Japanese Christian Worship Song - A Jazz Fusion Meditation (Peter Shu)
My friend Peter Shu is an accomplished jazz pianist in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.
He writes, “Here’s a Japanese worship song given from my friend Dr. Zen Matsuda from his dad’s church dedication many years ago. I arranged it in a modern ambient smooth style. Hope you like it.”
Written by Yamaro Yuko; Arranged by Peter Shu for Global Worship Movement, Inc. Minneapolis, MN. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Peter adds, “It’s actually called 'Church Dedication Song.' I’m working on getting lyrics and a translation. It was written by one of the ladies who is a psalmist from a Japanese church here in Minneapolis.”
Follow Peter’s ministry with Global Worship Movement at
Samurai Icon of the Archangel Michael
Artist Daniel Mitsui was born in Georgia, USA, in 1982, and raised in Illinois. He attended Dartmouth College where he studied drawing, oil painting, printmaking, wood carving, bookbinding and film animation.
He created a marvelous artwork of the Archangel Michael Fighting the Devil - as a samurai warrior! - with elements of eastern and western iconography. You’ll see it below after a short introduction to the Daniel and his work.
Ink drawing became his specialty, and his meticulously detailed creations, done entirely by hand on paper or vellum, are now held in collections worldwide. In his religious work, he attempts to be faithful to the Second Nicene Council’s instruction that the composition of religious imagery is not left to the initiative of artists, but is formed upon principles laid down by the Catholic Church and by religious tradition.
Seeing in the art of the Middle Ages a faithful and vigorous expression of that tradition, he draws much of his inspiration from medieval illuminated manuscripts, panel paintings and tapestries. He is especially concerned with correctness in the iconographic, symbolic and geometric aspects of this art.
His other influences include the Arts & Crafts movement, biological illustration, Japanese woodblock prints and Persian miniatures. By combining medieval principles with different artistic forms, he hopes to demonstrate their universal and continued relevance.
One of his most prestigious projects was completed in 2011, when the Vatican commissioned him to illustrate a new edition of the Roman Pontifical. He lives in Chicago.
Here’s an amazing icon he created of the Archangel (Saint) Michael Fighting the Devil:
It’s posted on Daniel’s website at
He writes …
Now here is something unlike anything I’ve drawn previously. This ink and gouache drawing of the St. Michael fighting the devil was commissioned by a priest of the Maryknoll Missionaries, an order with a long history of missionary activity in Japan. He asked whether I thought it possible to create an image of the archangel in the style of traditional Japanese art without the result being kitsch.
I was certainly willing to make an attempt. While inculturation is not something that I have consciously attempted in the past, I was eager to explore some of the illustrative ideas in Japanese woodblock printing. Utagawa Kuniyoshi, one of my favorite artists, provided most of the inspiration here.
I was also curious to see how successfully I could maintain the western iconographic traditions in the content and arrangement of religious pictures while using an eastern style of illustration.
I am pleased with the result - enough that I plan to issue a limited-edition giclee art print of the drawing soon. Please e-mail me if you are interested in purchasing one; the response will help me to decide the size of the edition.
I am also thinking about making more religious drawings in this style, showing major events in the history of Japanese Christianity - the arrival of Francis Xavier, the martyrdoms at Nagasaki, et cetera.
I also experimented for the first time with authentic gold leaf, using it for Michael’s halo.
For more information on the Archangel (Saint) Michael and the Feast of Michaelmas in his honor, see
Blessed Feast of Michaelmas
Michaelmas (the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, also the Feast of the Archangels, or the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels) is a day in the Western Christian liturgical year that occurs on 29 September. Because it falls near the equinox, it is associated in the northern hemisphere with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days.
This post includes a song, a sonnet, artwork, and links to cultural customs associated with Archangel Michael and Michaelmas.
And since he is regarded as a protector and the leader of the army of God against the forces of evil, considering the state of the world today … pray that God will put him to good use very soon in combating evil.
In Christianity, the Archangel Michael is the greatest of all the Archangels and is honoured for defeating Lucifer in the war in heaven. He is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night.
Michael is mentioned three times in the Book of Daniel, once as a “great prince who stands up for the children of your people”. The idea that Michael was the advocate of the Jews became so prevalent that in spite of the rabbinical prohibition against appealing to angels as intermediaries between God and his people, Michael came to occupy a certain place in the Jewish liturgy.
