Why should we sing?

I don’t go looking for posts about congregational singing, but a couple of blogs I follow comment on or link to blog posts on the topic fairly often.

The prevailing consensus is that congregational singing is declining. I have not noticed that myself, but apparently others have.

Naturally, people want to find the problem and fix it. A number of possible reasons for this decline have been proposed.

Some say that the congregation doesn’t sing as well since the advent of worship teams. Some blame this on the atmosphere seeming more like a concert than a church service. Others point blame at the number of instruments on stage, the loudness of the music, the singing of new songs that no one knows, the difficulty of some of those songs for a congregation to sing. Some have blamed the professionalism or the commitment to excellence of the musicians, because that makes us “average Joes” feel like we don’t measure up. Sadly, many churches are eliminating performed music (what we use to call “special music”) for these reasons. The most recent article I saw said the problem started way back even before the worship team advent, when churches had choirs that “drowned out” the congregation.

My own experience is limited, of course. We’ve only visited one church where I truly felt like the stage and musicians were set up for a concert rather than congregational singing. This church had a choir and a worship team, multicolored lighting, a stage covered with instruments. I don’t think any of that would have been insurmountable, though. The one main problem was that the songleader or worship leader never told us as a congregation when to join in or invited us to sing along. As we looked around to see whether others were singing, we noticed that some were and some were not. So we didn’t know quite what to do.

Most of my church experiences have involved one songleader on stage with a choir behind him, sometimes with musicians on stage or nearby, sometimes not. The choir helps keep the pace and provide the melody for those who might not know a song. I have never been in a church where the choir “drowned out” the congregational singing.

I have been in two churches where the songleader was an actual professional in the sense of having a PhD not just in music, but in voice. In both of those churches, the singing was robust. No one seemed to be intimidated by the professionalism of the leader and others in the choir and church. Ordinary, untrained people sang special music as well as the trained ones. So I don’t think professionalism in and of itself is a factor, or at least it shouldn’t be.

There is one factor, however, that overrides any problems with congregational singing: the fact that the Bible tells us we’re supposed to sing.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Psalm 100:1-2, ESV

Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart. Ephesians 5:18b-19, ESV

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16, ESV

We shouldn’t use these verses as clubs to beat people over the head with their responsibility, but we should encourage each other to obey God in this respect. Some have tried to encourage thinking about the songs we sing by almost preaching a small sermon between songs, sharing long Puritan readings, etc. There might be a time for that kind of thing, but usually I find that, rather than encouraging singing, it takes away from it. People get weary mentally and their minds wander (or even physically, if they’re made to stand through all of that).

I’ve long wanted to do a study of music in the Bible. I notice that in many of the psalms, singing is associated with thanksgiving. The passages above speak of singing as an outgrowth of being filled with the Spirit of God and the Word of God. Could it be that poor congregational singing is a symptom of a lack in these areas, rather than a problem in itself?

One of my soapbox issues is that our responsibility to do right before God should not depend on other people or circumstances. I can’t stand before God and blame other people for my sin. They are responsible for their influence, and they’ll have to answer for their failures and temptations. But God has promised each of His children that, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). That is true not just for avoiding sin and resisting temptation, but also for doing right. I should do the right thing whether the circumstances are conducive or not, whether anyone else is doing so or not.

Sure, it’s good to study what helps and hinders good congregational singing. But we as a congregation need to realize that whether the song is too old or too new, too high or too low, too fast or too slow, too soft or too loud, whether there is one musician or many, whether others sing better or worse or not at all, we need to sing as unto the Lord. He is worthy of our praise. Let’s overlook the petty hindrances to our comfort level and think about His greatness and goodness and all He has done for us. It will be hard to hold back from singing then!

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.
Psalm 28:7, NKJV

The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has become my salvation.
Glad songs of salvation
    are in the tents of the righteous.
Psalm 118:14-15a, ESV

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Wise Woman, Faith on Fire)

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Tune My Heart to Sing Your Grace

I’ve always wanted to do a study of music in the Bible – not so much via concordance, but as I go through my usual reading the Bible through, noting what all it has to say about music in context. There are so many rich references to music there: music touches most of us deep in our souls, and it’s meant to! Some day I will.

