Maundy Thursday Music: “Go to Dark Gethsemane”

For in the night in which he was betrayed, he took bread. And when he had given thanks, he brake it and gave it to his disciples saying “Take, eat. This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Text: James Montgomery

Tune: Richard Redhead

1 Go to dark Gethsemane,
Ye that feel the tempter’s pow’r;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

2 Follow to the judgment hall;
View the Lord of life arraigned;
O the worm-wood and the gall!
O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suff’ring, shame, or loss;
Learn of Him to bear the cross.

3 Calv’ry’s mournful mountain climb
There adoring at His feet,
Mark the miracle of time,
God’s own sacrifice complete:
“It is finished!” Hear him cry;
Learn of Jesus Christ to die.

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Sing it Again: “Taking My God At His Word”

In 2005, Brian Free took a break from quartet singing and put out what is still one of my favorite solo efforts in southern gospel. Although I’ve never quite wrapped my brain around that other-worldly voice, his ear for a good song was as canny then as it is now. My personal favorite is the fresh, vigorous country rocker “Dare to Be a Daniel” (written by fellow Gold City alumnus Steve Lacey). Other highlights include “Anthem of the Ages,” which BFA could record today like new, and the tune I’m highlighting today, “Taking My God At His Word.” I could hear a number of artists doing this today, including the Perrys, Barry Rowland & Deliverance, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, and Greater Vision.

I think I would be most excited to hear Chris Allman take a stab at it, but for Ernie to have a go would be great fun too. What do y’all think?

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Monday Morning Humor: Winnie the Pooh is Darth Vader

Voice actor Jim Cummings reads Darth Vader’s lines as Winnie the Pooh. Darkwing Duck drops in for a visit too.

“You are part of the rebel alliance and a traitor. Take her away. And no honey.

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CD Review: Into His Presence, by the Perrys

The Perrys - Into His Presence

Into His Presence is the Perrys’ debut effort with Wayne Haun and Ernie Haase’s new label Stowtown Records. It’s also their first offering of new music since Tracy Stuffle’s stroke now over a year ago January and the subsequent departure of lead singer Joseph Habedank. However, David Ragan has been proving that he is more than capable of picking up where Joseph left off. His resonant, expansive voice is the glue that holds this new lineup together. To me, he and David Mann are cut from the same cloth (speaking of, sympathetic shout-out and best wishes to Mann, who just came off the road after discovering that his throat had been invaded by mold spores!) Tracy’s son Jared, who has an agreeably smooth low tone, is filling in on most of the bass singing for now, although Tracy makes one special guest appearance. Below the fold are my comments on this new project. Continue reading

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Farewell to Pat Barker

This is so unbearably sad for those of us who love southern gospel music. It was with a heavy heart that Mark Trammell announced bass singer Pat Barker’s resignation yesterday. Mark made it clear that this was a personal decision on Pat’s part motivated by a need to be with his family, and sent him away with the blessing of being “the finest, most Christlike man ever to travel on a quartet bus.”

Life at home can be difficult when the father travels for a living, and we should certainly pray for Pat’s entire family, as Mark encouraged fans to do in the press release. At the same time, we all grieve with Mark as Pat was not only perhaps the best bass singer to leave his mark on southern gospel in recent years, but also one of the most fun guys you could have the pleasure of meeting. The warmth of his voice and his spirit will be sorely missed in equal measure. Jon Epley commented, “Pat is not only a great bass, but also has a great quality solo bass voice which doesn’t just grow on trees,” and he is so right. However, I was relieved to read that Pat will finish out the month of April on the road with MTQ, so that I will be catching one of his last concerts at the end of the month! Pat was a big reason I was so excited to see MTQ in concert for the first time, so it’s good to know that he will still be there for at least a few more weeks.

Here are some of Pat’s most memorable moments with the quartet through the years:

 

 

 

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Anatomy of a Song: “Come Back to Me”

It’s been a really long time since I did an entry in this series, formerly known as “Poetry in Song,” and I’m not even sure that the folks who seemed interested when I first began it a few years ago are still hanging around. But in case they are, and in case anyone else enjoys reading my rambling about songwriting and would like to explore what makes a song work lyrically with me, here is another installment! Today, we’re picking a song from the world of pop/rock country music: “Come Back to Me” (Artist: Keith Urban, Album: Fuse). This is a heart-wrenching song from the perspective of a man whose love is leaving to chase after things that he knows can’t satisfy her.

