December 07, 2009

a cradle hymn

on 12/6, the musical offering that we sang was "A Cradle Hymn", a lullaby written from the perspective of a father or mother, singing at the bedside of their crying infant. this is a fairly obscure hymn by Isaac Watts, and being in good Watts form, it is 13 verses in its fullest form (at least, in what I could find online). this particular hymn has personal resonance considering recent events in the Brodine family.

I came across this hymn on a recording by the group Ordinary Time to a great American melody from the Sacred Harp (see embedded player below to hear the recording). I would highly recommend getting the whole album as it is more of an "Advent Album" than just a "Christmas Album". it can be found on eMusic and CD Baby, among other places. they also recorded another one of my favorite hymns, "Thou Who Wast Rich".

Here are the lyrics for their version, just 9 verses long:

Hush, my dear! Lie still, and slumber!
Holy angels guard thy bed!
Heavenly blessings, without number,
Gently falling on thy head.

Sleep, my babe! thy food and raiment,
House and home, thy friends provide;
All without thy care or payment,
All thy wants are well supplied.

How much better thou’rt attended
Than the Son of God could be,
When from heaven he descended,
And became a child like thee!

Soft and easy is thy cradle:
Coarse and hard thy Saviour lay,
When his birthplace was a stable,
And his softest bed was hay.

Blessed Babe! what glorious features,—
Spotless fair, divinely bright!
Must he dwell with brutal creatures?
How could angels bear the sight?

Was there nothing but a manger
Cursed sinners could afford,
To receive the heavenly stranger?
Did they thus affront the Lord?

Soft, my child! I did not chide thee,
Though my song might sound too hard:
’Tis thy mother sits beside thee,
And her arm shall be thy guard.

Lo, he slumbers in a manger,
Where the horned oxen fed!—
Peace, my darling, here’s no danger:
There’s no ox a–near thy bed.

’Twas to save thee, child, from dying,
Save my dear from burning flame,
Bitter groans and endless crying,
That thy blest Redeemer came.

May’st thou live to know and fear him,
Trust and love him all thy days,
Then go dwell for ever near him:
See his face, and sing his praise!

November 03, 2009

wordy imagery

having a little fun with Wordle (word clouds).

Wordle: Romans 3 (NIV)

Romans 3 (NIV), the passage Drew is currently preaching through at Grace Pres.

Wordle: RUF Hymnbook

Lyrics for the 143 hymns contained in the RUF Hymnbook

October 26, 2009

Wall-E discussion

Last Friday, I led a discussion of Pixar's 2008 release, Wall-E. It was a great discussion, and I enjoyed getting even more out of the film through hearing other people's reactions and reflections.

In preparation for the discussion, I covered a lot of [internet] ground finding interviews and articles on the film in hopes of further enriching our discussion. Here is a handful of worthwhile reads. After you read them, what thoughts do you have about the film? Did reading the interviews with Andrew Stanton change your opinion of the film, whether positively or negatively?
UPDATE: Interested in films with similar themes to Wall-E? The LA Times has a photo essay on film characters that are almost human. Notice who comes in at #10!

August 26, 2009

John Newton hymning on Prayer

this Sunday, Pastor Drew is preaching from Matthew 6 on the Lord's Prayer. if you didn't catch his post about how well you know the Lord's Prayer, check it out here.

one of the quotes from this week's reflection is taken from a hymn by John Newton. the first line is a beautiful invitation: "Come, my soul, thy suit prepare". the hymn provides us with wonderful guidance in the posture of prayer (see full text below).

I'm a firm believer that the second most important book in a Christian's library is a hymnal, and this text demonstrates this superbly. as with the Biblical Psalms, hymns give voice to the heart of the worshiper. not only that, they teach us the language of prayer. regularly supplementing your study of the Bible with reflection upon hymn texts is a prescription for a healthy devotional life.

Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare
available in Trinity Hymnal #628 (1990 edition)

Come, my soul, thy suit prepare;
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He himself has bid thee pray,
Therefore will not say thee, Nay.

Thou art coming to a King:
Large petitions with thee bring;
For his grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.

With my burden I begin:
Lord, remove this load of sin;
Let thy blood, for sinners spilt,
Set my conscience free from guilt.

Lord, I come to thee for rest;
Take possession of my breast;
There thy blood-bought right maintain,
And without a rival reign.

While I am a pilgrim here,
Let thy love my spirit cheer;
As my guide, my guard, my friend,
Lead me to my journey's end.

Show me what I have to do;
Every hour my strength renew;
Let me live a life of faith;
Let me die thy people's death.

