Category

Worship Arts

Celebrating Family

By | JBU Alumni, Liturgy, Music, Performance, Worship Arts | No Comments

During your four years at JBU, you meet a lot of people. You hear a lot of chapel speakers, sit in a lot of classes, go to a lot of church services, show up to a lot of resident life events, play on different intramural teams, and cheer in the athletic stands with a lot of community members.

Years down the road, you may find yourself accepting a friend request or following an Instagram feed of someone you know you met at JBU but can’t quite recall specifics about him or her. Your circles didn’t coincide much, but you know you were students at JBU together and that “connection” will always feel somewhat safe and known.

On the contrary, there are other people you meet at JBU that will be a part of you for the rest of your life. You might not talk all that often or name your kids after each other or even ever live in the same town again, but time and distance won’t change the place these people hold.

As a professor in the middle of my 7th year of teaching at JBU, it is one of my greatest privileges to watch these relationships form in the Department of Music & Theatre. On the first day of classes, I watch all of the freshman hurry to their Elements of Theory class with Dr. and Mrs. Wubbena. They are a rag-tag group of musicians – some with great ears, some with great minds, some with great charisma hoping to quickly develop their ears and minds, and some stand-out students with the whole “well-rounded musician” package. Silent comparisons fly; insecurities manifest themselves in loud, nervous laughter. It’s a beautiful scene pregnant with possibility.

I watch these students travel through the degree program together, and, as they do, they become one of the most authentic examples of community you’ll ever find. You see, every degree program this department has to offer is flat-out hard. These students get one hour of academic credit for 8-10 hours of work outside the studio or the classroom. They are held to graduate level standards in most courses. Together, these students tutor each other, study together, fail together and encourage each other to try again. They speak truth to each other when self-doubt and deprecation are looming. They create together, laugh together, and live and breathe music together. Not all of them make it through the program, but for those who do, they are forever part of our family. There’s something about becoming more with someone that leaves them inked on your heart forever.

Over 15 years ago, I traveled this same journey as an undergraduate student at JBU. To this day, I can still not only name the students I traveled with, but I can tell you where they are and what they are doing. When I think back to those difficult mornings of musicianship where we all desperately prayed for our name not to be called for sight singing, I had no idea that I was sitting amongst a group of individuals who would someday make a successful run in opera performance, finish PhDs and teach at prestigious universities, compose well-known choral works, write music textbooks, attend the Country Music Awards as a songwriter, or be a worship leader who works to integrate liturgy and contemporary music in the church.

This is the beauty of the department of Music & Theatre. The marriage of hard work and intimate, committed community is one that does not disappoint.

Seth Primm is a worship leader at Mosaic NWA, a Saturday night congregation at Fellowship Bible Church in Lowell, AR. Seth is one of the amazing people I grew to call family while here at JBU. While a student here, he was a standout tenor voice, a member of the Cathedral Choir, and a founding member of the men’s quartet. His arranging skills were innovative and fresh, and his ear was impeccable. After he gradated, he married Joy Elliott (who happened to be one of my roommates at JBU) and eventually accepted a worship leading position at Fellowship Bible Church. Since arriving at Fellowship, Seth has been instrumental in the development and growth of the Saturday night congregation called Mosaic. Seth and the worshipping community of Mosaic are releasing a new album of worship songs written for the Advent season. Give a listen to the song below and then click here to pre-order the full album.

Congratulations to Seth and his team. The Department of Music & Theatre at JBU is proud to call you “one of ours,” and we celebrate the gifts you have been given and the Kingdom work you are pursuing.

By | Music, Theology, Worship Arts | No Comments

Give Me Faith

I may be weak
But Your Spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God, You never will

Give me faith
To trust what You say
That You’re good
And Your love is great
I’m broken inside
I give You my life

“Give Me Faith” – © 2009 Elevation Worship Publishing

 

A Call to the Lionhearted

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BeBrave

A blank page is a beautiful thing, don’t you think?

It’s fresh, opportunistic, and challenging. It’s a space that’s capable of becoming anything.

Okay, maybe a blank page doesn’t always seem so exciting–at least, not to me. But, it’s my suspicion that I’m not alone in ever having felt intimidated by a blank page.

Does a blank page, with its blinking cursor or its empty blue lines, look overwhelming to you?

Does it look like the song that you’ve held in your mind for years but never transcribed? Does it look like the paper that you have to write by tomorrow, but feel incapable of finishing? Does the intimidating blankness look like all the things you’ve wanted to write and accomplish, but have never felt capable enough to complete, or even start?

No ability. No talent. Mediocre.

Perhaps your self-criticism swirls endlessly in your mind, and all the while that cursor blinks at you–no words on its left side, no ideas on its right side.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Perhaps you echo it with words confirming your self-doubt.

“I can’t.” “I can’t.” “I can’t.”

And perhaps, by simply looking at that blank page, you become increasingly aware that you’re not good enough.

You’re not capable enough.

You are worthless. 

And, isn’t it that continual rejection that we fear? We fear seeing our own inadequacies on paper, in black and white. We sit in that fear, marinate in it, and do anything to escape it, including sliding the mouse to the “X” at the top corner of the page, shutting down the computer program, crumpling up the paper, and avoiding the notion to write anything at all.

