FREE Download – My Eucharistic Setting

Eucharistic Setting graphic

For a while I’ve wanted to create my own setting of Eucharistic liturgy music for use in worship. I wanted something that could be used in a contemporary/post-modern service with a guitar or band. I also wanted to use fresh language and imagine some of these well-known texts in a different way.

I ain’t gonna lie – this recording is a little rough. I recorded it at my home studio with a couple of mics. I played and sang all the parts. So there are some exposed edges – which is kind of how I like it anyway.

This music was meant for the church. We have been singing them at Faith Lutheran. Please use them if you think they’ll work in your context. Permission is granted for use in worship. The mp3s are free to download. If you’d like the lead sheets they are available at the PayPal link below for $5.

Eucharistic Setting (2014) – Click here for all mp3s

Let me hear from you if you find these songs useful.

Weekly Worship Thought – Spiritual Gifts

giftWhat are your gifts? What do you bring to the table? What are your spiritual gifts? We believe that God gives the church every thing she needs to grow and thrive, through the spiritual gifts of the assembled body of Christ. What gifts has God given you that make you uniquely useful and beneficial to God’s people and for the good of the world? Have you ever taken a spiritual gift inventory? If you haven’t I invite you to take the one in the link. Obviously, church musicians are usually gifted in the area of music and worship leadership. That is why we do what we do every Sunday. But what other gifts might you have? What do you bring to the table that makes you unique and makes the church better? We can’t do the work of ministry unless we have resources. Our biggest resource is you – and God has gifted you to be a resource.

Weekly Worship Thought – Bread for the World

breadOne of the oldest Eucharistic prayers (a prayer from the communion table) comes from the Didache, probably written in late first century: “As grain is scattered over the hills and gathered back together to become one loaf of bread, so let God’s people be gathered together at one table from the ends of the earth.” In this prayer we are reminded of the process of making bread: seeds are planted, they grow, grain is harvested, and then it is manipulated to make the ingredient used to create the loaf. This is a metaphor of the church. We as individual believers are scattered throughout the week to our world to grow and serve our neighbors. On the sabbath, the day of resurrection, we are harvested and assembled back together into one loaf. We become the Body of Christ when we assemble – the image of God’s presence on earth. As we disassemble we are broken and shared for the life of the world, just like the loaf of bread that we consume at the Eucharist.

Weekly Worship Thought – Perfectionism

pianoPerfectionism is the enemy of worship. Just as God accepts us as we are, flawed and broken, God also accepts our worship as it is. There is a fine line that we walk when leading worship and seeking to do our best. While perfectionism is the enemy, carelessness can be distracting. Perfectionism can stifle creativity and cripple our expression. A lack of care can take the focus away from God and give people stumbling opportunities when seeking God in worship. Don’t let a mistake in the middle of worship drain your self-esteem or detract your heart from God. Faithfully offering our best is the most we can do, even with imperfections.

What’s on my iPod?

I am a musician. I have played music in one form or another for many years now. I have played or sung in orchestras, symphonic bands, youth choirs, brass ensembles, worship teams, jazz ensembles, and rock bands since I was in middle school. I like music so much, and I felt God’s calling to worship so strongly, that I have made serving the church through worship and music my career.

Sometimes I have to deal with music so much at the church that I don’t want to listen to music when I’m in the car or at home. I am currently not in one of those times. I’m in a place now where I’m listening to music as much as I can: in the car, in the shower, and at the office. I’m sort of falling in love with music again.

I believe that everyone has a musical heart-language. For most, the music from childhood or adolescence becomes “your” music. This music becomes forever engrained as the soundtrack of your life. Some people struggle to open their ears outside this musical box and don’t get why “kids these days” listen to what they do. Not me. I have pretty eclectic taste in music, but my heart-language will forever be 90s era grunge rock (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, etc.)

Since I’m on a music kick these days, I thought I’d share some of the albums that I’m listening to the most these days.

Aja – Steely Dan

steely-dan-ajaMy friends were hip to Steely Dan before I was. It didn’t take much to convince me of their greatness. They have some of the smoothest music and greatest guitar playing ever recorded. Their music is hard to classify, although I call it progressive rock. It has hints of jazz, funk, and rock. This album from 1977 still sounds relevant today. Also, I was recently at the Cajun Creamery in New Orleans when I saw guitarist Walter Becker ordering ice cream. I was so star struck I ordered two of the same flavor in my four scoop sampler.

Southeastern – Jason Isbell

1035x1035-120413-jason-isbel-1800-1386174327Holy moly this guy can write songs. This is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Jason Isbell released in 2013. He gets classified in the alternative country genre. His voice has a southern drawl that I find to be so familiar. He sounds like people I grew up with. His lyrics are gritty, not shying away from cancer and child abuse as topics. You can tell when someone is singing something they know from personal experience. If you like twang without the pretentiousness, you’ll like this.

