Tuesday, December 13, 2011

communion

Sorry that I haven't been writing much lately.  I've been even busier than usual the last few weeks.  The increased activity has forced me to do some unpleasant thinking about time management, and priorities, and just how much I can realistically expect to accomplish in a given day or week.  I have concluded that some of my favorite activities (such as blogging) will have to go, or at least will have to be cut back by quite a bit.  Perhaps I'll post more about that later.

This week is our congregation's communion season.  While I look forward to the services and the fellowship with friends and visitors, I am of course extra busy at the moment with preparations.  I've been listening to psalm recordings as I work in the kitchen, and it occurred to me that I should post two of my favorite recordings for you to hear, since they have something to do with the upcoming communion season.

These two psalms are traditionally sung at FP communion services.  Psalm 116 is sung as communicant members gather around the Lord's Table.  Psalm 103 is sung as the communicants leave the table with thanksgiving in their hearts.

These are recordings of congregational singing, recorded a couple of years ago.  Both psalms were precented by my brother Jeshurun.

Psalm 116:1-8 to Coleshill


Psalm 103:1-7 to London New

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The RPCNA Psalter: A Review

When I was in my early teens, my family discovered the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland (via the magazine).  After a few visits to the congregation in Chesley, Ontario, we began singing from the 1650 Scottish Psalter in family worship.

When I went off to college, and for a few years after graduating, I attended a large nominally-Reformed church with a contemporary worship style.  At first I liked it, but it got old fast.  Many of the praise choruses they sang were loosely derived from the psalms, but singing (or listening to the praise band sing) the line "Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere" a dozen times in a row (or more) is hardly the same thing as singing Psalm 84 (one of my favorites!) in its entirety!

When I found myself single again, and free to choose a new church, I began attending a congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), where they sang the psalms from The Book of Psalms for Singing--and sang them a cappella, and with enthusiasm.  After years of contemporary worship music, I found it immensely refreshing!

However, once I moved to Texas and started singing from the 1650 Scottish Psalter again, I really fell in love with it, and felt as though I'd come full circle back to the best Psalter.  I appreciate the much-closer correlation between the psalms we sing, and the prose psalms.  Also, I really prefer singing from a split-leaf, where you can choose the tune to use with a given psalm, as opposed to being "stuck" with a tune that might happen to be one that you don't know, don't like, or can't sing.

I am very thankful for the RPCNA church and glad that they sing and appreciate the psalms.  And I would far rather sing from the RPCNA psalter than go back to praise choruses!  But I'm also glad that the church I belong to now uses the Scottish Metrical Psalter rather than The Book of Psalms for Singing, or the newer version, The Book of Psalms for Worship.

Some time ago, I came across a good review of the RPCNA's newest psalter, The Book of Psalms for Worship.  Now I'm guessing that few of my readers are connected to the RPCNA in any way, so this review may not be specifically relevant to most of you.  However, you may find it interesting anyway, because it does address a few objections commonly made to the Scottish Psalter, like the use of "outdated" language including the thee's and thou's. 

Book review: The Book of Psalms for Worship

This review was written by Mr. Andrew Meyers, an elder in an independent Reformed church in Virginia.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wedding Bells

Wow, I had a big surge of blog hits on Saturday and Monday!  I know why you're here--you want to hear about the wedding, don't you?

Dave and Sarah were married on Friday.  The wedding was lovely (happy, but a little sad at the same time), and the reception quite enjoyable.  I took lots of pictures and I'll post a few in a minute, but first I have to give you an update.

When I wrote about Sarah's wedding shower, I said it was too bad that Sarah's sisters Leah and Rachel wouldn't be here for the wedding.  Well, as it turns out, they were here after all!  You see, Leah had to come back to the US a little earlier than expected.  And it would have been very difficult to fly back alone, while pregnant, with two small children, so her sister Rachel came along (with two of her own children) too.  While it will no doubt be hard for Leah and Caleb to be separated till March, the silver lining to the cloud is that Leah and Rachel were both able to attend their sister's wedding!  How nice to have all seven siblings together for the momentous occasion. :)

I'm sure you are all eager to see pictures, so here goes:

The groomsmen were all Canadian cousins of Dave's: Jonathan, Ben, and Randy.  The bridesmaids were Sarah's sisters Anna and Leah, and her cousin Shelby.  Ushers were Sarah's brother Josh, and Dave's brother Casey.  Here is the receiving line, after the wedding.  Left to right: Sarah; Dave, giving his mother a hug; Jonathan; Anna; Margaret greeting Ben Kuiper; Leah; Randy; Mr. Kuiper walking past Shelby; Josh; and Casey.

