Advent is Here!

If you observe the liturgical year, then let me wish you a Happy New Year as you celebrate the first Sunday in Advent. If you use an advent wreath or candles and already have them out, good for you! Here are a couple of resources you might not know about to enrich your Advent experience as you prepare your heart to celebrate the nativity of the King of Kings.

Flock Notes’ Carpe Verbum text messages for Scripture reading, prayer, and thoughtful action

You can read the blog but it’s more convenient for many of us to get their daily text for reading, praying, and listening to God as preparation for how you will live out the day. There’s even a nifty image and capsulized message that can be saved and used for your lock and/or home screen. The content was written with teens in mind but I haven’t found this to be limiting. In fact, some of the features designed for the younger mindset come in handy for the over 50 crowd as well–both my mom and I are using the daily screenshot reminder of that day’s key point, along with an Advent candle graphic, to keep our Advent focus going in a festive yet practical way.

Young Oceans’ Advent album for a soundtrack

Good contemporary music for Advent is hard to find. So imagine my surprise when I went searching this morning on Amazon Music Unlimited this morning and found this gem! I am mesmerized by its perfectly pleasing mellow harmonies and lovely musical textures, not to mention the solid Advent lyrics. Plus, the multiple instrumental pieces are both soothing and uplifting with an anticipatory feel to them. I’m a musical fussbudget but this is something reminiscent of both Taizé and Jars of Clay but altogether its own sound. If you’re looking for something new for Advent, I highly recommend sampling this.

What are some of your favorite Advent resources? Please feel free to share. Have a blessed season of preparation to celebrate Christ’s birth!



Monday Musing: Afterlife

Just heard Switchfoot’s “Afterlife” for the first time and then found this blog post (which includes the link to the video) that I thought worth sharing. Have a great Monday!

Music for Eastertide & Beyond

If I had thought about it sooner, I would have posted this on Holy Thursday…

Music for the Triduum/Easter season:

Good Friday:

Traditional hymns: “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” “At the Cross Her Station Keeping,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” & “Were You There?”

Bach’s St. Matthew Passion or St. John Passion

Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri

Contemporary: Matt Maher’s “You Were on the Cross,” “Jars of Clay’s “O Come and Mourn With Me Awhile,” and Bruce Carroll’s “Driving Nails”

Holy Saturday/Easter Sunday:

Contemporary: Carman’s “Sunday’s On Its Way”–and for the young at heart, here’s a fun video:

Easter Sunday/Easter Season:

Traditional hymns: “Christ Arose”, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”, “Alleluia! Alleluia!” [Ode to Joy tune]

Classical: Bach’s Easter Oratorio & Widor’s Toccata from the Fifth Organ Symphony in F, Op 42 #1–Here’s a wonderful performance:


Anthem: Matt Maher’s “Christ is Risen” (backing vocals by Audrey Assad); nice concept video done by a fan:

Worship & praise: Adam Young (a.k.a. Owl City)’s cover of “In Christ Alone (I Stand)”

Contemporary hymn: “Easter Song” (Keith Green performance, although the 2nd Chapter of Acts is good, too)

Anthem: James Ward’s “Death is Ended”

Vintage anthems: Don Francisco’s “He’s Alive” & Dallas Holm’s “Rise Again”

Finally, I would be remiss to not include at least a few other year-round favorites that come to mind about the grace of God at work in our lives:

Bach’s Halellujah Chorus

Rich Mullin’s “Step by Step”

Audrey Assad’s “O Happy Fault,” “Sparrow,” & “Breaking Through”

U2’s “Magnificent” & “Pride”

Matt Maher’s “New State of Mind,” “Alive Again,” “His Grace is Enough”

Eleanor Farjeon’s “Morning Has Broken”

Johnny Cash’s “When the Man Comes Around”

Contemporary hymn: “You Are Mine”

Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses”

Any musical setting and/or performer for “Ave Maria,” although I’m especially fond of Andrea Bocelli and Perry Como’s versions.


