Celebrating Ordinary Time with Not-So-Ordinary Summer Worship

Celebrating Ordinary Time with Not-So-Ordinary Summer Worship

Summer can often feel like an ordinary, even dull, part of the church year. Choirs are usually on break, and there may be a dip in church attendance.

In fact, the time between Pentecost and Advent, as well as the time between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, is known as “Ordinary Time” in some Christian denominations to distinguish the “ordinary” parts of the year from seasons of celebration (like Christmas) and penitence (like Lent).

But Ordinary Time doesn’t have to mean ordinary worship. Fortunately, there are many creative, musical ways to make the “everyday” season of the year special and meaningful in its own way.

What I'm Working On This Summer

What I'm Working On This Summer

I’ve been a little quiet over here lately, but it’s not for lack of things to say or write about! 

The end of the school/church year is always busy (am I right?!), and this year was no exception (read more about what I've been up to lately below).

I’ve also been hard at work on a few big projects and am right in the middle of planning ahead for some exciting things for the fall.

Today, instead of keeping you all in suspense, I thought I’d give you a behind-the-scenes look at exactly what I’m working on this summer.


Summer 2017 Bucket List

Summer 2017 Bucket List

Happy summer!

It’s the last week of school here, and the week leading up to Children’s/Youth Sunday and I have my sights set on summer - slow evenings on the patio, trips to the lake, and a good book (or two).

Our summers are relatively short here, so we try to take advantage of every opportunity we can to be outside, enjoying the longer days, (somewhat) slower pace, and beautiful weather while it lasts.

So, I made a list, obviously.

12 Easy Anthems for Your Summer Choir

12 Easy Anthems for Your Summer Choir

Summer is almost here! Time for watermelon and slow evenings on the patio, travel adventures and long, early morning walks, a slower pace and simpler Sunday morning services (we hope!).

For many of us, summer means a break from choir rehearsals; but that doesn’t mean they can’t sing during the summer months!

Spend your last rehearsal of the year prepping a few easy anthems to do throughout the summer, then meet for 30 minutes before each service to review parts and get warmed up. Do a pick-up choir once or twice a month, or put together an ensemble one week.

This is a great way to keep people connected during the summer months and a wonderful way for new people from your congregation to see what choir is like without making a year-long commitment.

Related post: The Case for the Summer Choir

I usually try to stick with anthems that are easy and accessible - not too challenging melodically or rhythmically and without a lot of divisi. You may even look at unison/2-part or SAB anthems. If you have a few capable singers that are available to sing one Sunday, pull an SSA or TTB piece and put together a ladies’ or mens’ trio. The possibilities are endless!

Looking for a few suggestions? Here are 12 of my favorite anthems for summer (in no particular order):

15 Summer Conferences for Church Musicians

15 Summer Conferences for Church Musicians

This morning, it's 18 degrees here in Rochester, NY, and it's been snowing for 36 hours straight (oh hey, Winter Storm Stella), but summer is coming! And with summer, come lots of opportunities for learning, growing, and networking with other church musicians.

Summer conferences are a great way to stay connected with others in the field; learn new things about playing, singing, directing, and teaching; find inspiration for creating meaningful and engaging worship services; and hear about all the latest releases - choral music, handbell music, children's choir resources, instrumental collections, etc.

If you've been following along for a while, I'm sure you've heard me talk about Music and Worship Arts Week at Lake Junaluska (NC). I've been attending this conference on and off since I was in high school and it never disappoints. I always walk away feeling refreshed, inspired, and ready to get back to work. (P.S. I just completed my registration for this year's conference - will you be there?)

Whether you're a church musician, director, accompanist, choir member, student, worship leader, pastor, or liturgist, there is a summer conference out there for you.

Here are a few to consider (sorted by date):

The Case for the Summer Choir

The Case for the Summer Choir

The summer choir. It's a hot topic among church choir directors everywhere. To sing or not to sing? To have "special music" all summer or no anthem at all?

Some directors feel strongly about giving their choir time off so they'll come back refreshed and renewed and ready to get to work in the fall. Others are worried people won't come back after an extended break.

Some directors feel that the choir sets an example for the rest of the church and by not participating (and likely attending), others in the church may follow suit. Others enjoy the slower pace of summer services and a short break from the weekly choir routine.

This is a not a right-or-wrong, good-or-bad kind of decision. In fact, I'll admit that the summer choir may not work and may not be what's best for certain churches. But for those of you who are on the fence about it and those who are considering adding a summer choir this year, here are a few of the benefits I've seen:

How to Set Good Goals

How to Set Good Goals

Summer days (in my opinion) are for good books, long walks, freshly-picked berries, and tall glasses of sweet tea on the porch, so I'll keep this post short so you can get back to what matters. :-)

We've come a long way since the first of the year, so I like to think of July as a checkpoint for my personal and business goals and a time to set new goals for my teaching in the Fall. 

Whether you're planning for your private studio or the start of a new choir year, prepare for success by setting accessible, achievable, and action-oriented goals.