The wedding was performed by Rev. John MacLeod of London.  Here is Rev. MacLeod outside of church, talking to Donald from--you guessed it--Scotland.  As you can see, it was a beautiful day, warm and sunny.

The head table at the reception.  Left to right: Randy, Ben, Jonathan, Sarah, Dave, Anna, and Leah.  I managed to cut Shelby out of the picture somehow.  Oops!

But I did get a nice picture of Shelby later on (she's on the right), with Anna, and a Canadian fellow who decided to jump into the picture. :)

Mr. and Mrs. Kuiper were very happy to have gained a daughter-in-law.  Look at their smiles!

Here is Sarah with her stepmum Anna.  Anna had the most beautiful purple hat.  Sadly, I did not get a photo of the hat.  

Leah is supposed to be staying off her feet and taking it easy, but she was a trooper and managed to stand through most of the wedding, only sitting down for a few minutes at the end.  I tried to help her take it easy by taking Brooklyn off her hands at every opportunity.  Of course, I was competing for Brooklyn with Leah's siblings, who are also happy to hold Brooklyn every chance they get!
Here are Leah and Shona looking pretty.

Shona was happy to reunite with her cousin Olivia.  These two get along beautifully.  They have long conversations that the rest of us can't really understand.  Shona is concentrating on her candy here, but of course just after I took the photo, she gave me a beautiful smile. :)

Our accessor elder from Scotland, Mr. MacPherson. 

My sister Mercy and her mother-in-law, also the bride's aunt, Terry.

Jenny and Martha from Canada.  

A good-looking Dutch couple. In the background are Dave and Sarah with Rachel Winkels.  

Another good-looking Dutch couple--well, half Dutch--Mr. and Mrs. Weprin. :)

Dave and Sarah with John, who is looking forward to a wedding of his own in about two months.

Stephanie and Carl.

My boys.  Easily the most handsome young men at the reception!

James and Hayley with their two boys.  Hayley made the wedding cakes--cheesecakes that is.  The chocolate caramel pecan cheesecake was fantastic!

Last but not least, Nat and Gerrit, photographer and assistant photographer, respectively.

(Is that enough photos for you?!  Sorry I don't have a better shot of the bride and groom!  Though if you're on Facebook, you've probably seen photos there, and I'm sure there will be more forthcoming on Facebook and on a blog or two.)

Now, sadly, we must say farewell to Dave and Sarah, who are off to Canada to start a new home together.  We wish them the best in their married life.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

More Psalms on Soundcloud

A few days ago, I was happy to discover a new set of psalm recordings on Soundcloud. These have been posted by a young man in Glasgow who has recorded himself singing soprano, tenor, and bass. (This same young man also posted another set of recordings made at a Bible study in Glasgow; I wrote about those back in February.)  Niall has a fine voice and these are a pleasure to listen to, though I do miss hearing the alto part!

My favorite of these recordings, so far, is a recording of Psalm 50 to a short-meter tune previously unfamiliar to me, Golden Hill.  Golden Hill is an old American tune, and can be found in the Sing Psalms split-leaf published by the Free Church.  Sing Psalms also contains another of my favorite tunes, Land of Rest.  I'm not impressed with Sing Psalms as a psalter, but I may have to get a copy some day just for the tunes.

I would love to post a player of the recording of Golden Hill, but sadly Soundcloud will not allow me to do so.  You will have to visit Soundcloud to listen to it there (and download it if you wish).  Also listen to Niall's other recordings.  He is posting new recordings every few days, so check back often!

Psalm 50 v 1-6 to Golden Hill

More Psalm Recordings by Niall

I will add these to this index of online psalm recordings shortly.  I've gotten behind on adding new recordings to the list, but will try to catch up soon. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Singing and Sweets

Last Saturday, we had another psalm sing.  I baked a pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting, and invited others to bring more desserts if they felt so inclined.  Several people brought things to eat, including Hayley, who just happened to have a freezer full of Starbucks pastries that she was quite happy to share!  Thanks, Hayley!

I very much enjoyed the singing (and the sweets) and look forward to singing with you all again some time soon.

We started by working on the tune Howard again.  Once we'd beat that tune to death, as one person put it, we turned to the facing page in our split-leaf psalters, and worked on the tune Huddersfield.  Lastly, we did the long meter tune Duke Street.  Here are the recordings:

Psalm 92:12-15 to Howard


Psalm 98:1-4 to Huddersfield


Psalm 102:13-22, 2nd version, to Duke Street


(As always, you can download these recordings to your own computer from this site.)

