Abandoning the canoes

This past spring our parish staff read and studied a chapter from Tod Bolsinger’s book Canoeing the Mountains. In a nutshell, this book describes the early 19 th century quest of Louis and Clark to navigate a water route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, a way that everyone just knew was there. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery set out in canoes to locate this water route that explorers had been seeking for... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, July 15, 2019
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For a season

Spring is about to officially end, and summer will officially begin on June 21, though in Memphis we really cannot tell the difference. Here on the banks of the Mississippi we seem to have only two seasons: humid and not humid. In the Church we have seasons that we follow as well, called the Christian year or liturgical year, with its three-year lectionary readings cycle. I have always thought that the hallmark of the liturgical year is how we relive the life of Christ and the lives of the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, June 17, 2019
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Is it Pentecost yet?

Well, not quite. However, given this Sunday’s (May 19) Gospel lesson, you might think so: I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. -from John 13 On the day of Pentecost this year (June 9), we will read: If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, May 16, 2019
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Doing a new thing

Since 2015, Church of the Holy Communion has commissioned a number of musical works, along with having several dedicated to us. And a couple of those were wonderful surprises for our choirs. At the  Alleluia Be Our Measure  parish sacred arts festival in May 2015, we premiered our parish hymn, "Come, new heav'n, new earth, descending," with its text by poet and hymnist Susan Palo Cherwien and tune WALNUT GROVE by composer William Bradley Roberts. Our parish... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Saturday, May 11, 2019
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Episcopal/Anglican Handbells

In church music circles, I believe it a truthful statement to say that most Episcopal parishes do not have active handbell choirs. In Episcopal circles, it seems that Episcopal musicians fall on one side of the handbell fence or the other, with not much middle ground. If the Anglican way is the via media (“middle way”), then falling on either side of the fence is not the truest Anglican virtue, is it? Among my Episcopal music director colleagues, I hear all manner of... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, May 2, 2019
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Family Stories

We are in the midst of Holy Week, arguably the holiest week of the Christian Year. Without discounting the significance of Christmas – the gift of the Christ Child, God’s own Son come down to earth, without which none of this week’s sacred events would occur – it is the progression of Holy Week, the Great Three Days ( Triduum ), and Easter Day that defines us as Resurrection Christians. As the Christian Church, we annually relive and celebrate the historic... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, April 16, 2019
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The Only Victim

Solus ad victimam is the Latin title of the anthem at the Offertory at the 10:30 service this Sunday, the Sunday of the Passion. Palm Sunday is the feast day’s official title. The literal translation of solus ad victimam is “only the victim” or “the only victim.” Both versions have slight differences of meaning, but together they convey the message. Jesus went to the cross alone for our sins. The musical setting of this poignant text is not one we... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, April 8, 2019
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Jesu dulcis memoria

This Sunday’s anthem at the Offertory at the 10:30 service “is one of the oldest texts in the book.” I seem to say that a lot. Indeed, The Hymnal 1982 is a storehouse of the theology of the Episcopal Church. Its riches are, in my opinion, unsurpassed among Protestant hymnals published in this country in the 20 th  Century. This anthem text, Jesu dulcis memoria, has inspired centuries of composers from Palestrina to Victoria and all the way to the 21 st ... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, April 3, 2019
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Hebrew Christians

Hebrew is in the blood of any Christian, even an Episcopalian. An oversimplification of sorts, I have often said that our liturgy is descended Jewish liturgy. What we do in worship closely follows the Jewish liturgy. Jesus just tagged on Holy Communion to the Jewish liturgy when he said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Today many Christians refer to the Old Testament as the Hebrew scriptures. I have even seen this in print in parish service leaflets, “A reading from the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, March 28, 2019
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Missa Appalachia

Missa (Latin “mass”) refers not only to the act of sacramental worship, known by different names such as Holy Communion, Holy Eucharist, and the Lord ’s Supper. Missa also conjures up numerous musical settings, musical forms, and a variety of composers, at least for those of us in the sacred music community. Missa brevis (short), Missa solemnis (solemn, for festive occasions with orchestra), Missa ferialis (weekday, omits Gloria and Credo), Missa sine nomine ... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, March 21, 2019
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Thanks be to God for Lent

At an Episcopal music conference years ago, a Memphis colleague said to me, “You know what the scuttlebutt on the street is about Church of the Holy Communion, don’t you? They say that you never hear a bad sermon at Church of the Holy Communion.” I smiled humbly, took a sip, and quietly said, “Well, yes, that’s true.” Yesterday morning, the first Sunday in Lent, I heard a sermon that quickly grabbed my attention. Father Sandy’s thesis... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, March 12, 2019
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Our pilgrim way of Lent

Our annual Lenten journey begins this week on Ash Wednesday. Yes, this Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday, the last liturgical hoorah before the Lenten fast and the day we use up all the medieval luxuries of eggs, flour, milk, sugar and meat in our annual Shrove Tuesday pancake supper. The Shrove Tuesday supper will begin with great feasting and color, pancakes and sausage with lots of gooey syrup, and then move into the burial of the Alleluias by the rector and the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, March 5, 2019
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Choral masterpieces

By singing anthems for Sunday worship each week, our choirs go through a goodly amount of choral literature. And not to toot our own horns, we sing quite a wide variety of styles of anthem literature. For example, in the month of January, our worshipers heard harmonically bold 20 th  Century anthems; harmonically tame but lyrical 20 th  Century anthems; a gospel hymn arrangement; an African-American spiritual setting; a German chorale arrangement by one of my beloved CHC... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, February 26, 2019
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Favorite hymns

This past Saturday, I was privileged and honored to be asked to present a program to the Daughters of the King (DOK) of Church of the Holy Communion, which actually included DOK members from parishes throughout the Diocese of West Tennessee. By request, I was asked to speak on the topic "Hymns As Spiritual Devotion." A subtitle for my talk was "Those who sing pray twice," a verbal nod to the phrase traditionally attributed to St. Augustine.  One of my... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, February 20, 2019
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The Beatitudes

This Sunday's (February 17) Gospel reading is one of the passages that we know as the Beatitudes, Jesus' sermon where he used the format, "Blessed are the..." I have written in this blog before about my career-long quest for "mustard seed anthems." Jesus often spoke in parables, and some of them are more obvious than others. "Having the faith of a grain of mustard seed" is one of those parables in which I search for anthems to illuminate the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, February 14, 2019
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