Thinking Out Loud

January 16, 2018

Remembering Edwin Hawkins

Filed under: Christianity, music — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:30 am

If it was the musical Godspell that inspired me that contemporary music could be used to present a Christian narrative, then it was the Edwin Hawkins update of the classic hymn, “Oh Happy Day” which convinced me as a young kid that a Christian message in music could have a place on pop radio stations, especially with contemporary Christian radio being non-existent in 1968. With the chorus lyrics intact, this melody and arrangement was quite different than the version we sung at the Sunday evening services of my youth. From that point on, I felt the possibilities were endless.

Edwin Hawkins died yesterday at age 74.

The song was originally recorded as one of eight songs on an album by Hawkins’ group, The Northern California State Youth Choir. When local radio station KSAN in San Francisco started playing it, the song was picked up by Pavillion Records and distributed by pop music label Buddah — insert reference to the irony here — with the artist designation as “Edwin Hawkins Singers.” The lead vocal is by gospel singer Dorothy Combs Morrison. It’s a song of testimony and both the traditional and modern versions have been used in baptismal services, and for many it served as an introduction to the mass choir genre of gospel music.

An obituary at National Public Radio (NPR) notes, “Throughout his career, Edwin Hawkins won a total of four Grammys, and he was voted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2007.”

He taught me how
To watch and pray
And live rejoicing
Every day…
…Oh happy day…

 

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July 26, 2016

Gospel Choir Meets Classical Fugue

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:53 am

There are some great treasures to be found in the CD bargain bin at the local Christian bookstore. This is the title cut from We Proclaim Him by the Times Square Church Choir which I heard for the first time last night.

July 17, 2013

Wednesday Link List

noah-called

Actually, a little rain would be nice.

Week three of our Wednesday Link List adventure at Out of Ur, a blog of Leadership Journal which is a ministry of Christianity Today.  Just under 30 links this week…

Click here to read the list.

Given the weather system that has blanketed much of the Midwest and the northeastern States and adjoining provinces we thought this doctrinal outline from the Twitter feed of Church Curmudgeon was most appropriate, though we think the original was TULIP not TALIP:

Total Humidity
AirConditional Malfunction
Limited Grace
Irresistible Temper
Perspiration of the Saints

Maybe that describes where you live.

And just before you click over to Out of Ur, take a glance at this Bible app infographic from YouVersion:

youversion-app

July 9, 2010

Currently Reading and Listening

Currently Reading

  • The Last Christian by David Gregory.   Knowing this writer only for his two apologetic Socratic dialog books, Dinner With A Perfect Stranger and A Day With A Perfect Stranger — and their related movies — I decided to jump into this title to see what else he could do.   It’s a fairly thick book; 416 pages, as opposed to the other two which you can read in an hour.   Set approximately 75 years into the future, it deals with things such as artificial intelligence, jungle survival, and missions.   I’ve just started out and the plot moves fairly quickly among what is, at the point I’m at, a number of disjointed scenes.     You can find out more from people who reached the finish line here and here.
  • The Shack by William Paul Young.   I’m reading it again because it caused so much trouble after I read it that I decided to go through it again with a pen and mark pages that I felt were controversial.   However, I’m a few pages from the end and I have yet to underline a single line.   It’s not that the book didn’t raise a lot of debate and even anger, it’s just that the book in and of itself just isn’t as radical as the critics are making it.    I’m simply enjoying a second look at a simple story that somehow captivated readers of all stripes.   Is it a book for Christians or those seeking theological reading?  I answered that question here.

Currently Listening To

  • A Beautiful Exchange by Hillsong.   The Hillsong music formula and sound is fairly well established at this point, and you could say the album offers nothing particularly new.   It’s getting increasingly more difficult to separate the group Hillsong from its youth-ministry counterpart Hillsong United.   Many songs on this album are more like the latter than the former; to the point where I think some older Hillsong listeners may not appreciate this as much.   On the other hand, it’s nice to see such a variety of worship leaders on each of the various songs.
  • Declare Your Name by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.   This is a different kind of CD for us, but my wife got into mass choir music awhile back, so I picked this mostly for her.   With 14 songs, this is good value.   There are some of the expected solos, including some by guests Israel Houghton and Paul Baloche,  but it’s the pieces with the full choir sound that I enjoy the most.    This is worship music meets urban contemporary with results that should appeal to the audience of both genres.

January 25, 2010

Connecting With Our Worship Roots

By and by when the morning comes
When the saints of God are gathered home
We will tell the story of how we’ve overcome
And we’ll understand it better by and by

Last night we caught a concert by the Toronto Mass Choir that was also a fundraiser for Haiti.   It’s the second time we’ve seen them, but only the third time in our lives we’ve been exposed to the volume, the energy and the passion that goes into any kind of mass choir (read: black gospel choir) concert.    This is the music of the redeemed.

Director Karen Burke — who is, no kidding, a Professor of Music at Toronto’s York University with a job description that includes gospel — mentioned an event she’s putting together in Toronto in February titled “The Evolution of Gospel Music.”  This was featured nationally on CBC-Radio many months back, and presented as a one night stage show.   This time they’re doing it for two nights; introducing the birth of the spirituals and artists such as Tommy Dorsey and Mahalia Jackson.

Then she said something profound, to the effect that many people involved in the creation of Christian music today, “don’t know about anything that happened before 1990.”

That’s too bad.   I think it’s incumbent upon anyone who is leading worship today to know something about their roots.     (Here’s my mini-history if you want to catch up in a hurry.)    Frankly, I don’t see how anyone can pretend to do this without knowing where it’s all coming from, anymore than a pastor can lead a church without some minimal knowledge of church history.

I don’t know how much money was raised last night — they never said — but I know that this music is the tonic for tough times.    Haiti was mentioned several times, but the message was clear that God saw the earthquake and its aftermath and He is still sovereign.

This is the kind of music that will lift your spirits on days that minimalistic two-minor-chord worship songs aren’t cutting it.

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