We now have just over two hours' worth of psalm recordings, enough to make a set of 2 CDs.  Once I get a few CDs made, hopefully within the next week or two, I'll post more information for any blog readers who might be interested in a set.

My sister and her husband are finally back home after some time on the east coast and in Canada.  They stayed for dinner after the psalm sing was over, and we had some interesting conversations about their trip.  Maybe Mercy will post something about their travels soon, and I can share the link (hint, hint). :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sarah's Shower

On Saturday we went to a bridal shower for Sarah, who will be married early next month.  It was nice to spend time with friends and family, and to see Sarah's happy smile as she prepares to start a new home in a new country with the man she loves.

My brother is married to Sarah's sister, and my sister is married to her cousin, so I guess that means Sarah and I are sort of related too, or connected anyhow. :)

Isn't this a beautiful cake?

A nice photo.  From left to right, Sarah's aunt Terry, Sarah's sister Anna, Sarah, and Sarah's stepmum Anna.

The girls Elijah's age were playing house, which was too much girliness for Elijah, so he retreated to a book.

We're looking forward to Sarah's wedding.  It will be nice to see old friends from Canada, and to meet a few people from the UK and the Netherlands.  And our interim moderator, Rev. John MacLeod from London, will be here for a few weeks as well.  If only Sarah's sisters in Scotland could be here too!

I'm planning to take lots of photos in coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Photo For My Mother

Elijah's two front teeth, the teeth that have been loose for months? They have finally come out.

I think he looks cute with his two front teeth missing.


It's very difficult to get a good picture of Elijah. As soon as he sees the camera, he starts making the strangest faces! This one is blurry, but otherwise normal, so it will do.

Elijah is almost seven and still a ball of energy. He is in second grade this year, or at least that's what we're calling it. He says he wants to be an inventor when he grows up. He spends a lot of time designing and building complicated gadgets with wires and bits of cardboard and old computer components and modeling clay. He also enjoys playing with his brother, writing stories, and of course, reading lots of books.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

September Psalm Sing

On Saturday we had another psalm sing. We worked on two less-familiar tunes, Winchester and Howard, which we sang to psalms 8 and 92:12-15, respectively.  We still need to work on Howard a bit, so I won't post that recording, but here's the recording of Psalm 8 to Winchester:



I didn't care much for this tune before hand (partly because I kept confusing it with Farrant!), but after hearing it nicely sung in four-part harmony, I changed my mind. :)

After next month's psalm sing, all being well, we should have enough psalm recordings to make a set of two CDs.  Interested?  Details to come.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Project Psalms (x2)

I was recently informed via a blog comment about "Project Psalms."

Project Psalms, in a nutshell, is an endeavor to record the singing of all 150 psalms from the Scottish Metrical Psalter (1650) and to produce a comprehensive set of 15 CDs.  The project should be completed later this year, D.V.

This project is a great idea.  I love the idea of having all 150 psalms available as audio recordings.  Listening to recordings of the psalms is an excellent way for me to fill my mind with things that are true, pure, lovely etc.(Philippians 4:8)  And recordings of the psalms are very helpful to those of us who are trying to memorize the psalter.

On the Project Psalms website is a sample recording, of Psalm 23.  The psalm is sung as a solo by a professional tenor.  He has a very good voice, and the recording quality is excellent.

I do have a few minor quibbles with the project: for instance, some of the tune selections, the vibrato, the fact that it's a solo performance.  Nothing major.

However, the main obstacle preventing me from seriously considering the purchase of this CD set is the price: nearly 100 dollars!  While this is probably a very good deal considering that you are getting 15 CD's worth of professionally produced music, the price is prohibitive for those of us on really tight budgets like myself.

Thankfully, I have discovered a poor man's alternative. :)  A church in Dallas that sings the Psalms is singing straight through the Psalter at their monthly psalm sings, and posting the recordings online.  So far they have gotten through Psalm 18.  Their website cautions, "We're certainly not professionals, so don't tune in expecting anything other than a congregation of folks who love to sing the Psalms."  However, their singing is quite good really, only the recording quality is less than professional.  Perhaps someday their congregation (and ours) will be able to upgrade to better recording equipment. :)

My children and I have just started memorizing our way through the Psalter, and we have found the above recordings to be a helpful way to reinforce what we are learning.  Of course, some of the tunes are unfamiliar to us, since the church in Dallas uses the Comprehensive Psalter, which has a different tune selection; but we haven't found this to diminish the usefulness of the recordings.

