Quick Summaries are pithy paragraph-long reviews
These are reviews for when you don't have all day
to decide whether a resource is worth
+ Although the last resource read, this was the first one that had me excited, New Songs of Celebration Render: Congregational Song in the Twenty-First Century. There has been a need for a book like this, a modern supplement to the previous work by Routley and Westermeyer on the melodies and texts of historic church music. Hawn, et al., and the accompanying CD describe "Seven Streams of Song: An Overview of Congregational Song since Vatican II (356-7, passim). They include: 1. Roman Catholic Liturgical Renewal Hymnody (Blest Are They, On Eagle's Wings); 2. Protestant Contemporary Classical Hymnody (Tell Out My Soul, When in Our Music); 3. African American Spirituals and Gospel Songs (Total Praise); 4. Revival/Gospel Songs (Because He Lives; Shine, Jesus Shine); 5. Folk Song Influences (use of Southern Folk Tunes and Shaped-note melodies; British, Irish, and Scottish tunes); 6. Pentecostal Songs (Awesome God, El Shaddai, Majesty, Thy Word); 7. Global and Ecumenical Song (Taize; Bell, Sosa). Chapter Six unfortunately parrots the false story of Luther pioneering vernacular styles (177), misunderstanding history near and dear to me. Scheer is correct about Booth--please keep Luther out of it. I must complement Scheer on the focus on the recent hymn revival, a theme QBR has followed closely (197). He also correctly shows the danger of worship adopting one generation's youth culture (200). I am also thankful that Chapter Two (Brink, 64) highlights the hymn revival. The modern hymnody of Townend (54, 193, 198, 351) and Getty (54, 198) is also featured in multiple chapters, demonstrating the unifying nature of such singable, freshly-stated, and theologically deep congregational song. I could quibble about other details in a longer review, but there just isn't anything like this resource elsewhere. Recommended.
- A Lutheran response to a new collection of Mennonite hymnody is a challenge. I personally found two texts, "God is our Shelter and Our Shield," and "Upon the Holy Mountainside" usable in my context. I was horrified by the anti-scriptural "God Sparks the Human Soul," particularly because it was written to encapsulate "a core tenant of Anabaptism--human freedom in choosing to follow God." Scripture teaches Original Sin, that humans are naturally enemies of God, and that even our heart, reason, and desires are tainted with sin. I most appreciated sight-reading the new hymn tunes. Not recommended.
+/ Gathered for God is both a CD and choral composition collection. I think of it as a GIA composer sampler. As a Lutheran, I won't use "Dolorosa." I will consider Cooney's "God Is Love" for weddings, as well as Mahler's "My Beloved Is Mine," and "The Lord Is My Shepherd" by Daigle. Partially Recommended.
+ Lyric Psalter Year A puts the Revised Grail Lectionary Psalms to melodies composed by Tony Alonso and Marty Haugen. With some adaptations to the Three-Year Lectionary of Lutheran Service Book, I can see this collection used profitably in an LCMS congregation. Roman/Marian Feasts would be omitted. We would like to see similar collections for B, C, and the Historic Lectionary. Recommended.
/ The God of All Beginnings collection of Joncas music is only Partially Recommended. "Christ Be Near" is comforting. "Like a Bird" sings an oft-misunderstood Bible text too overused by moderns pushing a feminine view of God or ministry. I could use "Canticle of Mary," but not "Holy Mary." "Sacred This Banquet" has some unfortunate language, incompatible with either Lutheran (LCMS) or Roman understandings of Close Communion. The remainder of the pieces are serviceable for Lutherans to consider using.
+/ Prolific composer James Chepponis' Mass for the People of God is next on our list. My concerns as a Lutheran are those of Luther looking at the medieval Roman Church's Latin Mass, as well as those of a modern Lutheran confused at seeing the Kyrie misused as part of the Penitential Act, instead of as a prayer of the forgiven people of God asking for mercy. Also, I will "quibble" about the phrase "people of good will" in the Gloria in Excelsis as an inadequate translation. LCMS Lutherans could use this setting otherwise, though we would certainly miss having an Offertory and our Nunc Dimittis. Recommended with slight modification.
