Easter Sunday was the first Sunday I returned to playing services in-person. It had been more than a year. The Easter videos for last year were among the very first in our effort to continue to provide spiritual community only via the internet. I’ve learned a lot during this year, especially about making videos, but also about music itself. At 76 you wouldn’t think I’d still be learning about music, but I am, mainly about how much better the music gets the simpler you make things!

This past Sunday was my third week of playing an in-person service. During these past two weeks, I’ve taken a “vacation” from making videos, except for an Earth Day compilation that will post this coming Thursday, Earth Day.

So, I’m resuming making a couple mid-week videos today with this beautiful tune from The Southern Harmony, and Musical Companion: Charlestown.

When I do these, I take the melodies directly from the Southern Harmony itself, deleting any of the harmony and counterpoint of the original, keeping only the melody. If it’s also published in various hymnals, I completely ignore those settings, so I’m interacting only with the original tune, devoid of even its own original harmony.

I didn’t know this tune, but I discovered and making the video, it does appear in some hymnals. I’m glad. It’s a beautiful melody.

Thorny Desert

If you’ve ever spent time in the desert, you’ll know that despite the thorns there are times–especially in the moonlight when you stand there alone, very still, listening–the dew sparkles and glistens and there’s a refreshing, peaceful, soul warming breeze.


The title of the tune, Pisgah,” from the tune from Southern Harmony, derives from the Hebrew word for summit and was the biblical mountain from which Moses first saw the promised land. It’s also the name for a mountain in North Carolina! For the complete story of how this part of American came to have a name from the ancient book of Deuteronomy see

Maundy Thursday Music

Rev. Wells will chose music from this steaming playlist for tonight’s Maundy Thursday service on Zoom:

The Lone Pilgrim

This repository of tunes from almost 200 years ago is so rich, so contemporary in its emotion, exploring each tune is an experience outside time itself. I’d never heard of this particular tune, The Lone Pilgrim. If it’s not in some hymnal, it’s a shame. Love this song. Love it…


Here’s another tune from the Southern Harmony, and Musical Companion hymnal compiled by William Walker in 1835. This is a hearty, up-tempo tune alternating between minor and major. It’s a lot of fun to play.

Southern Harmony, and Musical Companion

The hyman book called Southern Harmony, and Music Companion was compiled by William Walker in 1835. It uses a form of musical notation called shaped note, which my father, born and raised in rural southern Mississippi, learned as a child. I think these songs are some of the best hymn tunes ever written, on a parallel with the great hymn tunes of Europe and the UK. Much simpler, for sure, but incredibly indelible. They demand to be sung. They roll around the mind for hours.

I’m working on a digital album of 15 to 20 of these songs. Here’s the first 6 I’ve done so far:

Old 100th

This week’s Lenten focus is on the German composer and saintly figure, Hildegard of Bingen, so all the music this week is German. A contemporary of the famous J.S. Bach and his cousin, is Johann Gottfried Walther, best known for his many chorale preludes on hymn tunes, of which this is a great example, the tune appearing in the manuals and in the pedals (as you can see performed by Peter Lorre’s “The Hand” video insert).

Just Music

If you want to just listen to some background music, I continue to accumulated tracks that I’d done for my church job at Easter Sunday I’m going to do my first in-person since more than a year ago. There’ll be good ventilation, I’ll be double masked plus a face shield and very distanced physically. Not sure if they will continue with in person services, however. They are only accommodating distancing by having two services and achieving adequate fresh air by opening an entire wall of sliding doors. It will soon be too hot to do that, keeping up two services isn’t sustainable, and it’s still way too soon to give up on distancing since such a small percentage of the population is vaccinated. So, they may go back to cyber until it’s either safe to have in-person services continuously or it’s cool enough outside to make the sanctuary open-air. That’s not up to me. I know I’m not willing to eat indoor restaurants yet…don’t know how I feel about playing indoor services. It’s causing me a lot of anxiety but I’m trying to stay calm. LOL

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