Here again is the link:
Recordings of the Psalms

I'll add these recordings to this index of Scottish Psalter recordings soon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Excuses, and More Goodbyes

I write, and I crochet.  These two activities are very different, and you would think that they would require the use of different parts of the brain.  But I've noticed that when I've been writing a lot, I have a hard time designing new crochet projects; and when I've been crocheting a lot, I can't seem to think of anything to write. So I guess I have a limited supply of creativity, and if I'm using it on one thing, I don't have any left to apply to the other.

So, I've been crocheting a lot lately. :) I've also opened a new Etsy shop selling recycled yarn.  The shop is off to a good start so far with a few sales already.  But with all the crocheting and listing and selling things, the writing part of my brain has been feeling quite dull.  I know, it's a bad excuse.

So, what's going on in Texas?  Well, life continues.  It seems that everyone is so busy these days, working and travelling and moving and preparing for weddings.

My brother-in-law Mark is off working the recent hurricane on the East Coast, leaving his wife behind to miss him.  It just so happens that Mark and Mercy will be moving soon (into Caleb and Leah's old house) so Mercy has her hands full, watching two little girls--and the youngest quite a squirmy and active little girl who needs a lot of attention!--and preparing to move, without her husband there to help.  The rest of us are doing our best to look out for her.

Caleb and Leah are, as I write, on the plane to Glasgow.  Due to visa complications, it seems that they will only be in Glasgow for six months at a time; the alternate six months, they will be back in Texas.  While we are happy that they are not leaving us for the full duration of Caleb's divinity studies, we are also sympathetic that Caleb and Leah are facing a major international move every six months for the next three years.  What a chore!  And Leah with two small children to care for, and another on the way!  (It's a BOY!)

Here's a photo from our last visit with Caleb and Leah.  Caleb showed us his new neighborhood in Glasgow via Google Street View.  He also showed us the Glasgow church building, where he will be doing his studies.  It looks like a beautiful building.  I hope I can visit it someday.
(the pink laptop is Leah's, don't worry)

In other news--I meant to start "properly" homeschooling Elijah this past Tuesday, but somehow I never got around to any lesson planning!  So perhaps the beginning of our school year will be pushed back a bit.  Lest you think I am shockingly careless about my child's education--our daily life includes quite a lot of informal education, and he is doing quite well academically despite not having formally begun school yet, so I feel as though I can get away with some laxity at the beginning. :)  Our primary focus at the beginning of the year will not be academic growth, but character growth--teaching him to focus, and apply himself, and work independently.

I'll leave you with a perfectly dreadful photo of us five siblings.  I'm sorry, it really is dreadful.  I promise that we are all really better-looking than this.  But there you have it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Two Years in Texas

A little over two years ago, I sold my house, sold my things, loaded my children and remaining belongings into my car, and moved to Texas. 

Some things about Texas have been just as I expected.  For instance, it's hot.

Other things have been quite unexpected. For instance, I never would have dreamed that Mom and Dad would move to Israel just a few short months after my arrival.

Here are the things I don't like about Texas (don't worry, it's a short list): the bugs, the driving.

Here are the things I like about Texas: the city, the parks, the ocean, the sky, the weather (yes, really), the visitors from around the world, my family, the other families, my nieces and nephew, all the children and babies, the young people, the psalm singing, the church.

A quote that fits:
The true visible church, where God's ordinances are set up as he hath
appointed, where his word is purely preached, is the most beautiful
thing under heaven, and there is God's glory set forth and manifested
more clearly than in all the Lord's handiwork beside in heaven or earth.

...David Dickson

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Goodbye, and A Psalm Sing

Early this morning, Mom and Dad packed up their things and headed off to the airport.  They're going back to Israel for another year of work and study.  It was nice to have them here for a good long visit, but we will be missing them in days ahead.

While Mom and Dad were here, we did a lot of visiting with friends.  Mom and Dad got to meet the two granddaughters that had been born while they were away.  Mom took lots of photos and videos of her children and grandchildren.  Perhaps we'll see a few of them on her blog in coming weeks?

Last Saturday, we headed over to James and Hayley's new house for a psalm sing/housewarming party.  It was nice to attend a psalm sing that I didn't have to host!  Not that I mind hosting, I enjoy it actually, but it's also nice to have a break now and then.

We sang two selections.  The second tune, Palestrina, is one of my favorites. 

Psalm 30:1-5 to St. Minver


Psalm 86:14-17 to Palestrina. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Psalm 133

We sang and recorded Psalm 133 at our last psalm sing, a few weeks ago.  But this one needed a little extra editing; hence the delay in posting..

Psalm 133 is one of my favorite psalms.  "Behold, how good a thing it is...in unity to dwell!"  I love the exclamation point at the end of that verse, in the Scottish Metrical Psalter.  Truly, how good a thing it is!

