Mark the Music [QUOTE]


But music does change a man’s nature.
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as blackness:
Let no such man be trusted.
Mark the music.

–Lorenzo,
William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, V.1

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For Lent: Free Music, Readings, & Devotionals


chagall-exodus

I’ll be honest, one of the reasons why I love Lent and the Church Calendar is because it is a helpful corrective for my own personal lack of personal discipline. I’m not especially skilled at putting together my own structure, and so I really flourish when structure and pattern is placed on me from the outside.

This is especially true with spiritual practices. To engage with a Church season like Lent, I often need to give myself a blog series to keep me thinking on a theme for the season (see above, under “Lenten Posts“). I really do well with reading plans, prayerbooks, music albums, etc. If you find yourself in the same boat, here are some resources for this year’s Lent that some of you may find helpful.
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Lent: Poems, Mixtapes, Prayerbooks – Oh My!


chagall-exodusI’ll be honest, one of the reasons why I love Lent and the Church Calendar is because it is a helpful corrective for my own personal lack of personal discipline. I’m not especially skilled at putting together my own structure, and so I really flourish when structure and pattern is placed on me from the outside.

This is especially true with spiritual practices. To engage with a Church season like Lent, I often need to give myself a blog series to keep me thinking on a theme for the season (see above, under “Lent Posts“, and also check out this year’s series). I really do well with reading plans, prayerbooks, music albums, etc. If you find yourself in the same boat, here are some resources for this year’s Lent that some of you may find helpful.
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Holy Week Music: Mozart’s “Requiem”


Klimt-Death-LifeOne of the primary ways I relate to the Church Calendar is through music (hence the free Mixtapes I put out each season). Even when I am terrible at engaging at an intellectual or even a practical devotional way, I am really intentional about filling my life with music that will still put my soul in the proper posture for the particular season.

For this Lent, I found myself spending significant time with Mozart’s Requiem, a “Mass for the Dead”. This was his last (and still mysterious) piece–unfinished before he died. Before Holy Week was over, and as we enter into the Holy Weekend, I wanted to offer this to as a way you might be able to engage in these last few days of Lent. Here is the audio, and below that you will find an English translation of the entire Mass. The words are achingly haunting and beautiful and deserve your perusal whether you have time for the music or not. Have a blessed Lent.

W. A. MOZART, REQUIEM
English Translation, from St. Matthew’s choir
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This is my 1,000th Post. WARNING: You cannot un-watch this.


This is my 1,000th post. Thank you all for the chance to write this blog these past (almost) 10 years. It has grown me in countless ways. It took seven and half years to get to 500 posts, and less than two more to double that. Here’s to 2,000. Thanks for the encouragement, commenting, and criticism. It means a lot. Really.

As is my custom, here is your blog milestone dancing video:


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Cool Hand Luke’s “Of Man”: a favorite album is now free (and perfect for Lent)


cool-hand-luke-of-man-coverIf you don’t care about the commentary, and just want the amazing music, you can get it at Noisetrade. If you’d like to listen to the album first, just press play:


Someone’s “favorites” are a weird thing to define.  They are prone to fickleness, are tied so closely with whatever else is subjectively happening in one’s life, and usually bear little resemblance to what that person would consider as the technically “best” of any particular thing. So when you have a “favorite” that sustains that title for years–decades, even–it’s a big deal.

Since high school my favorite band has been Cool Hand Luke. Back then they were a little hardcore screamo band. At that time, to get their CD, you had to mail a check to the lead singer’s house. As time when on, their style changed at the very same time and in the very same way as my own. It felt like we were growing together.

Around my senior year of high school, they came out with an album called Wake Up,  O SleeperAnyone who’s heard of CHL probably knows them from this stunningly powerful work of art. It quickly became the most influential and “favorite” album of mine. And it has been ever since.

Towards the end of college, I became pretty good friends with the lead singer. For a while, every few months, we’d talk for a couple of hours on the phone. He was discerning whether to go to seminary and what to do about the financial mess their shady manager had left the band in. I got to see his heart and the heart behind the beautiful music they made.

Eventually, he got married, I started seminary, and he decided it was time to end the band and begin seminary himself. But there was one last project he felt he had to do.

Of Man.

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Welcome to Epiphany. (And a free Mixtape to celebrate!)


epiphany-mixtape-coverIf you’re just looking for the mixtape, click here for the official Epiphany Mixtape page.

From now until Lent, the Church Calendar is in the season of Epiphany.

Basically, this season seems like it’s sort of a Church Calendar “junk drawer” to meditate and celebrate on all the other parts of Jesus’ life that happened between his Advent/Birth and his Death.

And don’t misread that. In describing it that way, I hope that doesn’t diminish this season for anyone.

Perhaps the most precious doctrine of the Christian faith for me is that of the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness. That’s a fancy way of saying that Jesus lived out a righteous life, and his very own righteousness is given to me as my own. And so, with a complete and perfect righteousness in hand, I don’t have to bear the weight of shame or condemnation. This is so beautiful to me.

But this Righteousness in which I am dressed was not created out of thin air, nor was it created by Christ at the Cross, or even at his Resurrection. It was built throughout his life of obedience to His Father, as the light of his character and life grew brighter and brighter in the midst of our darkened world. It’s this part of his life that we celebrate and meditate upon in this season.

And this is amazing. As I’ve written before, if Herod had been successful in killing the infant Jesus, there would be an essential aspect of our salvation that’s missing. This is why Epiphany is so important.

And so, to try and help me spend some time meditating on this season, the best way I knew to think deeply about all this was to re-post Epiphany mixtape I first posted last year.

