Advent is a spiritual journey

As we anticipate the Christmas season, officially twelve days long no matter what the malls and department stores say, we look forward each year to celebrating the arrival of the long-awaited Christ Child. However, we can safely say that the Advent season is basically given over to Mary the Mother of Jesus and to John the Baptist. Each lectionary year, of the four Advent Sundays, both the Advent II and Advent III Gospel readings reintroduce John the Baptist to us. And in two out of the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, December 14, 2017 | 0 comments
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The Great "O" Antiphons

Church of the Holy Communion has initiated a new musical offering for the Advent season this year, based upon the “O” Antiphons associated with the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” For each verse of this beloved Advent hymn, as printed at Hymn 56 in The Hymnal 1982, the hymn text has a printed date attached to each stanza. Each of these hymn stanzas refers to an antiphon based upon a name given to Christ in the Old Testament and is a petition for the scriptural... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, December 5, 2017 | 0 comments
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Orb of my heart

What exactly is the "central orb"? Throughout the years, I have been occasionally asked this question by adult choristers to whom I have distributed the beloved Anglican cathedral hit-anthem, "O Thou the Central Orb" by Irish composer Charles Wood (1866-1926). Composers Ralph Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells, also biggies in the English cathedral music world, studied with Wood at the Royal College of Music. But, I digress... After some years of playing,... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, November 28, 2017 | 0 comments
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Christ, the King

For all intents and purposes, this Sunday (November 26) is “Liturgical New Year’s Eve” for the Christian year. For those who follow the three-year cycle of lectionary readings in their faith traditions, the Feast of Christ the King is the last Sunday on the Christian calendar. The Roman Catholic and many Protestant denominations – Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Methodists – celebrate Christ the King Sunday. Christ the King is also a... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, November 21, 2017 | 0 comments
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The eyes of all

The Book of Psalms is in the third section of the Hebrew Bible, the Ketuvim (“Writings”), which contains the “poetic” books including the Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Esther, Daniel, and a few others. The first section of the Hebrew Bible is the Torah (“Teachings”), namely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The second section Nevi’im (“Prophets”) contains the books of the prophets Joshua, Samuel,... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, November 16, 2017 | 0 comments
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Ordinary vs. Proper

Anglicans tend to have our own vocabulary. As we are a people of books, I suppose that we come by this honestly and slightly unintentionally. Our Book of Common Prayer (BCP) has lots and lots of words, and centuries ago lots and lots of people died for the privilege for us to have them in our own language. Two such terms are Ordinary vs. Proper. No, not that “proper,” as in how our grandmothers made us sit up at the dinner table and fold our napkins in our laps properly.... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Saturday, November 11, 2017 | 1 comments
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Death is not the end

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write this, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. (Revelation to John 13:14 KJV) Many may know that one of my very favorite humorists is Jeanne Robertson, a statuesque former Miss North Carolina who has made a vibrant career for herself as humorist and motivational speaker. In recent years she has appeared at both the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, October 31, 2017 | 0 comments
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Luther 500

The Indy 500 happens annually every May, but Luther 500 happens only every five-hundred years. Most Episcopal parishes seem to not do much with the Reformation. At this point on the liturgical calendar, we seem to have our annual sights set on All Saints’ Day and the festival Sunday following. In the Anglican tradition, the Reformation was a bit rocky at best, something about King Henry VIII trying to find the “right” wife and produce an heir. The latter was important,... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, October 23, 2017 | 0 comments
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Keeping the realms straight

“Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Yes, this Sunday is our annual Celebration Sunday (AKA Stewardship Sunday). And no, we did not plan this to coincide with this Sunday’s Gospel reading … I promise, cross my heart. However, I believe this line from the Sunday Gospel has much to say about everything in our lives. Though Jesus was talking specifically about taxes and coin money and... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, October 19, 2017 | 0 comments
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Find room in your heart for the "other"

“Well, this Sunday we’re singing the other tune.” Please allow me to explain. Hymnals contain music of all genres – plainsong chant, traditional hymns in four-parts, hymns sung in unison only, verse/refrain hymns, hymns with descants, and tune from literally all over the globe. Hymnals also contain poetry of all kinds and from throughout the centuries – translated Latin texts, poem with rhyme and meter, hymns with verbatim scriptural texts, and litanies in... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, October 9, 2017 | 0 comments
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Sometimes, it's all God

Choirmasters love it when God says, “Here, my child, sing this anthem or hymn this week.” God’s directions or desires are not always so completely obvious, which is why I maintain that God expects us to use our intellect when seeking God’s will. One old priest friend in my life used to begin his seasonal confirmation instruction classes by saying at the very first meeting, “When you come to the Episcopal Church, don’t check your brain at the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, October 2, 2017 | 1 comments
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Love teachers and you learn forever

I have much respect for teachers – those highly educated, grossly underpaid, dedicated life-servants who happily and carefully prepare us for making our ways in the world as grown-ups. I idolized my teachers from the very beginning, especially the musical ones. One of my Presbyterian kindergarten teachers was a pianist, as was my Methodist Sunday school teacher the same year. My first-grade teacher was a Baptist church choir director and a pianist and an organist. She had a... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, September 28, 2017 | 0 comments
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In celebration of St. Michael et al

Episcopalians believe in celebrations. The central liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer is, indeed, the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist. We use the word "celebration" in every nuance of its meaning: to observe or commemorate, to proclaim, to praise widely, to solemnize, to perform with appropriate rites and ceremonies. Each Sunday in the Christian year, we celebrate as a specific feast day, remembering that "each Sunday is a Little Easter." This Sunday (Sept.... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, September 20, 2017 | 0 comments
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Negro spirituals complex as code they represented

In the South, we communicate by telling stories. We all do it, though some of us are admittedly better or more interested in the practice than others. And some of us (like yours truly) do it with far more detail than necessary or desired, bless our hearts. One of the musical forms that is truly American is the Negro spiritual. And no, these songs are not correctly called African-American spirituals; they are properly Negro spirituals, songs of trial and tribulation that grew out of the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, September 11, 2017 | 0 comments
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Sublimity from St. Bart's

There are occasionally anthems, indeed marriages of text and tune, that give us a glimpse of heaven. This Sunday’s anthem at the 10:30 a.m. Offertory is one of them. And how delighted I am that our CHC Choristers (grades 2-6) will join the Parish Choir for the first time this season to sing and experience this sublime music! Great Russian choral music frequently includes numerous Alleluias, pronounced Al-le-lu-i-a in five syllables as opposed to normal four Al-le-lu-ia , and the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, September 6, 2017 | 1 comments
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