Thursday, December 20, 2007

WLA Christmas Concert 2007 "Tidings of Comfort and Joy"


Click to download a PDF file of the 2007 Christmas Concert program.

Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007–7:00 PM
Friday, Dec. 21, 2007–1:00 PM

Winnebago Lutheran Academy Gymnasium
475 E. Merrill Ave.
Fond du Lac, WI (map)

Call (920) 921-4930 for more details

Friday, December 14, 2007

Straight No Chaser

A student from Traveling Choir came in today and told me about a group which he heard on the radio which sang all sorts of Christmas carols all at the same time. We looked it up together on YouTube and I roared with laughter! It was just what I needed today. Watch and listen. I think you'll love it too! (Thanks, Eric!)

Listen to WOSH 1490 AM on Christmas Day!

UPDATE (12/21): I just heard from WOSH radio when last year's Christmas concert will be aired. This is the email I got this morning:

WE'VE GOT THAT SHOW SCHEDULED FOR APPROXIMATELY 6:45 TO ABOUT 7:30 TUESDAY MORNING. THAT SEGMENT WILL REPLAY AT 5:45 TUESDAY NIGHT AS WELL.

Tell your family and friends! WLA is on the air (1490 AM) on Christmas Day!

I got a phone call yesterday from a very nice gentleman at WOSH radio in Oshkosh, WI asking if I had any recordings of WLA students playing or singing Christmas music. WOSH 1490 AM will be airing recordings of local (yes, Fond du Lac is local to Oshkosh!) high school Christmas concerts on Christmas Day. So, I sent him the recording of WLA's 2006 Christmas Concert "Night of Miracles, Night of Grace". Watch this post in the coming days to see when on Christmas Day you can listen to WLA choirs and band on WOSH 1490 AM.

St. Paul's, Mt. Calvary

In a slight change to the original singing schedule, Traveling Choir will sing in TWO SERVICES this Sunday, Dec. 16, 2007 at St. Paul's, Mt. Calvary. Pastor Barenz notified me a couple weeks ago and a concerned dad called WLA this week to remind us that there are two services at St. Paul's, Mt. Calvary: 8 and 10 AM. Traveling Choir will sing in both services. Students riding the bus should be at WLA by 6:15 AM. The bus will leave at 6:30 AM. Students driving by car should be to St. Paul's by 7:00 AM. GET TO BED EARLY SATURDAY NIGHT!

This is My Word (Pepper Choplin)
O Christ, the Same (Craig Courtney)
This Little Light of Mine (arr. Dale Witte)
Witness (arr. Jack Halloran)
E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come (Paul Manz)
Gloria (Randol Alan Bass)


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Friday, December 7, 2007

The Road to Eldorado

The Traveling Choir will sing at St. Peter's, Eldorado this Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007 in the 9:00 AM service. Students traveling by car should be at the church at 8:00 AM. Students traveling by bus should be at WLA by 7:15 AM. The bus will leave WLA at 7:30 AM and be to the church by 8:00 AM.


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Friday, November 30, 2007

WANTED: Christmas Carolers

WANTED:
Christmas Carolers
Small groups (4, 8, 12, 16)
Students, Faculty, Parents, or Alumni

Sat. Dec. 8, 2007
11:00 AM – 1 PM
in half hour shifts
Strolling between 2nd & 4th St.
by National Exchange Bank, Team Sports, & Main Exchange

Get some friends together and tell Mr. Witte ASAP when you can sing!



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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Helpin' out another WELS High School

I just got an email from a friend of mine, Mike Goede, who directs the choirs at Kettle Moraine Lutheran High School in Jackson, WI. They've got a great choral program (they are also going to sing for the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association State Convention!) and have entered a Christmas Choir Contest on WMYX. Voting is Friday, Nov. 30 only. Go vote for them! His email explains it all:
On a whim, KML's Concert Choir entered a recording in a local radio station's Christmas Choir Contest. There were 36 entries, and they paired this down to 12. We were fortunate to be one of the finalists. They now make a bracket of three schools, and the choir receiving the most votes that day moves onto the next round.

Our bracket competes tomorrow against two of the best programs in the state. We're asking for any and all people who can to log on and vote for KML. The winning choir receives $1000 for the school and performs live on the radio.

Go to www.99wmyx.com and find the Jane and Kidd Tab Christmas Choir Contest.

We will have a clipped played on the radio tomorrow morning around 7 and voting lasts all day. You can only vote once so forward this to as many people as you can. Help the "little Lutheran school" prevail.

Remember: vote tomorrow (FRIDAY) from 7am-11:59pm and spread the word. Let's see if we can pull this off.

Thanks for all of your help.

Best,
Mike


Christmas Concert 2007 Recordings

Recordings:
Carol of the Child
Comfort, Comfort Ye My People
Gloria
God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
Hope for Resolution

Practice Files: Download the Scorch plugin first
Gloria S1 S2 A1 A2 T1 T2 B1 B2

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas Practice: Days 1-3

I just got done with the Wednesday all-school Christmas practice rehearsal for WLA's annual sacred Christmas concert and I thought to myself, "I should write down what we got accomplished so far so I remember for Monday what we did this week."

So, after rolling two boxes of black folders back to the choir room on a dolly, I sat down at my computer and started to think about how I should write down what we've done. A stickie note? An entry into my electronic lesson plan software? An entry into my choir blog?

It struck me yesterday as I read the announcement of the EduBlog awards that I've been using my choir and music tech blogs more as a bulletin board than as a writing log. As I looked at the winners of the Edublog awards, I thought of how I've been experimenting with keeping blogs in music tech class for the last two years (thanks to David Warlick) and in choir this year. I can learn something from these winners.

Monday (11/26/07)
Christmas practice always starts after Thanksgiving break, so the week before Thanksgiving break is full of finalizing the mass choir pieces for the Christmas concert and getting the black folders ready. My choirs help me out tremendously with the latter. They go through every folder, making neat piles of the old music and inserting the new music in the correct order. This used to take me a whole week to do–now it takes one day!

