A toast to Fridays! Today I slogged (successfully, I might add) through my final paper for my class on Emergent Insights for Youth Ministry at Andover Newton. The paper wasn’t as tight as I might have liked, but given the reality that it was the first paper due in a string of three in a week, it was good enough. This finals period truly has been stressful for me, and I have watched as my workout schedule and my music have fallen by the wayside as I struggle to motivate myself to get my finals done. So even though I loved that class, the paper was difficult to get excited about. The cost of a busy life, I guess.
One thing that has not been stressful, however, has been the newly improved and awesomely fabulous paper topic that Dan F. and I proposed to our Reformed Thought professor last week. Both of us had cool paper topics but weren’t particularly impassioned by them… and then we started joking about revising the psalter at the HDS Charity Ball on May 4th. The rest is history. Both of us are big fans of writing and messing around with music. He plays a lot of percussion and blues, and I am a huge fan of reforming worship music. Anyways, we started talking and brainstorming, and suddenly we had an amazing project in front of us: What would it look like to experiment with a reformed psalter? We both recognized that the psalter defined early reformed churches but has basically fallen completely out of use today. Many pastors and lay people even think we should get rid of it. But the idea is too awesome to just throw away. So we starting playing around and came up with reformed liturgical music with psalms 51, 69, 117, and 134. The best part is, we used contemporary music idioms to do it. Psalm 51 is an awesome bluesy number (think “O Death” from the soundtrack for “O Brother Where Art Thou”) that Dan and I have fallen in love with and basically allowed us to sing the psalm without any alterations…. plus it is sort of a modern day version of psalm chanting in this format, only in a music style that speaks to people more directly…. plus it is a great confessional psalm. Psalm 69 came out as a fairly revised version, in which we developed the psalm into lyrical stanzas. Since it is a psalm of lament, we chose to set it to a sort of high sound driven, dark emo rock piano ballad style (think a mixture of Ben Folds on his own and Evanescence). It also sounds really awesome, plus the lyrical structure is not all that different from hymn structures, which I think says alot for the potential of old hymns to be re-envisioned. 117 and 134 we both envisioned as sort of call to worship type deals. One of them is quite folksy sounding, and the other is more bluesy… both could function either as a call and response or as sung by all or a worship leader.
Anyways my point is that this has been super awesome and fun to do. We are gonna practice some more and then record on Sunday, so hopefully I will have some tracks up soon for you to hear. Until then, rock on!