Meditating upon Psalm 95 (“O Come, Let Us Sing unto the Lord”) – Handel

The psalm for this Sunday, the Third Sunday in Lent, is an exhortation to sing and praise God for all He is and all that He does. It might seem odd during a penitential season such as Lent to sing this magnificent psalm of praise, but it is a reminder that even in times of great sorrow and contrition we can rejoice in God and thank Him for His boundless… Read More »

Meditating upon Psalm 121 (“I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes”) – Walford Davies

Having grown up in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, Psalm 121 has always been a favorite: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills.” We were literally surrounded by mountains. In the distance on either end of the valley the mountains cascaded over each other in infinite shades of blue and green. As we looked southeast towards Mt. Hagen, we could see the rugged mountain range over which the… Read More »

Meditating upon Psalm 32 (“You are a hiding place for me”) – Wadsworth

The psalm for this Sunday, the First Sunday of Lent, is Psalm 32, the second of the seven Penitential Psalms. This intense setting by American composer Zachary Wadsworth (b. 1983) alternates the English text with the Latin. It begins with verse 3 which relates to us the consequences of remaining silent and keeping our sins to ourselves. While I held my tongue, my bones withered away because of my groaning… Read More »

Meditating upon Psalm 51 (“Create in me a clean heart, O God”) – Handel

Psalm 51, the appointed psalm for Ash Wednesday, is arguably one of the most significant for Christians in that it provides for us an example of deep and heartfelt repentance. The story involves a king who after having an adulterous affair and getting a woman pregnant, gets wrapped up in an elaborate cover-up that leads to deceit, treachery, murder, and despair. The full story is told in 2 Samuel 11-12.… Read More »

Celebrate Christmas with the Peoria Bach Festival

Celebrate Christmas this year by watching the Peoria Bach Festival 2012 performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. You can find it on the Peoria Bach Festival YouTube page by clicking here or following the video links below. Although the performance is in German, English subtitles are provided making the story easy to understand and follow. The translation is a literal one so that the original meaning of the German is as accurate… Read More »

The Angelic Choir

The shepherds were “sore afraid,” which means they were completely and totally terrified fearing for their very lives. Here they were half-asleep watching sheep (some of which would eventually be slaughtered in Passover celebrations and temple sacrifices) and an angel of the Lord appeared to them with “news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a… Read More »

Peoria Bach Festival 2016

Join us from June 5-12, 2016 for the fourteenth annual Peoria Bach Festival. This year’s festival will feature eight concerts and six other events including a free lunch lecture and an event for children. For a complete schedule and details, please call (309) 676-4609 or visit www.peoriabachfestival.org. The first concert on Sunday, June 5 will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1420 West Moss Avenue and feature organist James Kibbie (see www.agopeoria.org).… Read More »

Fanfare, Fugue, and Chorale on CRUCIFER (Brass Choir)

The best sacred music is not “background” music, but rather music that proclaims the eternal truths of Scripture whether it is a simple song or one in which the message is written into the music. The hymn “Lift High the Cross” (CRUCIFER) has become an iconic one for many Christians because it highlights the centrality of the crucifixion of Jesus to the faith. Martin Luther speaks powerfully to this dogma in his Theology… Read More »

Top Ten List – December 2015

Happy New Year! In case you missed some of them, here are the ten most popular blog posts on this blog as of December 31, 2015. By far the most popular blog was on the Christmas carol “Silent Night,” but a close second is the one on “O Holy Night” and the one on the Biblical significance of bells. If you have any topics on music and worship that you would… Read More »

Thoughts on “O Holy Night”

Of all Christmas carols, “O Holy Night” has one of the most fascinating stories. It is a rather unlikely carol in that the poem was written by an avowed atheist (albeit one well-versed in Christian theology) and the tune composed by a practicing Jew who did not observe Christmas. It was first sung by a Parisian opera singer, but soon after church officials banned the song when it was discovered that the… Read More »