I threw the entire school a curve on Monday, asking them to sit on the east bleachers in the gym instead of the west bleachers where we normally sit for the concert. I did this for three reasons: (1) to do something new so that it wouldn't just be the same old thing, (2) to capture the student's attention by explaining the Christmas concert theme ("Tidings of Comfort and Joy") and, (3) to serve as a holding pen so I could make a new seating arrangement on the west bleachers.

So Monday was purely introductory and procedural. But students and teachers knew what we were preparing to proclaim (Comfort and Joy) and why we were going to proclaim it (to comfort the audience with news of Jesus's birth) .

Tuesday (11/27/07)
Yesterday was the first singing practice. The kids knew where to sit on the west bleachers and excitement filled the air. I'm running a new seating arrangement this year: basses on the top, follwed by tenors, then altos, then sopranos on the bottom. I've always been leery that the sopranos and basses couldn't hear each other when separated across the entire bleachers in a top down section by quarters of the bleacher seating arrangement.

We started acapella reviewing the South African song "Freedom Is Coming". Two things I'm trying to improve on this year are (1) holding out the last note of each phrase, and (2) reassigning the Fr/So S2 part from last year to the Jr/Sr Altos this year. It's really an alto division on "Freedom is coming, oh, yes I know". That's what you notice when you go back and look at the music again!

"O Holy Night" was next. In performance we've had soloists start each verse, but I really like the sound of the whole choir singing. Plus, everyone knows the solo part, so just in case the soloist gets sick on the day of the concert, everyone can fill in. I reveiwed the part assignments (e.g. senior sopranos on "Glory in the Highest") and reviewed the straight bass rhythms on "oh, praise his name forever." We then sang the entire song with Charis Scharf accompanying on piano.

Finally, I introduced "Comfort, Comfort All My People" to the students. I explained how I had made a slightly different arrangement of the Paul Bunjes setting (pitched in F, v. 1 text matching Christian Worship, v. 2 rewritten to be more personal). We had just enough time to listen to a recording of the first verse.

Wednesday (11/28/07)
We started today with a quick review of stretching the last notes of each phrase on "Freedom is Coming", but I didn't want to kill the piece, so we just sang the first phrase and then sat down. I really wanted to get back to "Comfort".

Mr. Thiesfeldt played a recording of Comfort so that everyone could hear where we were going. Then I asked everyone to sing along with the first verse of the recording–safety in being able to try something new without sticking out. Then I sang each phrase for the students, starting with the basses, then tenors, then altos, and then finally sopranos. The goal was to learn the first two phrases of the piece, which was easy because the second phrase was really a repeat of the first phrase, only with different text. I related the starting pitches for each voice to the scale (Bass: mi, Tenor: so, Alto & Soprano: do) and we were off singing the first phrase! I was very proud of the students for tackling new music and learning it so quickly.

Since "comfort" went so well, I went on with playing a recording of David Haas' Carol of the Child, which we sang for the first time last year. The text highlights prophecies from Isaiah with the joy of their fulfillment in Jesus' birth. After listening once to the recording, we sang along with it the second time around, but I was already noticing kids singing along the first time–especially sopranos on the descant! :)

We finished today's rehearsal with the Hallelujah Chorus. I played the piano and the kids sang start to finish–no explanation, no review, just haul off and sing! I never looked up (as I'm guessing neither did they), but it was obvious that the students remember their parts well from previous years. It will not be hard to put the piece back together again.

Due to the Children's Theater presentation of Robin Hood on Thursday and Friday of this week, there will be no mass Christmas rehearsals until Monday, Dec. 3. Then we will review "Comfort", start learning the 3rd phrase, and get on with the rest of the new music.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Solo/Ensemble Lists

WLA is hosting the Flyway District WSMA Solo/Ensemble Festival on March 1, 2008 (Vocal & Piano) and March 8, 2008 (Instrumental & Piano). To help my students start their music selection process, I've linked the music lists below:

See the entire 2007-2008 Music Festival List.
See all the Vocal Solos
See all the Vocal Ensembles
Read the WSMA Festival Rules

Sunday, November 18, 2007

E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come

Here's how it's supposed to work:

I want my Traveling Choir to be able to click on any Scorch link below (download Scorch plug-in) and view and hear the music for each voice part of Paul Manz's most famous anthem E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come. I've extracted each vocal line and typed in the solfege to help my Traveling Choir learn their parts, but I can't figure out how to make the .htm link just show up in your browser when you click on it. For me I have to download both the .htm and .sib files to the same location on my computer (my desktop) and then open the .htm in my browser. The .htm and .sib have to appear in the same folder, so I put them both in the same folder on my website.

Soprano solfege .pdf .htm .sib
Alto solfege .pdf .htm .sib
Tenor solfege .pdf .htm .sib
Bass solfege .pdf .htm .sib

UPDATE (Sunday, Nov. 18, 11:56 AM)

I just got an email from a former student (Thanks, Buddy!) who read the above post and offered a solution. I think my .Mac account iDisk automatically compresses files that I store on it and then forces you to unzip them after downloading them. Buddy is going to temporarily host my E'en So files until I can figure out a solution with my web space.

Try these links instead: (make sure you have downloaded and installed the Scorch plug-in first!)

Soprano solfege
Alto solfege
Tenor solfege
Bass solfege

Now why? Why use solfege (a.k.a "tonic sol-fa", a.k.a. "do, re, mi"). Why stick something else, another language as it were, in between reading notes and singing them? Well, the short answer is to help the singer find the notes they are supposed to sing. The long answer is to help the singer understand how their notes fit into a major scale, relate to the other voices of the choir, fit in the harmonic structure of the composition, and sing in tune.

Four years ago, when this year's seniors were freshmen, I programmed, taught, and led a shape note hymn festival with the choirs from Winnebago Lutheran Academy. Initially I was interested in the melodies of the shape note hymns. What I discovered after teaching my students how to read the shapes of the notes was that solfege (technically "Fasola" when referring to shape note singing) was a very powerful teaching tool. Students could look at the shape of any note on the staff (square, diamond, triangle, or circle), know its syllable (fa, so, la, fa, so, la, mi) and be able to correctly pitch the note. I was amazed!

