Saturday, December 9, 2017

Music and Meditation for the Second Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 10 | The Second Sunday of Advent

"Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus"

  • Words by Charles Wesley (1744)
  • Music by Rowland H. Prichard (c. 1830); hymn tune is HYFRYDOL
  • Performed by Fernando Ortega on the album Christmas Songs (2008 Curb Records)

Come, thou long-expected Jesus born to set thy people free
From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee
Israel's strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art
Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart

Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a king
Born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring
By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone
By thine all all-sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne


These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, "I am going away, and I will come to you." If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

John 14:25-31 (ESV)

Almighty God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.

The Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Music and Meditation for the First Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 3, 2017 | The First Sunday of Advent

"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"

  • Words are a twelfth-century Latin hymn, translated by John M. Neale (1851)
  • Music is by Thomas Helmore (1854), based on plainsong phrases; hymn tune is VENI EMMANUEL
  • Performed by Enya on the album And Winter Came (2008 Warner Music Group)

O come, o come, Emmanuel, to free your captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice, O Israel, to you shall come Emmanuel

(Sung once in English and once in Latin)

The following stanza, attributed to Henry Sloane Coffin (1916), is not sung in this track but I provide if for your meditation here at the close of a tumultuous 2017:

O come, Desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind
Bid envy, strife, and quarrels cease, fill all the world heavenly peace
Rejoice! Rejoice, O Israel, to you shall come Emmanuel


For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced from the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV)

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now and in the time of this mortal life in which your son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.

The Collect for the First Sunday of Advent

Thursday, November 23, 2017


On this Thanksgiving Day, some of the things for which I am most thankful (and surely this is an incomplete list):

  • Naomi, my wife (pictured below)
  • Ed and Becky, my ever-supportive parents
  • Paul, my brother, Velia and Dorothy, my grandmothers, and my entire family
  • Gerald, my boss at Calvary (and Todd, his boss and our senior pastor), and Tony, my boss at Wheaton (and Michael, his boss and our dean)
  • Ana, Cassidy, Cheryl, Cindy, Collin, Danielle, Ellie, and Madison, whom I have the privilege of having as direct reports at Calvary and Wheaton
  • My colleagues at Calvary and Wheaton, too many to name for fear of missing someone
  • The privilege of serving on the staffs of these two organizations, and for all the invaluable kingdom-building work in which I can take part
  • The provision of new facilities for the Conservatory of Music
  • Friends from my college days with whom I can still talk by phone every so often, and the encouragement those calls are
  • First-time visits to four states in the last year (Hawaii in January, South Carolina and Oregon in May, Vermont in July)
  • The privilege of serving on the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Overture Council Executive Committee with Erika, April, Danielle, Elliott, Haley, John, Jonathon, Kristin, Belinda, Claudine, and Jessica and our ongoing growth and success
  • The generosity of many people, some of whom are at most second-degree connections, taking time to provide professional development advice
  • Timely and helpful words of wisdom and counsel from Derrick and Gayle and Kirk
  • The many thoughtful, reasonable voices, even with whom I disagree, speaking with charity and humility and using their platforms to inspire hope and determination in the midst of so much divisive, negative rhetoric
  • The relentless, limitless, abundant, and undeserved grace of God

I'm thankful for Naomi, my bride of 15 months and counting, this Thanksgiving

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The New Center for Music and the Arts

It has been just over a week since the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music moved into its new home, the Armerding Center for Music and the Arts. Smiles (albeit tired smiles in some cases) have dominated everyone's faces. Despite the grueling final weeks of packing and preparing and hoping for as seamless a transition as possible, everyone is happy to be settling into the new facilities.

About $30 million and a year of construction has found the Conservatory with twice the amount of instructional space as before, and four times as many restrooms! My boss's office is at least twice the size it was before. We went from two floors to four. Instead of views of parking lots and dumpsters, our windows now give us a view of the quad and the fountain (including some practice room windows). We have dedicated hospitality space. Everything is light and airy and freshly painted and polished.

Last Thursday, the first day of classes in the new building, we had a music major convocation right after lunch in the new Armerding Recital Hall, with faculty and staff present as well as all the students. Our dean, Michael Wilder, gave us some instructions on how to make the most of the new space, and then we sang some hymns. In between, the stage managers adjusted the acoustical curtains, from fully extended (i.e., fully absorbent) to fully retracted (i.e., fully reflective). The difference was astounding as the room resonated with 150 voices singing "When In Our Music God is Glorified." I wish it had been recorded, or maybe actually I don't, because no recording could accurately capture that moment. Students, faculty, and staff alike had tears in their eyes (in mine, too) as we sang "There Is A Redeemer" to close our convocation and listened to voices resound in that space.

Our dedication event is Friday, November 3, at 3pm on the Quad, and is open to the public. But what is even more exciting is that this project is only half finished! Fundraising is well underway for Phase II, the construction of a new 650-seat concert hall with adjacent choral rehearsal hall, joined to Phase I (the new facility I've just described) by a two-story glass atrium. Phase II as also has a price tag of about $30 million, and thanks to an extremely generous anonymous gift earlier this month, we are now almost halfway to that second $30 million. Equally significantly, many of the current music students are contributing of their means to the project. I witness more students every day bringing their contribution envelopes to the administrative suite where I have my office. The dean said at convocation that at this moment "we are at halftime, and we think we're winning!"

I couldn't agree more. It was a little less than 9 years ago, during my sophomore year as a music major, when the $9 million addition to Edman Chapel opened. That project included a new instrumental rehearsal hall, which I was able to enjoy immediately as a member of the Wheaton College Symphonic Band. The first few days in Armerding brought back some of the feelings I had sophomore year - only greatly magnified by the greater scope of the Armerding project and by witnessing the enjoyment of the next generation of music students. These are the young men and women who are training for service in churches, concert halls, and schools around the world, and it is most satisfying to see them settle into their new and improved place of study and training. Come visit and see it for yourself!