A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

xlda790-radioheadRadiohead is one of my favorite bands – perhaps the greatest British band of all time (up there with The Beatles and Led Zeppelin for sure). It doesn’t matter if you can’t understand what singer Thom Yorke is saying. This is their latest album that released this year. While writing this article I discovered my amazing wife Kate ordered me this album on vinyl as a surprise! To promote this album Radiohead deleted all content from their website and social media accounts. Go figure. This album features strings and choral vocals arranged by band member Jonny Greenwood and performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra. Greenwood composed the soundtracks for the Paul Thomas Anderson films “There Will Be Blood” and “Inherent Vice.”

Weekly Worship Thought – Patriotic Music

photo-1428515634197-76c85896cf1fThis weekend is the Memorial Day holiday. Every once in a while someone will ask why we don’t sing patriotic songs in worship around Memorial Day, or Independence Day, or other national holidays. I am aware that there are many churches that will sing “God Bless America” or “O Beautiful for Spacious Skies” during worship around a holiday. In my thinking, that makes about as much sense as going to a Post Office and singing “How Great Thou Art” or “Amazing Grace.” Churches don’t owe their allegiance to a government. People of faith, while being citizens of a nation/state, are citizens of a spiritual country, a far off land. Sometimes (most times?) the priorities and engagements of a government can be in complete opposition to the principles of God’s kingdom as taught by Jesus. In some churches, the nationality of the members is so diverse that it wouldn’t make sense to lift up the patriotic music of any one group. Shouldn’t hospitality be shown to residents of every country, not just “ours.” God calls us to a higher citizenship.

Weekly Worship Thought – Pentecost

Orans1This Sunday is Pentecost. We hear the fascinating story from Acts 2 where, “each one was bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language.” It is generally accepted that most inhabitants of Jerusalem at the time would be able to speak and understand Greek. Even a diverse group of pilgrims would have knowledge of the Greek language and be able to understand it. So why did the Holy Spirit cause this translation to occur? I would suggest two reasons. One, Pentecost is a reversal/redemption of the curse of Babel. Two, God wants us to worship in our heart language. The pilgrims could have understood the disciples if they had proclaimed the marvels of God in Greek. But God wants to be intimately near us, as someone who speaks in the tongue of our homeland, our mother’s language.

Weekly Worship Thought – Worship and Culture

NAIROBI STATEMENTOne of the projects I’m currently working on is a fresh, practical application of the Nairobi Statement on Worship and Culture. If you’re not familiar with this document from the Lutheran World Federation, you can find it here. This statement has 4 main ideas:
  1. Worship is transcultural.Certain elements of Christian worship transcend all cultures, binding us together across time and place. By lifting up the transcultural elements of our worship, we can keep the holy things central in our assemblies. Here are some examples of things that transcend all cultures in worship:
  • Scripture is read.
  • The waters of Holy Baptism wash us.
  • The meal of Holy Communion is shared.
  1. Worship is contextual.Certain elements of Christian worship adapt to the context they are in. The basic idea behind being contextual in worship is using what you’ve got where you are. In other words, the worship of a big cathedral church in a metropolitan area need not look the same as the worship of a small church in rural Montana. It is OK that they do not look, sound, or feel the same. Here are some examples of how worship can adapt to different contexts:
  • There is no single or preferred sacred language. The language of the local people is always appropriate in worship.
  • Music is reflective of the surrounding culture.
  • Local customs can be adapted for use in worship (think “Go Texan” Sunday).
  1. Worship is countercultural.Praising God may be at odds with what the surrounding culture deems worthy of praise. Some parts of our worship will stand in defiance to the world. Here are some examples of how worship can meet opposition in the surrounding culture:
  • Jesus welcomes all with open arms, where the surrounding culture may seek to reject those who don’t fit.
  • God speaks in silence, where the surrounding culture prefers noise and hurry.
  • Liturgical action teaches us self-denial and humility, where the surrounding culture may teach us to get ahead and have it our way.
  1. Worship is cross-cultural. The church is gathered into one from many times and places. Throughout scripture God is encountered in the “other.” Our worship should give us chances to experience the strange/stranger and find God’s presence in everyone. Here are some examples of how worship can cross over cultures:
  • We can imagine more of God through the artistic offerings of cultures besides our own.
  • We can hear the gospel in cultural stories besides our own.
  • We can exercise humility and sacrifice by singing the songs of cultures besides our own.

Stay tuned for more as I continue to think about this…

Weekly Worship Thought – Holy Week

easter-10-0As we prepare for Holy Week, I invite you to invest your time in worship. Specifically I invite you to join in stride with Jesus as he advances through the last days of his pre-resurrected life. The three services of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil unfold like three movements within a larger composition. Individually they stand on their own as thematic events, but bound together they walk us through Jesus’ passage from death to life. These three services are sometimes called Triduum, or Three Days. The meaning of Easter is embedded in these Three Days. 

Weekly Worship Thought – Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Spanish FountainOne of my favorite hymns is “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (ELW 807). It is one of my favorite songs to sing in worship. The lyrics made an impact on me once a long time ago, and they have stuck with me ever since. The ELW version of the hymn has some different verses in stanza 1. The version I am familiar with says, “Teach me some melodious sonnet sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.” The flaming tongues provide a throwback to Acts 2 and Pentecost when the crowd was able to understand the preaching in their own languages about the marvels of God. God’s love is truly like a mountain, steadfast and unchanging throughout generations. Check this out if you want to see even more variations on the text.