+/ I respectfully disagree with Liam Lawton that "Christ Has No Body Now But Yours" and omit his "Ave Maria" from my use of his Eternal choral music and CD collection, yet I will consider use of his beautiful "Bethlehem Sky" and the comforting and memorable piano, choir, assembly, keyboard, guitar and cello piece, "The Lord Is My Shelter." Partially recommended.
++ Dennis Schrock's performance practic handbook for Handel's Messiah comes Highly Recommended. Participating in a performance of even part of Messiah can be a daunting proposition. This handbook will help you better understand the composition, content, theology, and musicality of the piece as a whole and as individual compositions. I appreciate the professionalism and high musicianship of this handbook and how it can prepare singers and musicians to worship the Messiah while performing Messiah.
-/ Appreciated, but Not Recommended. In QBR 2.1, (Christmastide 2007), we reviewed the original pair of My Morning Prayer and My Evening Prayer. Our praise and critique of My Lenten Prayer is identical. That previous review is reproduced below.
Liturgy & Hymnody CD Review
My Morning Prayer/My Evening Prayer. (Set of both My Morning Prayer and My Evening Prayer, or available separately for $25.95 each.) Seven Daily Services for People on the Go. Chicago: GIA, 2006 & 2007. 4–CD Audio CD set. $40.00. www.giamusic.com800 GIA 1358 (LH)
When I first saw these advertised, I thought, "This has got to be one of the best ideas that I've seen in years that would encourage busy people to pray." I still hold that opinion. This four-CD set has some wonderful strengths. I will also share some deeply-held concerns.
Here's how they are to be used, according to the back of the CD cases: "Each day of the week has two tracks on these CDs; the odd-numbered tracks are the beginning of the day's service, the even-numbered tracks begin with the Canticle…" My Morning Prayer makes use of the Canticle of Zechariah, often called by its Latin title, the Benedictus, while My Evening Prayer sings the Canticle of Mary, often called the Magnificat, also after the Latin.
Due to the success of their 2006 release of a resource for the morning, GIA followed up with a resource for the evening. My Evening Prayer appropriately begins with Saturday, the "eve" of Sunday, since it is prayed after sunset. My Morning Prayer goes Sunday through Saturday.
The services are very learnable by repetition. Repeated elements like the Invitatory, Canticle, music for the General Intercessions and Lord's Prayer, and the Blessing are the same for either MMP or MEP all through the week. The services are reverent and respectful of the received tradition, and their structure will be familiar to liturgical Christians nourished by the teaching of the Gospel. They also give the listener a good exposure to the texts, music and composers in the GIA catalog.
My primary concern with these CDs is the inclusion of women presiding in a prayer office. This will likely lead to confusion with regard to the Office of the Holy Ministry, (see 1 Corinthians 14:33b-40; 1 Timothy 2: 8-15; 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6; et al) and there is enough of that in Christendom as is. I wonder if the 50-50 male/female balance in reading Bible texts and praying collects is due to the influence of the flawed idea from "liturgical theology" that liturgy is "the work of the people."
Sunday's concluding collect at Morning Prayer makes a vague reference to how to "find" God. This could have been cleared up by a reminder that Christians find God "for us" in Word and Sacrament, just as He promises in Scripture. You will wish to avoid adding your "Amen" to the prayer for the dead near the end of Evening Prayer on Monday.
The hymn for Sunday Morning Prayer shows the influence of St. Augustine and his teaching of the role of Christianity in society (according to Niebuhr) as "transforming culture." The hymn text for Thursday Evening Prayer is weak, due to its theology coming primarily from the First Article of the Creed.
Additional strengths of the set are memorable well after finishing the week of prayer for the first time. The Morning Prayer canticle has the tune the British use to sing "O Little Town of Bethlehem," Forest Green, also found in Lutheran Service Book. That is but one example of how familiar melodies provide a welcoming foundation to both MMP and MEP. New compositions help add a breathtaking freshness. Wednesday's Evening Prayer hymn is wonderful. Listen to that before you begin using the set. Some users will notice that the hymn for Monday Morning Prayer is a text we knew from The Lutheran Hymnal 525 with new music and a new refrain.
I would encourage GIA to provide similar My _____ Prayer resources for Compline (bedtime) and Midday Prayer (useful for mid-morning, lunch hour and mid-afternoon prayer). Praying with other people is better than a recording, yet this kind of help for personal prayer is better than praying alone.
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