More information at
Full text of Newton's "Olney Hymns"

August 12, 2009

eat this film

this summer, we've been going through a series of film discussions I've called Eat This Film. we've watched and discussed films that might be termed as "Foodies". additionally, we've served a meal that is tied closely to the film. in June, we watched Mostly Martha, and enjoyed an authentic Italian meal with spaghetti as the main dish. in July, Eat Drink Man Woman, along with a Taiwanese/Chinese meal with (almost) no takeout. in August, we'll finish the series with Sideways, which will include a lesson in wine tasting.

it's been great to discuss a subject that our part of the country cherishes with such gusto. through my scouring of IMDB and my local library, I'm seeing a trend in recent decades of filmmaking toward more films that center on chefs and eating, typically with gorgeous scenes documenting the process of food preparation.

the most recent addition to the Foodie Canon is Julie & Julia. I have not seen it yet, but I've heard positive reviews from critics and friends. it's not official yet, but I'm planning on taking an extra credit Eat This Film field trip to go see this as a group. here are two recent posts about it from the NYTimes, one by Michael Pollan, the other by Kim Severson.

*UPDATED, 8/31 - Great article from The Curator on the Art of Marriage in Julie & Julia.

during the summer, I've been blogging in my head (I seem to do this a lot) about this series. I was thinking that this very post--the one that you're reading right now--would be a brilliant compilation and commentary of all that I've come across in my research and our discussions. but someone beat me to it, and someone who is a far better writer and a far more experienced film journalist than I ever will be. check out Jeffrey Overstreet's Tribute to Films about Feasting over at Filmwell. he touches on many films that we've already discussed, suggests a few more tantalizing options, and ties it all together wonderfully with the great film that started this whole Eat This Film exploration, Babette's Feast.

For more information on this and other film series at Grace, visit the Movies @ Grace page on our website.

For discussion:
What's your favorite Foodie movie and why?

June 15, 2009

Summer Reading 2009

Now that summer is here, what are you planning on doing with your time? Is there a book that's been sitting on your shelf that needs the dust blown off? I certainly have more than a few books that I'd like to get through while enjoying a glass of sweet tea on the back patio.


Theology: Truly the Community - Marva Dawn
Dawn has written many scholarly yet accessible works on the church as a worshiping community. This volume tackles Romans 12, systematically applying its principles to modern communities. I have already read the first few chapters and have found her insights to be both challenging and creative.

Non-Fiction (Science): Musicophilia - Don Sacks
Okay, so I'm already about 200 pages into this one, but I'll be finishing it in summer, so it counts, right? Sacks is the neurologist/psychologist who wrote the book Awakenings, which had a film based upon it. This time he writes about his studies of the brain and music. A fascinating read so far, his work is full of compassionate case studies into the lives of people who suffer from maladies that effect their ability to process sounds, specifically music.

Non-Fiction (Cultural): The Great-Good Place - Ray Oldenburg
I bought this in hopes of it being my summer 2008 reading, but I ended up doing other things. I figure that if I put it on this list for all to see, I'll have to read it. Oldenburg presents the case for Third Places, those places in a culture that are outside of the home and workplace where people go to find a sense of place and community. In Europe, it's street cafés and public houses. In America, we've separated ourselves so much from the world outside that we've lost our sense of third place, and Oldenburg argues for a reclamation of this important type of institution. A highly influential book, it has already inspired the establishment of coffee shops and book stores around the country (one of which is in Seattle, called Third Place Books).

Fiction: ??
I have a long list of books that I've been collecting on my shelf to read. I'm sure I'll get around to finishing a Dashiell Hammett mystery or two (The Thin Man, Red Harvest), some Cormac McCarthy (Sunset Limited, No Country For Old Men), and hopefully a classic (Brothers Karamazov has been staring at me for a while).


So now it's your turn to join the conversation. What books are you planning on reading? Please post at least one book in the comment section below, and maybe even include a short description.

Happy Reading!!!

photo courtesy bookmonger on Flickr.

June 09, 2009

Give To The Winds

Download Chart

Download Live Recording

I recently wrote a new melody for the Paul Gerhardt hymn, "Give To The Winds", which was originally written in German and later translated into English by John Wesley nearly a century later. JS Bach has set the German text. For my setting, I had to modify a few of the lines to help the melodic phrasing. Brian Wren in "Praying Twice" says that this is a no-no as it ruins the author's original voice to change that much (more than just the archaic language or other more subtle modifications). Oh well, can't please everyone!