Then this past October I attended the 2007 Wisconsin State Music Conference in Madison, WI and listened to James Jordan give three presentations (The Choral Rehearsal Warmup, Rehearsal Techniques for Choirs at All Levels, and The Musician's Walk). Once again, I heard of the power of singing solfege in the process of learning a new piece of choir music. It was a gentle reminder to change the way I was introducing new music to my choirs and to return to a layered approach to reading music: concentrate on one musical element at a time.

How do you use solfege to learn your part? First off, you have to know where "Do" is. "Do" (pronounced "doh" or "dough" by most people, but pronounced "doo" by James Jordan) is the first note of the major scale. Most people know the song Do-Re-Mi from the Sound of Music. You usually can find "Do" by reading the key signature and determining the tonal center of the music. Once you know which note "Do" is, you can sing your do-re-mi's for that scale and find the starting note of your part. From there on in, "when you know the notes to sing, you can sing most anything!" (Point for Julie Andrews!)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

HYMNWRITERCHALLENGE

This is an interesting idea...

Can you write a hymn text (i.e. sacred poetry in a regular meter) about false doctrine? If you can, and it is the winning entry picked by a panel of judges, you could win $300!

The purpose of the HYMNWRITERCHALLENGE contest is to "develop new hymn texts on Bible teachings not typically found in hymns in our WELS hymnal."
"The theme for the contest is false doctrine; we would like a hymn text that teaches these two contrasting truths:
  1. Even the "smallest" false doctrine is a great danger to a person's saving faith.
  2. Even churches that tolerate plenty of false doctrine can bring people to saving faith through the gospel of Christ."
The contest runs from October 8 - December 14, 2007. Only hymn poetry should be entered, no melodies. See the HYMNWRITERCHALLENGE website for a contest entry form and additional references to help you get started.

Monday, November 5, 2007

40th National WELS Choralfest at Wisconsin Lutheran HS Nov. 9-11, 2007

Every year since 1967, the high schools of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod have gathered for either a regional (East/West) or a national choral festival. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first WELS choral festival hosted by Luther HS, Onalaska, WI. On the weekend of November 9-11 over 400 high school students from 23 WELS high schools will descend on Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee, WI to present two concerts, one sacred and one secular, under the theme "From Age to Age"

The Pops Concert will be Friday, November 9, 2007 at 7:00 PM in the Wisconsin Lutheran High School gymnasium, 330 North Glenview Ave., Milwaukee, WI.

The Sacred Concert will be Sunday, November 11, 2007 at 2:00 PM, also in the Wisconsin Lutheran High School gymnasium.

Both concerts are free of charge and open to the public. A freewill offering will be taken at each concert to help defray the costs of hosting.

The 16 members of the WLA Academy Kids will represent WLA at Choralfest this weekend. They will be performing a medley of songs from High School Musical for the Pops Concert. For the Sacred Concert they will be in the Exultation Choir under the direction of Mr. Adrian Smith, one of the weekend's three clinicians (Mike Goede and Mary Prange are the other two). Their host families for the weekend are the members of Woodlawn Lutheran Church, West Allis, WI, where they will be singing on Sunday morning for the second service.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Traveling Choir sings at Trinity, Dundee and Immanuel, Campbellsport

The WLA Traveling Choir will sing this Sunday, Nov. 4, 2007 at Trinity Lutheran Church, Dundee, WI (8:00 AM) and Immanuel Lutheran Church, Campbellsport, WI (10:15 AM). The morning's schedule is as follows:

6:15 AM Students arrive at WLA to board the bus.
6:30 AM The bus leaves WLA
7:00 AM The bus will arrive at Trinity, Dundee. Students driving their own cars should be at the church at the same time.
7:00-7:45 AM Warmups in the front of church.
8:00 AM Service at Trinity, Dundee
9:00 AM Board bus and cars. Drive to Waucousta Lutheran Grade School for breakfast.
9:30 AM Board bus and cars. Depart for for Immanuel, Campbellsport.
9:45 AM Setup at Immanuel.
10:15 AM Service at Immanuel, Campbellsport
11:30 AM Snacks at Immanuel.
11:45 AM Board bus to return to WLA
12:15 PM Earliest possible time back to WLA

Music for this Sunday:

Before the Sermon, in place of the Hymn of the Day: (at the beginning of the service at Immanuel, in place of the 1st hymn)
This Is My Word (Pepper Choplin)
O Christ the Same (Craig Courtney)
This Little Light of Mine (arr. Dale Witte)

After the Benediction, in place of the Final Hymn:
Witness (arr. Jack Halloran)
O Love of God, How Strong and True (arr. Michael McCarthy)

Driving Directions:

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Veteran's Day Lyceum Song (11/12/07)

"Homeward Bound"
Words and music by Marta Keen, Arranged by Jay Althouse Alfred Publishing Co. 7845

Required rehearsals:
Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007–Noon A in the gym
Friday, Nov. 9, 2007–Noon A in the gym
Monday, Nov. 12, 2007–7:30 AM in the gym for warmups.

Performance:
The choir will sing at 8:00 AM after the veterans are seated and the national anthem is played.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Where Did You Hear a Cole Porter Song?

It's been fun to hear the reactions of students, parents, and visitors to the WLA choirs' Fall Concert this past Sunday. Some of the comments have been congratulatory ("A very nice concert!") and some have been eye-opening ("I knew every one of those songs!" "Finally, a concert of music for us old folks!"). Thank you to everyone who came and to all the students who sang so well!

One of the reasons I chose the music of Cole Porter was because I wanted the students to be able to identify his music in the soundtracks of the TV shows and the movies they they watch. While we were learning the Cole Porter medley, students kept telling me about the scene in the movie The Parent Trap when "Everytime We Say Goodbye" (Wikipedia) is played.



Now that the concert is over, students keep telling me when and where they heard a Cole Porter tune. Two I heard today were in a Friends episode ("Night and Day") and in the movie What Women Want ("I've Got you Under My Skin").

