more church chat from that religious guy

Spent several hours yesterday working on stuff for this Sunday.  We are singing Donna Peña’s big Roman Catholic hit, “Digo, ‘Si,’ Señor (I say yes, my Lord) as the hymn before the gospel (the Episcopalians refer to this as the sequence hymn).

It’s a catchy Sergio Mendez type melody.  I rehearsed it last night with my volunteers that I call my Grace Episcopal Liturgical Orchestra. (Last night we consisted of 5 people including me. Sunday we’ll be playing guitars, bass, viola, congas, maracas, tambourine, and piano.)

St. Louis Jesuits circa the 70s

Like the St. Louis Jesuits in their popular church tune, “Be not afraid,” Peña begins the verses (sung by the choir or the cantor) with very quick notes. And she has chosen not to write a strictly recurring number of syllables per verse. For years, I have listened to congregations mellow out the jerkiness of “Be not afraid,” and sing the rhythms differently than written. I have concluded that the congregations are wise in this and have followed these ideas in my adaptation of the song for Sunday.

I also broke down and wrote a bulletin article for this Sunday. This took up a good portion of the morning. I have been having conversations with my boss for the last few years about the way my job is getting bigger and bigger with no commiserate change in pay. Since beginning my work, she and I have added task after task to my job. Last year I asked how my job would look different if it was full time. Neither of us could come up with more than that she would feel more comfortable to ask me to take on a little bit more work like forming a young adults’s choir or handbell choir (both of which in moments of frustration and weakness I have offered to do for no increase in pay, but she, godblessher, helped me resist).

I also have brought to her attention that by professional standards I am being paid about half of what is fair for my education, background and abilities.

I began writing the silly bulletin article (I’ll put the one I wrote for this Sunday below so you can read it if you’re interested) when I realized that I sort of automatically check out the history of the hymns and music I use at work. Often this elucidates the reason they are used. I thought I might as well put some background information in the weekly bulletin occasionally.

When I started doing this, I learned from listening to parishioners that even astute worshipers were surprised by how connected and coherent the changing parts of the service (the readings, the hymns, the choral anthems) usually are.  Pointing this connection out via the bulletin article seemed to be a no brainer.

But it turned into an absorbing task that I don’t always pull off every week.

Found this on the internets. It's not exactly what my boss and I have been talking about, but it is interesting to me.

So since my boss and I aren’t finding ways to help me fix my dilemma, we started discussing the “energy pie” of staffs (including her as priest) when a church community is changing from a small pastoral size to a larger program size but doesn’t adjust it’s staff accordingly.

We are both troubled by this stuff. But I am improving so slowly in this that it seems they are not going to change.

Part of my solution is initiating the frank discussions we have been having about where I am most effective in my work and to consider trimming or changing my approaches in the other areas.

My little orchestra is an area where I feel like I’m not all that effective. I was able initially to get a pretty enthusiastic response last year. But this year, the enthusiasts were probably all in attendance last evening.

Since I anticipated this, I intentionally put a lot less preparation into the organization. I’m not sure if all of these few people will continue to be interested not because of this, but because it is a challenge for them. But I think I pulled last night off okay.

My challenge today begins at 3 PM with 2 & 1/2 hours of ballet class followed by a 6 PM last minute rehearsal with a young singer before a two hour recital of accompanying him and 7 other singers. Whew! I hope my energy holds up.

Links from yesterday:

George Shearing, ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ Jazz Virtuoso, Dies at 91 –

This guy is one of my all-time jazz heroes. I have listened to and played his tunes for years and have read in his autobiography. An amazing man.


State Department to Announce Internet Freedom Policy –

One quote caught my eye in this article: ““People are so enamored of the technology,” said Michael H. Posner, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. “People have a view that technology will make us free. No, people will make us free.”

Hmmm. I thought that it was the “truth” that did that. I AM getting religioius.


Chevron Ordered to Pay $9 Billion for Ecuador Pollution –

Chevron makes me crazy because their PR is so disconnected from their actions. I yell at their ads every time I watch the PBS news hour which they sponsor.  They are of course contesting the suit brought against them by the Ecuadorian forest tribes and villagers. Sure looks like David and Goliath to me. Make that GREEDY David.

little quote: “Almost lost in the various disputes related to the lawsuit is the fact that Chevron and plaintiffs have agreed that oil exploration contaminated what had been largely undeveloped swaths of Ecuadorean rainforest.”


Egypt’s Generals Lay Out 6-Month Plan for New Government –

“Walk like an Egyptian” is taking on new meaning, n’est pas?


The Obama Budget –

I was struck by this sentence and the idea it drives home in this editorial:

” Republicans, who now dominate the House, are obsessed with making indiscriminate short-term cuts in programs they never liked anyway. The Republican cuts would eviscerate vital government functions while not having any lasting impact on the deficit.”

This is definitely how it seems to me.


Here’s a couple  of links I haven’t read or listened to all the way through yet:

Yesterday’s Presidential News Conference Feb 25 1011 on C-Span

I’ve only listened to the first ten minute but will finish it today probably.


For a Little Room Behind the Shop – Ian Brunskill – The American Interest Magazine

Arts and Letters Daily (where I found this link) described it this way: “Montaigne’s self-absorption feels contemporary, but he was no proto-blogger. He aimed for self-discovery, not self-display…”

I’m a big Montaigne fan, but also wondered about the self-display aspect of blogging. I know that people who blog and tweet and facebook are often stereotyped as revealing stuff no one needs to know like what they had for lunch. But still I like the connections online both personal and reference library stuff.

Anyway, I thought I would check out the article.


Finally for the diehards, here’s my bulletin article:

Music notes: “Love your enemies,” Jesus says in today’s gospel, “pray for those who persecute you.” We begin today’s service with Charles Wesley’s great hymn of love and compassion, “Love, divine, all loves excelling” (No. 657 in The Hymnal 1982). Our sequence hymn comes from the pen of the Minnesota liturgical composer, Dona Pe?a. We blend Spanish and English today as we digo, “si,” (say yes) to the God of the oppressed (verse 1) and to loving enemies and to peace in the world (verse 2). This hymn is taken from My Heart Sings Out, the 2004 Episcopalian Hymnal “designed for all-age worship, with the aim of the full inclusion of children in weekly worship” (from Church Publishing’s website). “Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love” (No. 602 in The Hymnal 1982) reminds us that Jesus, himself, models for us the love we are called to.  We repeat Carl Daw’s excellent Eucharist hymn, “As we gather at your table,  this week to continue to make it part of our repertoire of familiar hymns. It is taken from Wonder, Love and Praise. Voices Found, the Episcopal hymnal of hymns “for, by, or about women,” provides us with another new hymn, “God of Freedom.” This hymn was written for Amnesty International’s Campaign Against Torture in 1980 (see the mention of “torture’s terror” in the second verse). The closing verse begins, “Make in us a captive conscious quick to hear, to act, to speak” and ends asking to be taught “to be fully human, open to each other’s needs.” Thus we conclude our prayer remembering in our song Christ’s challenges to live out the love of God in the way we treat each other. submitted by Steve Jenkins, Music Director.

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