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 | 0 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 | 0 comments
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Small voice of calm

Poor Peter. In last Sunday’s gospel, Peter blurted out the answer (“You are the Messiah”) before any of the other disciples had the chance to answer, and Jesus rewarded him for it. (“You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.”) This week, Jesus is foreshadowing the events of his own life – that he must go to Jerusalem, be killed and be raised on the third day – and Peter exclaims, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, August 28, 2017 | 0 comments
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Rocking Our World!

Did you know that 51 separate verses in the Bible talk about rocks? (As a child of the '80s and an original Trivial Pursuit fan, I like facts like this.) We were just talking about rocks during Parish Choir warm-up this past Sunday morning. Growing up Methodist, with a little Baptist on the side, how many years did I sing, “Here I raise my Ebenezer,” not knowing that an Ebenezer was actually a rock. After moving to Memphis 15-plus years ago, I finally sought out Rabbi... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, August 21, 2017 | 0 comments
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Motherhood comes with unflappable faith

The woman whose daughter was possessed by a demon had an unflappable faith. When it comes to their children, I believe most every mother is unflappable, thank God. This Sunday’s gospel tells the story of a Canaanite woman (and therefore already an outcast) who sought out Jesus to heal her tormented daughter. In usual form, the disciples advised to “send her away.” And at first Jesus seems to agree by saying, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, August 16, 2017 | 0 comments
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Moveable Font!

People of a certain age will remember the 1970s Wendy's TV commercial, "Where's the beef?" Upon entering most any liturgical church, seekers will find three major appointments in the sanctuary, nave, worship space or "meeting house," as the church is called in New England, Congregationalist-speak: (1) the alta (a.k.a. holy table), Communion table and "Goddes borde" in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer-speak; (2) the pulpit, from whence God's word... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, July 10, 2017 | 0 comments
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Bishop's poetry glows through ages

Hail thee, festival day! Blest day that art hallowed forever, day when the Holy Ghost shone in the world with God’s grace. Lo, in the likeness or fire, on those who await his appearing,  he whom the Lord foretold suddenly, swiftly descends: Forth from the Father he comes with sevenfold mystical offering, pouring on all human souls infinite riches of God: Hark! for the myriad tongues, Christ’s own, his chosen apostles, preach to the ends of... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, May 31, 2017 | 0 comments
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Glory on high!

If the birth of Jesus Christ is the beginning of the story, is the Ascension of the Lord the end? Well, perhaps. The Ascension is the end of Jesus’ earthly life, but it is most certainly not the end. From last Sunday’s gospel: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, May 22, 2017 | 0 comments
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On these high notes, summer begins!

The Parish Choir of Church of the Holy Communion is going on a much-deserved break beginning the first of June. Not to worry: We will sing familiar, beloved congregational hymns for all of June and July, which our parishioners happily anticipate.  The Parish Choir is finishing the season with a bit of a flourish of worthy anthems, thanks mostly to the Revised Common Lectionary, which makes our weekly worship experiences so very rich. Two Sundays ago, for the Fourth Sunday... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, May 16, 2017 | 0 comments
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Spiritual home in good hands

With May being one of our busiest times of the year at Church of the Holy Communion and St. Mary's Episcopal School, it's difficult to be away, even for a few days.  I have just returned from one of my spiritual homes, a great church in New York, host of a conference I have not attended for more than ten years. For 44 years, St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue has hosted an annual choirmasters conference that has been led by some of the finest Anglican musicians and choir... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, May 9, 2017 | 0 comments
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All we like sheep

In the Christian calendar, we know that all Sundays have specific names according to the lectionary year (Fourth Sunday of Easter, Day of Pentecost, etc.). Some Sundays have “liturgical nicknames” as well, mainly taken from the readings for a particular Sunday. The Second Sunday of Easter is known as “Thomas Sunday” from the gospel account of “Doubting Thomas.” The Seventh Sunday of Easter is known as “Ascension Sunday,” as it is the Sunday... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, May 1, 2017 | 0 comments
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