Nectar of Joy (India fusion song)
Remember Shakti is a quintet which combines elements of traditional Indian music with elements of jazz, formed in the 1990s.. The band consists of:
English guitarist John McLaughlin
Zakir Hussain (tabla),
U. Srinivas(deceased) (mandolin),
Shankar Mahadevan (vocals)
V. Selvaganesh (kanjira, ghatam, mridangam),
who are of Indian descent.
The band formed in 1997, replacing the earlier band ‘Shakti’ which was active in the 1970s.
I delightedly followed bands in the years they were active.
Here are several versions of a very joyful song by the band titled ‘Giriras Sudha.’ I can find no meaning for the first word. The second word is a Hindi feminine name which means “nectar.” So just for the purposes of this blog post, I’m giving the nickname “Nectar of Joy” to the song.
‘Nectar’ is a commonly-used metaphor in Hindu religion. Christians have also begun using it, referring the ‘nectar’ of Christ’s teachings, among various meanings.
I dutifully note this comment on Youtube by a Hindi speaker: “ It's actually Giriraja Sutha Tanaya - son of daughter of king of mountains.” That makes the most sense. Whatever the actual title is … it’s a marvelous song!
I think this live version is from 2006:
This live version is from the concert recording “Saturday Night in Bombay.”
A live version - 21 minutes! - from 2012:
A version from 2013 performed in Hungary:
Kingfisher on a Lotus
I was recently curious if any art was ever made that showed a kingfisher bird and a lotus flower together. Lo and behold, there is a lot!
The kingfisher has a multitude of symbolic meanings in various cultures. Here’s one of many: “In Christian art, the kingfisher symbolizes resurrection …” (Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in Art, page 247). And in much of Asia, the lotus symbolizes purity.
To bring some beauty to your day for reflection and meditation, here are some paintings and photographs of kingfishers and lotus flowers. Most of the paintings I found on eBay, and they are for sale there (the top three are very small painting prints, just $5 each).
This photo was taken by Shuttha Shutthanandan in Sri Lanka.
You’ll see that the top painting in the blog post may have been based on this photo.
For my previous post on kingfishers, see
Litany for Compassion Fatigue
In this week’s Gospel reading [Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 ], we see a tired Christ surrounded by tired disciples, looking for some rest and respite from their work. But they can’t find it, even when they get on a boat and sail away to an empty place. Crowds of the sick and needy still find them there. And Christ sees the crowd and Mark’s gospel says “he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
If you are suffering from compassion fatigue in these times, you’re not alone. Maybe this litany will be helpful to you.
God, we bear witness to Christ:
In spi rit,
And in our own experience.
We see the times when he and his disciples were exhausted
By the constant cries of distressed people,
By exerting themselves in service
By crowds and noise and need.
We have felt those same feelings,
And needed similar rest.
Help us not to grow irritable or resistant
To the needs of human beings;
But to have compassion for your people,
The sheep of your pasture.
For we are among them,
Hungry and in need of healing;
Hoping to touch the fringe of Christ’s cloak (Mark 6:56),
Hoping for miracles.
Help us to find respite from noise and distraction
And find connection with you,
Life with you,
Nourishment with you,
Peace with you,
Rest with you.
As as we daily enter the quiet place of restoration,
May we find you there.
And when we must g o a little farther, pour out a little more,
May we receive our strength from you.
Praise or Noisy Gong?: A Musicologist’s Vision for Loving Your Neighbor (CICW)
Differences in musical tastes, aesthetics and priorities are notoriously contentious issues for congregations and ministries to navigate.
This session probes the question of why we so often struggle to understand and appreciate the music of our fellow believers, whether they are in the pew beside us or across the world. We’ll consider how and why music carries cultural baggage of various kinds, and what it might look like to try to love your neighbor by walking a mile in their musical “shoes”.
Listen to the 1-hour audio presentation by Benita Wolters-Fredlund at
It was presented in July 2017 at Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.
Seven Challenges in Multicultural, Multi-congregational Worship (CICW)
Calvin Institute for Christian Worship (CICW) has recently published some helpful articles on their website. Many were written by my friend Joan Huyser-Honig.
1. Seven Challenges in Multicultural, Multi-congregational Worship
2. Reggie Smith on Churches Called to Become Multicultural
Multicultural Congregations Meet for Combined Worship Services
4. Multilingual Worship: How to include many languages
Bilingual Worship: Three Lessons I Learned
6. Christina Edmondson on Doctrine and Multicultural Hospitality
7. Christina Edmondson on Church Multicultural Accessibility Committees
8. The Challenge of Preaching in Bilingual Communities
9. Sandra Van Opstal on Multicultural Preaching
New Communion Song from Albania
In April, I had the privilege of working alongside a team of ethnodoxologists, song writers, and musicians to compose new songs in the Albanian language for churches in Kosovo and Albania.
Shtepia Records in Peja, Kosovo, has been developing professional recordings based on the demo recordings we made. I really enjoy hearing these. This is the second release, from the Kosovo workshop - a song about communion.
Lyrics in Albanian and English are below. When we met with the composing group, we suggested that they create a song focusing on the invitational aspect of communion - God speaking to us, as in the first 2 verses. A response from us to God is in verse 3. The title is “Eja Ti Etjen Shuaje (Këngë për Darkën e Zotit).” In English: “Come, Let Your Thirst Be Quenched (Song for God’s Supper).”
Shkruarja e tekstit (words and music): Edlira Spaho
Kompozimi: Whitney Peck, Pepa Sefedini
Vokali kryesor: Pepa Sefedini
Harmoni dhe Piano: Whitney Peck
Kitarë (guitar): Aaron Smith
Orkestrimi/Producent: Aaron Smith Inqizimi: Shtëpia Records www.shtepiarecords.com
Eja, ti etjen shuaje Nga ky ujë i gjallë Eja, hapat unë t’i drejtojë Eja, për ty kam mall.
