re-Hymn: In the Garden (of Gethsemane)

So often the music and key of a song can greatly impact the words and meaning. After all, “the medium IS the message” and the WAY we communicate deeply influences WHAT we are trying to communicate.*

In thinking about preaching this year on Good Friday, the idea came to me to create a minor-keyed arrangement of the classic hymn “In the Garden (I come the Garden Alone).” This much beloved (and yet also critiqued as being over sentimental or potentially romantic**) hymn from C. Austin Miles was composed in 1912 and made it into our United Methodist Hymnals soon thereafter.

This re-arranging of this hymn text is heavily influenced by re-imagining the text as written about the Garden of Gethsemane (in Matthew 26:36-46) instead of the resurrection garden encounter (in John 20:11-18) and is also influenced by Black Liberation theologian James Cone‘s God of the Oppressed. Placing this hymn tune’s normal major progression in G C D into and Em Am Bm minor progression and adapting the melody leave it with a haunting, appropriate sense of what it means to sing about being with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that fateful night just before his arrest and subsequent crucifixion.

In the Garden (of Gethsemane) from joseph mcbrayer on Vimeo.

I’ll be singing and preaching more about this hymn at the Emory Office of Spiritual and Religious Life Good Friday service April 14th, 12noon at Cannon Chapel, Emory University.

___
Footnotes:

*Media theorist and author Professor Marshall McLuhan, The Medium Is the Massage (New York: Bantam Books), 1967, 10.

**Choir master and hymnal editor Carlton R. Young, Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville: Abingdon Press), 1993, 432-433.

O Young and Fearless Prophet

O Young and Fearless Prophet (Passion Chorale) from joseph mcbrayer on Vimeo.

Pastors, musicians, students, and friends, as we enter the season of Lent (a time of repentance and remembering our humanity)  I offer this timely hymn: “O Young and Fearless Prophet” (written in 1931) set to the Passion Chorale (1601 — O Sacred Head Now Wounded) for our Lenten Journey:

“O Young and Fearless Prophet” (text by S. Ralph Harlow, 1931) set to the tune of Passion Chorale (Hans L. Hassler, 1601, arr. Joseph McBrayer — .pdf below)

“O young and fearless Prophet of ancient Galilee,
thy life is still a summons to serve humanity;
to make our thoughts and actions less prone to please the crowd,
to stand with humble courage for truth with hearts uncowed.

We marvel at the purpose that held thee to thy course
while ever on the hilltop before thee loomed the cross;
thy steadfast face set forward where love and duty shone,
while we betray so quickly and leave thee there alone.

O help us stand unswerving against war’s bloody way,
where hate and lust and falsehood hold back Christ’s holy sway;
forbid false love of country that blinds us to his call,
who lifts above the nations the unity of all.

Stir up in us a protest against our greed for wealth,
while others starve and hunger and plead for work and health;
where homes with little children cry out for lack of bread,
who live their years sore burdened beneath a gloomy dread.

O young and fearless Prophet, we need thy presence here,
amid our pride and glory to see thy face appear;
once more to hear thy challenge above our noisy day,
again to lead us forward along God’s holy way.”


S. Ralph Harlow (1885-1972), a congregationalist and practitioner of the Social Gospel, wrote this hymn on the back of a menu in 1931 during the Great Depression*–the United Methodist hymnal committee didn’t include stanza 5 in either the 1935 or 1966 Hymnal edition as the editor told Harlow: “the church is not ready to sing that.” Harlow told him it wasn’t “as radical as the Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55, which is sung in the Methodist service” and stanza 5 eventually made it into our 1989 hymnal.*

The epiphanal moment leading me to set this text to PASSION CHORALE came in during Lent of 2014 when the hymn text was an ideal fit for a worship series on Race and the Church, but the hymn tune in 13.13 13.13  was unfamiliar. I realized that any tune in 7.6 7.6 D could work and PASSION CHORALE fit the text and the occasion quite well serving as a prelude of the coming terminus of Lent in Good Friday when we most often sing “O Sacred Head Now Wounded.”

Another stanza that didn’t make it is below — may we live into this stanza and the call heard in this hymn from our “Young and Fearless Prophet.”

“Create in us the splendor that dawns when hearts are kind.
That knows not race or color as boundaries of the mind;
That learns to value beauty, in heart, or brain, or soul,
And longs to bind God’s children into one perfect whole.”

