Updates: The Gospel Coalition, Front Porch with the Fitzes, and New Songs

A few updates for the month. I’ve had the joy of being a guest writer at The Gospel Coalition, a guest on the Front Porch with the Fitzes podcast, and posting a few of my favorite song collaborations with David Ward. More information below. Continue reading “Updates: The Gospel Coalition, Front Porch with the Fitzes, and New Songs”

The O Antiphons — An Ancient Advent Devotion

I love Advent songs and Christmas carols. I love the tradition, the nostalgia, the familiarity. Most of all, I love the way a good carol points us to who Jesus Christ came to be and who he is for us today. (I wrote this original Christmas carol for that purpose.)

One of my favorites is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” This carol has its origins in a set of seven Latin antiphons known as “The O Antiphons” or “The Great Antiphons.” The verses may have originated as early as the 6th century. They were used in the Benedictine Abbey, being recited by leaders in descending order before presenting gifts to members of the community. The O Antiphons were shaped into Latin verse in the 12th century. Continue reading “The O Antiphons — An Ancient Advent Devotion”

Merle D. Hay: One of the First Americans Killed in World War One

To most Iowans, the name “Merle Hay” is associated only with a mall in Des Moines and the road that passes in front of it, both of which bear his name.

Growing up in Glidden, Iowa, I knew of Merle Hay as our hometown war hero—the first Iowan and one of the first three Americans to die in World War One. Friday, November 3, 2017, marks the one-hundredth anniversary of his death. To honor him and his sacrifice, I’m sharing a new song, “The Ballad of Merle D. Hay.”

Merle David Hay was born July 20, 1896, on a farm near Carrollton in Carroll County, Iowa, the son of Harvey and Carrie Hay and the older brother of Basil and Opal. In 1909, the Hay family moved to a farm east of Glidden and continued to live on various farms around the Glidden community. Continue reading “Merle D. Hay: One of the First Americans Killed in World War One”

Worshiping God After a Hurricane

The Fury of the WindIn early September of 2005, I traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi to work with a disaster relief crew following Hurricane Katrina. We spent ten days preparing and delivering meals to survivors, those whose lives and possessions had been ravaged by the wind and water.

As an Iowa native, I’ve seen what weather can do. We’re no strangers to tornadic destruction. But the aftermath of Katrina was unlike anything I’d ever seen in person.

v1a - FuryAs we worked that week and then returned home, the words of Job stuck in my head (Job 26:14): “Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” Continue reading “Worshiping God After a Hurricane”

My First Country Song

Several years ago, to my surprise, I found myself listening to a significant amount of country music in my (radio-only) car. I appreciated the way country songs told stories, usually sad ones, which often smuggled important ideas into the heads of unsuspecting listeners. (For what it’s worth, I also like the songs about nothing and dogs and pickups and girls…)

One day I had the thought, “I bet I could do that.” (Humble, I know.) So I sat down over my lunch hour and whipped out a story-poem about a boy and his big brother — “I Have a Champion.” I emailed it to my friend Jeff Bourque, trusting his Nashville-sense could tell me if it was any good. He wrote back, “Made me cry. ‘Nuff said,” and went to work on a tune. Though it is one of my favorite collaborations with Jeff, we haven’t done anything with it in the years since.

I Have a Champion (book)Last June, my wife and children surprised me with a Father’s Day gift, one they had evidently worked on for some time—a storybook containing the song lyrics with illustrations by my kids. (Probably my favorite Father’s Day gift ever.)

Continue reading “My First Country Song”