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”

Remembering Johnny Cash

September 12 marks the anniversary of Johnny Cash’s death. There are few people who I haven’t met who have impacted me as much as The Man in Black.

To honor his life and legacy I’m publishing this new song—CASH.

I wrote the lyrics a few years ago as my attempt to tell Johnny’s story, based on something Cash said: “Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one. Cash causes all the trouble. They fight.” Continue reading “Remembering Johnny Cash”

The Waves, the Caves, and the King of Grace

A New Song — Wave Upon Wave

Listen to this week’s new song—Wave Upon Wave.

The Story Behind the Song

Jenny and I leaned against the gazebo railing watching the moonlit waves roll in on the Jamaican beach. We were celebrating fifteen years of marriage. Our conversations covered the joys and sorrows, blessings and difficulties we’d encountered, been surprised by, and moved through in that decade and a half. We talked about our hopes for the future, the ways in which we hoped to grow and change.

Just out from the gazebo stood a solitary pillar of stone, around which the waves broke. I wondered about how long it had stood there. Had it always been alone? Or had it once been part of a shelf of rock, now eroded and gone?

I knew that over a thousand years of waves crashing against it, the pillar had been—and was still being—shaped and changed. Nevertheless, to the human eye—especially to the eye of a one-week visitor—the pillar seemed the same each day. Continue reading “The Waves, the Caves, and the King of Grace”

Author Spotlight: The Rabbit Room

The Rabbit Room’s community of authors and musicians has blessed and inspired our family through their creative endeavors. I’m excited to giveaway some of their books this month (see below for details).

Andrew Peterson’s music is a family favorite, to the point that our middle child once tried to get out of garbage duty by announcing, “I’m not a garbage man; I’m Andrew Peterson.” (Does Andrew take out the garbage? Inquiring parents want to know…) And here he is (six years ago now) giving it his all, playing through Andrew’s Christmas album, Behold the Lamb of God.

Continue reading “Author Spotlight: The Rabbit Room”