Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Story of Reality – Music Story


Christianity makes exclusive truth claims, truth claims based on the Bible. For instance, Christianity claims that we are highly created, deeply fallen and in need of a Savior. Jesus, and no one else, is that Savior.

Our culture wants us to believe that these exclusive truth claims marginalize people. Do they?

Christianity tells us that we have inherent dignity and worth. We are created in God’s image. Even the most marginalized person bears the image of God. But we are deeply fallen. We victimize the vulnerable. We oppress the defenseless. So, God took special care to ensure that the most defenseless, the most easily victimized, would be treated with dignity and fairness. Check the original documents. God’s laws protected the most vulnerable – women, the poor, orphans, widows, day laborers, debtors, foreigners.[1]

Our culture divides people into two groups: those who are oppressed and those who do the oppressing. Our culture tells us that oppressed people can better understand reality. Their “lived experience” gives them privileged access to truth about oppression. Their special insight makes it possible for them to free themselves and their oppressors.

Christianity disagrees. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the truth. According to Jesus, the real story about people is that all are slaves to sin. No one can free themselves. Jesus came to set us free. And if Jesus sets us free, we are truly free.[2] Christianity, not our culture, tells what is true about man. Christianity, not our culture, tells the story of reality.

How are we to live in a culture that thinks poorly of Christianity’s truth claims? Paul in Colossians tells us to:
Live wisely among those are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.[3]

We are to take the most of every opportunity to graciously and attractively share the story of reality! From the album “A ChorusBook” this video is scrolling playback of the song.
Kathy

Our culture divides people into two groups. Click here to read how this differs from Christianity.
Jesus died to make two groups one! Click here to read how he does this.

You can get print (PDF) sheet music for the Story of Reality.
The Story of Reality
Click here for print sheet music.




[1] Deuteronomy 24
[2] John 8:34-37
[3] Colossians 4:5-6 NLT

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Wall – Music Story


An emergency room physician in the Chicago area has tested positive for COVID-19. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a stay at home order effective March 21st through April 7th. We are not on lockdown. Nor are we under martial law. We are to “shelter in place” in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Our homes provide physical barriers against infection. Walls protect us.

There is another disease that is just as pandemic as COVID-19. It is the disease of anger and resentment fueled by privilege and exclusion. Walls cannot protect against this disease. Walls exacerbate it.

Today’s social justice movement teaches that our identity is found in a group, either an oppressed group or an oppressor group; that individual identity is on lockdown, inseparable from group identity. People “shelter in place” according to identity markers such as race, economic class, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical ability, age, weight, etc., feeling “safe” in their group and “threatened” when the norms, values, and expectations of society exclude them. By resisting dominant power today’s social justice movement seeks to liberate groups that are oppressed. Today’s social justice movement sees Christianity with its exclusive truth claims as oppressive.

Group identities separate people. The lockdown fuels anger and resentment. Today’s social justice movement cannot end the war between privilege and exclusion. But a new identity can! The wall separating people groups crumbles when people share the same identity. That’s what Jesus accomplished when he died for us.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.[1]

Jesus won the war between privilege and exclusion. He won it on the cross. His death ended our anger and resentment. It ended at the cross. Jesus tore down the wall of separation. He is our peace. He made us one.

From the album “This and That” this video is scrolling playback of a song based on Ephesians Chapter 2.
Kathy

Click here to read Ephesians 2.
Click here for an overview of Critical Theory, the social justice movement making inroads in our culture and church.

You can get sheet music for The Wall at the MusicStories Shop on Etsy.com.
The Wall
Click here for sheet music. 




[1] Ephesians 2:14 NIV

Friday, January 3, 2020

Rend the Heavens – Music Story


What was wrong with the nation?
According to Isaiah, ordinary citizens were what was wrong with the nation. They were embracing pagan customs: they practiced divination and bowed down to the work of their hands.[1] Isaiah prayed:
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down … The nations would tremble before you; then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame! … But we are not godly; we are constant sinners and have been all our lives. Therefore, your wrath is heavy on us.[2]

What is wrong with the church?
According to Jesus,[3] ordinary church goers like me are what is wrong with the church.
I am what’s wrong with the church when I practice loveless doctrine.
I am what’s wrong with the church when I expect to be rescued from the unjust or cruel use of power.
I am what’s wrong with the persecuted church when I excuse sexual immorality in the church or embrace pagan customs.
I am what’s wrong with the serving church when I think social justice requires the endorsement of sexual immorality or paganism.
I am what’s wrong with the church when my faith is dead.
I am what’s wrong with the church when I don’t walk through the door Jesus has opened for me.
I am what’s wrong with the church when my worship is lukewarm.

What’s wrong with the church?
Me! I am! I am what’s wrong with the church.
Jesus asks the church – me! – to repent.

From the album “Sing” this video is scrolling playback of the song.
Kathy
Click here to read how today’s social justice movement differs from the teachings of Jesus.

“Was Jesus just a spiritual leader like Buddha, Krishna, Confucius, and Muhammad? Or is he something more – something else entirely?” Ken Samples evaluates these religious leaders in God among Sages and shows that Jesus is more than a spiritual leader. He is God himself.

You can get print (PDF) and/or digital (MusicXML™) sheet music for Rend the Heavens.
Rend the Heavens
Click here for print sheet music for wind quintet and piano.
Rend the Heavens
Click here for digital sheet music for wind quintet and piano.
(MusicXML™ is the standard open format for sharing digital sheet music. Check the help files in your music notation app for directions on importing MusicXML™ files.)





