There's a Trick of the Light I'm Learning to Do

This is a collection of songs I wrote and recorded in January - March, 2020 while on sabbatical from ministry. They each deal with a different aspect or expression of the Gospel. Click on the image above to listen.

Three Hands Clapping

This is my latest recording project (released May 27, 2019). It is a double album of 22 songs, which very roughly track the story of my life... a sort of musical autobiography, so to speak. Click the album image to listen.

Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.

inversions

Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.

soundings

soundings
click image to download
"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.

bridges

bridges
Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.

echoes

echoes
Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.

Accidentals

This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

blogs I follow

Readings, 2020

Readings, 2020
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson

Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado

Halos and Avatars, Craig Detweiller, ed.

Fool's Talk, Os Guinness

Brendan, Frederick Buechner

The Screwtape Letters

Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim's Regress, C. S. Lewis

Becoming Whole, Brian Finkert and Kelly Kapic

Real Sex, Lauren Winner

Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Voyage to Venus, C. S. Lewis

random reads

Every Nation, Tribe and Song

The other day my kids told me about this fascinating cross-cultural experience they had at school. Apparently a touring group that played traditional instruments from the highlands of Japan treated their school to a concert.

At least they thought it was Japan. The geographic details were a bit hazy, but what stood out with crystalline clarity for them was the fascinating array of musical instruments. Things my kids had never imagined before: a bowed instrument you played by stretching, a stringed instrument you held in your teeth and played by changing the shape of your mouth. My kids were mesmerized, by the sounds of things.

And they got me thinking about ethnodoxology.

Ethnodoxology is one of those ten-dollar words I learned in seminary; it means something like "the study of ethnic worship," and it looks at the use of indigenous musical traditions in Christian worship. It's really a vital issue for global missions these days, I think, because as our global village continues to shrink, indigenous musical forms are being pushed out of the village church in many parts of the world, to make room for contemporary (read: western) Christian music. My theology of worship prof came home from a teaching trip to India not long ago, lamenting the fact that he had to scour the city of Secunderabad to find a church that still used indigenous musical forms. Most had gone CCLI.

More's the pity, too, because there's a wonderful diversity of musical traditions that might enrich the global church's worship if we had ears to hear it.

About six or seven years ago (before I ever learned the word ethnodoxology) I developed a curious fascination with musical instruments from different cultures. What started with the gift of some instruments my Grandfather brought home from a missions trip to Africa eventually grew into a modest collection of instruments from around the globe. Some of the more exotic ones in my collection (pictured left) include a kora--a 21-stringed harp-like instrument from central Africa, a gidjak--an upright stringed instrument from Tajikistan that you play with a bow like a violin, and a zampona--a kind of pan-flute from Peru.

So one day, after researching and experimenting with these different instruments for a while, and after daydreaming about all the Christ-claimed, blood-bought cultures they represented for a longer while, I tried to write a worship song that included as many of them as I could play passably. To make it sound even less "western," I wrote it in 5/4 time; you can click here to listen.

Well, I don't expect it to ever make the top 40 on the Worship Charts, but it does capture a kind of musical vision for me. It's a vision of that coming day when worshipers from every nation, tribe and tongue will gather together in an orchestra the likes of which no eye has yet seen, surrounding the Throne of the Lamb-that-was-slain and offering up a symphony of praise the likes of which no ear has yet heard. There the rumble of all our amplified electric guitars and synchopated kick-drums will be joined--and probably drowned out--by the din of koras and gidjaks and zamponas and penny whistles... and zithers and ocarinas and bodhrans and steel drums and didgeridoos and throat singing...and all manner of creative, joyous noise-making from around the globe. Who knows, maybe even a bagpipe or two.

May the Lord hasten that day.

(If I've piqued your interest in ethnodoxology on a more academic level, you can read an interesting study posted here at the Canadian Centre for Worship Studies.)

0 comments: