School of Sacred Music - veritas in musica

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Every Knee... Every Tongue
Being a Brush
Corporate Worship: The Great Equalizer
Singing: Not Optional for the Christian
Beethoven's Burden
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Every Knee... Every Tongue

In December, I had the privilege of preparing the Glacier Chorale for their annual performance of Handel'sMessiah.  It was a bit hectic, because we only had three rehearsals to put together the vast majority of the choruses, but the potential insanity of the situation was relieved by the fact that most of the singers were quite familiar with the work already.  As I worked with the choir over those three rehearsals and as I sat for three nights in a row listening to the live performances, each with different audiences, I was struck by the incongruity of the reality.

Being a Brush

Micah: "How many of you get nervous when you perform?"
Flathead Lake Music Camp Choir: [every hand goes up]
Micah: "Why do you get nervous?  What are you afraid of?"
Choir student: "I'm afraid of what people will think of me if I don't sound good."
Micah: "Does anyone here feel like they sing their best when they are afraid?"
Choir: [no hands go up]
Micah: "How does that fear affect your singing?"
Choir student: "It makes me hold back."

Corporate Worship: The Great Equalizer

Sunday morning.  You've arrived at church, sat in your usual place in your usual pew, greeted your usual friends, shaken the usual hands.  The service starts.  You are asked to stand and turn to page such and such in your hymnal, or to direct your attention to the words on the screen or in your bulletin.  The song's introduction plays, and as the congregation begins singing, you are conscious of yourself in a familiar but unpleasant way.  You feel the same old doubts: "Can the person in front of me hear me singing?

Singing: Not Optional for the Christian

Beethoven's Burden

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770 in Bonn, Germany.  He learned the piano at an early age under the harsh hand of his alcoholic father, who would often come home late at night, pull his son out of bed, and force him to practice until sunrise, beating him when he played wrong notes.  That Beethoven learned his craft under this kind of abuse is remarkable; that he grew to love it with all his heart is nothing short of amazing.  His passion and skill combined to create a virtuosic piano soloist who was in great demand throughout the region.

Handel and the Heavenly (Part 2 of 3)

George Frederic Handel (1685-1750) was born in Germany, but naturalized an English citizen in 1727.  He was a master of all the major forms of composition of his day, but the genre in which he made the greatest contribution was English oratorio.  An oratorio is a dramatic work which is musically built just like an opera of the same time period, the key differences being that oratorios were not staged or acted out in any way, and also dealt primarily with sacred subject matter.  Handel’s most famous oratorio,

Bach and Belief (Part 1 of 3)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was a man of profound Christian faith and unparalleled musical genius.    He has been called by James R. Gaines in one of my favorite books,Evening in thePalace of Reason, one of the greatest creative minds in all of Western civilization.  This distinction allows that Bach be not only chief among our acknowledged great composers, but competitive even in the company of minds like Plato, Aristotle, the Apostle Paul, and St.Augustine.  It is a great testament to the legacy of our Christian faith and its quintessential tool of corporate worship that such a man would sign every piece of music he wrote with the same inscription: SDG.

Inherent Unity in the Midst of Fractured Identity

"You can have whatever personal beliefs you want, but keep them to yourself."  "It's fine to have a personal faith, but keep it out of the public sphere."  Or perhaps most commonly in today's political discussions: "I don't approve of what he's done, but as long as it doesn't affect his job performance, I don't see why I shouldn't vote for him."  We live in a world of fractured identities, and in a society that desires no intersection of its various spheres.

God's Economy

We deal with people.  People are demanding.  If we are trying in any kind of legitimate way to behave Christianly, then we know what it is to feel drained by the demands of the many people to whom we minister.  We feel as if we only have so much love to give, and when it's gone, it's gone.  At the very least, we feel as though we must take a rest in order to replenish our supply of love. 
What I am about to say could be easily misunderstood, so I must state firmly that I am neither advocating over-work nor decrying periods of rest.

Nerves, Fear, and Pride

Do any of you still get nervous when you’re in front of people, particularly presenting or leading music?  Of course, we all know that the more we do this, the less nervous we get, and that is certainly a good thing.  But what if something new, out of the ordinary, or especially “nerve-wracking” were to take place; singing a solo for instance?  Nerves are easily among the biggest distractions that a musician may experience, but it need not be so for the Christian.  How can I make such a claim?
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