The recording is from May 31, 2009 at Grace Presbyterian of Silicon Valley. I wrote the melody with The Weepies in mind, so I was pleased to have a fellow Weepies fan, Anne-Marie Strohman, taking the lead vocal. Hopefully the arrangement will expand a little bit when I get a chance to do a fuller demo.

Give To The Winds

Give to the winds your fears,
Hope and be not dismayed;
God hears your sighs and counts your tears;
God will lift up,
God will lift up,
God will lift up your head.

Leave to God’s sovereign guide
To choose and to command,
Wand'ring, as you own His way,
How wise, how strong,
How wise, how strong,
How wise, how strong His hand.

Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears your way;
Wait now, since in His time, this night will
Soon end in joy,
Soon end in joy,
Soon end in joyous day.

Words: Paul Gerhardt, 1653; tr. John Wesley, 1739; alt. Music: Luke W. Brodine, 2009. © 2009 Rare Sunshine Music. UBP. ARR

March 09, 2009

a case of the Mondays, DST style

so who out there is having the worst case of the Mondays that they've ever had? if so, here's a little video to remind you of how bad a day you could be having.

and no, this isn't going to last forever...

February 25, 2009

online movie discussion - Lars and the Real Girl

Last week's film discussion was an awesome experience! We had a group of almost 30 people who discussed Lars and the Real Girl and enjoyed each other's fellowship. I realized afterward that there was far more to be discussed than we could have covered in an evening, so I decided to open up the discussion here. What's even better is that now others can join in the discussion who were unable to attend!

Below I've posted some of the questions that we discussed, along with a few that we somehow passed over. Enjoy!

  1. What is your first reaction to the film?

  2. What tone is the film attempting to set? What cues helped set this tone? In what ways do you think that the filmmakers achieved the tone well? Poorly?

  3. What effect does the type of doll that Bianca is have upon the film? Could she have been a mannequin? A crash-test dummy?

  4. What role does the setting play in the film? Would it have been a different movie it had been set in another part of the US or during a different time of year?

  5. What was your initial reaction to Bianca? Discuss the reactions of others in the film. (Which character are you most like in regards to his/her reaction? Why?)

  6. What purpose does Bianca serve in Lars’ life? What sort of things do you use to replace real things?

  7. What is Lars attempting to cope for with Bianca? What are your coping mechanisms? How do you deal with change?

  8. Describe the role of Dagmar, both in Lars' life and in the town.

  9. Did you catch what passage from the Bible was read later in the film? Is Lars the only one in the film that needs to hear this message? What “childish things” do you still cling to? How have you been able to put them away? How have others helped you do this?

  10. Do you think that this is a realistic film? Is the film trying to be realistic? (parable) One review derisively calls it “silly and whimsical.” Do you agree with the sentiment, if not the tone, of this remark? Do you think the filmmakers intended this sort of reaction? What about the characterization of the small town and the members of the church? When is the unbelievable more true than the believable?

  11. Why does the town react the way that it does? What does the movie have to say about community? Is this real community in your opinion? What do you think is done well? What could be done better?

  12. I’m reminded of a refrain from Sir Paul McCartney: “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” How does the film attempt to answer this question?
Also, here are a few helpful reviews that are available online:
So have at it! Post your thoughts in the comments section for this post. Please include your name with your posts. I don't expect things to get out of hand, but please treat this discussion as if you were in the same room with the others who are joining in. I will moderate the discussion as needed.

February 17, 2009

movie discussion - Lars and the Real Girl

This Friday, we'll be viewing and discussing Lars and the Real Girl. It will be the first discussion group in a series I'm calling How To Read A Film. here's the blurb from the bulletin:
We will ... discuss different ways to participate actively with movies and engage with the filmmmakers. Our purpose is to explore how the art and the science of filmmaking speaks to the lives and hearts of the viewer.
All are welcome! Bring a friend, too. There's nothing needed for you to prepare for the group, just come ready to discuss the film afterwards. Contact me (music [at] gracepres [dot] com) for more information.

View a trailer for the film below:

February 02, 2009

art of the month - albrecht dürer

each month, I'm going to attempt (to remember) to highlight either an artist or a work of art.

this month's subject: Albrecht Dürer

Dürer was a German painter during the early 16th century, right at the start of the Reformation. He is both renowned for his painting and his woodcuts, but I believe that it is his work in the latter category that has made the greatest impact on his period and those that followed.