Psalm 133 to Crimond
 

1 Behold, how good a thing it is,
and how becoming well,
Together such as brethren are
In unity to dwell!

2 Like precious ointment on the head,
that down the beard did flow,
Ev'n Aaron's beard, and to the skirts
did of his garments go.

3 As Hermon's dew, the dew that doth
on Sion' hills descend:
For there the blessing God commands,
life that shall never end.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Writing

Every once in a while, I find it necessary to answer the question "So, what do you do?" and I am never quite sure what to say.  I usually say a few things about being a [single] mom, and homeschooling, and keeping house; oh, and I sell old books and things online.

But what I really want to say is, "I write."  I am always writing, or thinking about writing.  Writing has been a part of my identity from an early age; and I've had encouragement from others to write, starting with my fifth grade teacher, who told me to be sure to let him know when my first book was published, because he would be buying a copy (I haven't forgotten, Mr. Vergunst!)  There were other teachers and professors, too, who seemed to assume that writing would be a part of my future.

But if I say that I write, I will be expected to explain what it is that I write, exactly; so I refrain from calling myself a writer.  Yes, I am always writing, or thinking about writing.  But most of what I write never makes it to paper, or is deleted rather than posted.

I do want to write more, but what do I write, exactly?  I once thought I would be a journalist, and I did write a couple of articles for a small-town newspaper, the sort you pick up for free at your local grocery store; but I soon realized that I wasn't fond of deadlines, and dropped that idea.  I could write a book, but about what?  Should I focus on doing a better job of keeping a journal, or writing to friends?

I would like to post more often to this blog.  But it's hard to know what to write about.  I feel uneasy at the thought of writing publicly about some of the topics that I think about most often.  Some topics are too personal to post to a blog when you don't know who your readers are, or what they are looking for (...are you just here for the psalm recordings?)  Other topics might be of broad interest but might also be controversial (homeschooling) and would therefore require such a degree of patience and wisdom that I'm not sure I'm up to the task.  And other topics...well I might enjoy discussing some things (theology and church matters) with friends and family, but I'm not so sure that I'm qualified to write about them on my blog. :)

Still, I feel that I ought to be spending less time writing Facebook comments (and yes, Facebook comments do take a lot of time, since I feel compelled to proofread, edit, and re-write even on Facebook) and more time on proper writing.  So, consider yourself warned: I am going to try to be more diligent about writing for my blog--and actually publishing the posts. :)  Don't worry, I'll still post psalm recordings as often as I can, and pictures of cute babies and children.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

:)

The night after Mom and Dad got here from Israel, we had a Hembd family dinner; Mark and Mercy came over, and Caleb and Leah, so all five siblings were together for the evening.  We had a nice dinner and a nice evening visiting with one another.

The two littlest babies, Brooklyn and Charlotte, played happily on the floor.  Brooklyn is crawling now, and growing fast.  I commented on how big she was getting, and Leah said wistfully, "Yes, she's not my little newborn any more."  Something in the way she said it made me think, Hmm...

So...I was delighted, but not completely astonished, when I got the news, a week or so later, that Brooklyn is going to be a big sister. :)  Leah is expecting Baby #3 some time next February.  I'm thrilled at the prospect of a new niece or nephew.  And I'm happy for Caleb and Leah, who had to wait four long years for their first baby, but are now blessed with two smart and beautiful children, and are soon to be blessed with another, all being well.

Of course, as you may well know, Caleb and Leah will be leaving us soon, as Caleb is now a student for the ministry of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  While I am confident that Caleb is well-suited for the task, and happy that the Lord can use him in this way, I am also saddened to think that after two precious years of having all five grown Hembd siblings in one place and in the same church, one of them is leaving us, and taking his lovely wife and children with him.

Of course, if he is to be studying in Scotland over the next few years, then I might as well go visit him, right?  I'm saving my pennies in hopes that I will somehow be able to visit him in Scotland before he completes his studies.  :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Boys

Seems like I haven't written about my children for a while, so...

Elijah is still a bookworm and still learning by leaps and bounds.  His latest interests center around science, particularly electricity and physics.  The other day at snack time, he set his bowl of popcorn spinning in a circle, pieces flying in every direction.  "Look Mama, centragifagul force!" he said.  Okay, so his pronunciation needs some work. :)  I'm hoping to begin properly homeschooling him this fall, with a schedule and curriculum and all that, if I can ever make up my mind which curriculum to use.  I think the first part of the school year will probably be spent teaching him him to focus and get things done in a timely manner.  He is quite easily distracted!

