A Vacation Project

While home for Christmas I received a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface. I’ve been looking forward to being able to record, but haven’t had the time to get it all set up and get all the software downloaded. Vacation has been nice and I had a nice block of time to get everything set up. Tonight was a learning process. The Scarlett interface is easy to figure out, but learning a powerful, but sophisticated DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software was a bit of a trick, especially when you want to get music coming out of it. With some patience and time I was able to record a nice version of 10,000 Reasons. I recorded a lead vocal with two background vocals, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and some electric. A cool benefit of using a DAW is having a click track, so everything lined up nicely. If you want to hear what I did click on the link below:

10,000 Reasons

My Favorite Songs of the Year

While I Wait | Lincoln Brewster
Scars | I AM THEY
Nobody | Casting Crowns w/ Matthew West
Only Jesus | Casting Crowns
Well Done | The Afters
Raise A Hallelujah | Bethel Music
Confidence | Sanctus Real
Red Letters | Crowder
O Praise the Name (Anastasis) | Hillsong
Reckless Love | Cory Asbury
Warrior | Hannah Kerr

2019 New Worship Songs

This is my annual list of “new” worship songs that I have found helpful in worship. After the six or so songs, there will also be a list of “newer” Christmas songs that I have enjoyed.

Hannah Kerr – Emmanuel
Phil Wickham | Great Things
Your Name is Power | Rend Collective
Is He Worthy? | Andrew Peterson
Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery | Matt Boswell
King of Kings | Hillsong Worship
Who You Say I Am | Hillsong Worship
Raise A Hallelujah | Bethel Music
Make Room | Casting Crowns w/ Matt Maher

End of the Year Music Post

Each year Pam and I put together a list of songs that we have enjoyed from the past year.  Now sometimes there is crossover from the year before.  The list of songs is in no particular order.  First up however is my nomination for Album of the Year

Matt Maher | Echoes

Probably that comes as no surprise.  This album is a well crafted album.  What I like about it is that Maher has taken the theme of the lyrics from several well known hymns and gospel songs and has redone them with new music and lyrics.  Just to give you an idea we have titles like “What A Friend,” “Faithfulness,” “Holy,” “Just As I Am,” “Awake My Soul (A Thousand Tongues). Each of these songs is based on a classic hymn.  Some of my other favorites are Your Love Defends Me (which will get listed below) and Least of These.

If I shared all the songs I like from this project you would have the whole album.

Here are Pam’s top choices for songs in 2017:

Even If | Mercy Me

Still | Hillary Scott

The Lion and the Lamb | Leeland

Forgiven | Crowder

Revival | Third Day

Run Devil Run | Crowder

Chainbreaker | Zach Williams

Home | Chris Tomlin

King of the World | Natalie Grant

Jesus | Chris Tomlin 

We Play Everything

This past summer we moved to a region known as the Twin Tiers.  The Twin Tiers consists of the Southern Tier, which are the counties on the southern border of New York State – roughly between Jamestown and Binghamton. NY-17, which is many places is now signed I-86 is known as the Southern Tier Expressway.  The Northern Tier are the counties in Pennsylvania border New York.

We have discovered that this is a unique region.  Our area is very rural – especially to the south of us.  There are even areas to our south that are designated as wilderness.  There are places in the area that don’t have any cell service.  I’ve been checking out the radio stations in the area and a few weeks ago, I came across one called “The Mountain.” Their tagline is “we play everything.” There is also another station that plays the hits, but plays them from several – meaning 4 or 5 decades.  In both cases, the mix results in an interesting mix.  We even have a Christian station in the area that plays the standard contemporary fare, but then mixes in classic CCM (think Petra, Sweet Comfort Band, and even some Kerry Livgren) along with some harder modern music.

I got to thinking about this as I have been driving – I drive for a local school transportation company, so I spend quite a bit of time during the day driving in an empty vehicle.  As I thought about it, I thought how that might apply to the music we do for worship.  It seems like for the most part, churches choose one style of music or another.  One of the things that I noticed is that very few worship leaders can blend various styles together well.  Yes, there are some, but they take some looking for.

I know that my kids have been spoiled by having their dad as a worship leader.  James and Anna have both mentioned that they don’t like to have to choose between “modern” and “traditional.”  I think that is one of the things that we did very well at Parkway – we blended modern worship songs, with modern hymns, classic praise and worship, gospel songs – old and new, and traditional hymns.  One of the things that helped the blend was to use the same instruments – it also helped that everything went on the screen and it was tough to tell what was in the hymnal and what wasn’t.  I’ve been to blended services that were very schizophrenic – meaning you went from one style (with one instrumentation) to another style with a different instrumentation – some songs out of the hymnal and some on the screen.  I think that added to the feeling of trying to jam two things together.

