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/ca…
CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/CD/da…
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Simpl…
Google Play: http://play.google.com/stor…

June 27, 2015

The Hallelujah Chorus Tradition

 

Hallelujah Chorus

This weekend we’re re-posting two of this blog’s all-time most viewed posts, and today’s couldn’t be more different from yesterday’s. It looks at the tradition of audiences standing during the playing of Hallelujah from Messiah by G. F. Handel. Unlike yesterday’s topic, this one also generated a lot of comments. If you want to leave yours, you’ll have to do so at the original posting, so that we keep all the responses together in one place.

Hallelujah Chorus: Should Audiences Still Stand?

We live in a world where many formal traditions are dying out. I was thinking a few days ago how the mug has replaced the cup and saucer. How a generation of North American men don’t know how to tie a tie. How the courtesy of a reply to a letter has gone the way of the dinosaur. So what about this seemingly quaint tradition involving a popular classical choral work?

Wikipedia tells us the origin of the tradition under consideration here:

In many parts of the world, it is the accepted practice for the audience to stand for this section of the performance. The tradition is said to have originated with the first London performance of Messiah, which was attended by King George II. As the first notes of the triumphant Hallelujah Chorus rang out, the king rose to his feet and remained standing until the end of the chorus. Royal protocol has always dictated that when the monarch stands, everyone in their presence is also required to stand. Thus, the entire audience and orchestra stood when the king stood during the performance, initiating a tradition that has lasted more than two centuries. It is lost to history the exact reason why the King stood at that point, but the most popular explanations include:

  • He was so moved by the performance that he rose to his feet.
  • Out of tribute to the composer.
  • As was and is the custom, one stands in the presence of royalty as a sign of respect. The Hallelujah chorus clearly places Christ as the King of Kings. In standing, King George II accepts that he too is subject to the Lord of Lords.
  • He had been dozing and woke with a start.

But it could be argued that, “that was then and this is now.” I mean, if historians can’t agree as to the why, it really leaves us with a tradition that is somewhat empty.

So, with Handel’s Messiah still being performed frequently — especially at Christmas and Easter — should audiences continue the tradition of standing for the Hallelujah Chorus? Turns out this is a very heated topic, now with over 50 responses. Be sure to read the comments and take a moment to add yours.


Comment highlights:

  • Handel’s Messiah has more entertainment value than that of liturgical worship…
  • …even if no one else stood with me, I would stand.
  • No one stood. I could not remain seated! I had to stand out of honor for my King. After several stanzas someone behind me asked me to sit down, they couldn’t see. I was so sad.
  • …we always seem to be dumping wonderful traditions.
  • I now find that it is very disruptive and halts the flow of the music. Not only is the magnificent introduction to the movement often drowned out by the noise of an audience rising, the final bars of the preceding tenor aria are often ruined by the shuffling of people in their seats waiting to stand.
  • It is absolutely nu-American to stand. Why are we still honoring the grandfather of George III? Read the Declaration of Independence.
  • There is nothing to say that we have to stand while the Hallelujah Chorus is sung, but there is nothing that says we have to say when our team scores a touchdown either, but we do.
  • I was told as a youngster that this was sort of the national anthem of music. We always stood. Went to Boston Pops Christmas concert today and no one stood.
  • Tradition and respect are two wonderful things which sadly are being diluted in today’s world
  • …current thinking is that King George II just needed to use the lavatory…
  • Just came from the full performance in one of the great acoustical halls. Disney in Los Angeles. The standing sheep seriously degraded the sound. (I got really mad at that one and suggested that the “standing sheep” are really “informed concert-goers”)

and many more.

December 18, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Church Stage Design Ideas - Harvest Chapel Christian Fellowship

One week to the big day, here is a mix of both seasonal and regular links. It’s exciting to think how many people get saved each week just reading these story teasers.Click anything below to read the list at Out of Ur, a blog of Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal

Upper Photo: From the blog Church Stage Design Ideas, a picture of Harvest Chapel Christian Fellowship in Bradenton, Florida. Click here for more.

Lower Photo: Unnamed church at a related website, VisualWorshiper.com uses a technique called Environmental Projection. Click here for more.

Environmental Projection from VisualWorshiper dot com

December 16, 2013

Christian Radio Stations and the True Meaning of Christmas

Christmas Banner 2

Because I spend part of my week in a Christian retail environment, I hear a lot from customers about their frustration trying to buy Christmas cards that contain anything even remotely resembling the Biblical Christmas story, and as I mentioned here a few days ago, the birth narrative from Matthew or Luke is just the beginning of what we, as Christ-followers, would want to convey.  Fortunately, the Christian bookstores — and their online equivalents — are able to offer products that aren’t about Rudolph, or Frosty, or one-horse open sleighs.

