Category Archives: Music

Oh, What a Wonderful Child!

“Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child” is a Christmas gospel song, likely of African American origin (see Dean McIntyre’s hymn study for more information). It gained popularity in 1994, when Mariah Carey sang it on her Merry Christmas album. The … Continue reading

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A new song on the Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are a catalog of blessings that form the introductory portion of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Disappointed by the lack of musical adaptations of this important Gospel text, some musicians at Hope College in Holland, Michigan—whose students have been studying the Beatitudes this … Continue reading

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Roundup: Jazz Advent medley, whitewashed Jesuses spark lawsuit, Christ as Shanti Data, Kitschmas gift ideas, and a South Park ditty

Jazz Advent medley: The video below is taken from a 2012 Advent service at Citylife Presbyterian Church in Boston. It features a jazz arrangement of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” by Sam JC Lee (he’s the one on the double … Continue reading

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The Christmas song that gets me every time

I am very rarely moved to tears by music. But “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is one song that consistently evokes that reaction in me. The acclaimed American poet Henry Wordsworth Longfellow wrote the words on December 25, … Continue reading

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Roundup: Why I celebrate Advent; Advent songs for kids; the dark shadows of Christmas; new research on the Star of Bethlehem; adoring Christ

“Seven Reasons to Celebrate Advent” by Ryan Shelton: Many Protestant churches, including the one I grew up in, forgo the celebration of Advent and other seasons of the church year, unconvinced of their value. Like Mathis, I wasn’t introduced to … Continue reading

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Maranatha! (Our Lord, Come!)

This Sunday marks the first day of Advent, a season in which, in addition to commemorating the birth of Christ in the flesh and in our own hearts, we look forward to his second coming. In 2011 musicians from the … Continue reading

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The Avett Brothers sing gospel

My brother, husband, and I have similar tastes in music. We like a folksy sound. We like banjos but not too much twang in the vocals. We like harmonies. So we all like the Avett Brothers. Hailing from my native … Continue reading

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A seasonally appropriate metaphor for Jesus

Bread of Life. Living Water. Light of the World. Good Shepherd. The Vine. The Lamb. These are several well-known biblical metaphors for Jesus. Here’s one you may be less familiar with: Jesus Christ the apple tree. It comes from Song … Continue reading

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Johnny Cash’s “Gospel Road”

Despite all Johnny Cash’s chart-topping hits—“I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Ring of Fire,” etc.—his lesser-known movie The Gospel Road is supposedly his proudest work. [1] This 1973 feature film was a labor of love: he and his wife … Continue reading

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“Ngarra Bura Fera” (Turn Back Pharaoh’s Army)

“Ngarra Bura Fera” is a Yorta Yorta adaptation of the African American spiritual “Turn Back Pharaoh’s Army,” which is in turn an adaptation of the two Jewish praise songs—one Moses’s, one Miriam’s—recorded in Exodus 15, following the Jews’ successful escape … Continue reading

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