WHERE HAVE YOU HEARD COLE PORTER'S MUSIC? Please leave a comment and let me know–I'd love to hear from you!

Why do we stand in church?

Have you ever wondered on a Sunday morning (or whenever you go to church) why you stand and sit all the time during the service? I think I just found the reason:

Nehemiah 8:5 "Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up."

The date was October 8, 445 BC (the 1st day of the 7th month of the Jewish calendar). Under the prophet (and scribe) Ezra, a second wave of Israelites was returning from exile in Babylon. They had been released from exile by the Persian King, Cyrus the Great, in March 538 BC, after they had been taken into exile by the Neo-Babylonian/Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar after he had destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Ezra was reading from the Book of the Law that Hilkiah the high priest found in the temple during the reign of King Josiah (640-609 BC). The occasion was the New Year's Day of the civil calendar, celebrated as the Feast of Trumpets, with cessation of labor and a sacred assembly.

A lot of what we do in worship has its origin in events from the Bible. When we sing the Glory to God we remember the angels who sang at Jesus' birth. When we sing Psalms we are using the same "hymnal" as people did during Old Testament times. When we confess our sins, we are doing what it says we should do throughout the Bible.


Nehemiah 10:28

28 "The rest of the people—priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand-

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Last AK Rehearsal before the Fall Concert

AK has worked so hard since the beginning of the school year to prepare for the Fall Concert. The High School Musical medley is 9 minutes and 30 seconds long and is fully choreographed by Hannah Sugars. We had to postpone our regular Wednesday rehearsal this week because of the WLA vs. St. Mary's Springs football game at Fruth Field (we won 28-14!), so we rehearsed tonight, Thursday, Oct 18. We finally had the stage set in the choir room, the guys had their rip away warm-up sweats, and the girls had their spin out skirts.

By the time I shot this take, AK had performed the whole medley twice and had cleaned up a couple of spots. Then they got goofy...

Then it was 10 minutes to go and i was ready to let them go for the night and they begged me to do it again! I love these kids!




Tuesday, October 16, 2007

WLA Fall Choral Concert–Oct. 21, 2007, 7 PM

You are all invited to come to Winnebago Lutheran Academy (map) on Sunday, Oct. 21 at 7:00 PM for the first choir concert of the school year–Classic Cole Porter. (Click for PDF file of the program) The concert will feature WLA's four choirs (Traveling, Viking, Freshman, and Academy Kids) singing the music of famed composer/lyricist Cole Porter with the Academy Kids providing entertainment for the younger crowd with a medley of music from High School Musical!

Choir students are asked to be in the choir room at 6:00 PM for warmups. Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 15, 2007

One rehearsal to go...

This is the whole High School Musical medley. We have one more rehearsal, Thursday night, before the Fall Concert (Sun., Oct 21, 2007 , 7 PM, WLA gym) We're performing for a former AKer, Jenny Meyer, who popped in tonight and surprised us with cookies and soda! We love it when veterans come back and visit–especially when they bring treats!

ALWAYS CATCH YOUR PARTNER!!!

So I preach, "Guys! Protect your ladies! If they are going to fall, throw yourselves under them so they never hit the ground!"

Josh never listened....

Actually, Hannah thought it was a different part of the piece and she went for the dip, TOTALLY TRUSTING JOSH TO CATCH HER!!! Just watch her reaction...

Friday, October 12, 2007

WLA vs. Laconia

Way to go Nikki, Hannah, Josh & Josh!!!

Ezra 2:65 & 2:70

65 besides their 7,337 menservants and maidservants; and they also had 200 men and women singers...70 The priests, the Levites, the singers, the gatekeepers and the temple servants settled in their own towns, along with some of the other people, and the rest of the Israelites settled in their towns.

The Levites were the one tribe of the Children of Israel who did not receive a portion of land as their inheritance. Instead, their inheritance was service to the LORD as priests and musicians in the tabernacle and temple. But they did need a place to live–the tabernacle and temple didn't have enough rooms for the 23,000 Levites! So the LORD commanded Moses to give the Levites towns and pastureland from the inheritance Israel would possess, and Joshua carried out this promise after the conquest of the land of Canaan.

Joshua 21 records the towns that were given to the descendants of the three sons of Levi:

For the descendants of Kohath:
  • descendants of Aaron were allotted 13 towns from the tribes of Judah and Simeon
  1. Kiriath Arba (aka Hebron-city of refuge), with its surrounding pastureland, in the hill country of Judah
  2. Libnah
  3. Jattir
  4. Eshtemoa
  5. Holon
  6. Debir
  7. Ain
  8. Juttah
  9. Beth Shemesh
  • and Benjamin
    1. Gibeon
    2. Geba
    3. Anathoth
    4. Almon
  • the rest of Kohath's descendants were allotted 10 towns from the clans of the tribes of Ephraim, (4 towns)
    1. Shechem (city of refuge)
    2. Gezer
    3. Kibzaim
    4. Beth Horon
  • Dan (4 towns)
    1. Eltekeh
    2. Gibbethon
    3. Aijalon
    4. Gath Rimmon
  • and half the tribe of Manasseh (2 towns)
    1. Taanach
    2. Gath Rimmon

For the descendants of Gershon:
  • 13 towns from the clans of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and the half tribe of Manasseh in Bashan
For the descendants of Merari:
  • 12 towns from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ezra 2:41

41 The singers:
the descendants of Asaph 128

Kind of a strange passage about singing, isn't it? At first glance it doesn't seem to tell us much, but when you read it in context, it becomes a passage full of hope and God's grace.

In the years 588-586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, carried into exile a remnant of the Children of Israel whom he had not yet killed. Nebuchadnezzar also
"carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the LORD's temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. They set fire to God's temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there." (2 Chron. 36:18-19)
The remnant was taken to Babylon as servants and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power–about 49 years later.

