How to Host a Lenten Hymn Sing

Last week, I posted a 3 steps to hosting an easy hymn sing and talked about it on the podcast. This week, I have a template for a “Journey to the Cross” with 60 hymns to choose from, so you can have a cohesive hymn sing focused on the Cross.

The hymn sing’s theme is “Journey to the Cross,” with four progressive sub-themes:

  • a Christian’s walk with God (“I want to walk as a child of the light”)
  • God’s presence on the journey (“When through fiery trials”)
  • adoration of Christ on the cross (“What wondrous love is this?”)
  • proclaiming the cross (“The love of Christ proclaim”)

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Posted by sarah.bereza in Church Music Administration, Congregational Singing, 0 comments

Ep. 11: Musical Training for Priests and Other Topics in Orthodox Church Music, with Harrison Russin

Try This at Church: Use timbre to change your liturgical colors. Picking up on last week’s episode about using music to set Lent apart as a special season of the year, Stephen writes that he changes his musical “liturgical color” during Lent.

Interview: We discuss the musical training of ministerial students with Harrison Russin, Lecturer in Liturgical Music and Dean’s Fellow at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (Yonkers, NY). He also shares his experience directing a choir in non-metrical chants; surveys the (many!) kinds of Orthodox music heard in churches across the U.S.; and explains why some Orthodox churches have organs, but most don’t. Continue reading →

Posted by sarah.bereza in Choral Music, History of Church Music, Instrumental Music, Podcast, 0 comments

3 Steps to an Easy Hymn Sing

Hymn sings can be grand affairs, with special anthems combining choir with congregation, extra instrumentalists to plan for and rehearse, and scripture readings to coordinate with the hymns’ themes.

But a hymn sing can also be very easy to plan and host.

Here’s the 3 basic steps:

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Posted by sarah.bereza in Congregational Singing, 0 comments

Bonus Episode: The Hillsong Movement Examined, Part 2

In this bonus episode of Music and the Church, Dr. Tanya Riches continues discussing The Hillsong Movement Examined: You Call Me Out Upon the Waters, a new collection of essays that she and Dr. Tom Wagner co-edited.

Earlier in Episode 8, Tanya talked about Hillsong’s music, how women lead worship in the church, and how she and Tom approached Hillsong as scholars working on the inside and outside of the church.

Today, she’s giving an overview of the book’s 15 essays, and discussing her chapter on women’s ministries at Hillsong, especially the Sisterhood (starting about 14 minutes in). She shows how many Hillsong women internalize an identity that doesn’t reflect their own experiences. Contrary to a so-called “princess theology,” the women Tanya interviewed said that they had empowering experiences of leadership and training in the church.

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Posted by sarah.bereza in Contemporary Worship, Music and Theology, Podcast, 0 comments

Ep. 9: 11 Essentials for a Choir Rehearsal Space

In the field: Choir rooms need a lot more than chairs and a piano to function well for musicians—they need storage for anthems, places for information (like a white board), and most important of all: a flat surface for cookies. Listen for 11 choir rehearsal space essentials, plus two bonus ideas.

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Posted by sarah.bereza in Choral Music, Church Music Administration, Podcast, 0 comments

Writing Process: Book Progress

Since the summer, I’ve had a book outline up on the wall in my son’s bedroom. Little snips of index cards, stuck to the wall with blue painter’s tape.

I often think about this book project (it’s one of two I’m working on—this one is based in my doctoral research on music in fundamentalist Christianity). But I don’t often think about the big picture—the index card outline was my way of getting the big picture out of me, so I had the mental space to let my ideas cohere.

I’ve like to say it was some inner impulse prompting me to work on the big picture again, but in fact, it’s the pragmatic “and now my son is tall enough to pull the lowest cards off the wall and crumple them up” that’s brought me back. Continue reading →

Posted by sarah.bereza in Music in Fundamentalist Christianity, Writing, 0 comments

Ep. 8: The Hillsong Movement Examined, with Tanya Riches

Try This At Church: We follow up on last week’s suggestion to play from a binder of an entire service’s music (instead of swapping out books throughout a service). Kathy suggests making copies of hymn harmonizations and organizing them alphabetically in binders, so you can see your entire collection at once instead of thumbing through many different books.

In the Field: What theological issues are at play in the great debate: do organists and choir members really need to pay attention during the sermon, especially if other people in the congregation can’t see them?

Interview: Theologian and musician Tanya Riches discusses the new book, The Hillsong Movement Examined: You Call Me Out Upon the Waters, which she co-edited with Tom Wagner. This collection of 15 essays is the first scholarly book about Hillsong Church, a Pentecostal church with roots in Sydney, Australia.

In our interview, Tanya discusses music at the church, as well as her essay in the collection, which deals with women’s leadership in the church.

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Posted by sarah.bereza in Contemporary Worship, Music and Theology, Podcast

Ep. 7: Social Media for Church Musicians, with David Sinden

Try This at Church: For trickier services, make copies of all music and play from a single binder instead of shuffling books.

Interview: Today’s interview is with David Sinden, the Organist & Director of Music at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in St. Louis, Missouri, and co-host of the podcast All Things Rite and Musical. Speaking of social media, you can follow David on Twitter.

Why use social media? Because it’s is a way to share your and your church’s ministry with others, especially people in your congregation.

What platforms can be useful for church musicians? A personal or church website, Twitter, Facebook, blog, and emailed newsletter. David suggests embedding a more frequently updated platform, like Twitter, in a more evergreen location like a website, allowing the website to have fresh content without frequent management.

What kinds of things to post? Upcoming events, including what music is planned for a church service. Work in progress/behind the scenes photos, recordings, and videos.

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Posted by sarah.bereza in Church Music Administration, Podcast
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