Saturday, October 31, 2015

"God Himself is Present" -- a postcolonial Lutheran chorale for Reformation Day 2015

Jumala on läsnä [God Himself is Present] by Narrow Way

Jumala on Läsnä #KatajainenKansa

"Otu li moipafi, yakalunga ketu..."

"God, reveal your presence: gladly we adore you..."

"Jumala on läsnä, Häntä rukoilkaamme..."

"Gott ist gegenwärtig, lasset uns anbeten..."

The hymn is by 17th- and early 18th-century German Reformed mystic Gerhard Tersteegen, sung to a chorale melody by Joachim Neander. [1] It is widely sung in both the Reformed (Calvinist) and Lutheran traditions, and it has been translated variously. I know it as "God Himself is Present" (LBW 249) from singing it at Atonement Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Springfield, and today I came across it in a post by the Rev. Marjaana Toiviainen of Helsinki on a Lutheran World Federations website.

When I went looking for the hymn on YouTube, I found the interpretations embedded above.

  • One is by Narrow Way, a gospel choir made up of African members of the Joensuu Evangelical Lutheran Congregation in Joensuu, a city in eastern Finland. [2]

  • The other is a very cool version by Katajainen Kansa, a Christian reggae band of Helsinki. [3]

For a 350-year-old song, "God Himself is Present" certainly gets around.

That's interesting in itself, for a guy who's up to his neck in a historical analyis of cultural hybridity and creolization in Swedish-American hymnals. Tersteegen hailed from a part of Germany where political and cultural boundaries were fluid in the 17th and 18th centuries, as were relations between the Reformed and Lutheran faith traditions of the day. His hymn spread widely in northern Europe, and I even found a variant melody called TYSK (the Swedish word for German) that attributes to "a chorale sung at Stockholm, 1718; Psalm und Choralbuch, 1719" -- a mystery to look into later when I get the time.

But Marjaana Toiviainen has concerns on her mind that are much more immediate.

A pastor in an inner-city mission in Helsinki and a doctoral candidate at Lund University in Sweden, she was inspired by hearing "God Himself is Present" as a delegate at LWF's "Global Perspectives and the Reformation" this month in Namibia. she wrote in an Oct. 29 post to the LWF's Faith in Action Worldwide weblog [3]:

The hymn resonated through my body and onto the walls of the church at Paulinum United Lutheran Theological Seminary [in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia]. An impressive range of languages surrounded us and the Namibian sky echoed the words with the power of lightning and thunder. It was raining and we thanked God for that.

To Toiviainen, a lot of things came together in that moment -- the languages, the rain toward the end of the dry season in a drought-stricken nation that consists largely of desert, the community of church people "gathered together to reflect how to approach the Reformation anniversary in 2017." And what it means to live one's faith as a Lutheran -- a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or a follower of any other faith tradition in a broken, increasingly globalized world. She said:

In his sermon, Bishop emeritus Zephania Kameeta [of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Nambia] reminded us what it is to be liberated by God's grace in that manner. Our faith lets us stand up in a healing community. But this faith does not only help us love and act, but also get lost and dirty. It forces us to take a cross and carry it. So we are not here to write or read theology. We are here to live theology, not hide it in the archives. Theology that is not afraid to be fragile and vulnerable. Theology that is lived, experienced and embodied.

In her doctoral studies at Lund, Toiviainen is concentrating on post-colonial theologies, global Christianity and inter-religious relations. On the way to the conference in Nambia, an independent republic in southwestern Africa [5], she was forcefully reminded what it means to exist in a broken, globalized world:

Just before leaving Helsinki, my home city, I had met a Syrian woman with her three children. She had lost her husband in Germany and they were not allowed to be reunited. They were oh so close to one another, but were not allowed to be together. And then I took off for Namibia. The flights had been booked and paid for, the seats arranged, the vaccinations organized and no visa was needed. To get to the other side of the world I had to do nothing but sit still and watch some movies on the plane. When one smiled at me at the security check, I could only think of the Syrian family and their struggle. The world sure is not fair.

During our opening worship I realized once again that the only way we as a community can tackle this unfair reality is through listening to everyone's story: different perspectives, reflections from our contexts, the world and Lutheranism as we see it. We have all been shaped by different issues, insights and events. Let us remember to listen to those stories, for they are where the Reformation of today arises from.

No happy endings here. Just more work to do. And more songs to sing.


[1] "God Himself is Present," to give it its name in the Lutheran Book of Worship (No. 249), is usually matched with the tune ARNSBERG (called WUNDERBARER KÖNIG in Lutheran hymnals), according to Calvin College's website at It is found today in 50 hymnals of all denominations. The alternate tune, TYSK, appears at, and a sound file is available at, along with this note: "The tune TYSK, which appeared in Stockholm in 1718, derives its name from the Nordic word for 'German,' evidently referring to a German church? style? - or perhaps hinting at an earlier tune for the text God himself is with us, which tune (ARNSBERG) was composed 40 years earlier by Joachim Neander - a name synonymous with German hymnody. In the English-speaking world, TYSK appears in very few hymnals at the moment - Epsicopal, Anglican, and Reformed almost exclusively."

[2] Narrow-Way, according to its Facebook page,

... is a musical group under Joensuu Evangelical Lutheran Congregation. The group is composed of Africans currently resident in Joensuu, Finland. The group was established in March 2013 to provide more variety of music in the Christian music landscape. Narrow-way thus specializes in rhythmic African music and acapella. Our music encompasses local African languages, English and Finnish compositions.

Our mission is to inspire, encourage and motivate our audience about the Christian faith.

Narrow-Way. Joensuu, Finland.

[3] Katajainen Kansa (which means something like "juniper nation" in English), combines "Jamaican rhythms, world music and plaintive accordion" in exprssing the "Christian beliefs and spiritual heritage of our people," according to the band's website

[4] Marjaana Toiviainen, "My Story and Our Story," 29 October 2015. Faith in Action Worldwide, Lutheran World Federation.