So now that we’re into the final countdown to Christmas, I’m at a total loss to understand how it is that the customers who so decry the secularization of Christmas can handle what Christian radio is offering during the final weeks of December. Biblical narrative? Idea that Jesus came to save us? Concept of God incarnate? Some songs, yes; but in many others that are sucking up valuable Christian radio airtime, it’s just not there to be heard.

Now let me say at the outset there are two realities present here.

The first is that successful Christian music artists either feel compelled or are compelled contractually to make a Christmas album. This provides them with extra visibility, extra radio airplay and extra revenue. And I’m sure that these artists really do have deep personal memories of song of these songs from their own childhood years.

Secondly, I realize that for Christian radio stations, they are most likely to attract new listeners at this time of year with a playlist that is more recognizable to the average listener. Maybe some of those new listeners will stick around in January, and hear the Good News in a way they’ve never heard it before. One of my favorite radio ministries is 96five in Brisbane, Australia. They play a mix of Christian and secular family-friendly songs that has earned them top ratings in their market.

Despite both of these realities, I believe there is an expectancy on the part of regular listeners, who are also in many cases financial supporters that the station will take the opportunity to communicate the message of the Gospel at this time of year. Furthermore, I think the broader community feels that in many ways they own lyrics like “Joy to the world, the Lord is come” in a way that they don’t relate to “How great is our God,” and are therefore quite content to stop tuning across the radio spectrum and allow their car radios to stop at any station that’s playing the traditional carol.

I’ve deliberately avoided mentioning names of artists or song titles here, but the one which grates on me (and others) most this year is a recording of a new song called “Merry Christmas, Baby.” Sorry, but there are so many better uses for that three minutes. I realize the song goes into what we might call vertical ‘worship-inclined’ lyrics — lyrics that can be taken two ways — but that isn’t clear to listeners in the context — and title — of the larger song.

There is also an argument for the radio formula where only one song in three is a Christmas song, and listeners traveling to the mall or to family events get to hear the kind of Christian radio that is broadcast the rest of the year, instead of re-branded “Christmas” format that disappears on December 26th. That strategy, is something my Christmas card customers would support. Right now they’re just bewildered.

What’s your relationship to the whole Christian Christmas-album genre?

December 12, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Ketzel The Cat Menorah
Happy 12-12-12

  • Ketzel The Cat Menorah can be ordered here and was discovered, with lots of other Hanukkah kitsch here. If you don’t know the story behind this symbol, read this.
  • Speaking of kitsch, I never thought the introduction this fall of Theologian Trading Cards — yes this really happened — would lead to people wanting to collect cards that have been autographed.
  • He seems a bit young, but someone has already written a Rob Bell biography.  Here’s another review of Rob Bell and a New American Christianity.
  • Mark Driscoll’s home state, Washington, recently legalized small-quantity possession of marijuana. He reflects on this, noting, “people tend to stop maturing when they start self-medicating.”
  • Di Jameikan Nyuu Testiment (the Jamaican New Testament) represents four years research work and US$350,000; funded by was the American Bible Society, Wycliffe Group of Companies, British and Foreign Bible Society, and Spring Harvest through the Bible Society of The West Indies. Read more about the Jiizas Buk here and here.
  • Jen Wilkin writes a must-read for parents on guarding Sabbath-rest for your children.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of someone buried in a glass-sided coffin especially here in North America just creeps me out; even if the guy was/is a saint.
  • Here’s a skillfully-written list by Rachel Held Evans of five things you don’t have to walk away from if you leave conservative fundamentalism.
  • If you show up on Wednesdays looking for pictures to use on your blog, you might want to get to know Catholic Memes (Facebook page) or Catholic Memes (website).
  • “In an irony of history, the time of spiritual preparation and silent waiting has become the busiest, most frenetic season of the year.” Read more from Philip Clayton.
  • Here’s an article I wrote a year ago about what was then the top news story for at least month, concerning a popular college football coach and his inappropriate relationships with kids too young to attend the college in question. It’s interesting to read this now that we know how the story ended.
  • And from exactly a year ago, Steven Furtick bats it out of the park at a Liberty Convocation. I am really enjoying this series.
  • A Jewish music preservation group sets out to make the definitive Hanukkah compilation and ends up with an album dripping with Christmas cheer.
  • And speaking of music, I don’t know who wrote this song, or who is singing, but it gets my award for most costume changes in a four-minute praise video. This had ‘zero views’ when I discovered it.

