Friday, January 28, 2011

Useful Psalm-related Links

I thought I would take a moment to draw your attention to a few websites related to Psalm singing which are already linked in various places on this blog, but which I think are worthy of specific mention.

Firstly, a friend from a psalm-singing church in the Dallas, Texas area has put together a website "for the encouragement and preservation of Biblical worship."  Mr. Koller posts regularly, and I have enjoyed reading his posts and the comments that have followed.
Exclusive Psalmody

Secondly, a friend in South Africa is working on a series of Google-based maps that will include all the EP (exclusively psalm-singing) churches around the world.  Also, he is working on maps by denomination and maps by psalter.
I found it very interesting to browse these maps just for curiosity's sake.  There are more EP congregations than I had realized (and more Free Presbyterian congregations than I had realized, for that matter).
Mr. Lindsay is still looking for information in order to complete some of these maps--click on the "info needed" tab if you think you might be able to help.
Exclusive Psalmody Churches

Thirdly, I've already mentioned the Aberdeen Free Church Continuing site, with its midi files of psalm tunes, but I'm finding the site so useful that I thought I would bring it up again.  While I can read music well enough, I'm afraid I'm not blessed with a near-perfect sense of pitch like my mother, and my brothers Jesh and Ben.  Since there aren't a lot of other people singing alto in our congregation, I need to be able to hit the notes accurately on my own.  So I find it useful to download tunes from the Aberdeen FCC site, and hum the alto part along with the recording as I browse the web.  I think doing so has helped me to fine-tune my pitch a bit (and also helps me to memorize parts for those occasions when I forget my split-leaf).
Last time I posted about this site, there were only three psalm recordings at the bottom of the page--now there are sixteen!  And they are very nice recordings. 
Aberdeen Free Church Continuing--Online Media 
I realize that I haven't posted about much else besides psalms lately.  That's partly because I think about the psalms a lot :) but also partly because my camera has died, and everything else I'd like to write about requires pictures!  But a new camera is on its way, and soon you will be treated to posts about beautiful baby nieces and incredible climbing six-year-olds.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Elijah Loves Tacos

My oldest son is currently infatuated with tacos.  Every mealtime, he asks me hopefully, "What are we eating?  Is it tacos?"  When I tell him no, he is crestfallen.  It doesn't matter how often we've had tacos lately--he still wants tacos, again.  One time I said with a touch of exasperation, "Elijah, you know we really can't have tacos at every meal.  That would be just ridiculous."  He reassured me, "Oh no, I wouldn't want tacos for breakfast.  Just for lunch and dinner."

Our tacos usually consist of beans (I make refried beans from scratch, or substitute canned black beans) and/or taco meat, served on flour tortillas or on taco shells, and topped with diced tomatoes, sour cream, shredded cheese, and (for the grownups) lots of diced onions and jalapenos sauteed in a little olive oil.

If you've ever looked at the ingredients list on a packet of taco spice, you've probably noticed that most taco spice packets have MSG in them.  We try to avoid MSG, so I make my own taco spice blend using the following recipe:

1/4 cup chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp paprika
2 T cumin
1 T and 1 tsp salt
1 T and 1 tsp ground black pepper
2 T cornstarch
Blend all ingredients.

One recipe as listed above will season five pounds of ground beef.  Brown the meat and drain the fat.  Add a little hot water, swish it around, and drain that too.  Add the seasoning and a cup or so of water; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.  Surplus meat will freeze well.

This makes a pretty spicy taco meat.  You can eliminate the crushed red pepper flakes if you prefer less heat.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January Psalm Sing

On Saturday afternoon we met once again to sing some psalms.  Jeshurun is away just now on a trip to Israel to visit our parents, so in his absence I decided that rather than attempting anything ambitious, we would just sing some of our favorites. :)  I asked James to precent, and put Mark in charge of coordinating things.  Since we didn't have to spend much time practicing unfamiliar harmonies, we were able to sing six psalms.

I really enjoyed myself, as always.  I am so thankful for friends who are willing to come sing with us, and who sing so beautifully, too.  :)  

If you'd like to download these recordings, you can do so here.

December Psalm Sing

It's a rainy day here in Texas and I am finally sitting down to catch up on posting some psalm recordings.  First up are the recordings from December's psalm sing.  Some of the Kuiper family from Canada were in town for the December communion season, so they were able to join us for some psalm singing.  It was nice to have them with us.

We sang Psalm 5 to Stracathro.  The melody line of this tune was already familiar to most of us, but we hadn't learned the harmony before.  I think it sounds very nice with all four parts.

Then we worked on the tune Dundee.  Jeshurun and I really like this tune; the melody line is simple, but (as with St. Flavian) when sung with all four parts and with a lot of feeling, we think it is quite beautiful.  Our enthusiasm wasn't initially shared by all present, but after singing the tune together, a few at least were willing to admit that with all the parts, it wasn't so bad. :) And it is a very fitting tune for the first stanzas of Psalm 22.

As usual, you can download these recordings to your own computer here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Top Five Posts, 2010

As of the sixth of this month, I have now been blogging at the "Texan Rose" address for one year.  I just had a look at my blog stats program.  Here are the top five most clicked-upon posts for 2010:

1. Psalm Recordings :)
2. My brother's thoughts on education, and a discussion
3. Free Presbyterians discuss homeschooling
4. Running in a skirt?
5. Running + skirt = frustration (or so I thought at the time)

There's a lot of disparity in the numbers on these: the #1 post got nearly five times as many hits as the #5 post.  I guess psalms and homeschooling are hot topics--the psalms especially; it would appear that a lot of people are searching for psalm recordings via internet search engines.  I am happy to see that the psalm recordings have been of interest to others as they have been to me! 

I hope to blog more regularly in the coming year.  I'm behind on posts at the moment (yes, my sister did finally have a beautiful new baby, and yes, I do still have psalm recordings from December to post) but hope to get caught up soon.  Thanks for your patience, friends. :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Optimism for the New Year

Happy New Year, friends!

I love New Year's Day for the new beginning it represents.  I think the beginning of a new year is a great opportunity to look back over the past year to consider the Lord's mercies to us: "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."  As I consider God's gracious provision in the year past, how can I not be excited and optimistic as I look forward to the year to come? 

And as always, "There's a psalm for that."  Of course, there are many psalms about the Lord's provision in times past, but I think Psalm 18, with its triumphant tone, is especially encouraging.  I love verses 6 through 19!

We sang verses 16-19 at a psalm sing a few months ago, but didn't post the recording online due to kid noise.  But on New Year's Eve as I was thinking about the psalm and listening to the recording, I thought, "You know, if we could edit out the noise at this one point, the rest of the recording is really not too bad."  So I roped Jesh into helping me doing it for me.  As the old clock on the mantel struck midnight--err, would have, if we'd remembered to wind it--we were at the computer playing with Audacity. :) 

Psalm 18 v. 16-19 to the tune St. Magnus

And from above the Lord sent down,
and took me from below;
From many waters he me drew, 
which would me overflow.

He me relieved from my strong foes,
and such as did me hate;
Because he saw that they for me
too strong were, and too great.

They me prevented in the day 
of my calamity;
But even then the Lord himself
a stay was unto me.

He to a place where liberty
and room was hath me brought;
Because he took delight in me,
he my deliv'rance wrought.

(Download the recording here)
(p.s. in case you're wondering, no, my sister still has not had her baby!!)
(p.p.s. recordings from our December psalm sing will be posted in the next day or two)