Monday, December 29, 2008

Joseph Funk Research Project

I was notified last week that I did receive the research grant I applied for! They awarded more money than I asked for, so they must have thought it would take more time than I thought, or my travel budget was unreasonably small.
I narrowed my research to two basic questions:

1. How does Funk's hymnal, the Harmonia Sacra, differ from other tunebooks, and why was it more successful than so many similar publications of the era?

2. What methods did Funk incorporate in his teaching and musical publications that made his efforts in spreading musical literacy so successful?

I have started to read through the material I got through my initial library search. I found a couple of published dissertations that look like they will prove very helpful. I'm hoping to get a lot of the reading done during Spring semester so I can travel to Virginia and Indiana early in the summer. That way I will have more of the summer to work on getting my research together.

It will be a lot of work, but I am very excited for this project!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why Every Christian Should Sing

I'm still working through Jones' collection of essays (Singing and Making Music: Issues in Church Music Today), and I just ran into another portion I thought was excellent and very applicable to the Church today. I would like to post a few quotes from his essay "Why Every Christian Should Sing."
Frequently I encounter men and women who say that they "do not sing." There are many reasons for their lack of vocal participation, but I have yet to hear one from anyone with working vocal folds that would be an adequate excuse before God. Fear is the least-cited but generally all-inclusive reason. It takes many forms: fear of error or embarrassment, fear of what others think, fear of losing control, fear of criticism, fear of offending others. Such self-conscious behavior may be appropriate to certain situations, or aspects of our person, but it has little place in the corporate worship of the Almighty God. God never said, "If you feel good enough about yourself, sing to me," or "As long as you have a peer-approved voice, praise me in song." According to Scripture, the praise of God is not an optional activity.

Most of the rest of the essay contains examples of singing saints in the Bible, specific commands to sing (mostly from Psalms and Isaiah), examples of heavenly beings singing, and of Jesus himself singing.
Jones ends the essay with a summary list of reasons we should sing:
We should sing because of God's attributes and acts in creation and redemption. We should sing because this was the exemplary response of biblical saints. We should sing because God has commanded us to do so. We should sing because it is a Christian and heavenly activity of eternal duration and significance.
If we do not sing, we disobey God and miss out on the rich blessings derived from this activity.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Paul S. Jones on the Mass

I have been reading Paul Jones' book Singing and Making Music: Issues in Church Music Today which was recommended to me by Mark Reagan. I am enjoying it very much so far! I ran across a paragraph on the Mass as way to organize worship, and I found it very refreshing after several discussions about worship styles and organizational techniques in my Music and Christian Faith class.
The Mass is a marvelous structure for organized worship--it is liturgy at its finest, imbued with Scripture, carefully honed and internationally utilized for centuries. It begins with acknowledgment of our need for God's mercy, moves into praise and thanksgiving, declares our faith, reminds us of God's holiness and the significance of the one who speaks in his Name, and finally confirms the finished work of Christ while recalling our daily need of him. We should not fear the Mass as liturgy but feel the liberty to employ it or elements of it to aid our gathered worship.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wake, Awake for Night is Flying

One of my favorite pieces we performed at my school's Christmas Concert this year was "Wake, Awake for Night is Flying." We have used it in worship for years at my Church, but practicing it so intensely and performing it made it make more sense to me.

Wake, awake, for night is flying;
The watchmen on the heights are crying:
Awake, Jerusalem, at last!
Midnight hears the welcome voices
And at the thrilling cry rejoices;
Come forth, ye virgins, night is past;
The Bridegroom comes, awake;
Your lamps with gladness take;
Alleluia! And for His marriage feast prepare
For ye must go and meet Him there.

Zion hears the watchmen singing,
And all her heart with joy is springing;
She wakes, she rises from her gloom;
For her Lord comes down all glorious,
The strong in grace, in truth victorious.
Her Star is risen, her Light is come.
Ah come, Thou blessed One, God’s own beloved Son:
Alleluia! We follow till the halls we see
Where Thou hast bid us sup with Thee.

Now let all the heavens adore Thee,
And saints and angels sing before Thee,
With harp and cymbal’s clearest tone;
Of one pearl each shining portal,
Where we are with the choir immortal
Of angels round Thy dazzling throne;
Nor eye hath seen, nor ear hath yet attained to hear
What there is ours, but we rejoice and sing to Thee
Our hymn of joy eternally.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Trinity's Lessons and Carols

My family went to the Episcopal Lessons and Carols service at the Portland Trinity Cathedral this Sunday evening. It has been a while since I attended a service at any Church but my own, but I think it is good to get out and see what the rest of the Body of Christ is doing.

We were all immediately struck with the beauty and glory of the sanctuary when we entered the church. The high ceilings, stained-glass windows, and wood and stone produce a different atmosphere for worship than most modern Church architecture. The Church was drastically remodeled in the past 25 years to accommodate the Rosales pipe organ.

The service, in spite of some of the bizarre readings (I don’t think Trinity is very conservative as far as churches go), was very good. It was a mix of readings, music by the choir, and carols for the congregation. The choral music was excellent, and it is always great to sing with an organ. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the congregational singing. Most of the people there were the age of my parents or older, but they seemed to know how to sing!
It was an excellent way to begin the Advent season.