I hereby present my RevGalBlogPals with this virtual Ministry Mixed Tape (otherwise known as the Pastoral Playlist), with commentary included.
1. The Lord's Prayer: from Aaron Neville's CD The Grand Tour
One of the cardinal rules of the craft is that the first song has to be really stinkin' good. You can't mess around with #1. It sets the tone for the whole project. I'm taking a risk here with a "slow song," but you can't go wrong with Neville, and you sure can't go wrong with the Lord's Prayer.
2. The Gathering of Spirits: from the CD Betty's Diner: The Best of Carrie Newcomer
Song #2 also has a lot of responsibility. It has to sustain the energy the preceding tune, plus it should have something to say about the relationship at hand. Even though this song has been around a lot longer than RevGalBlogPals, it's like she's writing about us! We are a "gathering of spirits, a festival of friends"! And we are certainly "standing in the center of something rare and fine." I first heard this song performed live by Carrie Newcomer at a conference for United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ women. It's gorgeous and revelatory, and that's even before Allison Krauss shows up to sing backup.
3. Beautiful Change: The Innocence Mission from the CD Befriended
This is the song from which the title of my blog was borrowed. It's about hoping for that much-needed quiet transformation, especially on the days it seems most far off. "Oh, I am going to find some peace of mind. At any time I could change, any day, a beautiful change." The Innocence Mission is in my personal pantheon of glorious bands. Their lyrics are simple but powerful, and they've deconstructed their former 90s alt-pop sound into shimmering folk music.
4. Sign on the Door: Kasey Chambers from the CD Carnival
I love to listen to this in the car, turned up way louder than what would be considered appropriate. Gotta do something to drown out my singalong! This is all energy and celebration and, though Chambers doesn't bill herself as a religious artist, praise. The chorus is catchy as all get out: "Open up the up the sky/ All gather around/ Praise the lord and/ Take a look at what i found/ (I got a) love thats as big as raging storm/ I got walls coming down that I need no more/ I got a sign on the door that says/ Lonely don't live here anymore." The only catch to all that catchiness is that it'll get in your head and loop indefinitely.
5. Man in Black: Johnny Cash from the CD Life
This is the song I hear whenever I wear my black preaching robe. It's the most amazing song about prophetic witness I've ever heard. Johnny Cash explains the reasons why he lived and died in black - for the poor, the hungry, the prisoners, the "sick and lonely old." It's a pastoral prayer for justice in the form of a country song.
6. Long Lost Brother: Over the Rhine from the CD Ohio
You can call me biased, you can call me
7. Mercy Now: Mary Gauthier from the CD Mercy Now
This song is slow and goes on for a long time, but praying for mercy can be like that. There are a lot of people to pray for, and you can't leave out the broken institutions. "My church and my country could use a little mercy now/ As they sink into a poisoned pit/ That's going to take forever to climb out/ They carry the weight of the faithful/ Who follow them down/ I love my church and country, and they could use some mercy now."
8. Rock of Ages (When the Day Seems Long): Sandra McCracken from the CD The Builder And The Architect
This original song is beautiful, orthodox, and haunting. It's a modern folk lullaby that feels ancient, because it's full of traditional theological language. But it's hard to argue with, as it's every bit as incarnational as the "moldy oldy" hymns that have sustained Christians for centuries.
9. So Much Grace: Allison Sattinger from the CD Vox
I happened upon Allison Sattinger's MySpace page a couple years ago when I was looking for artists influenced by Over the Rhine within ten miles of my zip code. (This is a very cool way to find local artists, by the way). "So Much Grace" started streaming, and so did my tears. It's just lovely: a capella gospel at its finest. I was none too surprised when the song was named a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition last winter - I know 'em when I hear 'em! Bonus: since Allison is local, we've since become friends. She's brilliant in every way; check out her leatherworking store at Etsy, too.
10. Take to the World: Derek Webb from the CD She Must and Shall Go Free
Derek Webb (the husband of Sandra McCracken) is making some of the most innovative Christian music around. After he left Caedmon's Call a few years ago, he started writing theologically and politically provocative lyrics. We'll leave his challenging stuff for another day; we need a benediction to make this a proper Ministry Mixed Tape. "Go in peace to love and to serve/ let your ears ring long with what you’ve heard/ and may the bread on your tongue/ leave a trail of crumbs/ to lead the hungry back to the place that you are from." Such a delicious, invitational Communion image!
I wish I could burn 300 CDs and send them off too every corner of the earth, one for each RevGalBlogPal. But that wouldn't be practical, or legal. So you have a couple options if you're interested in hearing the music gushed about today. You can visit the RevGalBlogPals Book Store at Amazon.com, where Cathy made a room for all the CDs these songs came from. Or, if you're into iTunes, you can check out the debut RevGalBlogPals iMix. (Note #1: clicking on that link will open iTunes. Note #2: I had to make a switcheroo on one song due to availability, but the replacement is just as good.)
-=Katherine @ any day a beautiful change =-