Friday, November 30, 2007

A Restoration Movement book

For those interested in studying the beliefs of the Stone-Campbell Restoration movement Church of Christ:

Introducing the Church of Christ, by various authors and published by Star Bible Publications. (© 1981)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New book on Sacred Harp

Traveling Home: Sacred Harp Singing and American Pluralism by Kiri Miller is now available from the University of Illinois Press (ISBN 0252032144). Kiri is an assistant professor of music at Brown University. In 2002 she edited The Chattahoochee Musical Convention, 1852-2002: A Sacred Harp Historical Sourcebook, and authored the American Music article "First Sing the Notes: Oral and Written Traditions in Sacred Harp Transmissions" (Volume 22, No. 4 Winter 2004 475-501). This new book is a version of her 2005 PhD dissertation (A Long Time Traveling: Song, Memory, and the Politics of Nostalgia in the Sacred Harp Diaspora) -- though Kiri says it is "shorter and a bit more user-friendly."

"A powerful musical practice that has drawn together a diverse and far-flung community, Sacred Harp singing has roots in the American South and flourishing branches in New England, the Midwest, and on the West Coast. It has served as an emblem of American history in twenty-first century popular media, including the Oscar-winning film Cold Mountain. Meanwhile, the advent of internet discussion boards and increasing circulation of singer-produced recordings have changed the nature of traditional transmission and sharpened debates about Sacred Harp as an "authentic" form of Southern musical expression. Blending historical scholarship with wide-ranging fieldwork, Kiri Miller presents an engagingly written study of a musical movement that some have christened 'a quintessential expression of American democracy'." -- From the University of Illinois Press web site

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The prodigal son

The prodigal son, Lk 15:11-24

Afflictions, though they seem severe;
In mercy oft are sent;
They stopped the prodigal's career,
And forced him to repent.

Although he no relentings felt
Till he had spent his store;
His stubborn heart began to melt
When famine pinched him sore.

"What have I gained by sin, he said,
But hunger, shame, and fear;
My father's house abounds with bread,
While I am starving here.

I'll go, and tell him all I've done,
And fall before his face
Unworthy to be called his son,
I'll seek a servant's place."

His father saw him coming back,
He saw, and ran, and smiled;
And threw his arms around the neck
Of his rebellious child.

"Father, I've sinned--but O forgive!"
I've heard enough, he said,
Rejoice my house, my son's alive,
For whom I mourned as dead.

Now let the fatted calf be slain,
And spread the news around;
My son was dead, but lives again,
Was lost, but now is found.

'Tis thus the Lord his love reveals,
To call poor sinners home;
More than a father's love he feels,
And welcomes all that come.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


"Without an automobile, computer, high-speed internet, cell phone, printer, radio, TV, video projector, Jesus Film, bicycle, mass mail-outs, tract ministry or the dozen other modern missionary tools, Paul led small ministry teams in three missionary tours over about ten years planting churches in Cyprus, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Cenchrea, Ephesus, Berea as well as aiding and inspiring others to plant churches in Asia, Galatia, and other areas. These churches were formed, taught and established in missionary outreach after as little as one month and rarely as long as one year. Missionary Paul's main tools were the Word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, and his tent-making bi-vocational support. He left them without a church bus, church building, multi-purpose building, salaried staff or desire to have them. Could we learn anything from a missionary like Paul?"
[From Without, by Roy Culley, The Baptist Monitor, Vol. 59, No. 11 (Nov 2007) p. 4]

I'd say we have a LOT we can learn from Paul and the methods -- not just the message -- of the New Testament. What are some things we learn?

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Death in the Sacred Harp"

I recently read Death in the Sacred Harp , a master's thesis by Jessica Tilley. It made me think of some minor thoughts on death that I recorded in my history of the East Texas Musical Convention.

