Atlantic School of Theology
B.Mus. (Mount Allison University)
My first experience giving music leadership in worship came as a youth in my family church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, in Lunenburg. My father was the church organist and a part of his job was to play for ‘Sunday School devotions’ at 9:15 am. These devotions were a church service in miniature: Scripture was read, there was a short reflection by the Sunday School superintendent, prayers were said, and we sang at least two hymns. The repertoire ranged from ‘mouldy-oldy’ – Birds are Singing, Woods are Ringing – to ‘current’ material from the liturgical renewal movement – They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love, or the Medical Mission Sisters’ Joy is Like the Rain. In a bit of pre-teen self-assertion I had given up piano lessons, insisting I’d had enough of practicing ‘useless scales’ and playing ‘music I don’t really like’. As part of the deal that excused me from taking lessons, Dad created an opportunity – I became the Sunday School devotions pianist. My playing was choppy and uninspired for the first while, but I gradually became proficient at learning hymns quickly. Of course, eventually I returned to piano lessons, and ultimately post-secondary studies that helped me refine skills and develop a rounded appreciation of a broad spectrum of musical genres and styles. But, at the beginning, thoughtful mentoring and risk taking germinated in me a passion for music and spirituality, and the place of music in the action of worship.
The expression, “whoever sings prays twice,” is attributed to Augustine of Hippo. I am deeply curious of how our understanding of the divine and expressions of our deepest selves are massaged through our own creativity. I have been immensely privileged to explore this curiosity with congregations in the Atlantic region and British Columbia, serving in Presbyterian, Anglican, Lutheran, Salvation Army and United Churches.