In the Bleak Midwinter

The Christmas poem, In the Bleak Mid-Winter, was written by Christina Rosetti in the 1870s for Scribner’s Monthly magazine. The haunting verse was set to music by Gustav Holst in 1906 and remains one of the most beautiful and truest expressions of the miracle of Christ’s birth.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk,
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air -
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him -
Give my heart.

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Lauren Daigle Garners "Top Christian Album" Award

Lauren Daigle, Centricity Music artist, took home “Top Christian Album” How Can It Be at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards held at T-Mobile Arena on May 22, 2016 in Las Vegas. Facing competition from fellow artists TobyMac (This Is Not A Test), Joey + Rory (Hymns That Are Important To Us), Chris Tomlin (Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship), and Hillsong United (Empires), Daigle was also nominated for “Top Christian Artist” along with Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Chris Tomlin, and the winners, Hillsong United.

“Music is changing my life more and more each day,” says Daigle. “I'm recognizing the value in being able to communicate through a language that every human on the planet can experience in some form. It's such an honor to see the response of those who have listened and connected with the sounds. Seeing this transfer of communication is priceless. Thank you, Billboard, for allowing the opportunity!”

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Starting a Dialogue with Hip-Hop

Daniel White Hodge, a blogger with ConversantLife for the past four years, is a producer with a Ph.D. In his twenties he had production credits on Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's first album, E 1999 Eternal, as well as helping to score the first two seasons of New York Undercover. With a Ph.D. from Fuller Graduate School of Intercultural Studies, he is now the director of the Center for Youth Ministry Studies and assistant professor of youth ministry at North Park University in Chicago. This interview first appeared in Christianitytoday.com.

How has your relationship with hip hop changed over your life?

I was a listener as a kid, back in the late 1970s when I first heard The Sugarhill Gang and Run DMC and started wondering how they put those words together. Until high school, I was more of a consumer. In high school I became a participant. In my early twenties, I was involved as a producer. Now I am looking at how God is involved in almost every facet of hip-hop culture, which has become more of a lifestyle, not just something in [a musical] corner.

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Brilliant Music - Patrick Watson and The Cinematic Orchestra

As a music geek, I can't help but be excited about last month and the month to come.  Allow me to share a couple profiles of who I consider to be the names of those responsible for creating music that can only be described as gorgeous.

As a lover of the genre affectionately known as "prog-rock", I have always loved thoughtful instrumental music.  First it was groups like Tristeza, Tortoise, and Unwed Sailor.  Then it was The Mercury Program.  But if you want the height of beautiful, introspective, emotional music, then look no further than The Cinematic Orchestra.  Each album is a brilliant progression over the last, but (with only the exception of their first album) their entire library of music is without peer.

Live drums, some sampling, string and horn sections, guest vocalists, pianos, synthesizers, light guitar work and other elements get shaken up in a bottle with jazz and fusion touches that combine into a mix all its own.  The songs can literally leave you breathless, while others will just grab you where you stand and freeze you in your tracks.  What makes it work is the orchestration is varied, simple, yet complex and delicate in the way it combines so much yet remains so intentional and sparing.  Never does it feel like too many instruments are playing too much.  The song literally is king with this group, and they know how to push just the right notes to create a maximum sense of aural euphoria.

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Best Albums of 2011

It’s December, which means one thing for a guy like me: list making. I’m starting my “best of the year” series on my blog with my picks for best albums of the year. Here they are: my top ten list and honorable mentions for the best music of 2011. (You can listen to all 15 hours of this music on Spotify here).

10) Panda Bear, Tomboy: In his sophomore solo effort, Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) simplifies (if that’s the right word) from the sprawling ambitions of Person Pitch and yet creates an album that is equally layered and beautiful and I daresay more cohesive than his groundbreaking debut. Listen now: “Slow Motion,” “Friendship Bracelet.”

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Tags | Music

Beautiful Christmas Gifts

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  At Crave Something More, and here at Conversant Life, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 6:  Beautiful Christmas Gifts

We know this:  Christmas is about giving.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Jesus was the greatest of gifts.  But God still gives gifts today.

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Stuffed Animal Baby - Ruckus in the Barn

I play in a band called "Brandon Floerke's Stuffed Animal Baby". We recently released an album online, and this is the title track off of the album. To download the whole album for free, please visit http://stuffedanimalbaby.bandcamp.com/album/ruckus-in-the-barn .


Tags | Music

The Psychology of Worship

After having spent many years of my life leading worship (high schools, colleges, vocationally, etc), a problem that was always personally vexing were the 2 camps warring with one another – classic vs. modern.  Anything the worship leader did was immediately met with criticism.  Then in the late 90’s, there was a blending of the two that begun to erupt, and it was good.  It would be modern worship leaders playing hymns with their modern musical arrangements, which was usually “Be Thou My Vision” or "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" by way of Coldplay B side.  It seemed to satisfy theology heads –they got to sing words that were penned in a poetic, longer-than-30-second made up journal entry that repeated constantly, but it gave the modernist digital delay guitar effects ever present in their songs.

Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

What a weekend. Highs, lows, drama, love, death, destruction, trending topics, presidents, princes, terrorists, tornadoes, Twitter. Let’s take a moment to breathe… Another weekend in the world.

On Friday morning, as the U.S. South reeled from the second deadliest tornado outbreak in American history, the world turned its eyes to Westminster Abbey to enjoy a moment of old school romanticism. A prince marrying a princess. All the hype may have frustrated some, but the event seemed to me to be a rare occasion of hope and idealism in a world so mired in cynicism and malaise. It was a beautiful, happy day. In a world of so much tragedy, there’s clearly a hunger–an almost eschatological instinct– for images of regal, grandiose love and peace. The Royal Wedding offered a vision of this for millions around the world.

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Lady Gaga's Alien Logic

Watching Lady Gaga’s Grammy performance of her new single, “Born This Way,” was sort of like watching Species while pondering the end of western civilization.

Nothing about Gaga makes much sense. Her meticulously crafted, over-the-top essence is founded on a fetishizing of head-scratching chaos, postmodern meaninglessness  & “just dance” hedonism. Whether she’s sporting a dead-Kermit dress, bloody pieces of cow, or mutated shoulder blade prostheses straight from Syfy’s Face Off, Gaga prides herself on being an outrageous parody of shock-art subversiveness.  In everything she does, Gaga makes a headline-grabbing “statement,” the substance of which is usually just a declaration of the primacy of “anything goes” surrealist circus fun.

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