A bridge to the past is constructed by identification with the adversity faced by Sacred Harp predecessors, coupled with the remembrance of the unavoidable appointment with death. In modern American society the subject of death has been sanitized in real life and trivialized in the media. The television medium can portray fictional injuries and deaths in most gruesome detail, while the real infirm, injured and aged have been transferred out of homes to hospitals and care facilities. Corpses awaiting committal have been moved from homes to funeral parlors, and the committal itself from the responsibility of the community to the funeral director. Sacred Harp provides a solemn reminder of ubiquitous nature of pain, sorrow, and death. One reviewer of a Sacred Harp recording called the music “fatalistically sad and spookily beautiful.”[1] Yet the Sacred Harp community with its built-in catharsis probably suffers less from depression than the average American. According to F. E. Abernethy, “The memento mori[2] theme is characteristic of Sacred Harp music and that separates it, as much as anything that I can think of, from modern music – church or otherwise. The only ones that keep reminding us of our eventual and inevitable trip to the grave are the insurance salesmen. As a result maybe we have lost some of the seasons of life. What makes this October so sweet and beautifully mellow is our knowing that the year is nearing the end of its time. The people of Sacred Harp know this and they sing about it…The words of the old Harp songs are often sad and mournful. The verses (many of them) were written by people who knew too much of this world’s suffering…They were not romanticizing when they wrote, ‘Time swift as an Indian arrow flies’.”[3]

[1] Ratliff, Ben, “Faces of Jazz: Late Greats, Rare Gospel, Cool Caribbean”, New York Times, Sunday October 31, 2004).
[Accessed Mon Nov 1 5:59:03 am US/Central 2004]
[2] Reminder of death
[3] Abernethy, F. E., “History of Sacred Harp”, Sacred Harp Preservation Symposium

-- copied from Approaching 150: A Brief History of the East Texas Musical Convention and Sacred Harp in East Texas, page 58

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Longing for the house of God

Psalm LXXXIV (84), Particular Meter (Hallelujah Meter

1. Lord of the worlds above,
How pleasant and how fair
The dwellings of Thy love,
Thine earthly temples are!
To Thine abode
My heart aspires
With warm desires,
To see my God.

2. The sparrow for her young
With pleasure seeks a nest,
And wand’ring swallows long
To find their wonted rest:
My spirit faints
With equal zeal
To rise and dwell
Among thy saints.

3. O happy souls that pray,
Where God appoints to hear!
O happy men that pay
Their constant service there!
They praise Thee still;
And happy they
That love the way
To Zion’s hill!

4. They go from strength to strength,
Through this dark vale of tears,
Till each arrives at length,
Till each in heav'n appears:
O glorious seat,
When God, our King
Shall thither bring
Our willing feet!


5. To spend one sacred day
Where God and saints abide,
Affords diviner joy
Than thousand days beside:
Where God resorts,
I love it more
To keep the door
Than shine in courts.

6. God is our Sun and Shield,
Our Light and our defence;
With gifts His hands are fill'd,
We draw our blessings thence:
He shall bestow
On Jacob’s race
Peculiar grace
And glory too.

7. The Lord his people loves;
His hand no good withholds
From those his heart approves,
From pure and pious souls:
Thrice happy he,
O God of hosts,
Whose spirit trusts
Alone in Thee.

Isaac Watts, The Psalms of David, 1719 [Copied from Watts' The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship, from an online edition that was "hard-published" in 1801 by Hudson and Goodwin Company]

A fine minor tune set with this hymn is found in The B. F. Sacred Harp (2006 edition, popularly known as "the Cooper Book") on page 315. Across the page on 314 is a tune written in major.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Just a little more

Reporter: “How much money is enough?"

John D. Rockefeller: “Just a little bit more.”

"The Backlash against Tithing"

Russell Earl Kelly sent me a link to an interesting article on tithing from the Online Wall Street Journal -- The Backlash Against Tithing by Suzanne Sataline.

Excerpt: "The backlash comes as some churches step up their efforts to encourage tithing. Some are setting up 'giving kiosks' that allow congregants to donate using their debit cards when they attend services." Perhaps it is not just the
televangelists folks are getting tired of!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms (Psalm 95: 2).

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name (Ps 100:4).

Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God (2 Cor. 9:11).

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God (Philp. 4:6).

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving (Col 4:2).

Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen (Rev. 7:12).

"Die Felder Wir Pflügen und Streuen."

We plow the fields and scatter
The good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered
By God's Almighty hand,
He sends the snow in winter,
The warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes, and the sunshine
And soft, refreshing rain,
All, all good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all His love!

-- Matthias Claudius (1770 -1815), translated by Miss Jane Montgomery Campbell

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Word of the day

Bloviation -- pompous speech

"I have no desire to continue...taxing the patience of those who might actually read our bloviations."
-- Mike McInnis in (e-mail) The distance between "Absolutists" and Situation Ethnics philosophies of the twentieth century, Wed 14 Nov 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Some Dog Peeves About Humans

Yelling at me for barking.. I'M A DOG, YOU NUMBSKULL!

Taking me for a walk, then not letting me check stuff out. Exactly whose walk is this anyway?

Any trick that involves balancing food on my nose... Stop it!

Any haircut that involves bows or ribbons. Now you know why we chew your stuff up when you're not home.

The sleight of hand, fake fetch throw. You fooled a dog! Woooo-Hooooooo! Oh, what a proud moment for the top of the food chain.

Dog sweaters. Hello??? Haven't you noticed the fur?

-- Excerpts from an e-mail from Chuck at saltandlight@comcast, 25 December 2006

Monday, November 19, 2007

The contrite heart

The contrite heart.
Isa 47:15

The Lord will happiness divine
On contrite hearts bestow;
Then tell me, gracious God, is mine
A contrite heart or no?

I hear, but seem to hear in vain,
Insensible as steel;
If aught is felt, 'tis only pain,
To find I cannot feel.

I sometimes think myself inclined
To love Thee if I could;
But often feel another mind,
Averse to all that's good.

My best desires are faint and few,
I fain would strive for more;
But when I cry, "My strength renew!"
Seem weaker than before.

Thy saints are comforted, I know,
And love Thy house of prayer;
I therefore go where others go,
But find no comfort there.

Oh make this heart rejoice, or ache;
Decide this doubt for me;
And if it be not broken, break,
And heal it, if it be.

William Cowper (1731-1800)
Olney Hymns, 1779.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Singing in the Heights

Saturday, December 1, 2007 (d.v.) will be singing Sacred Harp at the Heights Church of Christ meeting house in the Heights area of north Houston, Texas (1548 Heights Blvd.). For a map and more information, click here. We will use both the Cooper (blue book) and Denson (red book) revisions.

Friday, November 16, 2007


For families, friends, churches and communities, the East Texas Convention and the 'Sacred Harp' provide continuity to the past – a place almost outside of time, where friend holds fellowship with friend, where friends above join in concert with friends below and all the saints terrestrial sing with those to glory gone; a place where Grandpa and Granny and Uncle Joe are remembered fondly, and some favorite aunt is always the best treble; a place where songs are known and loved for those who led and loved them; a place where one can travel back to memorable days of yore; a place that is as old as the book itself and as new as the modern conveniences and methods used by a small group to pull together a large event. In 'Sacred Harp' one finds the eternal standard of “how it used to be” seemingly never recreated, dwelling harmoniously yet paradoxically alongside the confident declaration that “it hasn’t changed a bit”. In a highly mobile society with a progressive lifestyle, 'Sacred Harp' provides an anchor to something sure and good in our past. -- From Approaching 150: a Brief History of the East Texas Musical Convention ISBN 1-59872-040-6

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Seniors Breakfast Special

An elderly couple went to breakfast at a restaurant where the "Seniors' Special" was two eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast for $1.99. The husband ordered the special. "Sounds good," said his wife. "But I don't want the eggs."

"Then I'll have to charge you two dollars and forty-nine cents because you're ordering a la carte," the waitress warned her.

"You mean I'd have to pay for not taking the eggs?" the wife asked incredulously.

"YES!!" stated the waitress.

"I'll take the special then," the wife replied.

"How do you want your eggs?" the waitress asked.

"Raw and in the shell."

She took the two eggs home.

DON'T MESS WITH SENIORS!!! They've been around the block more than once.