But  our substitute Sunday School teacher has been going through Isaiah 12 the last couple of weeks. Last week centered mostly on verse 2:

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

I have always loved that not only is He our salvation, He is also our strength; and He doesn’t just give us “grin and bear it” strength, He is also our song.

This week the lesson went on to the rest of the chapter, and one subset of the lesson included verse 5:

Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.

Then the teacher shared just a few verses indicating what we’re to sing about. I failed to take notes, but when I had a chance I looked up some of the verses in a concordance. Here is what I found just in the psalms that we can sing about:

God’s righteousness: I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high. Psalm 7:17.

His doings: Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. Psalm9:11.

His bountiful dealings with us: I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:6.

His power:  Be thou exalted, Lord, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power. Psalm 21:13.

His holiness: Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. Psalm 30:4.

His praises: Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. Psalm 47:6-7.

His righteousness in forgiveness: Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. Psalm 51:14.

His mercy: But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble. Psalm 59:16. I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 89:1.

His Name: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious. Psalm 66:2.

His righteous judgment: O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Psalm 67:4.

His truth: I will also praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel. Psalm 71:22.

His wondrous works: Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works. Psalm 105:2.

What He has done for us: When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them. The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Psalm 126: 1-3.

There are so many other aspects of music in the Bible: where people sang (from “the congregation of the saints” [Psalm 149:1] to our own beds [Psalm 149:5]), to whom they sang, situations in which they sang.

Just this brief study makes me want to burst into song!

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of God’s redeeming love.

Oh that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Full arrayed in blood-washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry
Bring Thy promises to pass
For I know Thy pow’r will keep me
Till I’m home with Thee at last.

~ Robert Robinson

Related posts:

“Special” Music in the Church
Songs in the Night

(Sharing With Literary Musing Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Faith on Fire)

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Luther on Music

Photo Courtesy of morguefile.com

Photo Courtesy of morguefile.com

This may seem totally random (this blog is called Stray Thoughts after all 🙂 ), but I came across a quote from Martin Luther about music, and that got me searching for what else he might have to say about music. I found these quotes but couldn’t find their source – if anyone knows, please do enlighten me.

Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.

My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.

You will find that from the beginning of the world [music] has been instilled and implanted in all creatures, individually and collectively. For nothing is without sound or harmony… Music is a gift and largesse of God, not a human gift. Praise through word and music is a sermon in sound.”

This was balm to my own heart as music minsters to me in a unique way. My husband and I have had many discussions about music in church. He prefers congregational singing, partly because he feels like he is participating. I enjoy congregational singing most of the time, but I have a hard time keeping my mind on the words. I “feel” (I hate to use that word but can’t think of a better one) more worshipful when listening to someone minister in music (what we sometimes call “special music,” but some object to that term). Arrangements for an individual or small group usually allow for more expressiveness in style than a congregational song, and the musician’s giftedness can enhance the message. For some reason I can fully focus on a song that someone else is singing or playing better than I can when I’m singing with others.

But either venue can and does glorify God and and ministers to our own hearts in the meantime. I am thankful to God for it and for those who minister in that way.

See also:
Songs in the Night
The Hidden Art of Homemaking on Music.
Sing! Sing a Song

The Hidden Art of Homemaking Book Club, Chapter 3: Music

It’s Week 3 of  The Hidden Art of Homemaking Book Club hosted by Cindy at Ordo Amoris where we’re discussing Edith Schaeffer’s book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking, a chapter at a time.

In Chapter 1, “The First Artist” (linked to my thoughts) Edith makes the case that because God as Creator is artistic, making the world not just functional but beautiful, and we’re created in His image, it follows that we’re created to be creative and to appreciate the artful and beautiful. In Chapter 2, “What Is Hidden Art?” (also linked to my thoughts), she goes on to explain that she is talking primarily about everyday endeavors, not necessarily pursuing the Arts as a profession (though some are called to that), and encourages us that though we’re finite and limited, though being creative requires some discipline and prioritizing, there are ways we can pursue it. The next several chapters are going to delve into some specific areas where we can learn to appreciate and perhaps even incorporate beauty and creativity. Chapter 3 discusses music in particular.

