Sound Theology by Colleen Butcher

Advent 3: Waiting in Darkness

Darkness can seep into our lives in many ways, regardless of the season or the time of year. And despite the festivity that is inherently part of preparing for Christmas, darkness – as a metaphor and as a lack of light – for many, pervades. read more…

Advent 2: Waiting in Chaos

This week’s music calls our attention to Mary, theotokos, the mother of God.

But, it has been a challenging search … where is Mary in our Advent and Christmas music? Surprisingly, she’s mostly absent. Michael Linton did the research and found that in reviewing the “texts of 381 English-language Christmas carols, Mary (or the “virgin,” or “mother,” or even “woman”) appears in only 27 percent of them. She’s slightly behind the angels and shepherds (who both are in 28 percent of the songs) but significantly ahead of the wise men (who come in at 13 percent). But Mary’s presence is even less than this low percentage at first suggests. Shepherds, angels, and the wise men are frequently mentioned in multiple verses of a carol. Mary typically is mentioned only once, and sometimes that reference is itself oblique.” read more…

Advent I: Let the Waiting Begin

Advent 1 – Let the Waiting Begin

Are you willing to wait? Are we willing to call our congregations to waiting?

Waiting is not unengaged, or disinterested; it is a seldom-practiced kind of engagement. One that is patient and persistent. read more…

Surprised by Beauty

This week I discovered a new artist: Eva Cassidy. She’s not a youngster, or a newcomer to the creative scene. She can’t be pigeon-holed or limited by genre tags. And you won’t be able to see her in concert. But, thankfully, you can listen to her limited discography online, and that is truly a gift.

The friend who posted a link to Eva Cassidy’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow this week has impeccable taste and is a notable artist herself, so I trusted her recommendation. But I was not expecting the beauty and surprising genius that I heard. I finished listening to Over the Rainbow and searched for more. Eva’s authentic, inner, confident strength was tangible; her musical skill on the guitar, evident. But her voice – clear, gentle, direct – took my breath away. Her use of melody, and its improvisation, drew me in. I can’t get enough. read more…

The Queen of Soul

We have now have had a few weeks to reflect on the influence and impact of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Her music touched every genre and her artistry inspired vocalists and instrumentalists for generations. Her spiritual roots formed a foundation of generosity and respect (no pun intended J) that other artists emulated.

The playlists, the retrospectives, and the specials highlighting Aretha’s music have not generally included her gospel roots. This week includes an entire playlist of her gospel favorites.

Enjoy these beautiful songs of worship and praise. read more…