In the first year that Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, reigned over Babylon (he captured it in Oct. 539 BC), the LORD (Yahweh, the God of the Promise) moved the heart of Cyrus to rebuild the temple and let the Children of Israel return to their homeland (March 538 BC). What follows in Ezra 2 is the list of exiles who returned. Out of the 42,360 exiles who returned to Jerusalem, 128 of them were male descendants of Asaph–a musician, the chief minister before the ark of the LORD, a cymbal player, a seer, a recorder for King Hezekiah, the keeper of the king's forest, and the author of Psalm 50 and Psalms 73-83 .

This gives comfort and hope.
  1. The singing hadn't stopped when they were in exile, even though it was hard to sing praise to God when the Babylonians forced them to sing, as Psalm 137 records.
  2. There were many male descendants of Asaph after 49 years, showing that God still blessed the remnant, even in exile.
  3. The singing would continue–God brought the leaders of singing back to the rebuilding of his temple.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Traveling Choir's First Sunday-10/14/07

The WLA Traveling Choir sings this Sunday for the first time this school year at two of the farthest southern WLA association congregations: (9:00 AM) St. Matthew's Lutheran Church, 308 Herman St., Iron Ridge, WI and (10:30 AM) Zum Kripplein Christi Lutheran

Schedule (10/14/07)
6:45 AM
Students who need a bus ride should be dressed in TC outfits and inside WLA at Door #1
7:00 AM A chartered bus will leave WLA for St. Matthew's, Iron Ridge


View Larger Map

8:00 AM Students traveling by car should be at St. Matthew's Church dressed in TC outfits
8:00-8:45 AM
Warmups in front of church. Sing through all five pieces.
8:45 AM
Donuts & Juice in church basement
9:00 AM Service at St. Matthew's
10:00 AM Board bus and cars and drive to Zum Kripplein Christi Lutheran Church


View Larger Map

10:30 AM
Service at ZKC
11:30 AM-12:00 PM Potluck lunch at ZKC for TC students and parents
12:00 PM Board bus to return to WLA
1:00 PM Bus returns to WLA

Music for this Sunday:

Before the Sermon, in place of the Hymn of the Day:
This Is My Word (Pepper Choplin)
This Little Light of Mine (arr. Dale Witte)
O Christ the Same (Craig Courtney)

After the Benediction, in place of the Final Hymn:
Witness (arr. Jack Halloran)
O Love of God, How Strong and True (arr. Michael McCarthy)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

2 Chronicles 29:27-28

27 Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar. As the offering began, singing to the LORD began also, accompanied by trumpets and the instruments of David king of Israel. 28 The whole assembly bowed in worship, while the singers sang and the trumpeters played. All this continued until the sacrifice of the burnt offering was completed.



2 Chronicles 23:18

18 Then Jehoiada placed the oversight of the temple of the LORD in the hands of the priests, who were Levites, to whom David had made assignments in the temple, to present the burnt offerings of the LORD as written in the Law of Moses, with rejoicing and singing, as David had ordered.


Monday, October 1, 2007

2 Chronicles 23:13

13 She looked, and there was the king, standing by his pillar at the entrance. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets, and singers with musical instruments were leading the praises. Then Athaliah tore her robes and shouted, "Treason! Treason!"

She–Athaliah (queen mother/regent)
the king–

This section of God's Word reads like a soap opera. To get a little background to today's verse, go back a chapter and read 2 Chron. 22:10-12.
Athaliah and Joash
10 When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah. 11 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes who were about to be murdered and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Because Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and wife of the priest Jehoiada, was Ahaziah's sister, she hid the child from Athaliah so she could not kill him. 12 He remained hidden with them at the temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.

Friday, September 28, 2007

2 Chronicles 20:21-22

21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever." 22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

A couple of thoughts:
  1. "Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD..."–I took a quick survey in all three of my choirs yesterday to see if their congregations had any controversy with either women being choir directors or women being in their church choirs. I even asked if their was any talk that women shouldn't organists in their churches. Thankfully, it seems this misapplication of scripture has died down, at least in our area, or my students are oblivious to it.
  2. "...to sing...as they went out at the head of the army"–this reminded me of what Henry V told his army to do after they defeated the French in the Battle of Agincourt (1415) during the Hundred Years' War. Henry V, according to William Shakespeare, told his troops to sing "Non nobis" (Not to us--Ps. 115) and "Te Deum" (To you, O God) after they routed the French, having been outnumbered 10 to 1.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

2 Chronicles 5:13

The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang:
"He is good;
his love endures forever."
Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud,

Whoa! A new instrument! Up until this point, singing in the temple has been accompanied by harps, lyres, and cymbals. Now, the trumpet is introduced into worship, and not just as an accompaniment instrument, but in unison with the singers, as with one voice (hmm…the title of Augsburg Fortress's hymnal supplement, With One Voice).

Don’t picture a modern orchestral trumpet. Picture a shofar, a ram’s horn. No valves, no yards of tubing, just a hollowed out ram’s horn. If you have ever tried to play a modern trumpet (or any brass instrument for that matter) without using any valves, just using the buzzing of your lips and the tightening of your embouchure to play the scale, then you know that either you have to be a really good trumpeter to play a scale without valves, or you won’t be playing many notes—you’ll just sound like a person at a parade or ball game with a plastic trumpet just making a lot of noise.

It really makes you wonder what the melody of the singing was like if it was accompanied by a ram’s horn that had no valves and couldn’t play many notes of the harmonic overtone series.

But getting past the physics of the instrument and the shape of the melody, what is going on in this passage? All the musicians of the temple are joining together to give praise and thanks to YHWH, the God of the Promise, for allowing the the Ark of the Covenant to return to Jerusalem. And do the words of the song sound familiar? Many Christians say these words as part of their after meal prayers (“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. Amen.”)

And was God pleased or what!?! His glory filled the temple, just like He led the Children of Israel with the pillar of cloud through the exodus and wandering in the wilderness. Isaiah talks about the same cloud filling the temple and Martin Luther penned this picture into his hymn Isaiah, Mighty Seer, in Days of Old.

So what is the singing application for us?

1. Praise God with instruments and singing together (believe it or not, in the desk of my first teacher’s desk, was a pamphlet explaining why instruments should NOT be used in worship!).
2. Raise your voice to the LORD (to me, that implies volume, more than normal)
3. Sing of God’s goodness and love (i.e. tell why you are praising him—what has he done for you?)