Experiencing music together as a family or with friends gives an outlet for expression, for relaxation, for “creative ideas and imagination [to be] sparked off” in each other, for enjoyment, and for personal development. She encourages letting children start off with their natural inclination to explore sound and rhythm (I can remember mine banging pans and such as toddlers).

She spends only the last few paragraphs talking about musical expression in the Bible, but that would be a very rich study to pursue further. We have the Psalms with their variety of emotions expressed in song, we have the encouragement to “make a joyful noise” unto the Lord, the instruction to teach and admonish one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. God tells Job about when the morning stars sang together and is Himself called a song: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2).

To my regret, I don’t know how to play a musical instrument, but I do enjoy singing around the house, in the car, etc. I can’t say I know a lot about music, but I have always enjoyed it, and one of my favorite classes in college was Music Appreciation. I did not grow up with classical music but developed a love for it in college. I’m not much into pop music – the closest I get to it is some of Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Il Divo, etc. I love “the standards” – “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” etc. I also grew to enjoy folk songs – American, Irish, Scottish, English – a lot of songs from musicals, and a rich variety of hymns. Music, even secular music, touches the soul in a particular way that nothing else does.

I remember having a little toy drum and piano when my kids were toddlers, and if I remember correctly, our library had a regular time for preschoolers that involved musical instruments. Of course I sang to them from their infancy, we sang a variety of songs together, and they grew up hearing music at home. They all went to sleep listening to Patch the Pirate and other musical tapes. We didn’t start any formal lessons until they were 8: that was the age recommended to me by a friend who is the mom of a very musical family, and coincidentally, the age their school began piano lessons. I wanted them to take piano because it would give them a good foundation for singing, for choir, and for any other instrument they wanted to take, plus it’s a good discipline and use of time. I don’t know if any of them liked it. They were excited to begin, not so excited about practicing. They would have liked it a lot better if they hadn’t had to play in front of people at recitals. Only one taught himself a variety of other instruments (guitar, penny whistle, ocarina). But they do all enjoy listening to music. They all sang in school choirs, one sang in the church choir for a while, and one sang with an ensemble at school.

Edith mentioned at some point in the first couple of chapters that even if we don’t have talent or skill in a given area of art or creativity, we can learn to appreciate it, to see the beauty in it. I had not originally planned to do this when I first started this post, but this morning I was thinking that it might be helpful to some to share a little bit about listening to classical music from an amateur. I mentioned earlier that I didn’t have much exposure to classical music until college. I grew up with “You’re Cheatin’ Heart” and other such lovely little ditties. 🙄 I can remember going to hear an orchestra with my Girl Scout troop and being fascinated, hearing a high school concert of Handel’s Messiah, and a few other exposures, and then when I got to college, I not only heard more classical music from some of the programs we were required to attend, but I had a Music Major roommate who got me started with some basic classical records. Then my senior year I was required to take Music Appreciation and loved it. But the first time or two I heard a whole concert, I was lost. I found a couple of parts that particularly appealed to me, but afterward I couldn’t have told you what they were. Listening more and learning more about classical music helped immensely. I don’t know a whole lot, but here are a few pointers for enjoying classical music:

1. Listen for the theme, a few notes put together in a specific pattern that repeats. This is easiest to do at first with something that is a variation on the same theme, like the second movement from Hayden’s Symphony No. 94, the Surprise Symphony (so called because it has some unexpected loud parts designed to wake up those who were dozing :)) or Ravel’s Bolero or the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The composer takes the same series of notes and repeats them with different variations: different instruments, different themes, different harmonies, different tempos and rhythms, etc. It’s similar to your music leader at church saying, “Everyone sing harmonies on the first stanza of this hymn, men sing the second stanza, ladies the third, then we’ll all join in unison on the fourth without the instruments.”