 

We Do Family

December 5, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday List Lynx

Wednesday List Lynx

Not only these, but there was a link list on Saturday as well. *UPDATE* 8:00 PM — Yes, I know about the PSY parody. We might run it here Friday. Click to watch Farmer Style. *END UPDATE*

Religiously Confusing Sign

  • The lynx is not alone this time: We end today with some book covers which appeared here in a 2008 post dealing with whether or not Fluffy and Fido will be in heaven. These are real books that were available for purchase when the post was written. First we took the Chuck Colson position that argues against animals in the afterlife. Then, four months later, in August, 2008; I was persuaded by the Randy Alcorn position which argues for furry friends, though not resurrected ones. Trust me, you could split a church over this topic…

Animals in the Afterlife

December 18, 2011

An Original Christmas Song

With a busy pre-Christmas schedule eating away at our time, the best I can offer this morning is a feeble attempt to boost the YouTube stats on our modest Christmas song video.

As I wrote last year, “It’s not the musical quality, or the recording quality; it’s just my wife and I with some extra time… and a desire to share with my blog audience a song I’ve been singing somewhere every Christmas for a rather long number of years.

“There’s something about the idea of  being home for Christmas; something about the fact the pace of life slows down for a day or two. No wonder that it’s so difficult for people who are alone on December 25th; being with friends or family seems to define the day.Which is why people where I live have revived the annual “Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day” for people who don’t have close family, or can’t afford all the trimmings of the season; people who don’t have a home to go home to.

“We didn’t have time to do this up as professionally as we might have, but I hope you’ll kick back and enjoy the song and its ideas. Most of the technical work was that of my wife, Ruth; who, on some of this, was learning on the fly. If we could ever cut loose from our individual projects, we could be the Christian version of Pomplamouse!

“Most important, I hope you’ll reconnect with the thought that the familiar birth of Christ narrative in Luke is the start of much, much longer story. One that continues into eternity.”

December 14, 2010

Hallelujah Chorus: Should Audiences Still Stand?

Filed under: Christmas, music — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:51 pm

We live in a world where many formal traditions are dying out.   I was thinking a few days ago how the mug has replaced the cup and saucer.  How a generation of North American men don’t know how to tie a tie. How the courtesy of a reply to a letter has gone the way of the dinosaur.

Wikipedia tells us the origin of the tradition under consideration here:

In many parts of the world, it is the accepted practice for the audience to stand for this section of the performance. The tradition is said to have originated with the first London performance of Messiah, which was attended by King George II. As the first notes of the triumphant Hallelujah Chorus rang out, the king rose to his feet and remained standing until the end of the chorus. Royal protocol has always dictated that when the monarch stands, everyone in their presence is also required to stand. Thus, the entire audience and orchestra stood when the king stood during the performance, initiating a tradition that has lasted more than two centuries.   It is lost to history the exact reason why the King stood at that point, but the most popular explanations include:

  • He was so moved by the performance that he rose to his feet.
  • Out of tribute to the composer.
  • As was and is the custom, one stands in the presence of royalty as a sign of respect. The Hallelujah chorus clearly places Christ as the King of Kings. In standing, King George II accepts that he too is subject to the Lord of Lords.
  • He had been dozing and woke with a start.

But it could be argued that, “that was then and this is now.”   I mean, if historians can’t agree as to the why, it really leaves us with a tradition that is somewhat empty.

So, with Handel’s Messiah being performed frequently at this time of the year, should audiences continue the tradition of standing for the Hallelujah Chorus? Be sure to read the comments and take a moment to add yours.

December 10, 2010

Enjoying Christmas Without Missing the Point

Regular readers here at Thinking Out Loud will notice something different today.   One of this blog’s distinctives has been not relying on video embeds for daily post content.   But the one I’m embedding today is somewhat special.

It’s not the musical quality, or the recording quality; it’s just my wife and I with some extra time on Wednesday, and a desire to share with my blog audience a song I’ve been singing somewhere every Christmas for a rather long number of years.

There’s something about being “home for Christmas;” something about the fact the pace of life slows down for a day or two.   No wonder that it’s so difficult for people who are alone on December 25th; being with friends or family seems to define the day.    (Which is why people where I live are reviving the annual “Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day” for people who don’t have close family, or can’t afford all the trimmings of the season.)

We didn’t have time to do this up as professionally as we might have, but I hope you’ll kick back and enjoy the song and its ideas.   Most of the technical work was that of my wife, Ruth; who, on some of this, was learning on the fly.   If we could ever cut loose from our individual projects, we could be the Christian version of Pomplamouse!

Most important, I hope you’ll reconnect with the thought that the familiar “birth of Christ” narrative in Luke is the start of much, much longer story.   One that continues into eternity.

Canadian readers:  Don’t forget you can still contribute to our Salvation Army iKettle.   Donations stay with your community.   More details here; or go direct to our iKettle.

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