[5] Namibia, known from 1884 to 1920 as German South-West Africa, was ruled by South Africa after Germany lost its colonies in World War I. Located along the Atlantic coast in southern Africa, it was incorporated into a British mandate in South Africa and known as Southwest Africa. It became an independent republic in 1990. During the protracted struggle against apartheid and South African rule, the Lutheran churches were heavily involved. German missionaries were active in what is now Namibia from the 1880s onward, and about half its population of 2.1 million is Lutheran (see Katherine Caufield Arnold's honors thesis "The Transformation of the Lutheran Church in Namibia", William and Mary, 2009).


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Messiah @ Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas

Verbatim excerpts:

Bethany College. "Messiah Festival of the Arts: The Tradition."

Dr. Carl Aaron Swensson succeeded [Olof] Olsson as pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in 1879. Bethany College was founded in the sacristy of the church on October 15, 1881, when ten children of the immigrant families began their higher education. The founding of Bethany College brought remarkable energetic people and ideas to this part of the Great Plains instilling both college and community with deep appreciation for music and art.

The Bethany Oratorio Society was founded in December 1881, when 40 parishioners were welcomed to the parsonage of Pastor Swensson and his wife Alma to learn the words and music of Messiah. Almost all of them were immigrants from Sweden who still lived in a pioneer world of sod houses. Alma Swensson, an accomplished musician, worked with the singers throughout the winter and spring in helping them learn the music as well as the English words. The first performance by the Bethany Oratorio Society was on March 28, 1882, in Bethany Lutheran Church. Every Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday since, the College and the people of Lindsborg have come together to perform Handel’s great oratorio. The annual tradition continues today as the oldest continuous annual performance of the Messiah in the United States.

Beccy Tanner. "'Messiah' is an Easter tradition in Lindsborg." Wichita Eagle, April 10, 2011

LINDSBORG — When the opening strains of Handel's "Messiah" are sounded this Palm Sunday, it will mark one of the oldest Lenten traditions in North America.

Each year — often for nearly three months in advance of Easter — local farmers, homemakers, college students and business owners gather twice a week to rehearse the three-hour piece.

The end result is a 200-person chorus with a full-volume organ — one of the largest in the Midwest — and a class-act, nimble-fingered orchestra.

* * *

In 1879, 22-year-old Carl Aaron Swensson and his wife, Alma, arrived in Lindsborg and he became pastor of the Bethany Lutheran Church. Within two years, he started Bethany College for the immigrant children of the parish to receive a higher education.

Swensson had been a graduate of Augustana Seminary in Rock Island, Ill. When he returned to Rock Island for the spring graduation, Swensson saw a local church's rendition of the "Messiah" and vowed to produce it in Lindsborg.

That winter, Alma Swensson, a gifted singer, began working with Lindsborg parishioners to learn the "Messiah."

It was an ambitious undertaking.

"She taught people a phrase at a time, both notes and English words," said Jim Ruble, vice president of advancement at Bethany College.

On March 28, 1882, the Bethany Oratorio Society performed the "Messiah" in Bethany Lutheran Church as a fundraiser for the new college.

It was such a success, Alma Swensson took the show on the road, "in lumber wagons along dusty Kansas roads, to the neighboring towns of Salemsburg, Salina and New Gotland," Time magazine reported in 1939 when it featured Lindsborg's "Messiah."

Read more here:

Bethany College. "Messiah Festival Proudly Announces Our 135th Season."

Kicking off the Festival will be the Bethany Theatre Department’s production of Lucas Hnath’s “The Christians” on March 18 and 19, directed by Professor Greg LeGault, who brought the incredible “Jesus Christ Superstar” production to last year’s Festival. Bethany’s Theatre Department is, at this time, one of a small number of non-professional/educational theatres nationwide to acquire production rights to the play, which made its New York City premiere on September 18, 2015, at Playwrights Horizons. A talk-back session will be scheduled in conjunction with the production. This performance will take place at Burnett Center on the campus of Bethany College both nights, and tickets are $15 regular admission, and $12 for students & Bethany faculty/staff.

Good Friday, March 25, sees the 86th annual performance of the Bethany Oratorio Society’s“Passion According to St. Matthew” by J.S. Bach

The 135th Messiah Festival will conclude with the historic performance of Handel’s “Messiah” on Easter Sunday, March 27, at 3 p.m. in Presser Auditorium, by the Bethany Oratorio Society and four of today’s brightest operatic talents, also directed by Dr. Lucas. The foundational event of the Messiah Festival of the Arts, this concert has long been an incredible musical experience for thousands of patrons every Holy Week since 1882. The performance will begin at 3 p.m. in Presser Auditorium. Tickets are $22 and $25, and will go on sale Jan. 1.

Hilton Als, "Divine Intervention: The Strange World of Lucas Hnath." New Yorker Sept. 7, 2015

He is an artist whose particular brand of American strangeness grows along with his strengths, many of which—a sense of high drama, and a deep understanding of how the patriarchy wants to hold on to just that—are not immediately apparent in his minimal scripts, which look, on the page, less like dialogue than like poems.

from Orlando, MFA New York University

Michael Paulson, "Lucas Hnath’s ‘The Christians’ Tackles a Schism Among the Flock" New York Times, Sept. 3, 2015

But Mr. Hnath (pronounced nayth) is not going there himself. He has written an essay for the theater’s website, and the show’s program, explaining that he is choosing not to discuss his own beliefs or practices, believing that audiences need to decide for themselves how to respond to a play that depicts a typical American megachurch fractured by a dispute over salvation and damnation. Mr. Hnath, 36, is happy to talk about his upbringing — he went to Christian elementary and middle schools, helped out with youth ministry, tagged along with his mother to seminary classes — but his religious life after high school is off limits, leaving it up to theatergoers to ponder whether “The Christians” is fundamentally sympathetic to, or critical of, the kind of community it depicts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Outline of my creolization paper for the Illinois Historical Journal

Posted here because it's likely to be the most complete outline I come up with for my article in the Illinois Historical Journal, and I don't want to lose it in all the cat videos, daily updates from "Bloom County," selfies and political memes on my Facebook page:

Atonement-Faith-Luther Memorial worship music, Saturday, Oct. 31

LIFE Today: Phillips Craig and Dean "Your Love is Amazing"

This week's scripture is Mark 12:28-34:

One of the scribes came near and heard [Jesus and the Sadducees] disputing with one another, and seeing that [Jesus] answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’—this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.


