We're back

Yes, we’re back in the nave, after almost exactly one calendar year. In late June 2019, we had one final Sunday in the nave, “Folding Chairs Sunday,” which bookended nicely with the very first Sunday in the new nave in January 1950, also before the new pews had arrived. This past winter and spring, the nave renovations were on schedule for a triumphant return on Palm Sunday. But then the season of Covidtide hit, and everything changed. Indeed, we have had a bit of... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, June 16, 2020
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Parish organists and pianists

A moment of personal privilege here, please. Next Sunday (June 7) is the day I return to the world as the parish organist. This Sunday (May 31) is my last Sunday as the parish pianist. In June 2019, we vacated the nave for construction and refurbishment. The balcony was sealed off with huge sheets of thick plastic. Later a wooden frame with plastic was constructed directly in front of the organ façade, and the organ console was encased in thick plastic. All Sunday worship moved... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, May 27, 2020
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Jesus' full-circle moment

Ascension Day is on Thursday this week. As Easter Day is always a Sunday, Ascension Day is always a Thursday, 40 days later. Pentecost is also always a Sunday, 50 days after Easter Day, hence the prefix pente. All good biblical numbers. The Seventh Sunday of Easter, which occurs between Ascension Day and the Day of Pentecost, is always subtitled the Sunday after Ascension Day. Indeed, the propers for this Sunday also reflect the Ascension images. Episcopalians, yours truly in... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, May 20, 2020
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These virtual times

Everything has changed. And I mean everything. Directing a socially distanced parish music program from home is not the easiest thing I have ever done. While many do not, I still have a salary, food, and paper products on hand, I truly have nothing about which to complain. However, directing church music from home, with two laptop computers, a mobile phone, and an out-of-tune Yamaha piano, is something that I never envisioned. In assigned shifts, the Holy Communion parish staff is... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, May 13, 2020
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Virtual Bread of Heaven

Trying to stay on a work schedule at home is quite difficult, and I have not yet found the groove. There are too many distractions: laundry, television, dishwasher, Facebook, commanding Alexa to play my favorite music. Though we are using Facebook to a great advantage to stay in touch as a parish, I am always caught by the temptation to take the incessant quizzes found there. And you know organists: we speak in our own language, which to the natural world can sound like speaking Klingon... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, May 6, 2020
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Good Shepherd Sunday

I maintain that those of us who are spiritually fed by liturgical worship traditions – namely Roman Catholics, Episcopalians/Anglicans, and Lutherans – prefer worship when things do not change. The magic words in church life are, “But we’ve always done it that way.” Likewise, the Jewish and Eastern Orthodox traditions are also wonderfully constant in style of worship. I loved my years as a temple organist. At the risk of repeating myself in this blog,... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, April 29, 2020
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Musical chestnuts or musical gems

I once wrote a blog entry about those tunes that we cannot get out of our heads, better known as “earworms.” But what about those pieces that we regard as the most beloved of a specific musical genre, which my college organ professor called “gems of the literature?” And then there are those compositions that we love to play, program, or listen to, perhaps to the point of overkill that they become “musical chestnuts.” To support my claim,... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, April 22, 2020
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Believe it when you see it

Perhaps one of the positives of physical distancing these days is the amount of quiet time in which we have available to think or reflect. Or for extroverts like yours truly, perhaps not. Either way, between working from home with two laptops and a mobile phone, and between trying to not do the laundry when only five articles of clothing are dirty, I am spending a lot of time reflecting. If the reflecting does not morph into frantically long lists of things to do, I seem to be... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, April 16, 2020
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The Great Three Days

Though I swore I would not write a COVID-19 blog entry, I did so last week, referencing the rebooting of the organ and the nave. As I am occasionally sneaking to the church to practice, the new acoustics in the nave are fantastic, and I cannot wait to hear congregational singing in the space! COVID-19 is teaching us (me) patience, if nothing. In the midst of personal distancing, self-quarantining, Zoom meetings, Zoom choir “rehearsals,” grocery internet orders, toilet paper... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, April 8, 2020
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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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