The subject above, "The Four Horsemen," is from his series on the Apocalypse of St. John. These woodcuts were accompanied by the text of the last book of the Bible upon which the series is based. I seem to remember hearing that it was a German translation of the text, which would have been unheard of at the turn of the 16th Century (17 years before Luther and Wittenberg), as all Scripture in the West was in Latin and was only to be handled by leaders of the church. To have created something that put the text into the hands of the people (even if I am mistaken, and it was accompanied by a Latin text) counts Dürer as a Pre-Reformer.

The vision that this single work of 15 woodcuts also influenced for years to come the understanding in the West of the book of Revelation and was a precursor to the Illustrated Bibles that grew in popularity in the 19th and 20th Centuries. (When you hear about door-to-door salesmen selling Bibles, it was multi-volume illustrated Bibles!) Also, the visual style of both this and Dürer's other woodcuts has turned up in the art of Comic Books and Graphic Novels.

I am highlighting Dürer this month as there is an exhibition at the Cantor Arts Center through February 15. The exhibition--"Dürer to Picasso"--is highlighting many of the important painters from the Renaissance through WWII. Though I am not sure how many works by Dürer will be on display, I'm sure it'll be a worthwhile exhibit to visit. I am planning on going to this in the next week, so I will try to report back with my thoughts.

January 27, 2009

hymn backgrounds - "Take Now Our Minds"

Here's a little window into my process of finding and incorporating new music in our services:

In looking for a communion hymn for this Sunday, my goal was to find something that captured the concept of loving the Lord with all our hearts; I was interested in hymn texts that point to Scriptures like Matthew 22:37 and Romans 12:1-2. In my search, I was struck by a hymn that I came across in the Trinity Hymnal: "Take Thou Our Minds, Dear Lord" #593. Each stanza elaborates on offering what Jesus commands in the great commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

The great difficulty was that much of the language was fairly archaic (which is surprising since it was written at the end of World War I). I don't mind a few uses of "thee" and "thou" in hymns--especially those that many people know by heart--but I am also of the mind and heart that it is helpful to gently nudge a text into modern vernacular to enable worshipers to enter into singing without the distraction of getting their tongues around Victorian language.

But this posed a dilemma: the first line of every stanza is "Take Thou..." Not only that, but other phrases struggled to come off my lips. It took me several readings to really get it. (Yes, I realize that this is the mark of good poetry, but it's also the mark of outdated modes of phrasing.)

Before I started altering the hymn, I realized I should have my melody picked out, since I may have to work at making the stanzas musically fit the phrasing. Since I was not familiar with the tune that it is paired with in the Trinity, I made a quick visit to the metrical index. This pointed me to the tune EVENTIDE, used with the widely known "Abide With Me." (I would classify any hymn as widely known if it gets sung by Elton John on the telley). This is a beautiful melody in my opinion, one which translates well into a variety of musical idioms. I found a folk rendition of the tune, sung by Tom Kimmel, with guitar, fiddle, and female harmony, and got the arrangement settled on the page before adding the words. (The nice thing about using strong, familiar melodies is that once I've written an arrangement, I can use it again for other texts. Case in point: this Sunday, we're singing the melody ODE TO JOY from Beethoven's 9th to the text "Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee," which we also use for "God All Nature Sings Thy Glory.")

The result is what I now title "Take Now Our Minds," which you'll find presented below. See what you think; I'll allow you to do the work of comparing the original text to the new text. As this is my first shot at really updating a hymn, I will likely find things to change in the future, but I hope that it'll hold up when we sing it this Sunday. Note that I didn't erase every use of "Thee": at the end of the first stanza, I'd have to change the rhyme scheme of the previous line in order to extricate it.

To include a little bit of history for the hymn, at least its writer: William Hiram Foulkes was the son of a Welsh minister in the Presbyterian Church. He grew up in New York State, trained at a seminary in Ohio, and ended up in Salina, KS as a Presbyterian minister. He later founded the Grand View Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, KS, which is a congregation that worship to this today. You can see a more complete biography here.

Take Now Our Minds

Take now our minds, O Father, as we pray,
Give us the mind of Christ each passing day;
Teach us to know the truth that sets us free;
Grant us in all our thoughts to honor Thee.

Take now our hearts, O Christ—they are Your own;
Come in our souls each day and claim Your throne;
Help us to spread abroad Your deathless love;
Use us to make the earth like heaven above.

Take now our wills, O Spirit hold full sway;
Have in our inmost souls Your perfect way;
Guard us each sacred hour from selfish ease;
Guide all our daily lives as You would please.