2. Listen for how the themes work together. This is easiest to do if the themes mean something to you, like in Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture: the first part is here, the second part is here – I guess maybe it was too big for one YouTube video. It begins with what some people would consider high church or holy-sounding music, representing the friar, then goes into the the fight theme, representing the discord between the two families (the music picks up, clashes, you can imagine sword thrusts back and forth), then goes into the love theme (which you’ve probably heard at some point),  – and then all these themes start interacting, playing over and above each other as the young lovers try to connect amidst the fighting, the friar tries to help out, etc. Even if you can’t follow it line by line, you can get the overall feel of it. One of my favorite examples is The Moldau by Smetana, representing one of the rivers in his native Czechoslovakia. It begins with two streams that merge into a river, then the river flows alongside a country wedding, through mermaids, rapids, etc. It wasn’t until the Romantic Era that music was made to represent nature or literary themes on a large scale: before that it was mostly “absolute music” the same interplay of themes, but just as themes and not meant to represent something in life. Still nice, but a bit harder to pick out sometimes.

Two good piece for children are Peter and the Wolf and Carnival of the Animals (especially the latter with Odgen Nash’s poems in-between.

3. Listen for the progression. Like a good story, most classical pieces have a beginning, build to a climax, and then resolve.

4. Read up just a bit on the different kinds of compositions. A symphony, for instance, has 2 or 3 “movements,” and each one usually following certain parameters (the second is usually slower, for instance) and each with its own themes. It helps you not to feel so lost if you know a little bit about how it is put together and what to expect.

5. Learn a bit about the piece. Knowing that Dvorak’s New World Symphony was written when he felt America didn’t have a”national sound,” and that he invoked a lot of Native American and African-American-sounding themes in it, helps you get more out of it. The song “Going Home” is from the second movement.

6. Learn about the composer. A friend did this once: chose a composer and read about him while listening to various works of his to get the flavor of them. Knowing that Hayden’s situation and personality were both different from Beethoven’s, for instance, helps to account for some of the differences in their music.

You can see why Easy Listening music is called that. 🙂 It’s not that classical music is hard, necessarily, but you do get more out of it if you put a little more into it. And then just like any other song or story, once you’re familiar with a piece, you enjoy it, anticipate your favorite parts of it, etc.

I wish I had listened to more classical music with my kids. I had planned to have some sessions with one of these pieces playing in the background while we did other things, but I either never thought about it when we could have done it, or it never worked out as they got older and busier.

I mentioned my thirteen favorite classical music pieces here and some favorite CDs here (though I’d have several to add to that list now). Here are some of my favorite selections from different genres:


Songs in the night

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Photo credit: mconnors from morguefile.com

Somehow over the last several months (years?) I’ve developed a tendency to wake up once or twice during the night. Friends tell me it’s part of “middle age.” I always have to get up and go to the bathroom when I wake up, and often I stumble back to bed and fall right back to sleep. But other times I’m awake for an hour or so. That’s not too much of a problem these days since at this point in my life I can catch a nap during the day if I need to, unless I need to be up at a certain time, or it’s a Saturday night and I really want to get back to sleep so I can stay awake in church the next day.

But I have learned that stewing over being awake is no way to get back to sleep. Sometimes I think, often I pray, and if my husband is not in bed I’ll turn the radio on with the “sleep” button that lets it play for an hour.

Recently when I turned the radio on in the night, the station was playing the old Unshackled program featuring stories of people whose lives had been changed through the ministry of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago.

That really took me back. When I was a new Christian in the 70s, I’d often turn the radio on when I first went to bed. Unshackled played, as well as The Quiet Time with Albert H, Salter, Joseph Barclay as the soloist, and Lorin Whitney at the organ, Nightsounds with Bill Pearce, and the Haven of Rest Quartet program.

At that time we had just moved to Houston and away from familiar places and friends, my parents had just divorced, I had recently been saved and my family was not particularly interested, and these programs met a deep need in my life. Maybe Albert Salter and Bill Pearce just had particularly soothing voices, or maybe because these program were on late at night they were designed to be soothing and peaceful, but they definitely poured balm on my troubled soul. I’m so grateful they were there for me and for others. The Quiet Time was still on until fairly recently, and it always warmed my heart to hear those familiar voices.

