Thoughts on worship, congregational song
and the life of the church.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Transforming Every Guest - Welcome.

About the Author

"Come, know my joy," the Maker says, and pours out works of power
that sear the sense, defy the mind and fill the soul with awe,
and we with open mouth receive God's gifts with infant need,
and, sight unfocussed, scarce perceive Love's presence as we feed.

My passion for music and church leadership can be traced back to a recurring role as a ukelele-playing shepherd in the Christmas play at Beaches Presbyterian Church in Toronto, Canada. Since that breakthrough role, I have continually expanded my involvement in and knowledge of church leadership through choral singing, worship planning, participation in international conferences, and playing backup egg-shakers whenever I'm given the chance.

The feast we join is long begun; God bids us welcome here
to name and use the sovereign gifts within our human care.
With God's own joy some seem to soar, a fierce and holy flame;
some gifts are thorns we scarce endure to touch, or face, or name.

Though my ukelele career never blossomed, I've managed to fill my time since then. I am a graduate of the Theatre and Music programmes at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. I am also a graduate of the Master of Sacred Music programme at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, where I majored in choral conducting.

My deepest musical loves range from montréalais singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright, to Finnish a cappella vocal ensemble Rajaton, to jazz great Dave Brubeck, to Bach, who rocks my socks.

About this Blog

"Come, seek my face," the Giver says, "with heart and soul and strength;
let fear give way to love; come, step upon the waves of faith."
Dear Giver, Gift, we seek your face: you share our thorn, our scar.
We learn your joy when by your grace we share the gift we are.

As amusing as it is to picture me in the church play, ukelele in hand (I could show you the photo; bathrobe and red Keds), I now realize that experience was a deeply important part of my childhood expression as a Christian, and my participation in the life of the church. There was room for my quirky gifts in the Christmas play, and in this way, there was room for me at the Table. I grew up with a sense that I was a vital contributor to our church community, and so as both my abilities and my understanding of my gifts grew, I was eager to give them back to the congregation that helped to raise me.

This blog is a forum for me to develop and share ideas about the renewal of worship, especially as it pertains to the role of music in the life of the church. I am also interested in the participation of children and youth in worship – not in their capacity as the future of the church, but in their right to be vital members of its present. As a Toronto-born Presbyterian with musical interests that range from the liturgical use of Zimbabwean marimbas to the incorporation of improvisation, drama and storytelling in worship, I hope that I have some insight to share from my experience of and deep love for Christ's church. I also hope that my position of writing from the true north, strong and free will add a Canadian voice to the forum on vital worship, with a healthy side of self-deprecating humour.

I invite you to read this blog, consider my ideas, and respond with your own.

"Come, learn of me," the Servant says and multiplies a feast
of loaves and fish, of bread and wine, transforming every guest.
"Come," says the Host, "from west and east bring gifts to share – come, eat! –
none lost or wasted when God's feast of joy will be complete.

Hymn text: Andrew Donaldson (1951- ), used with permission.


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  2. What a great launch of the blog! I know it will be a blessing.

    John Thornburg

  3. Well said, Hilary. We have been blessed with many gifts, too many of which stay hidden away, rather than being shared. Thanks to those risk takers with vision who unearth these gifts and help facilitate the community of worhsip.

  4. I enjoy your writing Hilary.You have indeed had a fortunate upbringing in church life, as your text highlights.What a great time and place for you to be!!
    Lynn W.