In the New Testament Michael leads God’s armies against Satan’s forces in the Book of Revelation, where during the war in heaven he defeats Satan. In the Epistle of Jude Michael is specifically referred to as “the archangel Michael”. Christian sanctuaries to Michael appeared in the 4th century, when he was first seen as a healing angel, and then over time as a protector and the leader of the army of God against the forces of evil.
Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner considered Michaelmas to be the second most important festival after Easter, Easter being about Christ (“He is laid in the grave and He has risen”). Michaelmas is about man once he finds Christ (“He is risen, therefore he can be laid in the grave”), meaning man finds the Christ (risen), therefore he will be safe in death (laid in the grave with confidence)
[text from various sources including
Saint Michael- Tiffany Window In Historic Scottish Church
St Peter’s Parish Kirk, Fyvie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
you have ordained and constituted
the ministries of angels and mortals in a wonderful order:
grant that as your holy angels always serve you in heaven,
so, at your command,
they may help and defend us on earth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
For information on cultural customs associated with Michaelmas, see
Malcolm Guite is a favorite British poet and priest. Here’s his introduction and sonnet about Michaelmas.
Continuing my sequence from Sounding the Seasons, the collection of my sonnets for the church year, published by Canterbury Press, the 29th September brings us the feast of St. Michael and All Angels which is known as Michaelmas in England, and this first autumn term in many schools and universities is still called the Michaelmas term. The ArchangelMichael is traditionally thought of as the Captain of the Heavenly Host, and, following an image from the book of Revelation, is often shown standing on a dragon, an image of Satan subdued and bound by the strength of Heaven. He is also shown with a drawn sword, or a spear and a pair of scales or balances, for he represents, truth, discernment, the light and energy of intellect, to cut through tangles and confusion, to set us free to discern and choose. He is celebrated and revered in all three Monotheistic religions. There is a good, full account of him here. And here is a bright and playful image of him by the Cambridge Artist Rebecca Merry:
Michaelmas (Malcolm Guite)
Michaelmas gales assail the waning year,
And Michael’s scale is true, his blade is bright.
He strips dead leaves; and leaves the living clear
To flourish in the touch and reach of light.
Archangel bring your balance, help me turn
Upon this turning world with you and dance
In the Great Dance. Draw near, help me discern,
And trace the hidden grace in change and chance.
Angel of fire, Love’s fierce radiance,
Drive through the deep until the steep waves part,
Undo the dragon’s sinuous influence
And pierce the clotted darkness in my heart.
Unchain the child you find there, break the spell
And overthrow the tyrannies of Hell.
Here’s a 2-part Ukrainian Orthodox Hymn to Archangel Michael:
and here’s Part 2 of the same hymn:
For an icon of the Archangel Michael as a Samurai Warrior, see
3 Spanish albums from Sovereign Grace on Sale
Sovereign Grace Music has released dozens of albums over the years. They currently have a sale on three of their Spanish-language albums until the end of this month. The downloads are usually $9 each - now just $4 each.
At the moment I’m listening to this one which was new to me (hover your cursor over each image below):
I’ve enjoyed this next one for some years with songs originally composed in Spanish. The notes say, “it is a joy to release Allí en la Cruz, the first of what we hope will be many worship albums written and sung by Hispanic members of Sovereign Grace churches. Various musicians contributed to the album, but it features the songs and voice of Mauricio Velarde. The music is a mix of Latin American sounds and modern pop-rock, and the lyrics are rooted in Scripture and focus on God’s great love in sending Jesus Christ to be our crucified and risen Savior.”
And here’s their album from 2013:
Responsorial Psalm 25 (‘Remember Your Mercies O Lord’) - Jeremy Mayfield
Jeremy Mayfield is the Assistant Music Director for Christ Anglican Church, Mobile, Alabama. He’s also the LifeTeen Music Director at Christ the King Catholic Church in nearby Daphne, AL.
Here is his new arrangement of the Responsorial Psalm (25) for September 28, 2014, the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Responsorial Psalm PS 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R/ Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not;
in your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R/ Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.
R/ Remember your mercies, O Lord.
'Romania' - Karen Lafferty
Karen Lafferty writes, “Here’s a music video we made in Romania. Everyone put their heart, soul and time into it with the resources we had. The Romanian song is a hymn by Nicolai Moldovianu who was a courageous and kind man who spent time in prison for his faith along with Richard Wurmbrant. Nicolai is in the video playing his accordion.”