-- From an e-mail sent to me by Marvin Curnutt

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Word of the day

Though my writing is not the best, and my speech is even worse, I enjoy words. I enjoy learning new words, finding odd words, etc. Today I saw a really good one in an e-mail I received, which provided the motivation to institute this new "column". I'll give the word, its definition and the "place" where I ran across it. This won't be daily -- just random as I find something I deem interesting. For today's word, I'm going back to a crossword puzzle answer from yesterday. This is a word I know, but probably have never used (definitely not in speaking).

Vapid -- without liveliness or spirit; dull or tedious; lifeless; flavorless; spiritless [Answer to 5 across (clue, uninspired), Crossword Puzzle, Tyler Morning Telegraph, 13 Nov 2007]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hoping for a revival

My harp untuned, and laid aside,
(To cheerful hours the harp belongs)
My cruel foes, insulting cried,
"Come, sing us one of Zion's songs."

Alas! when sinners, blindly bold,
At Zion scoff, and Zion's King;
When zeal declines, and love grows cold,
Is this a day for me to sing?

Time was, whene'er the saints I met,
With joy and praise my bosom glowed;
But now, like Eli, sad I sit,
And tremble for the ark of God.

While thus to grief my soul gave way,
To see the work of GOD decline;
Methought I heard my Savior say,
"Dismiss thy fears, the ark is mine.

Though for a time I hide my face,
Rely upon my love and pow'r;
Still wrestle at a throne of grace,
And wait for a reviving hour.

Take down thy long neglected harp,
I've seen thy tears, and heard thy prayer;
The winter season has been sharp,
But spring shall all its wastes repair."

LORD, I obey, my hopes revive,
Come join with me, ye saints, and sing;
Our foes in vain against us strive;
For God will help and healing bring.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Words on relationships...

...what do you think?

"During the impressionable adolescent years, kids are organized into classes based on the strength of their intellects. That means the kids in honors classes are practically segregated from the hoi polloi. This may ensure that students get the most challenging education for their skill levels, but it also sends a strong social signal as teens primarily associate with their intellectual equals at the time they often begin dating."

"The relationships that count, the relationships that last, are the ones based on compassion, compromise, and communication."
-- both quotes from "Giving Up Smart" by Rachel Pomerance on

* "Hoi polloi -- the common people; the masses (often preceded by the)"

Saturday, November 10, 2007

One baptism series

In his blog, the Fullness of Time, Nathan A. Finn has an interest in occasional posts quoting others view of "one baptism". The first one is found here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Televangelist investigation

The United States Senate Finance Committee has recently begun an investigation of six prominent and extravagent televangelists. I have no sympathy for some of these thieving clowns who pass for Christian ministers, but the U.S. Senate investigating someone else's financial mismanagement seems like the pot calling the kettle black. Following is a Cc/carbon copy of a note I sent to Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

Dear Senator Grassley,

Through several forms of media, I have heard that you are "investigating six prominent televangelist ministries for possible financial misconduct." I have no sympathy for these ministries that to me appear fraudulent. I applaud your concern that they operate openly and above board. If they are operating illegally, they should be legally punished.

But I have two problems with what you are doing: (1) possible bad precedents you may be setting that could later affect more legitimate Christian ministries; and (2) the U.S. Congress has no "moral high ground" for investigating these ministries. These televangelists operate on funds that are donated freely (however unsuspecting they may be). On the other hand, our Federal Government, whom you represent, legally and illegally picks the pockets of the American taxpayers, often spending our money just as lavishly and wastefully as Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland.

I am a former Republican Precinct Chairman, a Christian and a Baptist. I agree with Rod Pitzer (Ministry Watch), who says these ministries that lack accountability "give a black eye to churches and Christians..." I do not waste my money supporting televangelists. I wish I did not spend my money supporting wasteful government spending. While looking at these televangelists, please consider cleaning up your own act.

Addition: Link to someone else cogitating on the subject: 7 lessons pastors can learn from the Senate Televangelist Investigation

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Book reviews by Les Puryear

Leslie Puryear reviews the book Starting a House Church, by Larry Kreider and Floyd McClung.

