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Friendship, community, hospitality and grace

We have all heard the jokes, as inspired by Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I will be in the midst of them.” Likewise: Where two or more Baptists are gathered, a chicken must die and be fried. Where two or more Methodists are gathered, there will be a covered-dish supper. Where two or more Presbyterians are gathered, a vote will be taken.  Where two or more Episcopalians are gathered, there will always be a fifth. Have we noticed... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, April 11, 2018

April 4 now embedded in every fiber

In 1968, I was attending kindergarten at the Presbyterian church in my small hometown in South Carolina. The next school year, my first-grade class was the first integrated grade in our school district. I knew there were differences with black people and white people, but other than going to different churches at the time, I do not remember any other real differences. My preschool best friend and I used to walk together up Main Street to the county library branch for Tuesday morning... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Behind the Easter anthem

By now the world should know that I like text-driven music for the liturgy. Of course, I have my favorites. We all do. I love the Mozart Ave verum corpus, which technically would work for Communion all the time. And since we celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, we could “liturgically, legally” sing it every Sunday morning. It is also no secret that I would program the Victoria O magnum mysterium every Christmas Eve if given my druthers. For me, that marriage of text and... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, March 26, 2018

Dramatic week begins simply

We are about to enter the most dramatic part of the Christian year. The sequence of events marked by Holy Week and Easter are, I believe, the most dramatic. Many will immediately argue about or for the glorious drama of the Christmas sequence, including traveling to Bethlehem, being turned away at the inn, the birth in the stable, the angels, the shepherds, the Magi, the flight into Egypt. However, something about the birth of the Christ Child seems quieter and simpler than the Holy... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tribute rings true

For the first time, this week’s NOTES: Music & Liturgy is in retrograde , to coin a musical term. The 20th Century contemporary composers, working with 12-tone or aleatory music, could state their 12-tones in order and then in retrograde, inversion  and retrograde inversion. Here I am only backing up a Sunday rather than inverting it or backing up and inverting it. However, this backing-up is intentional, as our Holy Communion Ringers played for the 10:30 service on... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, March 5, 2018

Solid and fluid, at once

Somewhere between Vacation Bible School and the Decalogue in the Book of Common Prayer, I know we have at some point in our lives memorized the Ten Commandments. Well, this Sunday (March 4), the Ten Commandments appear and will be read officially as the First Lesson. Young and old alike will hear the beloved, famous Old Testament words, and I imagine many of us will remember when we first heard them. To go along with the Ten Commandments early in the 10:30... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Friday, March 2, 2018

The Summons

What are the correct words for a particular hymn tune? This question depends upon many things, including the faith tradition in which you were raised, the particular setting or liturgy in which a hymn text is used, or the hymn tune you remember singing when you went to church with your grandmother. Take the hymn tune Hyfrydol for example. The Methodists and Presbyterians sing “Come, thou long-expected Jesus” to this favorite tune, while the Baptists and some Presbyterians sing... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Great Litany

"Are we singing that thing in procession this Sunday?!” That thing would be The Great Litany, the oldest piece of extant original-English liturgy we have. Each week I receive numerous comments and questions about our liturgy and music, and I love this, as I know people in the pews are paying attention to what is going on. And truthfully, 99 percent of the comments I hear are wonderfully encouraging, positive and genuinely inquisitive. Knowing that the faithful... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Full circle, it is

When you are on Facebook and you see that two of your friends also know each other, and you have no clue how or from where, do you ever feel as though your life is flashing before your eyes? Oprah calls these “full-circle moments.” Not being able to resist, I usually have to write a two-person private message that asks, “Okay, how to you two know each other?” My mother has said, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” There is some truth in... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Epiphany hymn is a jewel box

If last week’s Parish Choir and Choristers anthem, “Jesus Christ the apple tree,” was an all-purpose, multi-seasonal anthem, then Hymn 135 in The Hymnal 1982 is the all-purpose Epiphany hymn. Aside from the fact that this hymn is one of the top 50 most beloved and well known in this parish, the hymn text, “Songs of thankfulness and praise,” really does trace the Epiphany miracles of Jesus throughout its stanzas. With our three-year lectionary cycle,... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Rooted and sweet

Those of us who regularly worship in a liturgical tradition do not frequently or easily cross the seasonal boundaries. In the Christian year, the standard themes are fairly well set: The expectancy and patient waiting of Advent, the exuberance and joy of Christmastide, the manifestation of God into the world in Epiphanytide, and so on. However, occasionally liturgical imagery works in a number of settings. Light and darkness are found both in Advent and Epiphany. In Advent, the coming... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Mentor's wisdom abides

One of my Methodist mentors is Jane Manton Marshall (b. 1924). She is a composer and force of nature. I never studied with her but sang beneath her conducting baton and got to know her during my Texas Methodist days on television in the 1990s. Those fortunate enough to study sacred music and theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and the Perkins School of Theology, located on the SMU campus, sat at Jane’s feet both musically and theologically. In The... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Christ's baptism

Between Christmastide and the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, Jesus grows up 30 years. This year Jesus grows up to manhood - given the layout of the Christian year calendar - in less than 24 hours. We are still in the twelve days of the Christmas season, which lasts until the Feast of the Epiphany, the day that we celebrate the arrival of the magi in Bethlehem. Epiphany is always January 6, no matter upon which day of the week the date falls. The First Sunday after the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Our big, contemporary cantata

There are Christmas cantatas, and then there are Christmas cantatas. Growing up Methodist, with a little Sunday-night Baptist on the side, there was always a Christmas cantata. Although I grew up and played for fairly liturgical Methodist churches as a young organist, there was always a major choral work presented on a Sunday morning in December, “the Christmas cantata.” Yes, we sang Advent hymns and anthems in Advent, I am proud to say, but that one Sunday brought the... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Monday, December 18, 2017

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
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