Five Reasons to Sing Somber Songs in Worship

I like sad songs. I don’t mean sappy love songs or My Chemical Romance or anything like that, but more somber forms of instrumental or sacred music—take the Agnus Dei sung after Samuel Barber’s Adagio, for example. I know that makes me a minority, but I think there’s good reason for the evangelical church to depart from its quest to happify everything it touches and reclaim some of the more somber, minor, reflective songs in its worship. Here are five reasons:

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Romans 8.20

I wrote this last September, while feeling weary. It seemed that creation, too, was tired, and waiting for consolation. 

The stones of the eastern wall are weary;
Dew drips from the roof with resignation:
Come, come; when will he come?
The bones of the trees ache with age
And the wind grows weak and cold.

Pale light sweeps the battered creation—
It is John the Baptist, come with his lamp.
Knees aching as he climbs the horizon, 
Still he ascends to his pulpit.

one more day, one more day.
He will come, he will come soon.

“Two roads diverged in a wood…”

Walking out of the theater after seeing The Greatest Showman, Kara asked me what I thought. I told her I’d like to see it about a half-dozen more times, and then write a mixed review. Of course, I didn’t need to see the movie to know that. We had already listened to the soundtrack more times than I can count, and had watched a few interviews and videos of the actors workshopping their songs. I knew I would love the film, and I knew I would be troubled by elements of it. Continue reading ““Two roads diverged in a wood…””

Back at the Mirror Museum

Middle-aged docent for scale.

About a month ago Kara and I were in Columbus, and we decided to go to the Columbus Museum of Art (I should say I decided, but it was my birthday). Toward the end of our walkabout, we sat down in front of Frank Stella’s La vecchia dell’orto, a sort of three-dimensional piece about 13’x15′, all aluminum and fiberglass and canvas. A real monstrosity in my opinion, but that’s where the chairs were.

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Yahweh’s Triumphal Entry

Two of the four gospels mention in their account of the Triumphal Entry that Jesus rode upon a colt “on which no one has ever yet sat” (Mark 11:2; see also Luke 19:29). The colt is a fulfilment of prophecy (Zechariah 9:9), but what’s the significance of a new colt? Perhaps it alludes to Jesus’ divine control over nature, similar to the calming of the storm (Mark 4:35-41). More likely, it calls back to the Old Testament, where only those animals who had never known a yoke were fit for divine service (Numbers 19:2; Deuteronomy 21:3). In calling for this kind of animal, Jesus is asserting the divinity of his mission, and possibly hinting at his coming atonement for sins– he too was to be a sacrifice without blemish.

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