February Music Notes: The Music of Lent

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this, Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

I have never listened to or sung these words to O Sacred Head, Now Wounded without tears filling my eyes. I think it’s because I struggle to find an answer to the question posed in the first two lines of this stanza . . . especially as the words are sung to the hauntingly beautiful minor strains of the Passion Chorale. The previous stanzas call us to remember the wounded and broken body of Christ as He suffered on the cross for us. This verse prompts us to ask how we can possibly thank Him enough for the agony He so lovingly endured on our behalf. It ends with a petition to God to hold us close as we live in love and devotion to our Savior forever.

Maybe our thanks comes in different forms. We trust in Him with our whole being. We pray. We sing praises. We care for those He loves. We acknowledge that His love for us will never end. Could these actions represent the language of thanks that God desires of us? There are so many more ways to show love to our Savior than we will ever even think of. Let’s look for those ways together as we journey through this sacred season.


Black History Month

Black History Month is a wonderful time to highlight the meaningful contributions that Black musicians have made to the music of the church. Some of the tunes we love to hear originated in Africa while others have their roots in America. The tradition of singing to express joy, praise, peace, or despair is shared among people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds. It is a tradition that we as Christians can build upon as we endeavor to live together in love as God would have us do.

Precious Lord, Take My Hand, Were You There, I Want Jesus to Walk with Me, He Rose, Let Us Break Bread Together, My Lord, What a Morning, Go Tell it on the Mountain, and Every Time I Feel the Spirit are just a very few of the hymns and songs of our faith we love to sing that were written by Black composers.

During February, listen for the gospel hymns and spirituals we will play and sing during our services of worship. They will lift us up, pull at our heart strings, and remind us that we are all one in the Spirit of God.


All Saint’s Day

All Saint’s Day invites us to remember that all believers in Christ are called to be saints. At Hope Valley we take this opportunity to honor the memory of our church members and loved ones who have died within the past year as well as those who continue to live and work in God’s kingdom on earth today.

This Sunday I invite you to sing the prelude For All the Saints with Mike Bunch. My hope is that you will be edified and touched as you sing (or listen to) the descriptive hymn text and glorious music. Then, as we hear a bell tolled for each of the Hope Valley saints who have this year gone before us, we will remember and honor their dedication and joy as they served God and His people in our midst.


“In Remembrance …”

I have really missed sharing The Lord’s Supper with you during this pandemic! This week as we ob-serve World Communion Sunday, you will hear two versions of “In Remembrance” . . . one a vocal duet sung by Brenda Doyle and Mike Dossett during the service and the other a piano/organ duet during the postlude.

The hymn by contemporary composer Ragan Courtney leads us to remember the sacrifice Jesus made to save us. It takes us back to the Upper Room where Jesus and his disciples shared their last meal together. It guides us through The Lord’s Supper as we eat, drink, and pray. It prompts us to remember Jesus’ teachings as we care for others in his name. It ends by urging us to look into our own hearts to find the love of God and guidance of the Holy Spirit as we follow our faith.

Peace be with you as we virtually celebrate Holy Communion together and with other Christians throughout the world this Sunday. Do this in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)

Music Notes

October Hymn of the Month

Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Matthew 10:39

As Judson Van de Venter recalled the day that he dedicated his life to Christ and Christian service he wrote:

“I was conducting a meeting at East Palestine, Ohio, and in the home of George Sebring (founder of the Sebring Campmeeting – Bible Conference in Sebring, Ohio, and later developer of the town of Sebring, Florida). For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered All. A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, He caused me to sing.”

Thus was born the beautiful hymn, I Surrender All. He also gifted us with the lovely and lyrical gospel hymn, Shall we Gather at the River.

Our Song of Faith Continues

It has now been 5 months since we have been in worship together in our sanctuary. I miss seeing you and singing with you. It has been a joy for me to be able to play the hymns of our faith as we tape our services of worship for all who will join with us through the gift of technology! Through this unusual and sometimes stressful time I have tried to select music that would be familiar and comforting, while complementing the sermon topics and Scripture readings each Sunday.

As we move forward in the midst of the pandemic, I will look to God for guidance, to my church family for musical suggestions, and to our musical members to offer vocal or instrumental solos and duets. It may be some time before we can raise our voices together again, but we can feel each other’s presence as we listen together to the music of the church and sing the words of our hymns of faith in our hearts.

I thank Barbara, Ginger, and Brenda for their dedication to the music program of Hope Valley, and I thank you for your gracious support. God bless you all.


The Music of Lent

Just as we must experience the darkness of night to fully appreciate the light of each new day, we must walk with Christ through His final earthly ministry, trial, crucifixion, and burial to experience the joy of His resurrection on Easter morning. During this Lenten season, we will continue to walk with Jesus on His journey to the cross. The music we sing will reflect a prayerful stance and deep gratitude for the immense sacrifice He made on our behalf.

Then, Easter will dawn, and we will need sunglasses to see through the bright light of His resurrection . . . His victory over both death and sin. Hallelujah! What a Savior!