[1] Isaiah 2:6-8
[2] Isaiah Chapter 64
[3] Revelation Chapters 2 & 3

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence – Music Story


“Imagine that you are watching – astonished! – as God, accompanied by thousands of angels, descends from heaven to earth be born of Mary. Picture that descent as you sing these words.”

The choir director was asking us to focus on the lyrics of the sheet music he had passed out. I was a student nurse at Abbott Hospital School of Nursing and privileged to be part of an area wide student nurse choir. We would be performing Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence at a Christmas concert downtown Minneapolis. We had in our hands an ancient Greek hymn translated into English and set to a French melody.

Sixteen hundred years ago the hymn was chanted during communion when the bread and wine were presented. The words focus the attention to the awe and mystery of God’s presence in the Eucharist. We were to sing the words as an act of worship, in awe and wonder that God with us once lay in a manger.

I can’t remember what else was sung at the concert. But I will never forget singing this song, our voices reverberating through St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, seemingly in concert with the angelic host as they announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. For me this communion chant will always be a Christmas hymn, depicting the amazing wonder of God being born as a man.

From the album “The HymnBook – Thirty-Four Hundred Years of Praise!” this video is scrolling playback of the song.
Kathy


Click here and here to read the history of the hymn.

You can get print (PDF) and/or digital (MusicXML™) sheet music for Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence (arranged for brass and bells).
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Click here for print sheet music.
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Click here for digital sheet music.
(MusicXML™ is the standard open format for sharing digital sheet music. Check the help files in your music notation app for directions on importing MusicXML™ files.)



Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Ecclesiastes – Music Story


The ancient book of Ecclesiastes speaks to contemporary youth culture. An increasing percent of youth in the UK exclude the Creator from their life.[1] According to a recent study most young Brits believe their life lacks purpose.[2]

Ecclesiastes is twelve chapters long. The first chapter opens with these words, "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless."[3] The last chapter echoes the first, "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Everything is meaningless!"[4]

The Teacher walked a secular path. He knew the Creator exists. But he chose to live life apart from God. He spent his life researching the benefits of the ordinary things of life and concluded, “All things are wearisome, more than one can say. … I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”[5]

The ordinary things of life include work, pleasure, possessions, success, marriage, youth, old age, religion, and even wisdom. None give meaning or purpose to life. Ironically, recent scientific discoveries agree with the Teacher. Hope, purpose, and destiny cannot be found in this world or, as the Teacher puts it, under the sun.[6] According to the Teacher, the most one can expect from life is a little happiness.

This video is scrolling playback of seven songs based on the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes.
·         Chase the Wind – The Failure of Secularism
·         Livin’ Large – The Failure of Possessions and Pleasure
·         Time and Circumstance – The Failure of Success
·         The State of the Heart – The Failure of the Heart
·         Judge Wisely – The Benefits of Wisdom
·         Live Wisely – The Limitations of Wisdom
·         Invest Wisely – the Failure of Life Lived Apart from God
Kathy
Click here to read Ecclesiastes.
You can get print sheet music for Ecclesiastes (30-page PDF).
Ecclesiastes
Click here for print sheet music (lead sheet format).




[3] Ecclesiastes 1:2 NIV
[4] Ecclesiastes 12:8 NIV
[5] Ecclesiastes 1:8, 14 NIV



Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Time and Circumstance – Music Story

In the 1960s an ancient poem set to music became a number-one pop hit. Can you guess the song?

Some hints:
·         The poem, perhaps three thousand years old, is one of the best-known passages in the Bible.
·         The song proved that Ecclesiastes is a timeless book.

More hints:
·         Songwriter Pete Seeger incorporated the poem verbatim in the song.
·         Released as a single October 1, 1965, The Byrds cover, a folk-rock version, climbed to number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts within three months of its release.

Did you guess the song? It’s Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season).

There is more to Ecclesiastes than being a number-one pop hit. Ecclesiastes is Wisdom’s search for meaning in the ordinary things of life. The conclusion?
Chapter 1: Secularism doesn’t deliver.
Chapter 2: Neither do possessions or pleasure.
Chapter 3: But, if you live your life in accord with the times and seasons God has set up, will your life have meaning?

So, Chapter 3 begins with the well-known poem, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” But there is more to Chapter 3 than the poem. Time and Circumstance is a rap, examining the entire chapter, looking for an answer.

From the album “Ecclesiastes” this video is scrolling playback of a percussion ensemble performance.
Kathy


Click here to watch The Byrds Turn! Turn! Turn!
Click here to read Ecclesiastes Chapter 3.
You can get print (PDF) and/or digital (MusicXML™) sheet music for Time and Circumstance.
Time and Circumstance
Click here for print sheet music.
Time and Circumstance
Click here for digital sheet music.
(MusicXML™ is the standard open format for sharing digital sheet music. Check the help files in your music notation app for directions on importing MusicXML™ files.) 


Monday, July 29, 2019

Livin’ Large – Music Story


Can possessions and pleasure give meaning to life?
The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes examines that question.

What if you were incredibly skilled and worked hard to get it all,
And
You accomplished all your dreams,
You achieved it all,
You owned everything you wanted,
You didn’t deny yourself any pleasure,
You created paradise,
You tasted it all,
Would you be fulfilled?

From the album “Ecclesiastes” this video is scrolling playback of a song based on Ecclesiastes 2:1-23.
Kathy



Click here to read Ecclesiastes 2.
You can get print (PDF) and/or digital (MusicXML™) sheet music for Livin’ Large.
Livin' Large
Click here for print sheet music.
Livin' Large
Click here for digital sheet music.
(MusicXML™ is the standard open format for sharing digital sheet music. Check the help files in your music notation app for directions on importing MusicXML™ files.)