• Christianity,  Music

    Death, Be Not Proud

    Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then? One short sleep past,…

  • Christianity,  Music

    The Remarkable Woman behind ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’

    Karen Swallow Prior has a fascinating piece at TGC about the author of “In the Bleak Mid-Winter.” Her name is Christina Rossetti (1830–1894), and Prior writes that she was a woman of “deep Christian conviction.” Prior concludes: The paradox of Rossetti’s life is that her “spirit of self-postponement” produced some of the finest Christian poetry written—the gift of herself, given to her Savior and received by the world. I commend to you the rest of Prior’s essay, which you can read here. I also recommend two versions of the song that are staples around my house during this time of year. My favorite version is Shawn Colvin’s, and a close…

  • Christianity,  Music

    Christmas in Kentucky… Everywhere It’s Christmas

    On his most recent Christmas album, Steven Curtis Chapman sings a song about returning to his hometown of Paducah, Kentucky for Christmas. One might expect a song like this one to be sappy nostalgia along the lines of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” or “Tennessee Christmas,” but it’s not. This is not the song of a child, but the song of a grown man who’s walked long enough with God to know that Christ came not just for folks like him but for the whole world. It’s the best news in the world. I love this song. In the video above, you can hear the song in its entirety as…

  • Christianity,  Music

    No Grave Could Keep – by Kenwood Music

    The worship team from Kenwood Baptist Church—where I serve as one of the pastors—has just released a recording of some of the songs we sing in worship. I love this music, and I love these songs. My fellow elder Matt Damico is the leader of this group, and I am so very grateful for him, his team, and how they lead us in song every week. You can buy the album on iTunes or Amazon, but I would encourage you purchase through Bandcamp. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if pressed I guess I would choose “All I Need.” It’s a rendering of the end of Psalm 73: My…

  • Christianity,  Music

    Hymn to God the Father

    One of my favorite poems of all time is “Hymn to God the Father” by John Donne. If you are not familiar with this poem, you need to be. Donne composed this piece near the end of his life when he was facing death (circa 1631). As he contemplates his demise, he is overcome with a sense of his own sinfulness, and he wonders how he will stand at the judgment. Donne evokes all the anguish of the “wretched man” in Romans 7:24 before he sounds a final note of hope that Jesus will rescue him at the last day. There is a wonderful play on the word “done” in…

  • Christianity,  Music

    Sandra McCracken’s new Psalms album

    Psalms by Sandra McCracken The Psalms are the prayer book of the church. We learn how to pour out our hearts to God in grief and in exultation from this book. That is why I am so very grateful to see that Sandra McCracken has devoted an entire album to singing the Psalms. Here’s the note she sent out today about the album: One day we are going to sit around a table together and remember this life. One day we will see every hope and heartbreak with a wider view, and we will sing of God’s complete redemption in full chorus. Over these past couple of years, the practice…

  • Christianity,  Music

    The Sussex Carol

    My wife was singing this line from “The Sussex Carol” tonight in our kitchen, and it was like a ray of light to my soul: “Then why should men on earth be sad, Since our Redeemer made us glad?” I hope it will be a ray of light to yours as well.

  • Culture,  Music

    Sweet Lorraine

    I promise you’ll be glad you took the time to watch this video all the way through. I’m not going to spoil the story by describing it to you. You just need to watch it for yourself. Thank you Dane Ortlund for highlighting it. What a story. What a song. What a life. Download “Sweet Lorraine” here.