Before we dive in, mention must be made of Urban’s ravishing guitar work and the way it just melts into that synth backdrop. True musicianship dat. But I’ll save the full-on Keith fan-girling for another day. Now, on to the lyrics of the song, which was written by Shane McAnnally, Brandy Lynn Clark, and Trevor Joseph Rosen (three members of what I like to call “The Nashville Machine,” aka that faceless throng of writers whom nobody recognizes by name and without whom good and bad pop music alike would grind to a halt). I tucked away three main tips from them.

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Monday Morning Humor: The Three Little Pigs

As  it had been written by Shakespeare.

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Going To the Movies?

If so, I recommend skipping Darren Aronofsky’s soggy, ridiculously extra-biblical if not gnostic hack job on the story of Noah. In the words of Wretched TV, “Uh oh.” Or, “ROCK PEOPLE!” Instead, read  Dr. Brian Mattson’s much-needed and incisive review. Despite some admittedly stellar casting and stunning visuals, the director just couldn’t leave his own political/theological axe-grinding out of it. However, there’s another new movie marketed to Christians that looks much more promising in terms of its message, even if, alas, no Russell Crowe or Anthony Hopkins. The independent film God’s Not Dead did a Facing the Giants last week, opening 3rd in the box office despite its limited 700-theater release. Continue reading

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Kickstart Something Good: Jean Watson

For those who are weary of the pablum now paraded as “music” on the airwaves of mainstream and Christian music alike, I offer an alternative: Jean Watson, a gifted singer/songwriter who also happens to be a dear friend of mine. Her style is clear, contemplative CCM, much like Fernando Ortega. She is a classically trained singer and violinist, and she enjoys an active ministry both in America and in the U.K. On her two latest projects—one Christmas and one original worship—she has teamed up with some of the best talent in Nashville, including producer Bill Smiley (WhiteHeart, Steven Curtis Chapman, Johnny Cash, Bebe & Cece Winans, Gaither Vocal Band, 4Him, and more), drummer Steve Brewster (Bob Seger, Chicago, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Faith Hill, Richard Marx), and most excitingly, Phil Keaggy on a fresh arrangement of the carol “Do You Hear What I Hear?” Jean aims to help fund both records at once through a Kickstarter campaign she is calling “The Sound of Heaven.” She writes:

The greatest challenge for me in creating this project is simply financial. Whatever I have to pay towards the cost of production, manufacture, artwork, photography, travel, etc, etc, simply puts a burden on the ministry which provides the bulk of my income. I desire to be in a place where I am not hindered by any debt and can give away as much of my ministry proceeds as possible!

The total cost of ‘The Sound of Heaven Project’ is projected at approximately $40,000 which includes all expenses from start to finish. Kickstarter is a great way to raise funds for projects like this, but if I don’t raise the whole $14,000 that I am asking for to help me, I get nothing! Kickstarter will help me meet as many of those expenses as possible so I can focus on MINISTRY, not money! :)

Reading the numbers closely should impress upon us all just how difficult it is to be an independent artist in today’s economy. As you can see, this Kickstarter campaign won’t cover half of her costs even if it’s successful. But it will be a significant help. Click here to back her project, and if you want to hear her music, you should go to her website. The soundtrack to the promo video is music by Hillsong, not Jean. Here is one of her original songs:

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An Interview With Rebecca Peck

 

Apologies for not posting anything yesterday. First I thought it was April 1st, then I thought it was March 30th, then I remembered that March has 31 days in it. So, needless to say, WordPress didn’t do what I thought it was going to do. :-) BUT, to make up for my absent-mindedness, and instead of coming up with anything clever for April Fool’s Day, I have a special treat for all you readers—an interview with one of my favorite songwriters, Rebecca Peck! Rebecca has a huge catalogue of songs with cuts from nearly all of your favorite artists, including, but not limited to, the Booth Brothers, the Collingsworth Family, Brian Free & Assurance, Legacy Five, Triumphant Quartet, the Hoppers, Signature Sound, etc., etc., etc. In my opinion, she is gospel music’s answer to Twila Paris. My personal favorite song of hers is the Collingsworth Family’s “Blessed Be the Lamb.” I got the chance to ask her some questions about her background and her career, including her recent song “Christ Is Still the King” on Legacy Five’s latest. My thanks to Rebecca for being so insightful, down-to-earth and gracious. You can read more about her and browse her work at her website. Without further ado, here are my questions and her answers to them!

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