My friend Jason VanDorsten has tagged me to share seven songs that I have enjoyed this week. I’ll try to fill up seven slots (you’ll see why in a minute). I view this as more than a silly fun thing to do, but as an opportunity to edify others by introducing music they may not listen to. Thanks, for giving me this opportunity, Jason.

1) Plans by Death Cab for Cutie
a. Soul Meets Body: Makes me think of the redemption of the body in the new heavens and new earth where we will not be floating spirits but soul with flesh ruling with Christ and ejoying a land where all things are restored!)
b. Crooked Teeth: This song is a good representation of how this group flashes images and metaphor across the ears
c. Marching Bands of Manhattan: These lyrics are wonderful! Expressions of love and sadness in words that are not cliche. Very creative. “If I could open my mouth/wide enouigh for a marching band to march out/they would make your name sing/Bend through alleys and bounce off of a building… I wish we would could open our eyes and see in all directions at the same time/Oh what a beautiful view/If you were never aware of what was around you. Chorus: Sadness drips into your heart through a pinhole/Just like a faucet that leaks and there is comfort in the sound/ While you debate empty or half-full it slowly rises/ You love is going to drown.)

2) “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane
(Again, the metaphor and images smack me in the face.) Does anyone know if he is saying ‘faith’ or ‘thing’ in the chorus “Oh, simple _____.” I opt for faith. It is much more powerful.)

3) Interview with Iain Murray on Pastoring

4) WFPK

5) Interview with CJ Mahaney on the Local Church

6) “Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Hornsby. Not that I have been relishing this song all week. I just heard a few hours ago and it brought back many memories from adolescence. It was a sweet minute of two humming with him. I didn’t even hear the whole song. Maybe the most enjoyable part was finding out what the song was saying. I had no clue he was saying ‘mandolin.’ I thought he was slurring ‘wind and rain.’ Also, to see that the images he was bringing to mind after heartache. And I’m trying to stretch out this list. Hey! I just finished parsing an album on this here blog!

7) As you can see I don’t listen much to music these days. It’s not that I don’t like music. More than anything I am extremely disappointed with “Christian” music. You could probably pick up on my tone in my interacting with Webb’s album Mockingbird. I mention how so much of music is a bunch of moaning with no real content. That is why I appreciate Webb’s work so much. Not only is it audible, but it challenges me to think ho wmy Christianity will affect my life.

I have found that much of the time I want to listen to sermons or interviews so I can feed my mind. As you can see with the above ‘songs’ I want to make the muscle in my skull work. I pray that it will never become mush by moaning.

I tag: David Griffiths, Joe Thorn, Kevin Cawley, Justin Taylor, John Piper, and Bob Kauflin.

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Modernizing Hymnody

I have thoroughly enjoyed the new renditions of old hymns from these folks.

Many times I have found the tune, beat, and the syncopation of days gone by in some songs a little awkward in the corporate gathering. The need to freshen up and make contemporary the old, powerful lyric of yesteryear has been great. I am thankful for tis project and listen to it regularly. It is mor than merely adding a nice drum beat and an electric guitar…

Stream three of their new songs from their forthcoming fourth album for free.

25 Free Christmas Season Songs

AmazonMP3 is giving away 25 free songs for Christmas. Good way to build your library. Has artists like Fleet Foxes, Sixpence None the Richer, Chris Isaak, Mercy Me…

Then Sings My Soul (Special Edition): A Book Review

Robert J. Morgan serves families and ministries well by a concise and broad-ranging history of 150 hymns particular to Easter, Christmas, and year-round favorites. This is a special edition that focuses on the holidays. Morgan also offers Then Sings My Soul, Volume 1 and Volume 2. For a complete listing of his books you can go to his Amazon page. The hymns are categorized by topic: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Patriotic, and Other Favorites.

The format is easy to follow and will prove a helpful supplement to family worship or Sunday School classrooms. I would recommend you invest in a few copies for Sunday Schools or small group settings. If you meet weekly you have enough devotional material for three years! The full hymn is given on the left page with the right page giving the year and history of the hymn. The hymns are in the given style (using “Thee” and “Thou”)–which I personally like. Many times when language is updated the resonance with the congregation is lost or the substituted words do not capture the majesty communicated in the King’s English. {This is not to say, of course, that no updates to the language are helpful. I personally think “ox and lamb” is preferable to “ox and ass” since the latter can distract from engaging with the words.}

Further, by way of devotional use, each explanation given has a verse or two that is pertinent to the song. For those lacking direction and material to for devotions, this would be a good appetite whetter.

The true test came for me when I turned to “O Holy Night” (my favorite). I was helped by the history given for this hymn as it put humanity to the hymn. That is, it encouraged me that a hymn that has touched my devotional life so much was penned/translated by imperfect folk who I would probably disagree with on several theological issues (the translator, John Dwight, was a Unitarian). If you are looking for commentary on the actual hymn, you will not find that. The historical section is on the history of the author or transmission. This history, however, does serve to better understand authorial intent in the words of the hymns themselves.

I would commend this book for a cursory historical treatment of each of these hymns. Especially as the Christmas season is in full sway…and Easter is right around the corner.

{This review was done for BookSneeze}
I review for BookSneeze