During communion: What Kind of Love is This? - Adam & Michele & band

Sending Song: Love the Lord by Lincoln Brewster - send 'em out with one of the main points from the scripture. Below: Lincoln Brewster talks about "Love The Lord" off his new album 'Today Is The Day' - Available Now from Integrity Music.

Lincoln Brewster - Love The Lord - Song Story

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Worship set, Saturday, Oct. 25, Atonement-Faith-Luther Memorial

"Open the Eyes of My Heart," Paul Baloche

  • Open the Eyes of My Heart
  • You Are My King (we did this a couple of weeks ago - no medley with Word of God this time though)
  • Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus - CHORUS ONLY
  • Trading My Sorrows


Open the Eyes of My Heart -- Paul Baloche --

You Are My King -- Billy J. Foote --

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus -- Helen H. Lemmel --

Trading My Sorrows -- Darryl Evans --

"Trading My Sorrows," Darryl Evans

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Shakespeare's songs -- podcast from Folger library

Folger Shakespeare Library. Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 33

David Lindley, professor emeritus of literature and music at the University of Leeds, is our guest for this episode of Shakespeare Unlimited. His book, Shakespeare and Music, appeared in 2006 in the Arden Critical Companions series. He is interviewed by Neva Grant.

This episode is called “Ay, prithee, sing.”

From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. © October 7, 2015. Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Of the Chicago Cubs, the Communion of Saints and the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

A fine piece on the Daily Beast website at", by the Rev. Nathaniel Katz, an Episcopal priest in California. The web address, which is also the headline, sums it up better than I could.

Mike Royko, back when the Chicago Tribune pretended to be a real newspaper, had a similar column. He said growing up on the Northwest Side and cheering for the Cubs was a spiritual discipline, kind of like having Lent all year around. I'm pretty sure I saw it in the Rock Island Argus in the fall of 1984.

Katz' column in the Daily Beast was similar. He said he finds a commonality between being a Cubs fan and being a Christian.

"Fundamental to both," he said, "is the deeply held belief that someday all the pain and suffering we have experienced in this life will come to an end through a great act of reconciliation. Cubs fans anticipate the moment when their dreams of a World Series title will be realized. Christians anticipate the return of Christ, when God will 'wipe every tear from [our] eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more,' as is promised in one of my favorite scriptural passages found in the book of Revelation."

Katz said he's a fourth-generation Cubs fan, beginning with his great-grandmother Edna Blaesing, who "was born in Chicago in 1900, among the first generation of her German immigrant family to be born in the United States." He added:

She came of age as jazz and prohibition arrived in the Windy City. She joined the thousands who marched through her city’s streets demanding that women be granted the right to vote. And in the midst of all that, she came to love a baseball team that made its home on the north side of town—a team that brought glory to the city in her childhood by winning a World Series title."

In time the family moved to Michigan, and Katz never knew his great-grandmother. But he grew up with stories of her "devotion to the church where my mother had been baptized, and where my grandmother served as organist for decades," and of "her devotion to the Cubs." He added, "It was the telling and re-telling of these stories that shaped my own identity — both as a Christian and a Cubs fan."

Katz said the last game of this year's World Series, should it go to five games, will be Nov. 1, which is also All Saints' Day in the Episcopal liturgical calendar. He added:

... All Saints’ is a feast day that celebrates a time of nearness to those saints who have touched our lives — those who have nurtured us and shaped our ability to recognize ourselves, and one another, as children of God.

On this All Saints’ Day, I will lead an evening prayer service for students and young adults that I was given the honor of establishing just over a year ago at the Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles. We will gather in the darkness to read scripture and offer prayers by candlelight. That light will remind us of the constant presence of God’s radical and unconditional love—a love that dares to shine in the darkness and guides our way through life’s uncertainty.

Toward the end of the service, we will read the names of those women and men whose lives have taught us that we are recipients of God’s radical and redeeming love. Among the names that will be read that night is Edna Blaesing.

I believe that I will feel my great-grandmother’s nearness that night, as I have felt it many times before. And, who knows? This time we may find ourselves united in a new way — as Cubs fans who have witnessed our team crowned as World Series champions. Whether that reconciliation should happen this year or in a fall classic yet to come, it will have been worth the wait.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Darlene Zschech and Michael W Smith -- "Shout to the Lord" and "Agnus Dei" live in Alabama

Shout To The Lord (Darlene Zschech) and Agnus Dei (Michael W Smith). A cut on Zschech's Revealing Jesus CD featuring Darlene Zschech, Michael W. Smith (Keyboard and Vocal) and Alabama School of Fine Arts Strings

Comment by jaxbus3000 conveys something important: "I saw Darlene and Hillsong at a rather small church in San Diego about 9 years ago. First thing she said was we don't do concerts, we do church. She was so humble and yet had such talent backed by a strong faith, you just felt it. Needless to say it was a fantastic experience. "

Review at on the Huntsville (Ala.) Times' website:

A new CD/DVD released today by Darlene Zschech, the Christian singer-songwriter and speaker, has several Birmingham connections. Recorded live at Church of the Highlands on Sept. 28-29, 2012, "Revealing Jesus: A Live Worship Experience," was arranged and conducted by UAB [University of Alabama Birmingham] Professor Henry Panion III and features string players from Alabama School of Fine Arts.

