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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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