Shofar Sounders Webpage
Strong's H7782 "trumpet" vs. H2689 "trumpets"

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

1 Chronicles 25:1

1 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals. Here is the list of the men who performed this service:



Monday, September 24, 2007

LORD


A word needs to be said about the use of the word "LORD". I'll admit it. I frequently forget why this name for God is printed in all capital letters. I usually think in my mind "God" when I read "LORD", but then I miss the special nuance of this name of God.

According to the Preface to the New International Version, page xi, of the Concordia Self-Study Bible, ©1986:
"In regard to the divine name YHWH, commonly referred to as the Tetragrammaton, the translators adopted the device used in most English versions of rendering that name as "LORD" in capital letters to distinguish it from Adonai, another Hebrew word rendered "Lord," for which small letters are used."
The name LORD (Hebrew "Yahweh") is first used in Genesis 2:4, where it reminds the reader that God is a personal God and the God of the covenant. In Exodus 3:15 it is the name that God told Moses to say to the Israelites when he revealed himself at the burning bush. The notes in my Bible for Ex. 3:15 say:
"The Hebrew for this name is Yahweh (often incorrectly spelled "Jehovah"; see note on Dt 28:58). It means "He is" or "He will be" and is the third-person form of the verb translated "I will be" in v. 12 and "I AM" in v. 14. When God speaks of himself he says, "I AM," and when we speak of him we say, "He is."

Just think this when you read "LORD": this is the name for God who promised to send a savior for all the world. For a listing of every reference to the name "YHWH" in the Bible, click here.

1 Chronicles 16:33

33 Then the trees of the forest will sing,
they will sing for joy before the LORD,
for he comes to judge the earth.

There are two strange things in this passage, at least strange on first glance.
  1. Trees don't sing! So why they are singing?
  2. The LORD is coming to judge the earth (which for many people seems to be a scary thought)
(Notice the similarities to the following two passages: Psalm 96:12, Isaiah 44:23)

Why are trees described as singing? Everything that God created praises him. Can you make a tree? No. Can you create anything that has not already been created? No. If you can't do it, but God did do it, then just looking at the trees reminds us to praise God for his wonderful creation.

Why are the trees singing if the LORD (the God of the promise) is coming to judge the earth? Why aren't they terrified? But isn't this really what we all wait for--the end of sorrow and death and pain? Don't we all want to be in perfection and not have to deal with the "drama" of this life? Even the trees are waiting to be released from their groaning.

So what about us? God created us--we should sing to him and praise his name just like the trees and all creation does. Does the thought of the Creator coming to judge the earth scare you? It scares me. I don't want everyone to know all the sins I've committed. And I surely don't want to go to hell and be separated from God for all eternity.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Friday, September 21, 2007

1 Chronicles 16:23

23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
proclaim his salvation day after day.

Does it get any more clear than this?

Q1. Who do you sing to? A: the LORD

Q2. Who should sing to the LORD? A: all the earth

Q3. What should we sing? A: proclaim his salvation (e.g. tell people how God has saved them from sin, death, and the devil)

Q4. How often should we sing? A: day after day

Any questions?

Manitowoc Lutheran Plans New Music Center

God's blessings are everywhere. It's just nice to keep getting good news from around our synod.

This morning I got an email from my college classmate, Joel Ungemach, who is the choir director at Manitowoc Lutheran High School in Manitowoc, WI. He sent me a link to the local newspaper's front page story on the plans for MLHS's new music center. Read the story and help me rejoice in God's blessings on Manitowoc Lutheran's music program!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

1 Chronicles 16:9

9 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.

To whom? Him!

Who is "him"? The Triune God

What should we sing to him? Praise!

What should we tell? God's wonderful acts

What are God's wonderful acts?
  1. He created all things out of nothing by speaking.
  2. Even though we rebelled against him, he has a plan of salvation for all people.
  3. He allowed his son, Jesus (God's son), to become like us (Mary's son) so that he could perfectly live our life and perfectly die our death.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

1 Chronicles 15:27

27 Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the singers, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod.

The ephod was a sleeveless vestment worn by the high priest. In this verse, King David, who is not the high priest, nor was he a Levite, was wearing the ephod and a robe of fine linen. The Levites and the choir director were also clothed in linen robes. What does all this signify?

  1. David was a shadow of Christ (OT prophet, priest, and king)
  2. The Levites were doing the work of the Lord (and were dressed like it)
  3. The choir director (Kenaniah) was also a religious leader, clothed like a priest, because he was also leading worship since he was in charge of the singing of the choirs.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Way to go ALA!

Prepare for goosebumps! Click here for a video of the Arizona Lutheran Academy choir singing the National Anthem at the AZ Diamondbacks Baseball Game on Sept. 7th. The choir is directed by a good friend of mine, Jon Pasbrig. Outstanding job!

You will be redirected to Motionbox and will need Adobe's Flash Player to view the video.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

1 Chronicles 15:16 & 15:22

16 David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals.

This just makes sense to me. My brother is a pastor. I am a church musician. That's how it was in this passage too. The Levites were the priests in the temple and their brothers were the church musicians. The only difference between this setup and my family is my brother didn't appoint me to be a musician, God prepared me to be a church musician through a lot of encourgement by my parents.

Here's how the chapter goes on:

19 The musicians Heman, Asaph and Ethan were to sound the bronze cymbals; 20 Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah were to play the lyres according to alamoth , 21 and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, Jeiel and Azaziah were to play the harps, directing according to sheminith . 22 Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.

Wouldn't you just like to hear what that sounded like? Crashing cymbals, strumming harps and lyres, and skillful singers. It's not exactly a pipe organ, a piano, the trumpets of Easter, or even a praise band. But it's the music that God wanted in his temple.

There's just one phrase which keeps popping out at me in this passage: "because he was skillful at it." God gives talents to all of us, even musical talents. But it's up to us to use those talents for his glory. If God gave you five talents of singing ability and you chose not to use those talents, you'd be in danger of those talents being squandered just like what happened in the Parable of the Talents. But if God gave you two talents of musical ability and you used them faithfully, He promises to give you even more.