Karen continues, “After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the revolution in Romania in 1989 many of us began to go to Romania. What beautiful people we met there…. sincere Christians who had kept the faith during the hard years. There were young people who were passionate about the Lord and ready to serve Him. Some had even given their lives in the revolution. God is still calling Romanians to Himself. He has not left them alone.”
The song is from Karen’s 2003 album titled 'Multitudes.'
Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives
4-7 August 2015 Conference
Congregational music-making has long been a vital and vibrant practice within Christian communities worldwide. Even though congregational music flows along global networks, it reflects, informs, and articulates convictions and concerns that are irreducibly local. Congregational song can unify communities of faith across geographical and cultural boundaries; however, it can also be used to mark divisions between Christians of different denominations, cultural backgrounds, and social classes. We cannot truly understand the meanings, uses, and influences of congregational music within Christianity without exploringboth its local contexts and its global circulation.
To further the understanding and practice of congregational music-making, the Christian Congregational Music conference seeks to bring together world-class scholars and practitioners to explore together the varying cultural, social, and spiritual roles church music plays in the life of various Christian communities around the world. In our 2011 and 2013 conferences, we welcomed scholars from 18 countries on all 6 continents. Through a series of invited talks, roundtable discussions, paper presentations, and documentary film showings, conference participants examined the multifaceted interaction between local and global dimensions of Christian congregational music by drawing from perspectives across academic disciplines, including musicology and ethnomusicology, theology, anthropology, history, and education.
For more information, see
'Amazing Grace' by Victor Wooten
Victor Lemonte Wooten (born September 11, 1964) is an American bass player, composer, author, producer, and recipient of five Grammy Awards. In honor of his recent 50th birthday, here’s one of his most famous solos.
Wooten has won the “Bass Player of the Year” award from Bass Player magazine three times in a row, and was the first person to win the award more than once. In 2011, he was named #10 in the “Top 10 Bassists of All Time” by Rolling Stone. In addition to a solo career and collaborations with various artists, Wooten has been the bassist for Béla Fleck and the Flecktones since the group’s formation in 1988.
Victor is the youngest of the five Wooten Brothers, all of whom are musicians. Regi began to teach Victor to play bass when he was two, and by the age of six, Victor was performing with his brothers in their family band, The Wooten Brothers Band.
I first saw his amazing solo rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ over a decade ago, on a DVD of Bela Fleck & The Flecktones. You’ll find several versions of this bass solo by Wooten on YouTube; here’s one of them followed by an interview:
and here’s a longer version, the one I first saw on the DVD with Bela Fleck:
You can buy various scores of his multiple versions at links including:
Jazz from Joe Sample
Joe Sample, the Houston (Texas) native whose masterful keyboard playing made him a leading figure in the jazz fusion movement of the ’60s and ’70s and a top session musician in jazz, R&B and pop for several decades, passed away on Sept 12 (2014) at age 75.
Sample was a graduate of Wheatley High School, where he and some classmates founded a group they called the Jazz Crusaders in the mid-’50s. They moved to Southern California in the early ’60s and became one of the most popular and respected groups in jazz thanks to albums like Freedom Sound and Looking Ahead. In the ’70s, as their sound incorporated more and more elements of funk and R&B, the group changed its name to the Crusaders. Sample also took plenty of jobs on the side, appearing on classic pop-rock albums such as Joni Mitchell’s Court & Spark, Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On and Canned Heat’s Up the Country.
Sample is said to have played piano with an “identifiable Texas sound - gospel-tinged blues mixed with sophisticated soul.”
Here’s a song from his 1989 album "Spellbound" called ‘All God’s Children.’
Here’s another song from the same album, ‘Sermonized.’
Two Psalm verses at Bar Mitzvah
Shira Choir Sings New Song "Im Hashem Lo Yivneh Bayis."
Composed by Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz At Bar Mitzvah of the son of Shira Choir Leader Shraga Gold in Williamsburg, Virginia.
מקהלת שירה מבצעת את השיר החדש ׳אם השם לא יבנה בית
The song uses two verses from Psalms. The first is from Psalm 127 - “If G-d doesn’t build the house the builders build in vain, the guardian guards in vain.” The second is Psalm 121 a very well-known verse among the Jews: “The guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers.”
מקהלת שירה מבצעת את השיר החדש ׳אם השם לא יבנה בית׳ של המלחין שלמה יהודה רכניץ בבר מצוה לבנו של שרגא גולד מנהלה הדגול של מקהלת שירה אשר התקיימה בברוקלין