There are times when listening to the stations that play everything that the transitions are jarring.  When doing multiple musical styles in worship – that is always something that you need to watch out for.  I love trying to blend musical styles into a cohesive whole.  There is a great challenge pulling songs together that theme well – while keeping in mind the key structure – and making them sound like you are not jamming them together.  It’s not easy all the time, but most who have heard me lead worship, like the way I do it – and like I said above, I think I have spoiled my kids when it comes to worship.

I suppose one of the reasons that I like to do this is because people have been writing worship songs and hymns for centuries – I think when we choose to narrow it down to a couple years – especially one or two years that we do ourselves a disservice – that and we pretend like we know it all.  So I encourage you, to widen what you listen to – I know that I am a bit eclectic when it comes to music – and perhaps widen what you worship to – whether that means to acquaint yourself to the new music – or maybe it means to acquaint yourself to much older music.  That’s my challenge today.

Advent Songs

Advent songs.pngLast week, I told you that we were going to look at the songs of Advent.  Several years ago I wrote this article:

Advent Hymns

It was a little bit of a lament of the lack of Advent hymns and songs.  During this Advent, Pam and I have been working through the devotional “Waiting Here for You” by Louie Giglio.  He is one of the founders of the Passion Conferences.  He and Chris Tomlin and others are part of the Passion movement and have been responsible for a good amount of worship music.  The cool thing about this devotional is that Louie uses ancient songs for most of the Advent devotionals.  Occasionally, he will use something modern, but for the most part of of the Advent hymns that he quotes are from the 16th century or earlier.  One of the first that we discovered on this journey was “Creator of the Stars of Night.”  There is a video at the bottom of this post that is a new arrangement of this ancient chant and great Advent song.

In a light-hearted moment last week I said that maybe I should bring an obscure Advent hymn to church this week, which reminded me of this video:

I thought I would share some of my Advent “finds” with you.  Many of these finds are several centuries old and some are newer.

  • Celebrate Immanuel’s Name | Words: Charles Wesley | Music: Foundery Collection (1742) (AMSTERDAM) | | Public Domain
  • Come Thou Long Expected Jesus | Words: Charles Wesley (1744) | Tune: Rowland H. Prichard (1830) (HYFRYDOL) | | Public Domain
  • Creator of the Stars of Night | Latin Hymn – 7th Century | Music: Plainsong (9th century) (CONDITOR ALME SIDERUM) | L.M. | Public Domain
  • Hark the Glad Sound | Philip Doddridge \ Thomas Haweis | (RICHMOND) | Public Domain
  • He Comes to Us As One Uknown | Charles Hubert Hastings Parry \ Timothy Dudley-Smith | (REPTON) |  1973, 1984 Hope Publishing
  • Let the Earth Now Praise the Lord | Heinrich Held (1643) Translator: Catherine Winkworth | (NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND) | | Public Domain
  • Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending | Charles Wesley (1758) | Henry Smart | (REGENT SQUARE) | | Public Domain
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel | Words: Latin Hymn – 12th century | Music: Plainsong (VENI EMMANUEL)
              L.M. w. Ref | Public Domain
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten | Words: Aurelius C. Prudentius (4th century) | Music: Plainsong (13th century) (DIVINUM MYSTERIUM) | Public Domain
  • Once He Came in Blessing | Johann Roh (1544) | Michael Weisse, Gottes Sohn ist kommen,1531 | Public Domain
  • The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns | Words: Greek, tr. John Brownlie (1907) | Music: Annanias Davisson (1816) | (MORNING SONG)
    C.M. | Public Domain
  • Wake Awake for the Night Is Flying |  | Catherine Winkworth \ Philipp Nicolai | (WACHET AUF)
    Public Domain
  • Wait for the Lord | Communauté de Taizé
    1991, Ateliers et Presses de Taizé, GIA Publications, Inc.

I have also created a Spotify playlist with some great Advent songs idea. [link]

The First Day of Summer

Today is the first day of summer – it’s the longest day of the year.  The sun was up early this morning and this will be the latest it will set.  I just may see blue sky on both ends of this day.  To celebrate, I’m posting one of my favorite summer songs by Chicago, “Saturday in the Park.”