“For Free!” A Devotion on Ephesians 2: 8, 9

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” —Ephesians 2: 8, 9

Do we take for granted those things in life that come to us for free? Since our society tends to commercialize everything, it becomes easy to value only that which we paid for or worked for. Continue reading

My Epiphany Hymn “They Sought Him by a Star” with music.

Back in 2001 I wrote the lyrics to this hymn for Epiphany. We are going to sing it Sunday at the church I attend in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This hymn has only been sung a couple times before, once in Pittsfield right after I wrote it, with lovely original music by Lou Steigler, and once at Green’s Farms Church in Westport, Connecticut, where the then minister of music, Eileen Hunt, set it to Darwell’s 145th. I look forward to hearing it this way for the first time. Thanks to Ron Hanft for matching up the lyrics with the tune for the bulletin. It is copyrighted to me, but you may use it with attribution.

A Hidden Gem in the Berkshire Music Scene: Berkshire Lyric

The Berkshires are widely acknowledged as a mecca of culture, especially for great music. We all know about Tanglewood and South Mountain Concerts. We read about them in The New York Times and The New Yorker.

These venues, and several others, feature some of the world’s best professional talent, and we are grateful for it. But what often flies under the media radar here is a number of homegrown, grass-roots community organizations that produce some first-rate music. Continue reading

Reflections on Living in a World with a Trump Presidency without Leonard Cohen

cohenSince the numbing election I’ve been imbibing in the music and poetry of Leonard Cohen. I didn’t start out on this road as some sort of masochistic exercise. I just wanted to reacquaint myself with the work of this troubled genius who juggled so many contradictions within himself and his art.

Cohen was God-haunted while denying any traditional understanding of God. He followed Buddhism “religiously” while he still never stopped being deeply informed by his Jewish identity. Much of his poetry and song verse bristles with Biblical imagery and apocalyptic vision. Continue reading

I finally got to hear my new baptismal hymn!

BaptismI wrote the baptismal hymn text “Come here by the waters” early last year, and though several pastors have told me they have used it in worship, I had never heard it sung by a congregation until this morning.

We worshipped this morning at the church in RI where my daughter, Rebecca, is pastor. She administered five baptisms, and they sang my hymn. She has chosen it before, but never when I was present.

She made a clever move with it that I hadn’t thought of. She divided the first two verses and the final two, singing the former before the baptisms and the latter right after. This makes sense because the first two are invitational (“come bring us your child) and the latter two are blessings (Bless us with your presence, your Word, and your power) and doxologies. Here are the words.

Come Here by the Waters

Come here by the waters, come bring us your child.
We’ll call on God’s Spirit, so loving and wild.
These people and parents will speak their firm vow.
This child full of blessing belongs to Christ now.

Your promise enduring will follow her* days,
And lead to a life filled with service and praise.
You’ll bless her** and keep her** and always be there,
Through life’s many changes you’ll watch her with care.

Bless us with your presence, your Word, and your power,
That we may be faithful in every new hour.
Let church be a place that is brimming with love,
And bless these dear children with grace from above.

We praise you and thank you for all you provide,
For blessings and graces that reach far and wide.
Praise Father, praise Son, and the Spirit divine,
Both now and forever, and far beyond time.

(*or his, or their) (** or him, or them)

Tune: Cradle Song 11.11.11.11.

© Richard L. Floyd, 2015

(To learn more about this hymn, and for both accompaniment and melody line reproducible music go here. Photo: R.L. Floyd, 2016)

Berkshire Lyric Chorus will sing Mozart Requiem at Tanglewood on Sunday

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Here’s a special event for you on Memorial Day weekend. The community chorus I sing in will be performing this:

On May 29 at 3 p.m. the 100 voice Berkshire Lyric Chorus, accompanied by a full orchestra, and joined by a stellar solo vocal quartet will sing the great Mozart Requiem at Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall . Don’t miss this masterpiece of the choral literature and a work of deep conviction that was Mozart’s final opus as he was dying in 1791. Continue reading

Berkshire Lyric presents “Called by Angels, a Concert of Christmas Music”

I am singing with Berkshire Lyric Chorus in concert on December 20. I hope some of my Berkshire friends can come. Here are the details:

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Berkshire Lyric presents “Called by Angels, a Concert of Christmas Music” at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Park Square in downtown Pittsfield on Saturday, December 20 at 7:30.

The 90 voice Berkshire Lyric Chorus will be joined by the 30 voice Blafield Children’s Chorus in a wide ranging choral program of some of the most beloved music of the season. Now in its 52nd year, Berkshire Lyric most recently performed at Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall in the spring, and the big chorus is back for this annual holiday concert. The St. Stephen’s concert is an expanded version of Berkshire Lyric’s traditionally sold out Stockbridge Main Street Concert.

Through the years, it has developed into a heart warming and nostalgic evening of great Christmas music for the whole family. The concert is led by Berkshire Lyric’s Artistic Director Jack Brown and accompanied by Joe Rose. The soloists will be soprano Felicia Durso and baritone John Demler. The chorus will be singing new compositions and arrangements by contemporary composers Alan Smith, Will Todd and John Joubert. The children’s chorus is presenting music by John Rutter, Alfred Burt and Alec Wyton among others. A highlight of the concert will be a medley of “Away in a Manger,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “Silent Night,” all arranged by English composer and former member of the King’s Singers, Bob Chilcott. During a lighter portion of the program, the chorus will sing lush choral arrangements of Christmas hits such as “Sleigh Ride”, “The Christmas Song” and “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” There will be a sing-a-long portion of favorite carols and popular selections at the end of the concert. The audience can join their voices to the 120 singers of Berkshire Lyric and the great St. Stephen’s Pipe Organ in the rich acoustics of this historic church.

The Berkshire Lyric season will continue on December 27 with a Handel “Messiah” Sing also at St. Stephen’s. The new year will see four concerts: Moving to Glory: a Gospel and Spirituals Concert in February, A Feast of Operetta fundraiser in March, A Grand Opera Spectacular at the Colonial Theatre in May, and finally Into the Light: Russian Orthodox Sacred Music with the Konevets Quartet of St. Petersburg in June. Tickets for the Dec. 20 Christmas concert are $20 for adults with children admitted free. They may be purchased from chorus members or through Berkshire Lyric’s website. More information at http://www.BerkshireLyricInfo.org.

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