Review by Abraham and Natasha at

Revealing Jesus was released at March 19th, 2013 worldwide and recorded live at the Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 28 and 29 of last year. Produced by Grammy Award Winning producer Israel Houghton, Darlene was accompanied by New Breed and some famous song writers, Dove Award 2013 Winner Kari Jobe and Michael W. Smith.

And this, by Abraham:

One of the reason why I like Hillsong's song in Darlene era is because the unity, when they play a song. It's like a unison of a team that worshiping God, in a way that even their music style is simple, I can still feel a complicated reason behind their style. In this Revealing Jesus album, I can feel the same unison and complicated style. The same reason why I like Hillsong, I find it here; especially all of the Worship songs.

Full track list in Modern Jamming review.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Contemporary service music, Saturday, Oct. 17, Atonement-Faith-Luther Memorial blended congregation

"Rise Up & Praise Him," Gary Sadler & Paul Baloche

"Rise Up and Praise Him" -- Sadler and Baloche

Call to Worship/Opening: Rise Up & Praise Him (Gary Sadler & Paul Baloche) -

Worship Set:
-- Let Everything That Has Breath (Matt Redman)
-- Shout to the Lord (Darlene Zschech)
-- sharing of the peace (band plays Shout underneath)
-- Agnus Dei (Michael W. Smith) - this will come in right after sharing, connected from Shout to the Lord

After the message: Make Me a Servant (Kelly Willard) (will start with flute & guitar, then Jessica sings, then all praise team and congregation join)

Sending: Cry of My Heart (Terry Butler)

YouTube videos:

Michael Smith's Agnus Dei in live performance (10:15 min.):

Another performance (featuring Smith with Catalonian Choir) at Franklin Graham Festival de la Esperanza in Barcelona, May 2, 2015:

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dandy Dulcimer mentioned in Chapters XV and XXXVI

Chapter XV.[DD and the stranger leave Dublin, return to Ballytrain]

There was nothing further now to detain the stranger in town. He accordingly posted it at a rapid rate to Ballytrain, accompanied by Dandy and his dulcimer, who, except during the evenings among the servants in the hotel, had very little opportunity of creating a sensation, as he thought he would have done as an amateur musician in the metropolis.

Chapter XXXVI. Contains a Variety of Matters
—Some to Laugh and some to Weep at.

She was sitting on a lounger as she spoke, and the poor affectionate girl, who loved her as she did her life, threw herself over, and leaning her head upon her mistress's knees wept bitterly.

"Sit beside me, Alice," said she; "whatever distance social distinctions may have placed between us, I feel that the truth and sincerity of those tears justify me in placing you near my heart. Sit beside me, but compose yourself; and then you must assist me to bed."

"They are killing you," said Alley, still weeping. "What devil can tempt them to act as they do? As for me, miss, it's breaking my heart, that I see what you are suffering, and can't assist you."

"But I have your love and sympathy, your fidelity, too, my dear Alice; and that now is all I believe the world has left me."

"No, miss," replied her maid, wiping her eyes, and striving to compose herself, "no, indeed; there is another—another gentleman, I mean—as well as myself, that feels deeply for your situation."

Had Lucy's spirit been such as they were wont to be, she could have enjoyed this little blunder of Alice's; but now her heart, like some precious jewel that lies too deep in the bosom of the ocean for the sun's strongest beams to reach, had sunk beneath the influence of either cheerfulness or mirth.

"There is indeed, miss," continued Alice,

"And pray, Alice," asked her mistress, "how do you know that?"

"Why, miss," replied the girl, "I am told that of late he is looking very ill, too. They say he has lost his spirits all to pieces, and seldom laughs—the Lord save us!"

"They say!—who say, Alice?"

"Why," replied Alice, with a perceptible heightening of her color, "ahem! ahem! why, Dandy Dulcimer, miss."

"And where have you seen him? Dulcimer, I mean. He, I suppose, who used occasionally to play upon the instrument of that name in the Hall?" "Yes, ma'am, the same. Don't you remember how beautiful he played it the night we came in the coach to town?"

"I remember there was something very-unpleasant between him and a farmer, I believe; but I did not pay much attention to it at the time."

"I am sorry for that, miss, for I declare to goodness, Dandy's dulcimer isn't such an unpleasant instrument as you think; and, besides, he has got a new one the other day that plays lovely."

Lucy felt a good deal anxious to hear some further information from Alley upon the subject she had introduced, but saw that Dandy and his dulcimer were likely to be substituted for it, all unconscious as the poor girl was of the preference of the man to the master. "He looks ill, you say, Alice?"

"Never seen him look so rosy in my life, miss, nor in such spirits."

Lucy looked into her face, and for a moment's space one slight and feeble gleam, which no suffering could prevent, passed over it, at this intimation of the object which Alley's fancy then dwelt upon.

"He danced a hornpipe, miss, to the tune of the Swaggerin' Jig, upon the kitchen table," she proceeded; "and, sorra be off me, but it would do your heart good to see the springs he would give—every one o' them a yard high—and to hear how he'd crack his fingers as loud as the shot of a pistol."

A slight gloom overclouded Lucy's face; but, on looking at the artless transition from the honest sympathy which Alley had just felt for her to a sense of happiness which it was almost a crime to disturb, it almost instantly disappeared.


Dandy Dulcimer and Alley followed the example of their master and mistress, and were amply provided for by their friends, with whom they lived in confidential intimacy for the greater portion of their lives.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Miscellaneous links for Thursday's Clayville-Prairieland slow jam and song-learning session -- "Wild Mountain Thyme," "Hard Times" and our Advent playlist

Blast email sent out this evening to everyone on the Clayville-Prairieland Pioneer Academy of Music electronic mailing lists.