*source: Carlton R. Young, Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal, Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1993, pages 537-538.

here is a chord sheet of my arrangement: o-young-and-fearless-prophet-passion-chorale

Doctoral Work: Boundary Leaders

filming setup at Lyn Pace's office

For my Doctor of Ministry Final Project I am filming a series of interviews with a remarkable set of leaders in and around Emory University: Rev. Lyn Pace (Oxford College Chaplain), Carlton Mackey (Emory Center for Ethics and Artist), Dr. Elizabeth Corrie (Candler School of Theology), Danielle M. Bruce Steele (Emory Office of LGBTQ and the Center for Women), Rashika Verma (Emory undergraduate student), Ruth Ubaldo (Candler Theology Student), Kevin McIntosh (Emory Housing and Residence Life) and Dr. Bobbi Patterson (Emory Graduate Dept of Religion and Professor of Pedagogy).

This project is born out of my research on Emory undergraduates and from our course work around Asset Based Community Development and Alternative Leadership models–like “Boundary Leadership.” Boundary Leadership is necessary in order to build vibrant, thriving communities of inclusion, wholeness, and mutual prosperity, which, for Christians, is exemplary of the in-breaking Kin-dom of God made manifest through our loving actions.

My structural and social analysis research into the difficult and challenging issues in the Emory University community have further impressed upon me the importance of remarkable and adaptive people in leadership positions both in institutional and community settings. Author and researcher Gary Gunderson calls this “Boundary Leadership,” which “is the practice of leadership in the boundary zone, the space in between settled zones of authority, where relationships are more fluid, dynamic, and itinerant.*”

In order to learn more about how Boundary Leaders function in different spaces and areas of community life, practice self-care, act with intentionality, and help create other Boundary Leaders, I have conducted video interviews with both known and emerging boundary leaders in the Emory University community. This information and research will be compiled into a three to six week video small group curriculum for collegiate ministry.

The goals of this curriculum will be for students to gain a deep and practical understanding of boundary leadership, to understand what boundary leadership does for community formation, and how students/leaders can become/create other boundary leaders.

Below is the first edit of my interview with Chaplain Rev. Lyn Pace of Oxford College of Emory University, which serves as an introduction to Boundary Leadership.

*Gunderson, Gary; Cochrane, Jim (2012-02-15). Religion and the Health of the Public (pp. 119-120). Palgrave Macmillan Monographs. Kindle Edition.

filming setup at Lyn Pace's office

NEXT16

I had an amazing time this past weekend at NEXT16 with the 700+ college students at Imagine What’s Next  at The Tabernacle in downtown ATL! It was a great opportunity to be creative with images and video and to help make a meaningful and transformative experience for everyone there! This wrap up video is a small taste of the event and the hopeful, creative, and inspirational time we all had together.

Pray and Act — Homily on the Persistent Widow

pray and act sermon title image

“Pray and Act” Homily by Rev. Joseph McBrayer at Emory University Worship at Cannon Chapel on Sunday October 16, 2016 with Emory Office of Spiritual and Religious Life. // My humble thanks to the many women who contributed to the content and direction of this sermon with your responses and online engagement.

Here is the audio of my sermon: “Pray and Act” on the Persistent Widow in Luke 18:1-8 from Emory Office of Spiritual and Religious Life‘s University Worship service today. (as a note, some of the stories I share contain references to sexual assault, harassment, and other incidents which some may find triggering or difficult to hear).

 

 

 

Prayerful Wandering/Wondering

reflection of chapel in water

paying attention reflection of chapelPrayerful Wandering/Wondering

Each week on my walking to and from meetings on campus I try to implement (what I call) an intentional practice of “prayerful wandering/wondering”–on the way back to my office from one place on campus or another, I intentionally look up and pay attention and walk in the direction I feel God’s Spirit leading me. Often, I find myself surprised to see people I haven’t seen in a while, notice people’s emotions and have a sense of their feelings (even if I do not speak with them I might say a quiet prayer for them), and find a way to build in a more Spirit-led practice of awareness into my life. JRR Tolkien reminds us that “not all who wander are lost” and this Holy Wandering and Holy Wondering can be life-giving, empathy-increasing actions that allow us to see the gifts and potentials of our people and communities.

This practice helps me in my work as a campus minister (and in my doctor of ministry research/project) as it helps me to better understand people and their experiences in life as well as giving me a deeper appreciation of the community and spaces around me. Also, I frequently end up wandering a whole lot further than if I would have just walked straight back to my office!
I hope to continue this practice implementing and other practices which help us to see, understand, and respond with God’s loving action.

Freshly Wesley promo

We had a great time making this single-take, steady-cam styled Freshly Wesley promo! AND I even recorded a quick instrumental version of “Come Thou Fount” to go with it! // Freshly Wesley meets Wednesdays for Free Dinner at 6pm and 7pm for Freshly and is a Freshman hangout to meet new people, talk about Jesus, and enjoy fellowship with other students. Emory Wesley
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