Do you want to know something strange? Every successful songwriter, novelist, playwright, or poet that I have ever studied has had trouble writing. But, the more I think about it, the more I realize that it really doesn’t seem strange at all that most writers struggle with writing.

You see, I’ve found that writing is more about courage than ability. You might think that you are incapable of writing that song, lyric, script, or novel.

But I think you’re wrong.

It is my sincere conviction that you do, in fact, have the ability to write–and not just write, but create–beautiful things.

William Wordsworth once said, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

Allow your heart to overflow onto the words of your blank page. They don’t have to be well-constructed words; they must only be authentic words. 

You see, we all have very important stories, memories, and experiences to share–stories that come so naturally to our minds and hearts that they feel as simple as breathing. And this, dear friend, is where you must begin–have the courage to breathe in and breathe out the things of your heart.

One of my favorite moments in the children’s novel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is when Aslan, the mighty and gentle ruler of Narnia says to Susan, “You have listened to fears, child. Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”

You have listened to fears, child.

Be unafraid. Be vulnerable enough to expose yourself to failure and rejection in the exchange of speaking things that simply must be heard.

And may the things that we speak be uttered in praise to the Lord.

It is time to inhale the breath He has given to you, and let it make you brave, once more.

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
Pour out our praise to You, only

Pick up your guitar.
Place your fingers on the keys.
Put your pen to the paper.

Breathe in, and be brave.

 

– Chelsea

“Great Are You Lord” – All Sons and Daughters
© 2012 Integrity’s Alleluia! Music

By | Music, Theology, Worship Arts | No Comments

Great I Am

The mountains shake before Him
The demons run and flee
At the mention of the name, “King of Majesty”
There is no power in hell
Or any who can stand
Before the power and the presence of the Great I Am

“Great I Am” – New Life Worship
© 2003 RE:ZOUND

 

In Glorious Day

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In Christ Alone

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

“In Christ Alone” – Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
© 2001 Thankyou Music

Lead Me to the Cross

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Lead Me to the Cross
Maundy Thursday marks three key events in Jesus’ last week: his washing of his disciples’ feet, his institution of the Lord’s Supper, and his new commandment to love one another. The name “Maundy Thursday” comes from the Latin mandatum novum, referring to the “new commandment” Jesus taught his disciples.

As we get closer to Easter Sunday, may we reflect on what it means to love and serve others as Christ has loved and served us.

Rid me of myself, I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross

“Lead Me to the Cross”
© 2006 Hillsong Publishing

 

God I Look to You

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God I Look to You (circle)James 1:5
“If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given to you.”

This Tuesday in chapel, guest speaker Hadden Wilson challenged us to ask for the wisdom of God and not of the world so that we may better lead and love others.

God I look to You
You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom

You know just what to do…

May we seek wisdom in all circumstances.

© 2010 Bethel Music

Getting Out of the Pew

By | Leadership, Liturgy, Music, Theology, Worship Arts | One Comment

“I am much more comfortable right there in the pew”

Lea Finder sheepishly said this on Sunday night at the Gathering, nearly as soon as she walked on stage. And it was one of those honest moments that hits you so hard you make this weird sort of “grunt of agreement” sound, and then you nod a lot—at least I did anyway. Then I thought…

“Am I much more comfortable here in the pew?”

While observing services at a local church, I noticed that there appears to be a lack of congregational participation through out the service. Other than singing or laughing at the pastor’s jokes about the Seinfeld clips he uses to relate to the sermon, there is an understood notion of “I stay here in my seat with my coffee, and I watch, listen, and sing. Boom.” So there is almost a learned sense of…

“I am much more comfortable here in this chair.”

During the Reformation era of the 16th century, Martin Luther challenged the ways of Catholic Europe. Interestingly, one of Luther’s many reforms had to do with congregational participation during the worship service. He proposed the adaptation of Gregorian chant, secular art music, and even popular tunes into strophic four-part harmony set in the vernacular German text. This encouraged the congregation to participate more by making the music more accessible to the people. These works were called chorales and are an example of balance between being led and singing all together.

Eventually, over time, this idea of creating accessible liturgy for the church by adapting forms of pop culture contributed to all sorts of different congregations reciting creeds, prayers, calls to worship, and other things together. The congregation became an active part of the service by accepting an invitation to join in worship with the body of Christ. Today, however, there is a natural lean towards pursuing individualism rather than togetherness. Perhaps we have forgotten the beauty and power brought on by the Reformation?

So often I go into a service with a terrible attitude. I am focused on trying to avoid that weird mom who talks a lot or that person I forgot to text back about helping out with the youth group. I just walk in, grab coffee, and go to my seat. This is such a limiting, comfortable way to approach worshipping as a body. I don’t even think about my brothers and sisters that surround me. I like my space.

It takes great faith to learn to get up out of the pew, as Lea confessed. It takes great faith to choose to add your voice to the hundreds of voices around you and throughout history and to believe your voice matters.

“Lord, here are my hands. They’re small, they’re small and

Here are my hands, they’re small and trembling.

Here are my dreams, they’re me protected,

Here are my dreams, so please be gentle now…”

~Aaron Niequist (A New Liturgy)

 

Lord, use us today for the good of your Kingdom. Guide our thoughts, words, and actions in every encounter we face, so that we may know you more and consider all other gains as loss. Let us grow tired from sitting comfortable, and give us the strength to stand up and join in with your body.

 

~Hannah