Somehow the third Thursday of the month came sneaking up on me when I wasn't looking. (OK, OK, it's because Oct. 1 fell on a Thursday. It happens every seven months or so, and I should have been looking out for it.) Anyway, our "third Thursday" Clayville-Prairieland slow jam and song learning session is this Thursday, Oct. 15, at our usual location, Atonement-Faith-Luther Memorial Church, 2800 West Jefferson. Same place, new name.

Rather than introduce a new tune this week, I'm linking you to to lyrics, guitar chords (in D), lead sheets and dulcimer tab for a couple of songs we've done in the past -- "Wild Mountain Thyme" and "Hard Times Come Again No More." I'm also linking to performances I found on YouTube that were posted from the BBC-4 television series "Transatlantic Sessions," that brought together roots musicians from Ireland, the UK and the US (especially Nashville) in 1996. Both performances are stunning.

And I'm posting links to dulcimer tab for our holiday performance. In the past, we have played at Atonement's Advent soup supper in December as our way of saying thanks for the use of the building, and I will keep you posted as plans develop for the new blended parish.

Lots of links this time -- you can either save this email message or go to my blog where I will copy this message and embed the videos at: [this location]!


At our last session, we decided on the music for our annual holiday performance. Links are to dulcimer tab w/ guitar chords available on line. But these songs are pretty standard, and the chords -- as always -- can be varied as you see fit. The songs are:

-- I Saw Three Ships --

-- Cherry Tree Carol --

-- What Child is This -- (in E minor, a key that dulcimers can play in DAD tuning).

-- Joy to the World --

-- Silent Night --

If you have other sheet music, I'm sure it will work just as well.


As performed by Dick Gaughan, Emmylou Harris, The McGarrigles and Rufus Wainwright on BBC-4's Transatlantic Sessions.

Mountain dulcimer tab. has three sets of tab. We want the one posted by RL Walker -- in DAD and DAA -- because it has lyrics and suggested guitar chords:

Lyrics and chords. This song is usually in G -- I don't know who could possibly sing it that high. Sopranos? Men who had had an unfortunate accident? -- but the website has it in D. When you go to print out a copy, click on "font size" a time or two (I did it three times) to enlarge it. Link here:


Kate & Anna McGarrigle and friends (Rufus Wainwright - son of Kate -, Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, Karen Matheson, Rod Paterson) perform Stephen Foster's Hard times come again no more during the Transatlantic sessions.

Shelley Stevens

Steve Smith

Guitar chords

Friday, October 09, 2015

"Bonnie Brown Girl" -- links and documentation

"My Pretty Fair Maid"

Also known as An Cailin Deasdonn, Óró Bog Liom Í, The Pretty Brown Girl.

Five settings in abc notation with PDF and MIDI files by user Caoimhin -- " am a fiddle player living in Springfield, Ohio. I am the founder and organizer of the Dayton Session as well as other various Irish Trad music events in the Dayton area." added tunes 12 to 2 years ago -- all are up-tempo similar to O'Neill's melody.

Documentation: Sean Williams of Evergreen State College in Washington state, who studied under storyteller Joe Heaney and knows a thing of two about Irish song traditions, says “The Pretty Brown Girl” is one of a number of “upbeat, somewhat salacious, Irish-language songs” in 6/8 time that deal with sex and love readily granted, in the context of humor.” (181-83).

Irish singers, Williams says in her introductory college textbook Focus: Irish Traditional Music, have an expression – “say a song, tell a story” (179). It means that “the important relationship between story and song cannot be overstated.” That’s true even with a confection like “The Pretty Brown Girl.”

Thursday, October 08, 2015

"Kiss My Lady" -- English country dance tune [?] in Black Baronet

Traditional Tune Archive has several notated variants at One, from Northamptonshire in ENgland, has this note: "Source: John Clare,Poet,Helpstone (1793-1864)Notes: A kissing dance with kissing in the first bar would give everyincentive for the tune to linger a little, as here. CGP.No TS in MS."

John Clare was a village fiddler in England, compiled 2 ms. books of fiddle tunes ... John Clare - poet and fiddler, 1793-1864

John Clare left behind him a fascinating insight into what it was like to be a village fiddler, in his poems, his writings and his tune collections. The first book contains 74 different tunes, some in different versions, while the second book is much more extensive.

Following our publication of both books of his fiddle tune collection, I shall gradually add notes on this page on some of the tunes as they emerge from my investigations. One aspect that has particularly grabbed me is the way very similar, or indeed identical, versions of his tunes appear in other manuscript tune books of the time - same key, same slurs, even same note groupings, and I have tried to locate the common ancestor - presumably a printed source. What is remarkable is the range of music represented in his collection: songs his parents sang, popular songs from operas, tunes he learnt from the various Gypsy families that camped near Helpstone, as well as country dances, jigs, reels, folk songs of the time as well as Scottish and Irish tunes.

Camel Music: Tony Urbainczyk was Head of Strings and Assistant Director of Music at Sherborne Girls from 2003 and retired (early!) from this post in August 2013, to branch out into more playing, private teaching and publishing. Rose Urbainczyk studied at Homerton College, Cambridge, and later morphed into a Technology teacher. She gained her MEd with the OU, made Tony a viola and is his No.1 fan.

