Familiar, favorite hymns

…whatever those are. Why don’t we ever sing the old favorites? Why don’t we ever sing hymns that I know? We never sing my favorite hymn. Before we go down this blog road, let’s acknowledge and accept that the Episcopal Church is a Church of converts from every faith tradition that we can name. “Amazing grace” is one person’s old favorite. “O God, our help in ages past” is another person’s. “Jerusalem the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, November 18, 2019
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Hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest

Sunday’s collect (opening prayer) is one of the best known in the Book of Common Prayer: BLESSED lord, which hast caused all holy Scriptures to bee written for our learnyng; graunte us that we maye in suche wise heare them, read, marke, learne, and inwardly digeste them; that by pacience, and coumfort of thy holy woorde, we may embrace, and ever holde fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast geven us in our saviour Jesus Christe. Well, perhaps our printed version... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, November 11, 2019
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All things in order

In a regular year, this is the week when I would be writing about our Parish Choral Requiem, which we offer each November on the second Sunday of the month. Known as Remembrance Sunday in the United Kingdom, the Sunday commemorates the contribution of British and Commonwealth military servicemen and women. Remembrance Sunday is also the Sunday nearest to Veterans Day, our federal holiday observed annually on November 11, and is also observed by many Episcopal and Anglo-Catholic parishes... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, November 7, 2019
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Liturgical conundrum

I know that no one gets as excited over a liturgical conundrum or issue as much as I do, and I am convinced that God appreciates my excitement and probably has a good heavenly chuckle. Indeed, this is how I wound up earning an accidental Anglican Studies Diploma during my first round of graduate school, bless my heart. Actually, I have a handful of Facebook friends and professional parish musician friends who enjoy a good liturgical discussion, ever attempting to get it all perfect, but... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, October 28, 2019
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The old and the new

Only a few weeks ago I wrote a blog entitled “Old tunes, new tunes.” And today I still have the old and the new on my mind, but for a different reason. Perhaps I have the old and the new on my mind in this historic season of construction and remodeling at Church of the Holy Communion. Look out of one window of my office, and you will see old buildings. Look out the other window, and you’ll see a new brick building and yet-to-be-completed sidewalk and grand staircase. ... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, October 21, 2019
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Judgment or Judgement

The short answer: both are correct. I looked them up. Scholars disagree which is the preferred spelling. I prefer the latter spelling, which looks more complete to me. Perhaps I prefer the spelling with the “e” because decades ago I nicknamed a dear judge friend, now of blessed memory, “Your Judgeness” or “His Judgeness.” I also nicknamed his Lincoln Town Car “The Judgemobile.” Daytime television, which is “day off television”... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, October 15, 2019
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Jubilate Deo

The Latin incipit of this Sunday’s lectionary psalm and the title of this Sunday’s Parish Choir Offertory anthem are the exact same: Jubilate Deo. Amazing, yes? Before we commend me too quickly here, I have a secret: they are not the same Jubilate Deo. The incipit for this Sunday’s psalm citation, Psalm 66:1-11, is Jubliate Deo, from the first line of the psalm, “Be joyful in God, all you lands.” An incipit (Latin for “it... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, October 9, 2019
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Mass on the Grass

The phrase “Picnic Church,” which I coined some years ago for the outdoor Eucharist connected to our Annual Parish Picnic, seems to have a much larger incarnation and following. “Mass on the Grass” seems to be a real thing , especially among Roman Catholic and Episcopal parishes or organizations. The Archdiocese of Baltimore had a huge Mass on the Grass in 2012. The outdoor service was followed by a bonfire and a Christian rock concert. The Archdiocese... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, October 3, 2019
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Fighting the good fight

Is it plagiarism if you steal from yourself? And Episcopalians are nothing if not predictable, thanks to our centuries-old worship traditions and the Revised Common Lectionary. I do faithfully read said lectionary when planning liturgical music, and I make a conscious effort to balance incorporating new things for our choirs with repeating the traditional old Anglican favorites. However, this week I seem to have failed – or triumphantly succeeded, depending upon your perspective.... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, September 26, 2019
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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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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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