To read more about the specifics of Epiphany, the mixtape, and to listen/download it yourself, you can either read below or just go to the official Epiphany Mixtape page.

[cover image credit: the photo on the mixtape cover is used with the gracious permission of photographer and friend of the blog, David Schrott]

A night so holy and silent | Carols in Prose


winter-snow-trees-bwFor my Advent series this year, I am going through Christmas Carols and unpacking them, re-writing them in prose, hoping to pull out more of their meaning, theology, significance, and beauty. Here’s today’s source material.

As holy as that night was–as anointed, blessed, prophesied, and sacred as it was–it was just as silent. You know in winter when find yourself in the midst of falling snow, and it almost has a loud silence? It was like that.

Who knew that this utter holiness and cosmic in-breaking would be so quiet? So…uneventful? Yes, there were angels and such, but they were far away with us. There at the manger? Silence.
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May God give rest to you weary, happy souls | Carols in Prose


flinks-angels-anouncing-the-birth-of-christ-to-the-shepherds

For my Advent series this year, I am going through Christmas Carols and unpacking them, re-writing them in prose, hoping to pull out more of their meaning, theology, significance, and beauty.  Here’s today’s source material.

I pray that God may give rest to all of you. Those of you that are tired and in need of rest, and yet you doggedly hold on to a soul-merriment and joy that cannot be taken from you. I pray he grants you rest and lets nothing steal your soul’s joy.

Especially in this season, I pray he strengthens that joy as you remember that he has come among us in Christ, our Savior, whose birth we celebrate during this time. We remember that he came as a human–but not just that. We remember he came as the weakest and most frail of human forms: one who is born.

But we don’t jut remember that he came, or even just how he came–but also, why.

This Advent season precedes Christmas as Lent precedes Easter–it’s a time to meditate on the darkness, weight, and tension of this world. The darkness and power that drew us away from God as Home; the darkness from which we were saved. And in this, we are given that rest, comfort and joy.

Oh, that we might experience God’s good news of comfort and joy proclaimed from the rooftops of our lives! Just think of that: Comfort. And Joy.

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Hey Philly! I’m hosting an epic House Show on Friday. You should come.


birdhouse-show

I’ve been a little busy recently, but I thought I’d drop a quick post and let everyone in the Philly area know that I’ll be hosting a house show at my place this upcoming Friday at 7pm. There will be opera, fiddles, harmonies, sing-a-longs, food, drink, cider, cheer, and merriment. (Oh, and maybe a little celebrating for my recent engagement.)

It’s been far too long since the last time we had one of these shows, but each has been better than the last. It all started when I first moved into this house in Center City Southwest, and we noticed that there were some birdhouses nailed to our back patio fence (above). And so, The Birdhouse was born, and the music followed shortly thereafter. This time around, we’re having the following artists perform:

Come support the artists and have a good time. For all the info, check out the Facebook Event page.

Trash Spotify, get Google Music (discount ends 6/30) [casual fri]


k-bigpic

A few years ago, I wrote about my own personal, internal struggle over online music services. Well now, I have a winner.

I’ve told several friends about Google Music. For the past couple of years it’s been my go-to mobile music manager. Long story short, this is how it has worked: Google uploads your entire library of music to their own servers (a.k.a. “the cloud”) and then you can listen to it on any device with a browser (including iOS devices). This is absolutely free.

And it’s been amazing. I can stream my own music over my phone, I can go to work and play my entire library in any web browser on my work computer, and it syncs up with my iTunes for continued integration with all my offline music listening. And again, all this is free.

And now it’s even better (even though the name is ridiculous). A month ago, Google announced an expansion of this service, and it’s called (take a deep breath): Google Play Music All Access. Basically, what it is is the above Google Music thing that I described (now called “Google Music Standard”), plus a Spotify-like element built-in.
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All new, free Easter vol.2 Mixtape is ready for download!


easter-mixtape-2-coverToday, I’m really proud to make available the all new Easter Mixtape for this year. It’s a completely new batch of songs, none of which have been on any of my past mixtapes. I’ve been working on this one for a while. I hope it’s able to help you engage in this Easter season. Just like the past Mixtapes, it’s free to stream, download, and share.

To also serve you in this time, be sure to check out last year’s Easter Volume 1 Mixtape, the Easter readings in my church’s Lent 2013 Prayerbook (pdf), as well as other Lent posts on this site.

All new, free Lent vol.2 Mixtape is ready for download!


lent-mixtape-2-coverToday, I’m really proud to make available the all new Lent Mixtape for this year. It’s a completely new batch of songs, none of which have been on any of my past mixtapes. I’ve been working on this one for a while and, as I say on the Mixtape page, it’s already serving me pretty well as a soundtrack for this year’s Lent. I hope it’s able to be the same for you. Just like the past Mixtapes, it’s free to stream, download, and share.

To also serve you in this time, be sure to check out last year’s Lent, Volume 1 Mixtape, my church’s Lent 2013 Prayerbook (pdf), as well as other Lent posts on this site.

Download last year’s Lent Mixtape (new one on Monday!)


oldrich-kulhanek-lent-mixtapeIt’s Lent, which means it’s time for a new Church Season Mixtape. I have a completely new track list I’m working on for this year’s Lent, but it’s not quite done yet. So, for the weekend, I wanted to make available last year’s mixtape. I don’t know if I’ll keep it up after this weekend so get it now! It really is one of my favorite mixtapes I’ve done, and I think it turned out very well. So go to the listen/download page and enjoy. And share it with your friends!

Also, be sure to check out the dedicated tab above for all posts on Lent. I pray these resources help you have a fruitful time in his season.