John Clare bio at

John Clare (13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864) was an English poet, the son of a farm labourer, who came to be known for his celebratory representations of the English countryside and his lamentation of its disruption.[1] His poetry underwent a major re-evaluation in the late 20th century, and he is now often considered to be among the most important 19th-century poets.[2] His biographer Jonathan Bate states that Clare was "the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self".[3]

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Worship set, contemporary service, Saturday, Oct. 10, Atonement-Faith-Luther Memorial

Call to Worship: Come, Now is the Time to Worship (band only)
Welcome & Announcements
Opening Songs:
Lord, I Lift Your Name on High
For These Reasons
Prayer of the Day

Communion Instructions/Invitation
Story of the Lord's Supper
The Lord's Prayer (Willow Creek)
Communion Distribution
Communion Blessing

Prayer before the Word
Scripture Reading
Children's Message

Sharing of the Peace
Song: Cry of My Heart

Proclamation of Forgiveness/Absolution
Profession of Faith: Because We Believe
Gift Giving
Prayers of Intercession

Prayer Before We Go
Sending Song: Lord, I Lift Your Name on High

Videos --

Saturday's special music set:

Service music (same every week)

YouTube user "IshallflywhenIdie" at has this background on "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High": Rick Founds wrote this song while in Morning devotion, he thought of GOD's plan of salvation as sort of a cycle and thus the famous chorus was born "You came.... Lord I Lift Your Name on High" Maranatha quickly recorded the song as he had worked with and was was friends with members of the Maranatha! Singers and Praise Band (2 supposedly separate groups but whose members OVERLAPPED lol, Praise Band was more rock/guitar driven while Maranatha! Singers remained "classic style"). Maranatha's singers (This one) and Praise Band's versions were the very first time that this song had been recorded and as they say THE REST IS HISTORY.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Ancient Greek (or Hellenistic) song, Epitaph of Seikilos, sounds a little bit like Neil Young


You have to be a real geek to get into something like this, but here goes ...

Today I surfed into it while I was following links to a story about a Neanderthal bone flute that I shared on Facebook. As far as we can reconstruct things like this, it's a song written in the first century by a Greek named Seikilos in memory of his wife. It survived to the present because it was inscribed on a marble tombstone. It is now in the Danish Nationalmuseet (national museum) in Copenhagen.

Known to scholars today as the Seikilos epitaph, it's a nice little tune. According to Wikipedia, it is the "oldest surviving example of a complete musical composition, including musical notation, from anywhere in the world." It sounds like this:

Michael Levy plays Epitaph of Seikilos on replica of ancient Greek lyre

Since the tombstone was found in what is now Turkey, it isn't ancient Greek -- strictly speaking it is an artifact of the Hellenistic culture that was dominant in the eastern Mediterranean in the years after Alexander the Great. The language is the same Greek lingua franca, or koine, in which most of the New Testament was written. A team of British researchers have deciphered the musical notation, and in 2012 and 2013 they played the Epitaph of Seikilos at academic meetings and for the news media.

When he (or she) heard it, an anonymous writer for the News Corp Australia Network was reminded of Canadian 1970s rock star Neil Young, adding:

Think Kiss' Rock'n'Roll All Nite (Party Every Day). Think Bon Jovi's Sleep When I'm Dead. Think YOLO. This is Seikilos' take on life (and death).

Here, in a screen shot from Wikipedia, is the melody, both in the ancient Greek notation (see below for a rough explanation) and modern standard notation:

And here's the poem, again as it appears in Wikipedia, in Greek and modern English:

It's kind of a nice poem. Like the staff writer for News Corp. said, the lyrics do suggest you only live once, enjoy it while you can. A fitting enough theme for an epitaph.

Says Armand D'Angour, a musician and tutor in classics at Oxford University who worked with the group that translated the song and set it to modern musical notation, writing for a BBC News report in October 2013:

The Greeks had worked out the mathematical ratios of musical intervals - an octave is 2:1, a fifth 3:2, a fourth 4:3, and so on.

The notation gives an accurate indication of relative pitch: letter A at the top of the scale, for instance, represents a musical note a fifth higher than N halfway down the alphabet. Absolute pitch can be worked out from the vocal ranges required to sing the surviving tunes.

While the documents, found on stone in Greece and papyrus in Egypt, have long been known to classicists - some were published as early as 1581 - in recent decades they have been augmented by new finds.

Dating from around 300 BC to 300 AD, these fragments offer us a clearer view than ever before of the music of ancient Greece.

The anonymous staff writer for News Corp. Australia picks up the story:

While fragments of even older music have been found, this short marble column contains the only known complete song with both music notations and lyrics.

Securely housed in the National Museum of Denmark, the marble column has now been "played" once more through the efforts of ancient music researcher Michael Levy and musician and Oxford University classicist Armand D'Angour.

The ancient form of music notation dates back to 450BC and involves alphabetical characters and accents placed above Greek vowels. These define the rhythmical beat and indicate upon which cylables the music's pitch should rise or fall.

Michael Levy picked up his lyre and gave the jingle a zesty edge.

Dr David Creese, a classics professor (and Neil Young soundalike), went retro and reproduced the music as accurately as possible, even going so far as to recreate a musical instrument popular at the time the engraving was made - an eight-stringed zither-like instrument that was played with a little mallet.

Creese, a Classics professor at Newcastle University, presented the song at the Royal Music Association of the Music and Philosophy Study Group, July 20, 2012. His instrument, which he calls a canon, is most like something that is linguistically impossible -- an eight-string monochord. He tunes it to the notes of a diatonic mode by arranging moveable bridges.

If you're interested in modal harmony, by the way, the epitaph is probably in what corresponds to the modern Phrygian mode.

So does it sound like Neil Young?

Well ...

You be the judge.