I know the Bible wasn’t primarily referring to Christian radio or recorded music when it said “God my maker…giveth songs in the night” (Job 35:10) or “Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life” (Psalm 42:8), but He certainly used them to minister to me.

I still love those programs though they’re considered old-fashioned now. And I love a lot of new music that is being produced now and has been since then.

I hope my children and loved ones know that in their deepest needs, in the “night,” literally or figuratively, they can find His songs, His peace, His comfort and instruction. And of course there is music for life’s highest joys as well, and everything inbetween.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. Psalm 63:5-8

Psalm 77:1-14:

1 I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.

In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.

Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?

Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?

Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.

10 And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.

11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.

12 I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

13 Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?

14 Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.

The King of Love

I’ve posted this before, but it is on my mind again today. One of my favorites:

The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.

~ Henry W. Baker

Laudable Linkage and Fun Videos

Here are a few things that stood out to me online this week:

Filling my home with the unseen, HT to Lizzie. Both the photos and the sentiments are lovely.

Pray to BLESS. I’ve heard and read a number of acronyms as a help to prayer, but I had never come across this one before. Very helpful.

The New Evangelical Virtues. Tim Challies masterfully discusses “characteristics that seem to pass as virtues today…doubt, opaqueness, and an emphasis on asking rather than answering questions.” “Humility is not found in doubting what is true, but in believing that what God says is true is true indeed.”

Spring Cleaning Your Facebook Account. No, not a discussion of purging your “Friends” list, but rather helpful questions to check our hearts. It’s not that the technology is bad, but what’s in our hearts is going to reveal itself even there.

Why Books Still Matter.

I almost labeled this “Luggage Inspectors,” but I didn’t want to be snarky. 🙂 Let’s just say don’t leave a parked car where there are monkeys:

This is amazing. I could never do this — not only because I can’t play music, but I’m sure I would knock over more than one glass.

Happy Saturday!

Remembering Mom

It was five years ago today that I received the dreaded phone call that my mom had passed away. I wrote more about that day and its aftermath of sorrow and answered prayer here, and a tribute to my mom here. I won’t repeat all of that this year, but I did want to share a song that has ministered to me since her death. I don’t know what all the video is about, but it is the only one I found with the song “Safely Home” by Steve Green recorded.

Miss you, Mom.

Giving Thanks Challenge, Day 23

http://southbreezefarm.blogspot.com/2010/10/2010-giving-thanks-challenge.html

It’s Day 23 of the Giving Thanks Challenge hosted by Leah at South Breeze Farm.

I am thankful for the wonderful gift of music,

from great hymns of the faith

to more modern worship songs

to classical

to “show tunes”

to folk songs

to silly songs

and more.

I am so thankful God gave us the gift of music!

Laudable Linkage

Wow — came across some deep, thought-provoking posts this week as well as some fun ones. Hope you find a few you enjoy!

What is Success? Life in the Upside Down Kingdom by Ann Voskamp, HT to Lisa Notes. I’d urge any of my blogger friends who are Christians to read this if you don’t read anything else here. I need the constant reminder that whatever else my blog is or does, it is first and foremost done as unto Him.

Also by Ann, HT to Addy, When you’re trying to get your priories straight. Beautiful. I’ve been referred to and blessed by Ann’s blog so often that I finally subscribed.

Seeing past what it seems, HT to Lizzie, had me in tears.

‘Twas the night before chemo and Cary Schmidt puts this journey into perspective. HT to Susan.

On a lighter note:

Flourless chocolate cake.

Do you love turkey? — jokes and cartoons for Thanksgiving.

Turkey finger puppet tutorial.

Free decals for kitchen use.

This little girl is soooo cute! She tells the story of Jonah, and though she doesn’t have every little point exactly right, she has wonderful presence, a variety of voices, and a sweet way of saying “sh” for “s”. “Forgive us for being shelfish.”

And if you’d like to spend 3 1/2 minutes listening to some beautiful instrumental music, here you go:

And