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Written by

Marie Greenway

Marie Greenway is a music teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School in Alexandria, Virginia. She graduated from Hillsdale College with a degree in music and has worked and volunteered as a church musician for several years. When Marie is not studying, listening to, or performing music, she likes to read, run, and eat chocolate ice cream.

Recent Posts by Marie Greenway

Holy Spirit, Breathe on Us

Thou camest to our hall of death,

O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air,

To drink for us the dark despair

That strangled our reluctant breath.

So writes Martin Franzmann in my school’s hymn of the year: “O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth” (LSB 834). With strong and striking text, he could almost be predicting our 2020 world of “poisoned air” and “reluctant breath,” thanks to the awful virus. It may be a novel coronavirus, but there is nothing novel about sickness and death, though it is fresh in our minds these days. Since our first parents partook of the fruit of the forbidden tree, our air has been poisoned, our breath both reluctant and short, and our despair, indeed, dark.

Music, the Church Year, Repeat

“Repetition is the mother of all learning.”

This is a common saying, especially in education. The exhortation to repeat, repeat, repeat hopefully is prevalent in our Lutheran schools. Only through repetition does one learn and retain something. You are only reading this right now because someone drilled you on your ABCs and phonograms. In music, we drill note names and scales and rhythms.

Why Christians Should Make Music with Joy

This past weekend, I discovered a delightful new album that mixed Mozart horn concertos with mambo music featuring the French horn. The promotional video for the album showed a colorfully arrayed orchestra playing a mambo on a Havana street, the musicians dancing to their own music.

Why Christians Need Pop Music

We need good music.

We need Palestrina and Bach and Mozart and Beethoven and Mendelssohn and so many others. We need good Renaissance and Baroque and Classical and Romantic music. We need good cantatas and passions and chorales and chorale preludes. We need our modern church composers, for what would I do Sunday after Sunday without my trusty Hymn Prelude Library? We need beautiful, classical, and sacred music that uplifts the soul and draws us to heaven, or refreshes the spirit, or teaches our children what truth, beauty, and goodness sound like.

But just as much as all of that, we need good modern secular pop music.

What Songs Are Stuck in Your Head?

I was leaning into the fridge and looking for a snack when the blasphemous lyrics popped into my head from out of nowhere.

It was a line from a song by a band my husband and I had recently seen in concert. Their songs are relatively clean, any crude or uncouth language typically warranted by the dark life circumstances they detail, things like broken homes and hurt people. This band sings about these things as a way to cope with a sinful world, not in order to praise them; however, it is not a Christian band.

Cling to Hymns in a Pandemic

This pandemic is certainly horrific, but I have found many positives during this time. One of these positives was a slower and more reflective Holy Week, allowing me to ponder and study Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and to write some lessons on it for my school. In this Passion, as the evangelist—St. Matthew—and the rest of the biblical characters narrate the story, Bach uses chorales to mark the communal response of all believers to the biblical events. These chorales, or hymns, can be seen as our congregational response to Christ’s saving work, much like our hymns act within the church service.

Music during Tragedy

In October 1966, tragedy struck the Welsh town of Aberfan when heavy rainfall mixed with coal waste and caused a mountainside to collapse. The sodden coal waste slid down to the town, burying the primary school and the students inside. A total of 116 children died in the disaster. 

God’s Generous Gift of Music

Food. Water. Shelter. Oxygen. Not much is required for a human being to exist. Appropriate nutrients and an appropriate atmosphere. That is essentially what we need to survive.

Why Church Bells Ring

Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land;
    Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
But above all the souls distressed,
    Longing for rest everlasting.
(LSB 645:1)

Why We Learn to Square Dance

There’s a meme I’ve seen more than once. It goes something like this:

Me: I just want to learn how to do my taxes.
School: Shut up and square dance.

It’s a sentiment I’ve heard many times: “Schools need to teach more practical skills.”

“How about we learn how to write a check and how to budget instead of learning to play recorders?”

“I don’t know how to open a bank account, but I do know how to do-si-do. That’s really helpful in the real world.”

I suspect that those who think this way have nothing against music and dancing in general. Instead, they probably think that students would be better served learning the basics of finance and practical skills instead of “impractical” subjects like music. After all, learning to square dance will not help you in the real world.