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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And he answered, "No!"

In this weekly blog, I am supposedly tasked with bringing together our parish worship and music in some meaningful way, with the common thread being either our Anglican worship traditions or the lectionary readings. Well, not this week. This week I’m simply writing on a favorite anthem of our choirs, lovers of Baroque choral music, devotees of the English sacred music tradition, and altos, counter-tenors, and tenors worldwide. And for many reasons, it happens to be a beloved... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, December 9, 2019
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Thanksgiving Advent mashup

Everyone knows that I am an intentionally, overly trained classical musician and have been since about age six. Indeed, many may not know that I am also a big fan of pop music. As a pop music fan, one of my regular television shows on the Fox Network from 2009-15 was GLEE , a story about a high school choir. I loved everything about GLEE , mainly the story lines about musical kids being fully accepted into the mainstream (or not). When watching GLEE , I learned a new contemporary... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, December 3, 2019
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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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