Writers’ Wednesday

Are you a writer? If you journal, blog, write poems, lyrics, short stories, fan fiction, columns in your weekly parish bulletin, organization newsletter, or maybe even in your area magazine–if you do any of these things then you are a writer. You don’t have to have published novels, short stories, non-fiction books and magazine or periodical pieces (although if you have, you can mentor the rest of us.) Having said that, I want to encourage my fellow writers–and you know who you are!–to do whatever it takes to write more and see where it takes them. Maybe you’ll be motivated to start a blog. Or perhaps you’ll keep a private notebook of your creative outpouring. Writing, for some of us, is like a love-hate relationship. We love it when we’re writing. We hate it when we have writer’s block. Wherever you find yourself today, or sometime this week, do one small thing to nudge along your writing practice.

Here’s my example. I had another post written yesterday to put up today but then my computer ate it so instead of breaking into sobs and giving up (after all, it was close to bedtime and I do my best writing in the mornings) I just started over with something completely different and this is what came out. Hopefully someone finds it takes them to the next level in using their creativity. After all, if you’re not using it you could be depriving the world of something it needs and very well will make a difference in someone else’s life. I get that we’re all busy and sometimes feel too tired or uninspired to write. Just don’t let life pass you by without sharing your gift with the rest of us because we need to hear from you.

Of Gifts & Givers–and no, this isn’t a holiday post…

Whilst jamming out to “Sing, Sing, Sing”—which we always play at LEAST twice in a row in this house, as it’s mandatory, the Man of the House reminded me that Gene Krupa’s seriously pulse-pounding drumming was the influence behind a drummer whose music I first heard during my tweens in the mid 70s (gasp), Peter Criss, a.k.a. The Catman. This was courtesy of a family member who had taken up drumming (hi Mike!) and ever since high school I always loved Criss’ song “Beth”—especially playing it on the piano. As I got older my tastes in music eventually included hard rock and metal in high school, on top of all the other beloved genres I had already come to know and love, in great part to the delightfully eclectic tastes of my parents (thanks Da’ & Mom!). I continued to embrace pop, rock, jazz, classical, big band, military & patriotic marches, some opera & operetta, hymns (traditional/folk/contemporary), soundtrack scores (a major fave!), some country and CCM, plus now there was new wave. Then during my freshman year of college I found artists who defy genre to me (e.g., Steve Taylor & Bruce Cockburn). Thanks to my brain I’ve probably left something out–oh yeah, Dean Martin, Harry Connick, Jr. and their contemporaries for starters–but you get the drift. My interests were and continue to be as diverse as my ADHD brain (for which I usually thank the Good Lord for having because it’s allowed life to be anything but boring).

So, that brings me to the topic of this PSA: Gene Krupa is why Peter Criss is such an awesome drummer. As he himself said about Krupa:

He is the reason I play drums today. I love big bands. When I hear the word drums, I think Gene Krupa. He was a pioneer. He brought the drums up front. He was my idol. I got to talk to him and he really liked me. He gave me lessons for about six months...
He was great to take the time out to teach me. He once said to me, “You got it kid, You really got it.
I’ve never seen anyone who wants it so bad, so I’ll take the time out to teach you.”
Today when I do a drum solo I have that Drum Boogie Sound and nobody uses it.
The kids go wild but it’s not original. I’m doing something that was done in 1935.

So, just remember, ladies and gents, musicians, artists, writers, homemakers, gardeners, architects–to name but a few–and creatives of all types draw their inspiration from the most unlikely (to us) places, but God gives the gifts and whether or not the person using them recognizes that, He, The Creator and Ultimate Artist, is always the giver of gifts and we should seek to discover ours—if we don’t already know them—and use them, as they weren’t given for us but for the world, as unlikely as that often seems to us because we can’t see them as good enough to share. As one scared artist to others, STOP THAT! Let’s just press on the best we can and see what happens. After all, allowing ourselves to be the conduit by producing our work is what matters. After that whatever happens is really none of our concern. (Easy to say, hard to live; I know!)

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