Here is my process:

    Welcoming a New Season

    Ecclesiastes 3 has been on my heart and mind lately. "To everything there is a season; a time for every purpose under heaven..." Maybe it's the hint of fall in the air (after all, the Pumpkin Spice Latte did come out this week) or the promise of structure that the school year provides. Whatever the reason, I've been thinking back on the "seasons" I've had so far this year:

    In February, I entered into a season of grieving after losing my Grammy very suddenly. Everything changed, and yet, I stocked up on colorful Clare cardigans at J.Crew Factory because I craved more change - I didn't know how to keep living with the way things were.

    Then, in May, I wrote this post about the season of waiting. I still craved change - We almost bought a house, y'all. And got a new job. But, those things I thought we were waiting for (in reality, hoping for) did not happen. In the restless moments of this busy summer, waiting for tangible, visible change, I thought about contentment. This moment, our lives as they are right now - am I content?

    Summer Travels: Asheville, NC


    Last month, SD and I spent 24 hours in Asheville, NC before heading to Lake Junaluska for Music Week. Neither of us had ever been to Asheville for any length of time and were grateful to have an extra day during our trip to explore the city a bit. Here is a little recap: When we got off the plane in Charlotte, it was hot and the air was thick with that familiar Southern humidity. We were a little weary after our early-morning flight, but eager to begin the "road trip" part of our journey from Charlotte to Asheville. Unfortunately, we had a slight fiasco with our first rental car (a worrisome wheel noise as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot), but the second car was fine. Before we knew it, we were on our way up and over the mountains!

    We arrived at our destination - the Rankin House Inn - just a few blocks from center-city. The house sits up on a hill, shrouded by lush green trees. We climbed the stone steps up to the wide, welcoming front porch with painted turquoise floor, potted ferns, and of course, a white wooden swing at one end.

    Ashley Danyew | Asheville, NC

    The innkeeper, dressed casually in a white T-shirt and khakis, greeted us warmly with that characteristic North Carolina drawl and made us feel right at home. We sat on the porch swing for a while, rocking our cares away and getting lost in the late afternoon breeze as it swept across the front porch. Heaven!

    Ashley Danyew | Asheville, NC

    We ventured out on foot a little while later to explore downtown and peruse menus of the local eateries. The city was alive with buskers, street entertainers, and folks out enjoying the evening. Fun!

    Ashley Danyew | Asheville, NC

    When we finally decided that yes, we really did want Southern cuisine, we stepped off the street into the Early Girl Eatery, a small but quaint restaurant with the kitchen in the front and dining room in the back. We couldn't resist the Skillet Fried Chicken and Gravy with sides of Collard Greens and Macaroni and Cheese and the Pimiento Grilled Cheese sounded almost too good to be true. Everything was delicious - a perfect first meal. Oh, and if they ask you if you want jam with your biscuit, the answer is yes. Locally made and the best we've ever tasted! We were a little too full for dessert, but we took a slice of Buttermilk Cake to go (because, Buttermilk Cake).

    Early Girl Eatery

    In the morning, over a breakfast of muffins and fruit salad, we asked the innkeeper more about the story behind the old Rankin house. He was happy to share its history and his part in preserving its legacy.

    Ashley Danyew | Asheville, NC

    He showed us around the rest of the house, pointing out trim here and floors there. He even pulled out a few old photographs from an old yellowed envelope from when he first bought the place 20 years ago. What a transformation!

    Ashley Danyew | Asheville, NC

    We walked downtown around 11:30 a.m. to stroll a bit more and grab a bite to eat before leaving town. We settled on crepes from Twisted Crepe and were not disappointed! Already looking forward to our next visit to this vibrant city!

    Have you visited Asheville? What are some of your favorite things to see or do?

    Photo Credit: Images of Early Girl Eatery by Meredith Perdue of Map and Menu

    July Goals


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    Happy July!

    One of my favorite things about this month is the opportunity to display our patriotism and celebrate the gift of freedom.

    In years past, this has meant lining up along Main Street, waving a flag and cheering the parade along its hilly route; sprawling out on a quilt under the stars, savoring a dish of ice cream, and admiring the fireworks display with appropriate "oohs" and "ahs"; and listening to John Philip Sousa marches on repeat.

    This year, I think we'll cook some of our favorite all-American (i.e. Southern) food and watch the fireworks from the roof as we munch on chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.

    Here are my goals for the month:

    Walk every day and do 30 minutes of bike exercise each week
    Go berry-picking (or cherry-picking)!
    Review a few sight-reading series to recommend to students this summer/in the fall*
    Clean up files from the school year – save/organize on hard drive*
    Organize Lake J trip receipts, update records, and file
    Start reading The $100 Startup
    Schedule brunch on the roof with friends
    Spend some time reassessing my annual goals and adjusting as needed
    Complete final component of PhD qualifying exam

    *carryover from last month

    Have a happy 4th of July, y'all!