songs, albums, and concerts

Love Small

I love my small town: Princeton, Illinois. At least, I love it now. Hated it when I first moved here…

2024-04-21T10:18:07-05:00April 21, 2024|10 Comments

Me and Joe and What’s-His-Name

Here’s a song I wrote, inspired by a story from the Gospel of Luke. I performed this at the close of our Sunday morning soulcare at the Open Prairie United Church of Christ on Palm Sunday, 2024.

2024-03-24T13:22:07-05:00March 24, 2024|0 Comments

Surely You Know the Change I Need

I wrote a new hymn for the first Sunday in Lent. (It goes with my sermon, “Time for a Change“.)

Exhortations to change are a big part of the Christian tradition: change your heart, change your mind, change your life. Traditionally we’ve used the word repent for that; repent is the usual translation of Jesus’ exhortation in biblical Greek, μετανοεῖτε, which presumably was a translation of something Jesus said in Aramaic. But however we ended up with that word, I think it’s inadequate. Repent has all kinds of sorry associations: it’s what one does while sitting in sackcloth and ashes, overcome with remorse, perhaps punishing oneself for one’s misdeeds. And sometimes, yes, change begins with remorse—but not always.

These are the words of the hymn:

Surely You Know the Change I Need

Surely you know the change I need;
help me to know it too.
Free me of all my lethargy
and show me the path to you, to you,
and show me the path to you.

When I am wrong, oh help me feel
fully a right remorse.
Then help me leave remorse behind
and find me a better course, a course,
and find me a better course.

Mover of all, may I be moved,
cherishing every chance,
Ready to hear you say my name
and call me to join the dance, the dance,
and call me to join the dance.

Ready to fly, the wild goose waits,
ready to sprout, the seed.
So make me ready, God of life
for changes you know I need, I need,
for changes you know I need.

As always, sheet music for Surely You Know the Change I Need is available in our Free Stuff Area. Also, you can see and hear it being sung for a church service here.

2024-02-19T10:00:07-06:00February 19, 2024|0 Comments

Keep My Head above the Wave

A merry and mystical new year to all!

I wrote a song this week, a song I’d like to share with you. It’s partly a prayer for God’s help in not drowning. (My daughter is now serving in the USCG, so I always pray “for those in peril on the sea.”) But it’s also partly a prayer for God’s help in another kind of peril: coping with depression.

However you hear it, I hope it will bless you.


2024-01-07T12:27:34-06:00January 7, 2024|2 Comments

O Mother of Music

Hello, Merry Mystics! Here’s a new hymn for Advent. You can learn more about the O Antiphons here, and more about the hymn tune Ebenezer here. The words of the hymn are these:

O Mother of Music

O mother of music! O father of harmony!
Lost in a cacophony to thee we cry.
Though roughened our voices by noisy iniquity,
Hear, singer and savior, our sibilant sigh.
Come, sing us again the song we have forgotten,
Come, teach us again our high, heavenly parts!
Your hand on the harp-strings, your touch on the tuning pegs,
Your beautiful music infusing our hearts. 

O water of healing! O fountain of love and life!
Unbearably thirsty, for mercy we cry.
Once growing and green, we wilt under the sultry sun,
Once gracing your garden, we harden and dry.
Come now like a rainstorm, rise now like a river,
Soak into the soil and reach into the roots!
Your heavenly fountain, mounting to eternal life,
Your waters arriving, reviving green shoots. 

O light of the dawning! O hope of the weary world!
We wander in darkness, in need of your aid.
Grim now is the heart and faint under the force of death,
Cold, heavy and hopeless, alone and afraid.
Come, brighten the night with your radiant wonder,
Come, guide us along with your heavenly light!
Let never again our way wander away from you,
Let hope to our hearts return, let it burn bright. 

And, as always, sheet music for O Mother of Music is available in our Free Stuff Area.

2023-12-05T12:43:43-06:00December 5, 2023|0 Comments

Confessions of a Heretical Author

Hello, merry and mystical friends!

In this video I make an embarrassing confession, and then I introduce my new book: My Burden Is Light: A Pastor’s Plea for Rationality, Honesty, and Humility. The book was a labor of love; special thanks go to the reading group at the Open Prairie United Church of Christ in Princeton, Illinois, who read and discussed an early draft. They put up with me as their pastor, even though I am both a wild-eyed Christian mystic and a skeptical and irreverent heretic. (But I don’t suppose Merry Mystic subscribers will be surprised on either count!)

2023-11-07T08:05:54-06:00November 7, 2023|2 Comments

Come and See

Hello, Merry Mystics!

I’ve been working as a pastor, and part of that work is writing and delivering a new sermon every week. But there’s a paradox at the heart of all such work, and all religious teaching: the very thing we most want to communicate is a thing that can’t be put into words. Sometimes, as Philip said to Nathanael in that story at the start of the Gospel of John, you just have to come and see.

Here’s a (typically wordy) song about that: Come and See.

2023-10-01T13:16:32-05:00October 1, 2023|5 Comments

Welcome, Jonah!

The book of Jonah is a comic masterpiece, and Jonah himself is both a warning and a comfort to all of us. This sermon includes a dramatic interpretation of a part of the book of Jonah, and ends with the hymn, “Welcome, Thomas, Doubts and All,” which has a verse about Jonah. The hymn-sing is led by Ron McCutchan. (Sheet music for “Welcome, Thomas, Doubts and All” is available in our Free Stuff area.)

2023-09-24T13:12:28-05:00September 24, 2023|0 Comments

A Song from Sunday: Fear Not, Said the Angel

We didn’t have much of a sermon in church this Sunday, but I read some scripture and sang some songs. Here’s one part: I read a few of the many places in Bible stories where God tells people not to be afraid, and then I sang my song, “Fear Not, Said the Angel”. My wife Kelly sang the song with me.

2023-07-09T15:43:09-05:00July 9, 2023|0 Comments

A Song from Sunday: Be True

We didn’t have much of a sermon in church this Sunday, but I told some stories and sang some songs. Here’s one: the story of the baptism of my children, and the song I wrote for the occasion, “Be True”.

2023-07-09T15:20:58-05:00July 9, 2023|0 Comments
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