While on the site, you may also want to read Les' review of Holy Discontent, by Bill Hybels.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What a comfort divine

My God, I am Thine, what a comfort divine,
What a blessing to know that my Jesus is mine!
In the heavenly Lamb thrice happy I am,
And my heart it doth dance at the sound of His Name.

True pleasures abound in the rapturous sound;
And whoever hath found it hath paradise found:
My Jesus to know, and feel His blood flow,
'Tis life everlasting, 'tis Heaven below.

Yet onward I haste to the heavenly feast:
That, that is the fulness; but this is the taste!
And this I shall prove, till with joy I remove
To the heaven of heavens in Jesus' love.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1749.
As posted on Song to the Lamb Fri, 24 Aug 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Singing in Dallas

The upcoming Dallas County (Texas) Sacred Harp Convention will meet Saturday, November 10th at the First Primitive Baptist Church at 1920 Gross Road in east Dallas. Singing will begin at 9:30 and end at 3:00, with dinner served at noon. (1991 Denson revision) More info: Bruce/Beverly Coates, (972) 978-5130 or Gary/Vivian Rogan, (817) 523-0230.

Monday, November 05, 2007


G.A.S.P. (Games Adolescents Shouldn't Play) is an association that is working to make the public aware of a deadly teenager activity -- the "Choking Game". An East Texas youth recently died while playing the game: Death in Lufkin, Texas.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

God's presence is light in darkness

HYMN 54 C. M.

My God, the spring of all my joys,
The life of my delights,
The glory of my brightest days,
And comfort of my nights.

In darkest shades if he appear
My dawning is begun;
He is my soul's sweet morning star,
And he my rising sun.

The opening heav'ns around me shine
With beams of sacred bliss,
While Jesus shows his heart is mine,
And whispers, I am his.

My soul would leave this heavy clay
At that transporting word,
Run up with joy the shining way
T' embrace my dearest Lord.

Fearless of hell and ghastly death,
I'd break through every foe;
The wings of love and arms of faith
Should bear me conqueror through.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Hymns and Spiritual Songs, Book II, 1707.
As posted on Song to the Lamb, 18 Oct 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007

The power of prayer

In a small conservative mid-western town, a new bar started building a facility to open up their business. The local Baptist church started a campaign with petitions and prayers to block the bar from opening.

Work progressed right up till the week before opening, when a lightning strike hit the bar and it burned to the ground.

The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

The church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building's demise in its reply to the court.

As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented, "It appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and a church congregation that doesn't!"

[Note: this was sent to me via e-mail, but at this point I can't remember whom to credit for sending it. Maybe it was Bro. Marvin Curnutt. Sorry, I'm not sure.]

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cowper and Newton

Welcome cross.

'Tis my happiness below
Not to live without the cross;
But the Savior's pow'r to know,
Sanctifying every loss:
Trials must and will befall;
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all,
This is happiness to me.

God, in Israel, sows the seeds
Of affliction, pain, and toil;
These spring up, and choke the weeds
Which would else o'erspread the soil:
Trials make the promise sweet,
Trials give hew life to prayer;
Trials bring me to his feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.

Did I meet no trials here,
No chastisement by the way;
Might I not, with reason, fear
I should prove a cast-away:
Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly, vain delight;
But the true-born child of GOD,
Must not, would not, if he might.

William Cowper (1731-1800)
Olney Hymns, 1779.

The joy of the Lord is your strength.
Neh 9:10

Joy is a fruit that will not grow
In nature's barren soil;
All we can boast, till CHRIST we know,
Is vanity and toil.

But where the LORD has planted grace;
And made His glories known;
There fruits of heavenly joy and peace
Are found, and there alone.

A bleeding Savior seen by faith,
A sense of pard'ning love;
A hope that triumphs over death,
Give joys like those above.

These are the joys which satisfy,
And sanctify the mind;
Which make the spirit mount on high,
And leave the world behind.

John Newton (1725-1807)
Olney Hymns, 1779.