A tale of two hymns

The lectionary readings for this Sunday (Sept. 22) are rich but complex. And the two hymns that we will sing during Communion this Sunday have rich and complex texts as well. The first hymn is a contemporary one, which we have sung before, but is probably not quite as familiar. However, the melody is simple and, with its gentle rises and falls, is quite singable. The second hymn, a Bach chorale, is frankly one of the most beloved tunes in the book. The first hymn, “What does the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, September 18, 2019
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Chairs

Many recent NOTES: Liturgy and Music blog entries have been about the new and the old. New and old anthems. New and old spaces. New and old instruments. New and old (familiar, perhaps a better word) service music in our liturgy. But I have never written an article about chairs. This past Sunday, when our Bishop blessed and dedicated all of the remodeled and renovated ministry spaces, someone asked me while touring our new Music Suite: "Did you design all of this?"  ... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Friday, September 13, 2019
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Old tunes, new tunes

Our parish choirs are preparing to move into a brand-new Music Suite next week. For much of the last choir season and a few weeks now in the new season, Wednesday rehearsals have been farmed out in various spaces throughout the building. By this time next week, our choirs will have their very own spaces again. Artwork will not yet be on the walls, and the music will not be perfectly filed, but we will have large rooms, pianos, and chairs. And all will have been blessed by the Bishop. ... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, September 5, 2019
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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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