Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Insights from Hebrew Poetry

My small group met on Monday evening of this week and one of our members, Grace, led a single-installment discussion on marriage (our group is a mix of marrieds and singles, all young adults).

She drew out attention to Genesis 1:27. This verse is indented, indicating it is a verse of poetry.

So God created man in his own image, / in the image of God he created him; / male and female he created them.

Grace then mentioned two other verses, which are likewise verses of poetry.

A foolish son is grief to his father / and bitterness to her who bore him. Proverbs 17:25

But he was pierced for our transgressions; / he was crushed for our iniquities. Isaiah 53:5a

The point is most clear in the Isaiah verse: the two lines of the verse state essentially the same idea: pierced/crushed and transgressions/iniquities. In the Proverb, grief/bitterness and father/her who bore him or parents.

Thus, in the Genesis verse, which uses the same poetic construction, the parallel terms are "image of God" and "male and female."

The conclusion: male and female, as distinct parts, form a whole, and that whole is the image of God.

Now, is an individual man or woman not the image of God? By no means. Every human being is worthy of full honor and dignity as God's image-bearer from the moment of conception. But male and female together - in marriage - also form the image of God. Grace gave a parallel example: each Person of the Trinity is fully God, and the Trinity as a unit is fully God.

Thanks, Grace, for those insights!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Focus on Text

TGC Worship, a great new blog I have been following, had a great piece a few days ago, "Modern Hymns, Choruses, and NPR." NPR had broadcast a piece about modern worship music. Blogger Matt Boswell responded, exploring the tendency to draw battle lines between hymns and praise choruses.

An excerpt:

Ultimately, the litmus test of congregational songs is not the style in which they are formatted; it is the content they are presenting. If our conversation about church music remains simply of style, we have not lifted our attention high enough to what is of first importance. The songs of the church should blatantly remind and retell the story of the gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1, Psalm 105:1-5). In this, God is glorified and the church built up in its faith.

At my church, Calvary Memorial of Oak Park, we on the worship arts staff make a point to examine the text of any song we use in our corporate worship services. We look for what my music minister calls "the creedal statements," and we also use songs that repeat certain phrases that simply declare truths. Last weekend, for example, we used "Praise to the Lord" ("Praise to the Lord who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth") and "Good to Me" ("For You are good / For You are good / For You are good to me"). But for any choice, the text must be based in gospel truth - as Boswell notes elsewhere in this piece.

Ideally, in any given worship service, the entire story of the gospel of the grace of God will be sung. There is a wealth of songs, those written recently and those written centuries ago, suited to this task.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Concert Reviews - June

Part of a series of reviews of concerts I attend. Select "Concert Reviews" from the list of labels in the sidebar to see all of them.


Civic Orchestra of Chicago
Prokofiev 5
Monday, June 3
Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, Chicago, Illinois

I was glad to be free to attend the Civic Orchestra’s final concert of the season – and this time, it featured not one, not two, but three of my former Conservatory peers.

The program opened with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture. I have a passing familiarity with this work, as it appears on occasional trombone excerpt lists. It was the first time I had heard it performed live, and I enjoyed the Civic’s as-always passionate performance of this multi-faceted work, which musically illustrates Good Friday and Easter Sunday, influenced by Russian Orthodox music.

The second piece on the program was Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony. The Civic’s performance here was excellent as well, particularly of the exciting and frenzied finale to the final movement, Allegro giocoso.

Jacob Fuhrman
Organ Recital
Thursday, June 27
Grace Lutheran Church, Glen Ellyn, Illinoin

Jacob Fuhrman was a contemporary of mine when I was an undergrad at Wheaton College. He is currently in the midst of his master’s degree at Eastman, but was in Chicago during the summer and gave a recital at the church where he had attended and served during his time as an undergrad. Jacob had selected a diverse set of repertoire, including well-known organ composers such as Bach and Widor, but even for those familiar names, the pieces themselves were new to me. He also included some audience participation, providing us with and asking us to sing the words to a hymn (“In God, My Faithful God”), and followed the singing with a set of variations on the hymn tune. An organ recital is something of a rarity for me, and it was refreshing to hear such a quality performance.

Grant Park Music Festival
Britten’s War Requiem
Friday, June 28
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois

This was my first time attending a Grant Park Music Festival concert this summer. I had only a passing familiarity with the War Requiem, so I was excited to hear it in full for the first time, and to hear it live. I found the work striking – it was less episodic then I thought it would be, with most movements and sections flowing seamlessly one to the next. Carlos Kalmar led the combined forces of the Grant Park Orchestra, Grant Park Chorus, and Chicago Children’s Chorus to great dramatic effect.

Concordia University Band
Patriotic Pops
Saturday, June 29
Addison Hall Lawn, Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Illinois

My family and I have attended this free community concert, always on the Saturday before Independence Day, for a number of years now. This year's featured an Oklahoma medley, Von Suppe's "Light Cavalry Overture," and perennial classics "Armed Force Salute," "America the Beautiful," and "The Stars and Stripes Forever." Dr. Richard Foester conducted the diverse ensemble of students, faculty, and community members.


Have you heard any good concerts lately? Share a review in the comments section below!