The organ is ready to be played, but the organist is not there

The final cosmetic touches in our beautifully refurbished Nave will be finished this week, including the complete cleaning, reassembling, and re-tuning of our Wicks organ, which has been encased in plastic since June 2019. Meanwhile, the organist is working from home.  Everything in my being wants to "run down to the church to practice," as has been my Saturday afternoon routine for decades in my life. But then the terms COVID-19, social distancing, physical distancing, and... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, March 31, 2020
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Interesting times

In a normal, regular week, this blog might be about Sunday's Gospel reading and how our hymns and anthem enlighten the reading. A few weeks ago, I wrote about favorite Bible verses and mentioned the shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus wept," which actually shows up in this Sunday's Gospel reading. Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, after which he called, "Lazarus, come out!" Lazarus walked out of his tomb, a foreshadowing of Jesus' own Resurrection... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, March 24, 2020
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Light for the blind

The Gospel lessons during the Lenten season are usually noticeably longer, but the readings for this Sunday and last are among the most significant readings of all in the Bible. The story of the woman at the well was this past Sunday and is a personal favorite of mine. There are so many facets of this encounter between the Samaritan women and Jesus. Jesus, a Jew, asks a Samaritan for a drink of water: not proper, as we say in the south. Jesus then told her to go and get her husband. When... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, March 16, 2020
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The Old Days

Do any seasoned Episcopalians out there in Blogland still remember the old Morning Prayer days? As some friends will remember, I migrated into the Episcopal Church during my grad school days, after Book of Common Prayer revision in 1979 and during the introduction of The Hymnal 1982 in 1985. Even in the mid-1980's, I would occasionally hear from parishioners, "Why do we no longer regularly sing the old Venite or the Jubilate ? For about the first 175 years of the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, March 11, 2020
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The most familiar verse in the Bible

What is the most familiar verse in the Holy Bible? What is your favorite Bible verse? Both are loaded questions, I know. And every Christian will have a different answer. We all know the shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus wept. (John 11:35) For the most familiar and favorite, many will answer with a verse from this Sunday’s appointed Gospel reading: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, March 2, 2020
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Lenten changes

This Sunday is the First Sunday in Lent, and each year offers us an opportunity to regroup. Some people take on a specific Lenten discipline – giving up something like chocolate or taking on something like a book study – which is fine but can begin to feel burdensome. I like to think of the Lenten season as a time to pare away the excesses, allowing more time for God. Lent is a great gift to those of us who love worshipping God with liturgical practice. I confess that I had to... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, February 25, 2020
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The Last Hoorah

Virtually all our Sunday feasts have titles that include numbers: First Sunday of Advent, Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Third Sunday in Lent, Fourth Sunday of Easter, and the like. The Sundays after Pentecost number the most, lasting from late May or early June until sometime in November, depending upon where Easter Day and the Day of Pentecost fall that calendar year. Obviously, some feast days, which occasionally fall on a Sunday, have fixed dates: Christmas Day (Dec. 25), The... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, February 17, 2020
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Commandments

Before we get too far, this week's entry is not about the Ten Commandments. Well, not necessarily, but perhaps indirectly. The Revised Common Lectionary, which we use each week for worship, is rich with its messages that come from a common thread or theme found in the Sunday’s four readings: Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament, and Gospel.  The theme is also present in the Collect of the Day, one of the opening prayers in our liturgy. Often this collect has an... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Sunday, February 16, 2020
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Eight Sundays

The congregation cheered and applauded this past Sunday morning when the Rector announced: “Only eight Sundays until we’re back in the nave!” Yes, the finish line is in sight, and we are down to the wire. The nave presently still is surrounded with chain-link fencing and is inaccessible. When walking the halls of the parish house, we frequently hear jackhammering and beeping equipment coming from behind its locked interior doors. However, on the outside of the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, February 3, 2020
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Red-letter days

Of course, I must write on The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple this week, as it is a red-letter day. Red letter days, referring to special days on any calendar, have their origins from calendars of the Roman Republic (509-527 BC) when they were printed on the calendars with red ink. After the invention of the printing press, the red-letter day practice was continued in liturgical books of the Roman Catholic Church. The feast days or holy days on the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, January 27, 2020
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Fishers of people

This Sunday, January 26, is “fishers of people” Sunday, nicknamed by the Gospel story of Jesus’ calling of the first disciples. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19) A version of this story appears in each of the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This year, which is Lectionary Year A, we hear the Matthew account on Epiphany III, which is this coming Sunday. In 2018, which was Year B, we heard... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, January 23, 2020
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From the ancient to the contemporary

"This is one of the oldest texts in the book!" I find myself frequently saying this to our choirs during rehearsals, and my proclamation is frequently true. The Hymnal 1982 is one of the most successful Christian hymnals in history, as was its predecessor The Hymnal 1940. In modern Christianity, the average lifespan of any denomination's hymnal is about 20-25 years; in the Episcopal Church, we seem to use our hymnals for about 40 years, a testament to the scholarship and... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, January 14, 2020
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Crunchy harmonies

If southerners communicate by telling stories, I confess that I communicate by telling stories, supplemented by the frequent use of colloquialisms. When writing in a scholarly manner, I always attempt to use the highest possible grammar and the most correct punctuation. However, having a conversation with me is an entirely different matter. Throughout the years, I have gratefully received compliments about my own performances ranging from “You played so beautifully” to... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, January 7, 2020
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The Word Chord

Many Anglicans and Episcopalians world-wide say that Christmas comes with the chord on “Word of the Father” in Sir David Willcocks’ congregation/brass/timpani/organ setting of Adeste Fideles, “O come, all ye faithful.” Our “Word” chord last week, however, happened on the piano in the parish hall. Months ago when I learned that we would most likely be worshipping in our Cheney Parish Hall for Christmas 2019, I did not panic but began thinking... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, December 30, 2019
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I syng of a mayden

No, the title of this week’s blog is not a spell-check disaster. I love to see the words of this ancient carol printed in its original Middle English. In Lectionary Years B and C, by its Gospel accounts of the Annunciation and the Visitation to Elizabeth, the Fourth Sunday of Advent is devoted to Mary the Mother of Jesus. Indeed, the Magnificat is even an option for the Psalm in Year C. But if Advent IV remains devoted to Mary, even in Year A where we are this year, this... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, December 17, 2019
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