What does that have to do with the phrase "because he was skillful at it"? We need to cultivate and encourage the musical gifts that God has given to his children. We should not expect those musical talents to grow by themselves. We need to teach children how to sing and play instruments at every age and grade level so that it can be said of those same children that they are "skillful" at it. And then the music of worship will be as close to the music of heaven as we can approach on this earth.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

You're the Top!

Cole Porter wrote this timeless classic for the 1934 Broadway musical "Anything Goes". I first heard in when I was a boy growing up in East Troy, WI. Every week, our family would sit down together on Monday nights (I think it was Mondays?) to watch M*A*S*H together while it was still in prime time. I never knew the rest of "You're the Top" until this year when I started researching the music of Cole Porter for my choirs' Fall concert. It's an amazing snapshot of history, piling up the "tops" of the day. The question: what made all these things the best? Click on the links below the M*A*S*H video to find out! (under construction)

If you click on the middle of the video, you will be taken to YouTube. If you click on the play button in the lower left corner, you will play the video in this window.



You're The Top


At words poetic, I'm so pathetic
That I always have found it best,
Instead of getting 'em off my chest,
To let 'em rest unexpressed,
I hate parading my serenading
As I'll probably miss a bar,
But if this ditty is not so pretty
At least it'll tell you
How great you are.

You're the top!
You're the Colosseum.
You're the top!
You're the Louvre Museum.
You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss
You're a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare's sonnet,
You're Mickey Mouse.
You're the Nile,
You're the Tower of Pisa,
You're the smile on the Mona Lisa
I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom you're the top!

Your words poetic are not pathetic.
On the other hand, babe, you shine,
And I can feel after every line
A thrill divine
Down my spine.
Now gifted humans like Vincent Youmans
Might think that your song is bad,
But I got a notion
I'll second the motion
And this is what I'm going to add;

You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.
You're sublime,
You're turkey dinner,
You're the time, the time of a Derby winner
I'm a toy balloon that’s fated soon to pop
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're an arrow collar
You're the top!
You're a Coolidge dollar,
You're the nimble tread
Of the feet of Fred Astaire,
You're an O'Neill drama,
You're Whistler's mama!
You're camembert.
You're a rose,
You're Inferno's Dante,
You're the nose
On the great Durante.
I'm just in a way,
As the French would say, "de trop".
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're a dance in Bali.
You're the top!
You're a hot tamale.
You're an angel, you,
Simply too, too, too diveen,
You're a Boticcelli,
You're Keats,
You're Shelly!
You're Ovaltine!
You're a boon,
You're the dam at Boulder,
You're the moon,
Over Mae West's shoulder,
I'm the nominee of the G.O.P.
Or GOP!
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're a Waldorf salad.
You're the top!
You're a Berlin ballad.
You're the boats that glide
On the sleepy Zuider Zee,
You're an old Dutch master,
You're Lady Astor,
You're broccoli!
You're romance,
You're the steppes of Russia,
You're the pants on a Roxy usher,
I'm a broken doll, a fol-de-rol, a blop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

Britt & Alyssa Sing the Star Spangled Banner

There are so many reasons why I am proud of my kids, but chief among them is singing in front of large crowds without any accompaniment. You could add to that practicing really hard, composing their own alto line, and taking time out of their school day to sing for me many times and get my advice. I am very proud of Britt and Alyssa. Way to go, girls!

This performance was for the WLA vs. Mayville varsity football game, September 14, 2007.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Help find Steve Fossett

UPDATE (9/18): CNN reports searches for Steve Fossett scaled back.

Every Saturday morning I like to listen to the Kim Komando radio show on KFIZ 1450 AM, Fond du Lac, WI. Even though I am a Mac addict, I like to hear what is going on in the digital world on the PC side (I know, the "dark side"!) and frequently pick up tips that I never knew.

Today, I got an email from the Kim Komando show (copied below) which listed their cool site of the day, but this is more urgent than cool. Kim's Cool Site of the Day is Amazon's Mechanical Turk. I had never heard of it before, but quickly realized its importance in helping find this veteran aviation adventurer. If you have the time and the ability, you might help either save his life, or help his family find him and his plane wreckage.

Email from Kim Komando:

If you read the news, you know about the search for Steve Fossett. The adventurer and his aircraft disappeared about two weeks ago.

Fossett did not file a flight plan. So rescuers are unsure where to look for him. But he is believed to be in southwestern Nevada.

Fossett’s friends and family are asking for your help. No, they don’t need you to fly to Nevada for a ground search.

Rather, they’re asking that you help review satellite images. Google has gathered recent images. Hopefully, Fossett’s plane will appear in one.

To get involved, visit Amazon’s Mechanical Turk site. It will present you with images to review. If you see something, simply flag the image and leave a comment.

You’ll need to register in order to help out.

Help Find Steve Fossett

1st Quarter Progress Reports

All three choirs will sing for their progress report grade next Monday and Tuesday. Students who have a practice time at school during blocks 1, 2, 5, or 8 may sing individually with me for their grade. All other students will have to sing during class on Monday, Sep. 17 and Tuesday, Sep. 18. Progress Report Day is Wednesday, Sep. 19.

