Listening to 24-hours of Christmas music on the radio this month has probably made you realize one thing: the classic Christmas hymns have much more depth than “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (no offense, Mariah). Did you realize, however, that most, if not all, of these classic carols were not written simply to be sung during the Christmas season. They were written so that congregations would know true doctrine and feel the joy that comes with it. One of my favorite “Christmas” hymns is not a radio hit. The song is ”Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming.” This hymn, like many … Continue reading Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming!
Whether you are a Christian or not, in some way or another, you are waiting for some kind of advent–an arrival of something in your life to give you light and hope. Deep down, there is a sense of guilt, shame, inadequacy, and incompleteness in all of us. To solve these problems, we run to money, success, sex, power, control, friendships, acclaim, morality, technology, alcohol, food, exercise or a thousand other things. All of those things are good things. But when they become ultimate things, they will only leave you in the darkness. The world is dark. We are dark. And nothing … Continue reading Christmas Lights, Keeping Shining On
Cantique de Noël was written in 1847, by Placide Cappeau. An atheist poet, Cappeau was surprised when a Catholic priest asked him to pen something for Christmas mass. Despite not believing in Jesus, Cappeau delivered in a big way. This 6-minute video explains the story behind the song. The video is also posted at the bottom of this post. Cantique de Noël’s English equivalent is the tremendous hymn “O Holy Night.” Cappeau’s poem is a bit different but, in my opinion, it’s a whole lot better. Here’s the literal English translation. Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour, When God as man descended unto us To erase the … Continue reading Cantique de Noël
On his journey to the cross, Jesus said something to the disciples that, if they listened, would change everything about their lives. He said something that, if they took it to heart, would destroy their self-centered and self-aggrandizing identities and reputations, only to give them something infinitely greater. Here’s what Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25). Earlier in the gospel story, John the Baptizer said the … Continue reading My Plea for Pastors and Musicians to Decrease
I recently watched Ragamuffin: The True Story of Rich Mullins. Mullins was a musical prodigy who rose to fame in the Contemporary Christian Music scene in the 80s and 90s. Mullins confrontational and controversial style and approach to music made him some what of a “bad boy” in the CCM culture. Eventually, Mullins walked away from it all to minister on a Navajo reservation before he died in 1997. I highly recommend the film if you want an inside look at Mullins’ faith journey, his cultural influence, his sin struggles, and his vision for authentic Christianity. One of Mullins’s most well-known songs … Continue reading A Ragamuffin’s Creed
Tonight we have our second Pub Theology gathering at The Local in Saratoga Springs. If you are in the Capital District, we’d love for you to join us from 7:30-9:00pm. Our discussion topic this evening will be, “Why should and how can Christians take art seriously?” As I was doing a little prep for our conversation tonight, I came across an article by R.C. Sproul. The paragraphs below stuck out to me. He had been writing about about the manifold depth in Rembrandt’s painting of Jeremiah, before getting to the value of truly great music. His point is that great art (not just music) has staying-power, … Continue reading The Enduring Value of Great Art