And...Noah is learning to read!  I haven't done much with him other than the Bob Books (which I highly recommend), and pointing things out here and there as I think of them.  If he hasn't learned to really read by this fall using my informal "a little of this, a little of that" methods, I plan to go through the book Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons with him (which I also highly recommend, and which proved useful with Elijah, though he only needed the first 30 lessons or so).  Other than learning to read, Noah has been drawing lots of pictures and writing strings of letters, with real words sprinkled here and there (he laughs and laughs at my attempts to sound out the nonsense he's written).

My favorite part about being a mom to these boys, other than watching them learn, is watching them interact with one another.  There are squabbles, to be sure, but more often I see companionship, and inside jokes, and shared traditions.  I'm glad they're not being sent off to school to be separated from one another for most of the day, as I think spending all of their time together has made them quite close.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

July Psalm Sing

Our "monthly" psalm sings have turned into bi-monthly psalm sings, I'm afraid, or worse. :)  But we're always thankful for the opportunity to sing with our friends, even if we can't do so as often as we like.

I thought the singing at our last psalm sing, on Saturday, was especially nice.  We sang two familiar tunes, Crimond and Evan; and also worked on two less familiar tunes, Farningham and Southwark.  The two newer tunes went over well; everyone seemed to enjoy them.  And I'm happy that I can finally listen to recordings of Psalms 42 and 110.

Here are three of the four recordings.  The fourth--Psalm 133 to Crimond--will be posted later, once Jesh and I have agreed on some edits that need to be made.

Psalm 42 v. 1-5 to Farningham


Psalm 80 v. 1-4 to Evan


Psalm 110 to Southwark


As always, you can download these recordings to your own computer from this site:
www.archive.org/bookmarks/snikwad

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Independence Day

Mom and Dad are home on a visit from Israel.  I can't really say that they are "on vacation" because they are both still working hard, Dad on his translation work, and Mom on writing music for the Hebrew psalms.  But it is nice to have them here, and to hear more about Israel and the work they are doing there.

This week has been an unusual one in some ways.  It is comforting to have my parents here at this time.  Besides prayer, there's not much I can do, but to "keep calm and carry on" as the British say.

Carrying on, then: last Monday was Independence Day.

If I were an ambitious blogger, I might tackle a nice controversial topic appropriate to the holiday--for example: is America really a Christian nation?  Or, were the colonists justified in rebelling against the British government?

But I'm not feeling particularly ambitious today, so instead I will post pictures of adorable little children enjoying The Quintessential American Independence Day.
(Adorable, right?) 

What is The Quintessential American Independence Day, you ask?  Why, a beautiful sunny day on which you go to a barbecue, of course, and eat hot dogs and hamburgers and watermelon and corn on the cob and brownies on paper plates, and drink sweet tea and coffee, all while sitting in lawn chairs beneath shade trees with friends and relatives of at least three generations,

from grandmother

to youngest grandchild,

and the children ride trikes and wagons around in the driveway,

and swing on the tire swing,

and run laughing through the sprinkler in the sunshine.

And in the evening (if the kids aren't too tired) you head downtown to hear the free outdoor concert and see the fireworks.  The concert has to include Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Yes, we are fully aware that the 1812 Overture doesn't have anything to do with American independence, but it's an Independence Day tradition anyway, especially when accompanied by live cannons and followed by a fireworks show.

Here's a video of the 1812 Overture.  I had a hard time selecting a video from Youtube, but in the end I went with this one because it had the best cannons.  Elijah reads my blog, and I like to cater to my audience. :) Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Brunch at my Sister's

The other day my sister hosted a birthday brunch for her oldest daughter, Olivia, who has recently turned two.  My sister is quite a good cook, so I was curious to see what she would serve for brunch.  As it turns out, she served a delicious breakfast casserole, along with fruit salad, muffins, coffee cake, and these delicious scones (plus, of course, juice and coffee).  The scones were so pretty, I had to take a picture. 

Above the table were these lovely poofy things (sorry, I don't know what you would call them) made of tissue paper.  This is the sort of thing that I would never think to do, but my sister has more of an eye for pretty things than I do, I think.

My boys are old enough now to be mostly independent at social gatherings, leaving me free to socialize--and hold babies. :)  Here is Caleb and Leah's youngest.  She is such a cheerful and good-natured baby.  This picture doesn't really capture her cuteness, but it's the best I could do.

And this is Calvin (Joseph and Carolyn's youngest) looking serious.  Look, his eyes match his shirt.

A few of the children (and one adult) eating lunch.  From left to right, Shona, Sarah, Jenna, Cameron, Elijah, and Noah.

