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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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The Last Hoorah

Virtually all our Sunday feasts have titles that include numbers: First Sunday of Advent, Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Third Sunday in Lent, Fourth Sunday of Easter, and the like. The Sundays after Pentecost number the most, lasting from late May or early June until sometime in November, depending upon where Easter Day and the Day of Pentecost fall that calendar year. Obviously, some feast days, which occasionally fall on a Sunday, have fixed dates: Christmas Day (Dec. 25), The... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, February 17, 2020
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Before we get too far, this week's entry is not about the Ten Commandments. Well, not necessarily, but perhaps indirectly. The Revised Common Lectionary, which we use each week for worship, is rich with its messages that come from a common thread or theme found in the Sunday’s four readings: Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament, and Gospel.  The theme is also present in the Collect of the Day, one of the opening prayers in our liturgy. Often this collect has an... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Sunday, February 16, 2020
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Eight Sundays

The congregation cheered and applauded this past Sunday morning when the Rector announced: “Only eight Sundays until we’re back in the nave!” Yes, the finish line is in sight, and we are down to the wire. The nave presently still is surrounded with chain-link fencing and is inaccessible. When walking the halls of the parish house, we frequently hear jackhammering and beeping equipment coming from behind its locked interior doors. However, on the outside of the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, February 3, 2020
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Red-letter days

Of course, I must write on The Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple this week, as it is a red-letter day. Red letter days, referring to special days on any calendar, have their origins from calendars of the Roman Republic (509-527 BC) when they were printed on the calendars with red ink. After the invention of the printing press, the red-letter day practice was continued in liturgical books of the Roman Catholic Church. The feast days or holy days on the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, January 27, 2020
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Fishers of people

This Sunday, January 26, is “fishers of people” Sunday, nicknamed by the Gospel story of Jesus’ calling of the first disciples. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19) A version of this story appears in each of the three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This year, which is Lectionary Year A, we hear the Matthew account on Epiphany III, which is this coming Sunday. In 2018, which was Year B, we heard... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Thursday, January 23, 2020
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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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