Here's a recording, with the epitaph declaimed in the style of ancient Greek drama and sung by members of Associazione per la Musica Antica Antonio il Verso early music group of Palermo, conducted by Gabriel Garrido. (The picture, BTW, is a pretty good reproduction of the actual inscription in Copenhagen):

Monday, October 05, 2015

"Wild Mountain Thyme" [originally posted here for future reference]

This post has been incorporated into the post headlined "Miscellaneous links for Thursday's Clayville-Prairieland slow jam and song-learning session -- "Wild Mountain Thyme," "Hard Times" and our Advent playlist" at

Sunday, October 04, 2015

A tune by Turlough O'Carolan for Tuesday's Prairieland-Clayville jam session -- Planxty (Col. John) Irwin

Blast email sent this evening to everyone on the Clayville and Prairieland Strings mailing lists --

Hi everybody –

We had a wonderful time at Saturday’s slow jam and song learning session at Clayville Historic Stagecoach Stop – five of us were there, and after we ran through our songs for Advent, we put away the sheet music and played fiddle tunes and (mostly) Irish airs by ear. It was so much fun, I’m planning to bring Mark Nelson’s Celtic music book and Shellley Stevens’ collection of tunes by Irish harp composer Turlough O’Carolan Tueday (links below). I think we’re ready to start using one or both of them, along with Stephen Seifert’s gospel jam book, as we branch out a little.

Our “first Tuesday” session of the Clayville-Prairieland Academy of Music is from 7 to 9 p.m. at Atonement Lutheran Church, 2800 West Jefferson in Springfield.

Hope to see you there!

Planxty Irwin, The Dubliners © Film Shona McMillan ©

PLANXTY IRWIN by Turlough O'Carolan. Recorded on 19.02.11 at The Dubliners gig in Aberdeen, this set featuring Michael Howard (guitar), John Sheahan (fiddle) and Barney McKenna (banjo)

Attached is a Carolan tune that I don’t find in either book, but I think it’s a good introduction to his music. I copied the notation from the Pub Session Tunes website at

... and there’s mountain dulcimer tab at

Both, of course, are in D. (It’s also commonly played in G, and Carolan wrote it in C.) You’ll notice the suggested guitar chords are a little different, and one version is in 6/8 while the other is in 3/4. Carolan wrote it in 6/8, but it’s commonly printed today in 3/4.

There’s a discussion of this point on the website at

Says English fiddle player fidicen, “I shan’t delve deeply into the rights and wrongs of the time signature of this tune except to remark that, to me, it cannot be other than compound duple time (6/8) and certainly not a 3-in-a-bar waltz. We play it either in G, if there are flutes or whistles playing, or in D if fiddles only.”

[*Please see note below, especially for Appalachian dulcimer players, on learning to play the tune in both keys.]

One of the nice things about Irish traditional music, at least the older trad music, is that it came down by oral tradition. There are no automatically “right” answers.

So let’s play “Planxty Irwin” a few times till we’re comfortable with the melody – it’s simple, but catchy – vary the tempo a little, listen to each other and see how it all fits together.

Turlough O’Carolan was a fascinating guy, and his music was lovely. If you want to know more about him, there’s a perceptive bio by Lesley Nelson-Burns, aka “the Contemplator,” at

… and the Old Music Project has Carolan’s complete works transcribed from a “flea market find” copy of Donal O’Sullivan’s “Carolan: The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper” at

Planxty Irwin, which O’Sullivan called “Col. John Irwin,” is No. 59.

Here are links to the music books I want to start using:

-- -- Stephen Seifert, “Join the Jam: GOSPEL EDITION”

-- -- Mark Nelson, “Celtic Dulcimer”

-- -- Shelley Stevens, “O’Carolan Harp Tunes for Dulcimer”


* NOTE FOR MOUNTAIN DULCIMER PLAYERS: If you feel like you're ready to break out of the DAD lockstep, learn to play "Planxty Irwin" from the notation in DAA. (That way your low C# is on the 2nd fret of the melody string, and D -- your key note -- is on the 3rd fret.) Once you learn those left-hand positions, you'll be able to transpose the song to G by retuning to DGD and playing the same frets. Since the tune is so commonly played in G, this is a skill you'll want to develop for other jam sessions.

Holden Evening Prayer: Some preliminary notes on an ELCA liturgy

This background on the Holden Evening Service, a Lutheran vespers liturgy similar to Taizé, consists of research notes I put up for future reference before I knew it would be adopted for Lenten services. It includes background and links to video of several services, but it makes no effort to introduce the Holden service to readers other than myself. If I weren't already familiar with the service, I'd begin by watching the video from St. Olaf College linked below at -- pe (01-20-16)


At Wednesday's ad hoc meeting of worship leaders of Springfield's new ELCA congregation (Atonement-Faith-Luther Memorial) after choir practice, Pastor Larry mentioned Marty Haugen's Holden Evening Prayer service as an example of innovative worship settings we might consider.

So I went home and looked it up on YouTube. It's lovely.

Haugen is a Lutheran composer and liturgist who has written widely for ELCA and Catholic publishers and has several hymns in WOV. He wrote the Holden liturgy during the winter of 1985 and 1986 at Holden Village, an ELCA retreat in Washington state. It's quiet and meditative, with an emphasis on lighting candles and seeking light in the darkness, and it's commonly used in Advent or Lenten evening services. The music is simple and repetitive, and the melodies are catchy, pitched so they're accessible to untrained voices.

In all, it's a lot like the Taizé services they used to have at the Dominican motherhouse and First Prez in Springfield, and it might be something we could promote in the larger community -- this type of worship experience has been especially appealing to youth since its origins in the French monastic community of Taizé after World War II, and it has demonstrated appeal in Springfield.

In Springfield the Dominican service during Advent was especially well attended, and I think a similar Lutheran service might also attract worshipers from the larger community. In areas where it has caught on, like Minnesota and the upper Midwest, the Holden vespers and a more recent service called "“Holden Prayer Around the Cross” appeal to the same broad-based, ecumenical desire for more spiritual forms of worship.

"When Taizé worship began to catch on in Europe, the youth of that continent came in a flood to the tiny French town where the prayers, the silence, the candles, and the chant-like music seemed so enchanting," says a journalist in St. Paul-Minneapolis. "And they’re still coming. Perhaps [the Holden services] will become North American Lutheranism’s embodiment of that same genius."

