“He who sings, prays twice:” Advent Day 9


Sing a new song to the Lord!
Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!
Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Psalm 96

Advent Day 9 – Music!

9. Those who sing, pray twice

I am very thankful for the gift of song. Over the past week we have talked some about sharing the story of Christmas; well, one of the best ways to carry a great story is on the wings of a song.

Music touches my soul in some very deep places, and Christmas music somehow manages to bring together all the elements that both warm my heart and turn me to mush.

Simply put, I’m a sucker for a good song. All it takes is the right combination of music and meaning, and my defenses melt away.

I believe that, when people tap into creativity, they are connecting with the Spirit of God. That’s why music has to be one of the images I’m sharing for these 25 days of, “Advent at the Improv.”

1018162REMEMBER CD’s? Over the years, Rebekah and I have assembled a wide range of Christmas music albums, traditional and – well – otherwise. We have everything from Sarah McLachlan’s “Wintersong,” to “A Smokey Mountain Christmas,” to “The London Festival Orchestra,” to “Elvis,” “Kenny G,” and even “A Twisted Christmas” by the heavy metal band, Twisted Sister.

However, if I want to immediately capture the essence of Advent at Maul-Hall, there are a half-dozen songs I really must figure out how to assemble into a “mix” one day (But then I’d have to learn how to get my iPhone to cooperate!).

  • First – and I crank this to a fairly high volume to officially kick off the post-Thanksgiving weekend decorating blitz – has to be Mercy Me’s version of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear;”
  • next up would be their “Silent Night” track – still traditional but with a bluesy edge that works in every way;
  • then I’d have to include “The Coventry Carol from Dan Crary’s “Holiday Guitar” album;
  • follow that up with “O Tannenbaum”, the opening track on A Charlie Brown Christmas,” James Taylor‘s haunting “In the Bleak Midwinter,” and “The Blind Boys of Alabama singing “Away in a Manger.”

Best of all is singing enthusiastically with the congregation at church. Both with the praise team,  translating classic carols into light rock, and the more traditional arrangements at 11:15.

IMG_6404Then yesterday, while the elders served communion during the early service, I played my guitar arrangement of “In the Bleak Midwinter;” definitely inspired by James Taylor, but at the same time very much my own. Then Jesus took over, and I played the carol out with damp eyes and a growing lump in my throat.

There’s an old one-liner – unattributed –  that I’ve always appreciated. “He who sings, prays twice.”

Those who sing, pray twice. Music not only leads me into the presence of God, it also gives me something wonderful to say.

4 thoughts on ““He who sings, prays twice:” Advent Day 9

  1. Andre Esguerra

    Hi Derek, I thoroughly enjoyed your guitar playing during the 9 AM service yesterday. Great music for silent meditation during communion. Thank you! (I am glad to see Twisted Sister’s Christmas ensemble in your music list. I do not feel so alone now. I set up a Pandora station for it last year, and rocked many Christmas jams during advent.) Peace and Grace! Andre


  2. The Norbertines are big on singing and chanting. I visited their Abbey and the whole Mass was sung, really impressive; it does take you to another place. They also use the phrase, “he who sings prays twice.” I think St. Augustine phrased it. I recently read that one of these Norbertines, Fr Andrew Cerfini composed a song and it’s now the official hymn for the Popes visit to Philly next year. Hymn composition still going on!


  3. Pingback: The World in Solemn Stillness | To write is to write is to write

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