Here is Julia (Calvin's big sister) reading a card to the birthday girl, Olivia.  I have a hard time getting good pictures of Olivia.  I have concluded that a lot of her cuteness is in the way she acts, and the way she talks, and you can't really capture that in a photo.  But you can still tell that she's cute. :) 

More pictures coming soon!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Psalm 145

We have a lot of old recordings of psalm singing, most of them congregational singing from when our church met at its old location on Highway 6.  A few years ago, Jesh went through a few of them to produce a set of 4 CDs of psalm singing; but until recently, the rest were scattered in various folders throughout the church's hard drive, mostly unidentified.

When I moved down and expressed an interest in psalm recordings, Jesh decided to put me to work.  He went through the church hard drive, located all the psalm recordings, and dumped them into one folder with the ambitious title "full psalter."  He then assigned me the task of identifying them all and replacing file names like "DS02983" with names like "032 v 1-5 St David."  Once they were all identified, I had to delete duplicates, and where there were multiple recordings of one section of the psalms, I had to pick out the best and remove the others to an "alternates" folder.

It took me a while, but when I was done, we had a nicely organized folder of (once the psalm sing recordings were added to the list) about two hundred recordings.  A lot of the recordings overlap a bit, and many of them are not of good quality, since the recorder was positioned to record the sermon, not the singing.  But the idea is that over time, we can produce more recordings to replace the poor ones, and to fill in the many gaps where we have no recordings at all.

Fast forward a few months: Jesh has decided that it is high time we make a new set of psalm CDs to replace the old set.  Since he is quite busy, of course the task has fallen to me.  First I went through all of the recordings and selected the ones of better quality, to be included in the CDs; and now I am having to edit most of the recordings I selected, to fix volume and other issues. 

This task has involved lots of poking around in the depths of the church hard drive.  In the process, I stumbled across a folder of sermons from an Edinburgh communion season that Jesh attended in 2007.  At the end of one was this recording of the Edinburgh congregation singing from Psalm 145.  I thought it was nice and decided to share it with you.  Enjoy!

Psalm 145:17-21 to Sheffield

Friday, June 17, 2011

Travel

Jesh recently went to Europe for a conference.  
The weekends before and after his conference, he spent in London,
where he did some sightseeing with a friend, and attended FP services.

He saw, among other things, Big Ben and the Westminster Palace.

Then he was off to Vienna, where, between conference meetings,
he wandered the streets

taking photos of rose gardens
and old cathedrals

and Mozart's grave.

I haven't traveled much myself, but someday I hope to.  It would be nice to make it to Canada again; and some day I would really like to visit Scotland and England to meet all the wonderful people that I've heard so much about.

Of course, being on a tight budget, I won't be traveling at all for quite some time.  But it's quite easy to open any number of mini-savings accounts through my online bank, so with a few clicks I opened an account entitled "travel."  Of course, since travel isn't high on the priorities list, I didn't have much of anything to put into the account; but it feels good to have made a beginning, anyway. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Psalm 147

An acquaintance in Florida e-mailed me to say that he had listened to a sermon by Rev. R. Macleod from the FP website, and that at the end you could hear the congregation singing from Psalm 147.  Perhaps, he suggested, I might be able to split the singing from the sermon, and post it online.  I thought this was a good idea. 

My brother Jesh (who knows more than I about this sort of thing) says that this file was likely compressed, so the technical quality of the recording is not great; but the singing is good (on pitch, etc.) and it's nice to have a recording of Psalm 147, which is one of my favorites.

Psalm 147:3-7, Huddersfield

3 Those that are broken in their heart,
and grieved in their minds,
He healeth, and their painful wounds
he tenderly up-binds.

4 He counts the number of the stars;
he names them every one.
5 Great is our Lord, and of great pow'r;
his wisdom search can none.

6 The Lord lifts up the meek; and casts
the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the Lord, and give him thanks;
on harp his praises sound.


Our communion season starts Thursday, so this week will be busy and I must say "goodbye" until next week.  Rev. Goldby will be the assisting minister at communion, D.V.  He and my parents are quite well acquainted, as he works with my dad, and until just recently was stationed in Israel; but I haven't met him myself.  So I am looking forward to meeting him and hearing him preach.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Found It

Some time ago, I was looking for something in writing from the Free Presbyterian Church regarding their position on women's dress.  I couldn't find the FP position in print myself, and when I asked a couple of people for help, they couldn't find it either (though they did, to their credit, go to great lengths to try to find more information for me).