Students should be prepared to sing the following songs:

Traveling Choir:
  • Witness, pp. 2-3
  • Classic Cole Porter, mm. 11-61
  • O Christ the Same, pp. 2-6
  • This Little Light of Mine, all
Viking Choir:
  • The Star Spangled Banner (parts)
  • You're the Top (men, v. 1 & refrain 1; women v. 2 & refrain 2)
  • Classic Cole Porter, mm. 61-84
  • O Love of God, How Strong and True, vv. 3-4
Freshman Choir:
  • The Star Spangled Banner (unison)
  • You're the Top (men, v. 1 & refrain 1; women v. 2 & refrain 2)
  • Classic Cole Porter, mm. 1-61
  • O Love of God, How Strong and True, vv. 3-4

2007-2008 Section leaders

Congratulations to the following students who were elected by their peers to serve as section leaders in their choirs:

Traveling Choir
S1-Nikki Knuth, S2-Val Cousins, A1-Britt Kerr, A2-Jeanna Zuelke, T1-Joe Wege, T2-Josh Wege, B1-Luther Zuberbier, B2-Ben Christian

Viking Choir
Sopranos: Beth Geisthardt & Janeen Leisses
Altos: Grace Pahmeier & Ashley Freund
Basses: Jason Markgraf & Josh Lauersdorf

Section leaders are students who
  1. know their part well enough to help out anyone else in their section,
  2. have the respect of their peers, and
  3. can serve as a liaison between the section and the director

Thursday, September 13, 2007

2 Samuel 22:50

50 Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations;
I will sing praises to your name.

Therefore...

It makes you wonder what came before this passage, doesn't it? If you know what came before this passage, then you know why the writer by inspiration says "I will sing praises to your name." Here is what comes before this verse:
"The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!

48 He is the God who avenges me,
who puts the nations under me,

49 who sets me free from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
from violent men you rescued me.

God did all those things for David, that's why he praised Him. So what has God done for you? Has he avenged you? Has he freed you from your enemies? Has he exalted you above your foes? Has he rescued you from violent men? Maybe. Or maybe not. He did that for David.

Has he given you health? Friends? Food? Clothes? A job? Children? A Family? Gifts? Abilities? Talents? Should I continue? Isn't it obvious?

17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

2 Samuel 19:35

35 I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is good and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of men and women singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king?

Who is speaking? Barzillai the Gileadite (a very wealthy man)

What had he done for King David? He provided for King David during his stay in Mahanaim when David was fleeing from his son Absalom

Where was he from? Rogelim, in Gilead, east of the Jordan River
Where did this account take place? In Gilgal

When did this account take place? After the death of Absalom (2 Sam 18), during the reign of King David (1010-970 BC)

How did he get there?

Why is he asking these questions?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

1 Samuel 21:11

11 But the servants of Achish said to him, "Isn't this David, the king of the land? Isn't he the one they sing about in their dances:
" 'Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands'?"

David has been on the run. Saul, though still the king of Israel, was afraid of David and wanted him dead because he, Saul, knew that the LORD had left him and was now with David. And it didn't help that the women's song taunted him even more.

The people of Israel could see that David was being lead by the LORD, but Saul didn't want to believe it. David, the boy who once had killed Goliath in the Valley of Elah and who helped sooth Saul's evil spirits by playing his harp, had also become good friends–lifelong, sworn friends–with Saul's son, Jonathan. Everything reminded Saul that the LORD was no longer with him. Saul tried to fight his own battle and get rid of David by throwing spears at him in the temple, but to no avail. But David knew the time had come to flee for his life.

He went to Nob, a town NE of Jerusalem and S of Gibeah where the tabernacle was relocated after the destruction of Shiloh. While on the run, he needed food, and asked Ahimelech the priest for the showbread from the table in the tabernacle. He also needed a weapon, and Ahimelech gave him Goliath's sword, which David had once taken from Goliath after he killed him with his slingshot and used to cut off Goliath's own head.

Did David ask the women to sing for him? No. Did David give himself the honor and glory for defeating Goliath? No. Did he look for the glory? No. But God let the women sing his glory and praises. God will do the same thing for us if we are humble. God humbles the proud, but gives grace to the lowly.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

1 Samuel 18:6


6 When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes.

In the previous chapter, David killed Goliath, the giant of the Philistine army. Little David–the boy who was left at home when his brothers went off to war. Little David–too small to wear the heavy armor of the Israelite army. Little David–braver than any other soldier in Israel. Little David–not the person that anyone (except the prophet Samuel) expected to amount to anything. Little David–who chose to go into battle with a rock and a slingshot rather than a sword. That little David killed the most fearsome fighter in the Philistine army.

So in today's verse, when it says "after David had killed the Philistine", it's referring to Goliath. And you can understand why the women came out to sing and dance: no one else in all of Israel wanted to fight Goliath, nor thought that they could kill him. The entire army sat on their hands for 40 days while Goliath taunted them.

Sometimes our enemies seem larger than life. Sometimes our battles seem hopelessly futile. We think we can't do anything to change the situation we are in. But we've got an improbable ally who fights for us–someone who most people wouldn't expect to fight our battles and win. It's God. The same God who helped David defeat Goliath fights for us. If God is for us, who can be against us? Paul Gerhardt wrote a hymn (TLH 528) on this same topic.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Judges 5:11

11 the voice of the singers at the watering places.
They recite the righteous acts of the LORD,
the righteous acts of his warriors in Israel.
"Then the people of the LORD
went down to the city gates.

This passage is imbedded in the middle of the Song of Deborah. It give us a couple of insights into why we sing:
  1. "the voice of the singers at the watering places"–what did people do when they were getting water for their animals (i.e. hanging out and waiting around)? They sang! What did they sing about?
  2. They sang about what God had done for them (the righteous acts of the LORD) and what he had done through them (the righteous acts of his warriors in Israel)
Now for a modern application question: What should we sing about in church? What kind of hymns should a congregation sing? What kind of songs should a choir sing? What kind of hymns should a hymnal publish? Judges 5:11 once again gives us some insights:
  1. We should sing about what God has done for us and tell His story in hymn and song, and
  2. We should sing about the righteous acts God has done through us.
If all a hymn or song does is repeat "praise God" over and over and over again and never says what we should be praising Him for, we are not reciting the righteous acts of the LORD. We are not telling why God should be praised. We are, at best, a clanging gong or a crashing cymbal.

If all a hymn or song does is to say how we feel about God but never points our attention and understanding back to God, then we are only praising ourselves.

An example of a hymn which tells of God's righteous acts:
I'd love to hear your examples of hymns and songs which "recite the righteous acts of the LORD" and hymns and songs which tell of the righteous acts God has done through us.

UPDATE: You no longer need a Google Account to post a comment to my choir blog. The new due date for posting a comment is Friday, Sep. 14, 2007