A Song for Advent

Hey all:

Swamped with work, and pulled in every direction! Pastoring during this season is wild. I have 20+ books to review next year and I have several blogs sitting in my “ideas” folder. Here’s to hoping for time to knock that out come January, as the winter slows things down a bit at church and home.

In the meantime, here’s a good second-week-of-Advent tune. My wife’s voice is just perfect for it. And the lyrics are a balm to weary souls. We’re covering Josh Garrel’s version of this old hymn. (If nothing else, even if you don’t listen to the song, maybe my still screen face will give you a laugh.) Bless you!

–Zen

Phos Hilaron: An Evening Prayer

Howdy, friends. As usual in 2020, I am making too little time to write. What can you expect in a year with a global pandemic and a newborn, not to mention the wild socio-political events?

One beautiful aspect of this year has been my own personal discovery of ancient Christian practices, prayers, and songs, through which Christ has comforted me endlessly. The Phos Hilaron prayer is a wonderful example. Rev. Clarke French, an Episcopal priest in North Carolina, was kind enough to walk me through the Book of Common Prayer’s evening prayer liturgy. He pointed out the Phos Hilaron as an especially beloved prayer. I understand why.

When I heard Owain Park’s composition sang at Ely Cathedral of it, I was struck with solemn joy. A prayer for our season, it is! My church will use it for our All Hallows’ Eve service (digitally streamed on our YouTube channel), as well as in our evening prayers throughout Advent. Since I intend to use it often, I asked my friend Alyssa to help make it familiar to our congregation. We created the video below. Hope you enjoy it!

Peace Like a River

Peace Like a River

Hi friends,

I know it’s been quiet in our little corner of the internet. I’ve been using most of my creative energy to compose meaningful worship opportunities for my church community and to work toward transitioning back into “the new abnormal” for our in-person activities. Kent and others have been swamped with their own transitions into digital teaching.

But, I am eager for the weeks and months to come. I just finished a lovely book by Baylor University Press that I’ll review shortly, with several other book reviews forthcoming. I know Kent intends to share a review of a volume about COVID-19. He shared a few quotes he was ruminating on. It’ll be of great interest to many.

In the meantime, here’s a video I made with some dear friends and congregants. As a celebration of the fruits of the Spirit, this song concluded our Pentecost worship. And, though I didn’t realize it when I chose the song, I want the song’s roots as an African American spiritual to make it a sign of solidarity with the black community’s ongoing work for justice. May God bless them, and may I learn to stand in solidarity with them more intentionally.

By the way, the arrangement is based on Josh Garrel’s rendition on his newest album, “Peace to All Who Enter Here.” It is an incredible album. Go listen to it here.

Peace, joy, and love to you!

Every blessing,
Zen

A Hymn for Ezekiel

A Hymn for Ezekiel

Here’s a short hymn I wrote using themes from Ezekiel, especially the beautiful meditation on the new temple and the river which flows from it in the last several chapters. It is short metre (6.6.8.6), so it can be sang to the tune of “Breathe On Me, Breath of God” or “We Give Thee But Thine Own.” If you set things to music, I’d love to hear it sang in a new way!

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