Take all our lives: our hearts, our minds, our wills;
Through our surrendered souls Your plans fulfill.
We yield ourselves: our time, our talents, all;
We hear, and choose to heed, Your gracious call.

Words: William H. Foulkes, 1918; alt. 2009. Music: EVENTIDE, William H. Monk, 1861. © 2009 Luke W. Brodine.

January 26, 2009

look! new links!!

I updated the links to the right...... yeah, to the right of this page........ that way----------->

a minor commentary on the updates:
  • Bro Chateau - our house blog, where we document family life... trying to keep 'raresunshine' to arts and worship now
  • Drew Field - Grace Church's senior pastor... thoughts on ministry in Silicon Valley
  • Liturgy Fellowship - group of worship musicians being connectional... lots of great music to be found (at least where links are possible)
(note: if you're viewing on a blog reader, you won't see the links... they're over on the blog itself)

January 19, 2009

moved by music - Fleet Foxes

I'm a little behind the curve, but I just picked up the Fleet Foxes LP. brilliant vocal harmonies, broad arrangements, tight performance, and all from a bunch of teenagers (or at least they're still pretty young). if you haven't heard them yet, here's one of their songs from last Saturday's episode of Saturday Night Live.

typically, SNL performances stink. I mean, really really stink. to begin with, a TV studio has to be a tough place to play. I give it to the bands that it is hard to pop into the middle of sketch comedy show and play cold to an audience that isn't there just to see them perform. on top of that, the sound mixing is horrendous: typically the lead vocalist, guitarist, and drummer are the only audible musicians. (when I was in college, they released a series of CDs of SNL live performances, and a professor quipped about who would want to listen to recordings that were so poor to begin with!) I can count on one hand the number of good performances that I've seen on SNL (and U2 holds all of those positions). if you want a good example of a good recording artist gone bad on SNL, just check out this recent one from Kanye West.

but I have to say, this performance by Fleet Foxes was great! I could wax on more about this, but I'll let this clip speak for itself.

January 15, 2009

hymn backgrounds - "How Great Thou Art"

this Sunday, the song opening the worship at Grace Presbyterian will be "How Great Thou Art". I was already familiar with the recent history of this song: one of the most popular Gospel songs of the 20th century, popularized during the height of the Billy Graham Crusades. As I was scouring the internet to find the lyrics to place in Power Point, I found a little bit more about the background, which is quite fascinating.

Briefly, it was originally a poem by a Swedish minister, written during the late 19th century. It was later picked up by churches and sung to a traditional Swedish folk tune. In the 1920s, a missionary in Eastern Europe, Stuart Kine, heard the song and "translated" it into English. I put that in scare quotes because it is a rough rendering and rethinking of the original text. It was then picked up by Edwin Orr, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, in the late 1940s. From there, it was passed along to Manna Music, Inc., who purchased the publishing rights from Stuart Kine.

The song covers a number of themes--of creation and redemption--and then returns to the refrain as a moment of reflection upon the truths just sung. What is most fascinating are two verses that have been translated into English, but have never appeared in a hymnal that I have come across. I find them interesting because these verses go off into different themes not covered in the other verses. I believe that if sung in its entirety--all 6 verses--there would be way too much to ponder. This lack of thematic directness differentiates "How Great Thou Art" from hymns, in the strictest sense, and drops it into the category of Gospel Song.

This Sunday we will sing just 2 verses of the 4 printed in the Trinity Hymnal. I picked these as they are in my opinion the most concise, keeping this song as to the point as possible. The arrangement is a version of Paul Baloche's recent recording of the tune; I have posted a video for it below, along with a few links to further information on the history of the song and the many men that it took to bring it to the present form we sing today.


January 12, 2009

ESV Study Bible Online!

I recently got a copy of the ESV Study Bible, which is a fantastic resource and a welcome addition to my "Library of Regular Requirement" as I've been using the NIV Study Bible for a number of years now. The text notes are fascinating, and there are gobs of articles to benefit any reading of the Bible, but I think that the greatest thing is that it is all accessible online! You do have to purchase a copy of the physical Study Bible to get the access code, but it's worth it. Now I can keep it at home and still acess it at work.

I find that as I prepare worship, a Study Bible really helps for quickly getting into the passage at hand, whether being used as a prayer or for the sermon, and it aids me as a launching point for picking songs and adding other elements to the liturgy. I still love the tactile satisfaction of turning the pages and the auditory joy of crinkling the paper, but being able to click, click, click and get where I'm going is a huge asset!

If you already have a copy but haven't gotten online with it, don't waste another second. Do it right now! No really, get going!!