Fanfares and flag-waving: How to be Episcopalian for the 4th of July

As a liturgist, the Sunday nearest to the fourth of July is always a Sunday of great compromise. As an Episcopal parish, we do not just throw out the readings (AKA "the propers") for the day: that’s "liturgically illegal" according to the Book of Common Prayer and actually requires permission of "the Diocesan" (a.k.a. the Bishop). On the other hand, in a country in which we give thanks for our religious freedom, praying in church for our country and its leaders is quite acceptable. Moreove... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Remembering the musicians who have gone before

Last week was one of the two weeks of continuing education I spend annually away from the parish office. Professional sacred musicians are usually affiliated with hosts of professional organizations, all of which seem to be known by acronyms: AGO, AAM, ACDA, RSCM, OHS, HMA, CG and LPM, just to name a few from my personal list. With time and money short, each year I make choices about which conferences to attend and which ones will benefit my own ministry and work the most. For decades now,... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Brahms, Bach, Schumann and the Music of Grief

Bach and Brahms: composer names that are not often found in the same sentence. Baroque and Romantic, they are not found in the same stylistic periods of music history - 18th and 19th centuries, they are not even found in the same century. And as far as orgelwerke (organ works) go, many would say they are not in the same league. Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) left us 350-plus works for the organ, many of which are chorale preludes (pieces based upon German chorale or hymn tunes), while Jo... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Wanted: Music for the mustard seed

For years I have joked about "mustard seed anthems." I have said that contemporary choral composers need to write us a good mustard seed anthem or two, and I have even thought about commissioning a composer to write a mustard seed parable anthem. When Jesus starts off on one of his stories (parables) with "The kingdom of God is like," the esoteric images usually follow and I get nervous, as often there is not a specific hymn or anthem text to match the story. The 18th-century carol text "Jes... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Rocking the Ages (or, Summer Hymn Singing)

"Why don’t we sing more of the old favorites?" "I didn’t know even one of those hymns this morning." "I wish we would sing more hymns that I know." Getting to know a parish’s hymn repertoire is one of those things that any parish musician worth his/her salt has to do quickly when arriving in a new parish music post. In the 14th year in my present post, I hope that I have learned our hymn repertoire and perhaps managed to teach us a new hymn or three. And when you attempt to plan hymns that... Read More
Posted by Dr. David Ouzts at Tuesday, June 2, 2015