Audio and video clips --

First Lutheran Church, ___________?, Dec. 24, 2012 (28:02)

St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., Saturday, June 1, 2013

Shepherd of the Hills, Sylva, N.C.

Taizé and the Holden vespers --

There's a brief account of how the Holden Evening Service developed out of Taizé on the website, maintained by a newspaper called MetroLutheran until recently published in the St. Paul-Minneapolis metro area. (Can you imagine a metro area with enough Lutherans to support a monthly newspaper?) It's by Michael L. Sherer, and it's headlined:

Slow down, settle in, light the candles, listen

Sherer fills in the background like this:

There is no “right way” for a Lutheran to worship. The authors of Lutheranism’s charter document, the Augsburg Confession, correctly described worship forms as “adiaphora” (things not essential to faith).

That having been said, there is no denying some worship forms have more impact than others. Why that should be might form the basis of a research thesis for a liturgical scholar. It doesn’t take a scholar, however, to know that certain music, certain ritual, certain sacred space can move us to tears — or leave us cold.

The Roman Catholic brothers who organized what became the Taizé movement in France hit upon an unlikely approach to worship several decades ago. Their standing-room-only services draw worshippers of all ages — including a significant contingent of young people. What goes on at a Taizé service? Silence, quiet meditation, the lighting of candles, and music that draws on repetitive refrains so easy to grasp that one doesn’t even need a printed resource.

The Lutheran faith community at Holden Village, a retreat center high in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state, has been borrowing from the Taizé model for decades. The popular “Holden Evening Prayer,” a creation of Twin Citian Marty Haugen, has been used for evening worship services far beyond the mountain retreat center. Many congregations use it at mid-week during Lent.

Marty Haugen on writing the service

Background on Haugen and Holden service at on the website It's on a CD with "Now is the Feast and Celebration," a widely used Lutheran communion setting that's also heavy on catchy tunes and lots of congregational participation. According to the blurb on the website:

Holden Evening Prayer was written in 1985-1986 while Marty was the musician-in-residence at Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center in Washington State, this lovely setting of vespers follows the traditional form while using contemporary and inclusive language. Contents include "Service of Light," Evening Hymn-"Joyous Light of Heav'nly Glory," "Evening Thanksgiving," "The Annunciation," "The Magnificat," "Litany and Prayers," and "Final Blessing."

In 2012, Marty Haugen told how he came to write the vespers service in the winter of 1985 and 1986, when he had a residency at Holden. He said they were snowed in, and they were "all over the map" because they weren't satisfied with the vespers music in LBW, which was still fairly new and not universally welcomed at the time -- so Haugen began experimenting with an evening prayer liturgy.

"With nine feet of snow," he said, "you had nothing to do after vespers but to sit around and critique the vespers."

The key -- E-flat minor (six flats!) -- was very strange, but Haugen said it worked with the voices on hand at Holden that winter, and it worked with the text he wrote at the same time he composed the music.

Haugen's advice to singers and music directors: "What you take into your parishes is pieces of paper with notes on them. It's the singers who make it come alive in your communities for you."

All of this, and more, is in an audio file in a web document called "Genesis of Vespers '86 (Holden Evening Prayer)." It was added July 11, 2012, to Holden Village's online collection


"Holden Prayer Around the Cross"

Notes from the article cited above, Michael L. Sherer, "Slow Down, Settle in, Light the Candles, Listen: New Lutheran Worship Liturgy Invites Participants to do Just That." MetroLutheran 28 June 2010 Sherer mentions the Holden vespers primarily for the light it sheds on a new service that came out in 2010 and is primarily concerned with the new liturgy, called "Holden Prayer Around the Cross" -- my unedited notes, mostly verbatim quotation from the article, follow:

Now comes a new creation from Holden. Begun as an evening liturgy for use at the retreat center, “Holden Prayer Around the Cross” is being made available to the wider Lutheran community. Music editors at Augsburg Fortress (AF), the ELCA-related publishing house, embraced the approach, which actually consists of simple liturgies and a collection of easy-to-sing hymns. In recent months AF has offered a package of resources built on the latest incarnation of evening worship at Holden Village:

■ Holden Prayer Around the Cross is a 140-page paperback liturgy handbook. Co-authored by one-time Holden Village director Susan Briehl and former Village musician-in-residence Tom Witt, it provides elements suitable for an evening liturgy. (Only a worship leader would purchase this book.)

■ Singing Our Prayer, a Companion to Holden Prayer Around the Cross, is a hymn collection including 44 selections. (The publication comes in a full-score edition, designed for musicians, and a “user edition,” subtitled “Shorter Songs for Contemplative Worship” and produced in an inexpensive stapled version designed for quantity purchase.)

■ There’s a companion CD that samples the music in the printed booklet.

For information about the resources, go to


[Twin City church musician Tom] Witt says the ambience created when “Holden Prayer Around the Cross” is used is really quite extraordinary. “The music, the quiet, the candles, the darkness — they all work together.” The repetitive nature of some of the music has to be “grown into,” he admits. “It can seem boring at first — until you relax and focus. Prayer might emerge out of that.” Witt says you have to “nurture people into” this approach.

“I’m surprised at the age range of people who respond to this [style of worship],” Witt confided. “Teenagers and young adults, for example, don’t just want peppy praise music. They sit in the dark and light candles and are deeply moved.”

Perhaps Witt shouldn’t be surprised. When Taizé worship began to catch on in Europe, the youth of that continent came in a flood to the tiny French town where the prayers, the silence, the candles, and the chant-like music seemed so enchanting. And they’re still coming. Perhaps “Holden Prayer Around the Cross” will become North American Lutheranism’s embodiment of that same genius.