Tuesday 12 November 2019
Today’s main task has been working on Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, a classic early 20th century hymn that I’m planning to include in my worship leading debut at Thorpe Acre this week.
The main challenge with such pieces is that there isn’t one definitive version but all sorts of versions recorded by diverse artists and in a multitude of settings. I found a fairly vanilla version on CCLI’s SongSelect site and we have a licence that let me download the lead sheet but it wasn’t quite to my taste… so I’ve made corrections.
The verse begins on the major 3rd and then puts a toe down to what is notated as a sharpened second; I can’t seen any reason not to show that as a minor 3rd instead and so I’ve made that change. As an added advantage, I’m going to do it in E major and that lets me use G natural rather than F double sharp, which will be much less confusing for others following the dots. I’ve also made quite a few tweaks to the chords: a mixture of what makes sense to me based on the melody, gives some nod toward functional harmony and works well on guitar, which is what I will be leading from.
That took a little time and then a bit more to work up my version of the score with Lilypond… and then a lot more to get all the tweaks in place. However, I’m pretty pleased with it now. I’ve even got details like numbering for the start of each verse and coping with the fact that the first and third verses have an extra syllable compared to verse two (a dotted slur and the
\ignoreMelismata directive to make the lyrics on the outer verses stick to the right notes. As well as advancing my Lilypond-fu, it also gives me another example piece to build the next one.
Monday 11 November 2019
Shepherd’s pie: minced lamb with mashed potato topping. I suppose that is a logical name although I would be surprised if shepherds are often encouraged to eat their flocks.
Cottage pie: minced beef with a mashed potato topping. I guess people in cottages often eat this, but the link is even more tenuous.
So, what would you call a mash-topped pie made with a veggie filling? I blitzed onions in a food processor and set them softening, then added a blitzed mixture of mushroom, courgettes, peppers and garlic. Proper vegetarians would probably not smile kindly on the Oxo cube (nor vegans on the egg that, along with leftover ‘Mexican houmus’, enhanced the mash) but it was a pretty tasty result however it ought to be named.
Sunday 10 November 2019
I’m back in Oxford for a couple of days after another nice afternoon for driving down. It has been wet for the last few days and I knew some areas had been flooded but I’ve only got round to seeing the extent of flooding and flood warnings this evening and it turns out to have got closer than I thought.
You don’t have to travel far up the road into Nottinghamshire to find places that have been badly affected and parts of Loughborough are still on an orange warning, with a note that today’s sun will be replaced by the unwelcome return of more rain tomorrow. It shouldn’t directly affect either where I work or where I’m staying but perhaps I’ll pack my wellies when I go back later this week, in case flooding does happen and there is visiting and helping to do.
Saturday 9 November 2019
One of the tasks I’ve been working on this week is adapting the website I developed to support the worship team at St Clement’s – refactoring it, to use the technical term – in order to bring the same things to bear at ASTAD. This provides a rota for the team along with a list of songs we’ve played, showing what has been popular over various time periods, like the last year or last three months. Where available, songs have links to the CCLI SongSelect service and it is possible to see who is leading with a given song or what keys are used for it most often.
Some of the work was simple, like backing up and then clearing out old data. I’ve kept the list of songs, which will be a useful starting point, but I’m now working with a different set of people on a new services and including some instruments, like sax, which I didn’t previously have the chance to draw upon.
Other parts were more involved. For example, a weakness of the previous system was that I only recorded the date when a song was played and used that to link to the list of services. This obscured information when we had more than one service on a given date. I now link performances to individual services, which sounds simple but required redoing some gnarly SQL and also updates to the PHP code creating the relevant pages.
The job seems to be done though and I’ve got the songs from last week entered on. Now I’m waiting for the data from tomorrow’s service and then I’ll send a link out to members of the team and start using it to work up the rota for December, once they let me know about their availability.
Friday 8 November 2019
I was out at a blues gig tonight – Dawson and the Creekers at The Golden Fleece in Loughborough. It was a fairly acoustic set (discounting the electric guitar and mics for the vox and harmonica) but at a volume that was clear and easy to listen.
I was struck by how familiar the set was – I didn’t know every song but I’ve performed a good chunk of them myself, mainly through my tenure as a sideman for Mudslide Morris in Oxford. A bit of Stones, a bit of Creedence and plenty more. Good stuff!
Thursday 7 November 2019
When the church administrator saw me making my lunch today, she commented that she didn’t have me down as a pot noodle man. I explained that it isn’t something I’ve tried for years (probably decades) but that I thought I’d try it as an option while making this transition from Oxford to Loughborough.
Now, on the far side of that experiment, I have to concur that she’s right. The second one I bought can sit in the drawer for an emergency and I’ve made a packed lunch to take tomorrow! I think I need more than rehydrated carbs and artificial flavours.
Wednesday 6 November 2019
Kanye West is an American performing artist who has garnered praise, criticism and lots of money for his music and other enterprises. When I saw a recent story, quoting West’s claim to be “the greatest human artist of all time”, I really wasn’t that bothered to look into it further. I don’t buy the idea that art is a competition to begin with. However, he popped up again a couple of weeks later with the release of his album “Jesus is King” and a spate of articles around the claim that he had given his life to Jesus.
Has he? How would I know? I do think that, if it is true, he will be laying down a lot of his pride and taking on some humility over the coming years although, since I only know of him via the distorting mirror of the media, I doubt I will get much chance to take a close look. I’m also sure that his fame and wealth are probably going to be more of a hindrance than a help. Jesus, after all, came to a Judean stable and not a Roman palace which marks something of how much regard God has for human claims of status.
I did listen to the album though. I don’t think it is likely to make my list of favourite albums of all time any time soon but I found a section in Hands On that struck me as poignant:
What have you been hearing from the Christians?
They’ll be the first ones to judge me
Make it feel like nobody loves meHands On from Jesus is King (2019) by Kanye West
That is probably true of some of Christendom. I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt but I pray that he will know each day the truth that God loves him (the foundation Christianity) and that he will find fellowship with Christians who can treat him as a brother rather than a star, allowing Kanye to participate in the giving and receiving that is sustenance of a relational faith