It wasn't until some time later that I happened across an article on the Holdfast blog entitled "Long Hair and Femininity," and at the end of it was this link to a resolution of the synod of 2003, as printed in the FP magazine.  I've copied and pasted it here:

At its most recent meeting, in May 2003, the Synod reaffirmed the Church's adherence to the Scriptural standard expressed in this Resolution originally passed in 1970:

There is evidence that the "permissiveness" of the age has influenced the Church. In particular this is the case in the dress of the women, and in the hair styles of both men and women.

The Word of God demands of women that they be dressed in modest apparel, and the Synod urge the women of the Church to give heed to this counsel. Not only does it require modesty of dress but also distinction in dress between the sexes. The practice of men and women wearing clothes which obliterates this distinction is quite contrary to God's Word and expressly declared to be an abomination to Him. "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God" (Deut 22:5).

The Word of God clearly teaches that the hair of women should be long and the hair of men (and boys) short. Long and short are relatives. To argue from hence that the matter cannot be determined is to cast the most serious and solemn aspersion upon the Divine wisdom. "Doth not even nature itself teach you that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering" (1 Cor 11:14,15).

The Church must therefore condemn these practices as contrary to God's Word and direct her people to seek the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to enable them to live unspotted in the world.

So there you have it.  I'm not sure what I was expecting exactly, but I was happy with the way this resolution was written, in that it does not compromise on important Biblical principles of modesty and distinction in dress; and also in that it is no more specific than the Bible regarding how exactly one should be feminine or masculine (the specific application of these principles being left up to the discretion of church government within a given culture/era).

Slightly off topic, but it would be nice if past resolutions of Synod were more accessible online.  I am sure that many of the resolutions are somewhere to be found in past issues of the FP magazine, which are indeed available online, but they aren't searchable, so it is quite difficult to find something specific when desired.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Really Neat Family Photo

Check out this awesome family photo from my sister's blog.  Okay, it's not "my" family in this photo, it's the Smith family.  But my family and the Smith family do overlap a bit--I've got two siblings, two in-laws, and four nieces in this photo.  Can you find them?

Family Reunion Photo (don't forget, you can double-click on the photo for a better view)

In the center are Grammie and Grandpa, then to the left and right are Rev. Lyle (our minister) and Uncle Ernie, two of Grammie and Grandpa's four sons.  All the rest are spouses, children, spouses of children, and grandchildren of the two brothers. 

Two spouses will soon be added to this large family: John (back left, next to Jett) is engaged to Naomi from New Zealand, and Sarah (bottom right, next to Uncle Ernie) is engaged to Dave from Canada. 

I've enjoyed getting to know this family over the last few years.  The first time I, personally, met any of the Smiths was when a few of them drove Jesh and Caleb back to Indiana from Texas (long story).  It was on that first visit of theirs to Indiana (many more followed) that the photo at the bottom of this post was taken.  This was before any of the Smith cousins had gotten married, so the family as a whole was a lot smaller then.

Oh, the stories that could be told.  Someone should write a book. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Like It

One of the young people (Sam maybe?) discovered this one.
I like it.  Maybe you will too.

Leo Siberski conducts the Danse Bacchanale, from "Samson & Delilah" by Saint-Saens.

Monday, May 16, 2011

May Psalm Sing

We try to host psalm sings on a monthly basis, but sometimes it's hard to squeeze them in.  The Smith families were busy with family events during Jett and Evelyn's visit, and Rachel and Peter's.  And Jesh has been busier than ever with work, especially in recent weeks as he's been preparing to give a presentation at a conference in Vienna.  (Those of you at the FP church in London will be seeing him shortly, D.V., as he plans to stop there for the weekend both on his way to Austria, and on his way back again.)

But on Saturday we finally managed to have a psalm sing for the first time since February.  Despite the last-minute notice, a good number of people were able to make it.  Hopefully next time we'll be able to plan things farther in advance (yes, I know you've heard me say this before).

Our psalm sings usually involve a bit of good-natured debate over various points, from pitch or tempo to which version of a tune or psalm to sing.  This time proved to be no exception. :) We also spent more time than usual learning parts, since we didn't have advance notice of what tunes we would be practicing.  But despite the delays, we managed to sing and record four selections.

Psalm 21:1-6 to Free Church


Psalm 50:1-4 (1st version) to Malan


Psalm 50:5-8 (1st version) to Old 134th


Psalm 71:21-24 to Sheffield


I hope you enjoy these recordings.  I look forward to singing with you all again next month, all being well.  Next time, we hope to work on at least one tune that's *not* in our split-leaf psalters; Mercy has offered to copy and edit a couple of tunes from other books, so that we can print them out and pass them around beforehand.