Ja, trupi yt u thye për ne Gjaku yt na pastroi Ti bën me ne një besëlidhje te re Ndaj ftesën tënde e pranojmë.
Na fal që të lëmë mënjanë
Çdo ditë s’e mbajmë kryqin tënd
Por sot kthehemi përsëri
Thesari i jetës je ti.
Come, let your thirst be quenched
by this living water.
Come, I will guide your steps.
Come, I miss you.
See, your body was broken for us,
your blood has cleansed us.
You make a new covenant with
so we accept your invitation.
I am sorry that I leave you aside,
I don’t carry your cross each day,
but today I choose you again.
You are the treasure of this life.
Eja, ti etjen shuaje
Come, let your thirst be quenched
Nga ky ujë i gjallë
From this living water
Eja, hapat unë t’i drejtojë
Come, I will guide your steps
Eja, për ty kam mall.
Come, I miss you
Ja, trupi yt u thye për ne
See, Your body was broken for us
Gjaku yt na pastroi
Your blood has cleansed us
You can download the first 4 songs from the composing workshops (studio recordings) at
Blessed, Broken and Shared - Communion/Eucharist Banner
by Sr Mary Stephen CRSS
One of the composing groups in our pair of workshops:
Read a report on the 2-week trip at the website of Heart Sounds International:
Here is the ‘live’ demo recording just after the s ong was recorded. The privacy settings may keep you from seeing it, I’m working on getting that adjusted.
Litany for the Prophets
This litany is inspired by a reading of this
week’s Lectionary passages from Mark 6 and Ezekiel 2.
God, we give thanks for the prophets of the world:
Those who speak the Good News into being,
Those who live out the mercy of Christ in a dog-eat-dog world,
Those who forsake honor and reputation,
Those who speak truth to power,
Those who leave their comfort behind.
For the poets, preachers, and saints,
We give thanks.
For the artists, peaceful protesters, marchers, healers, and humble warriors,
We give thanks.
For those who call out injustice and bring in grace,
We give tha nks.
For those whose bodies, whose very lives, reproach the powers,
We give thanks.
For those who bind wounds, create space for lament, and listen deeply,
We give thanks.
We know that, most often, the ones who prophesy to us
Are the ones we ignore.
Most often, the prophets are the marginalized, the scorned, the killed -
Those who follow Christ’s footsteps.
May we be mindful of the prophets.
Soften our hearts, oh God.
May we heed their warnings.
Open our ears, oh God.
May their blood not cry out in vain.
Open our eyes, oh God.
May the bodies of the faithful speak beyond words.
Enlighten our minds, oh God.
May the wakeful awaken us.
Kundra Rrymës, Against the Flow (Albanian Christian Rap)
On my recent ministry trip to Albania and Kosovo I met Bledi Spaho, a minister, musician, composer, recording artist, drummer and rapper. He raps under the moniker of “C-Style.”
Here’s one of his rap songs, partial English lyrics below the video. The title means ‘Against the Flow.’
Part of the original Albanian lyrics:
Shumë do më tallin, shumë do më urrejnë
për shkak t'emrit të Tij që ata se pëlqejnë
Por t& euml; gjitha k'to vuajtje jo nuk kanë krahasim
me at’ gëzim që do të kem kur do jem pranë Zotit tim.
Besnik deri në vdekje Atij kam për ti qëndruar
sepse kurorën e jetës Ai ma ka premtuar…
An English translation of that lyrical section:
Many will mock me, many will hate me
because of His name that they didn’t like
But all this suffering has no comparison
with ‘the joy that I will have when I will be with my Lord.
Faithful to death I will stay to Him
because the crown of life He has promised me …
C-Style has released other Christian rap songs in Albanian; subscribe to his YouTube channel here:
He’s making the ‘V’ sign for ‘Victorious.’
Litany for Dancing
This prayer is connected to the Lectionary passages for Proper 10, the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, Year B; specifically to the account in 2 Samuel where David accompanies the ark of the LORD into Jerusalem with dancing, music, and rejoicing.
God, we know that where your presence is
There is joy.
Where your glory dwells
There is joy.
As your servant David danced with all his might in the presence of the Ark (1),
So we embrace joy in the nearness of God;
You have not removed yourself from us,
Nor made yourself unavailable us.
We are your own people, whom you have blessed with every spiritual blessing (2)
Whom you love.
For surely you will speak peace to your people
When we turn to you in our hearts. (3)
Where you are, steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other. (4)
Oh God, grant that we may be so connected to your goodness,
And so aware of your presence,
That even when ci rcumstances around us appear grim
We can have joy;
That even though we have all the facts (5),
We can rejoice;
That even though our dignity is suspect,
We can dance.
We carry your presence like arks within us,
Dancing as we go.
1) 2 Samuel 6:14
2) Ephesians 1:3
3) Psalm 85:8
4) Psalm 85:10
5) From Wendell Berry’s poem “Mad Farmer Liberation Front”: “Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.”
UK Symposia on the art, architecture and craft of the Eucharist
The Eucharist (Mass or Holy Communion) is the central act of worship in Christian liturgy, offering thanksgiving, praise and sacrifice. This series of symposia explores the Eucharist in relation to art, architecture and craft and asks how the visual arts have shaped and are shaped by the Eucharist.
Each symposium will act as a ‘sounding’, taking place in a different regional centre and feeding into a two-day conference in London in November 2019. The symposia will draw upon collections of ecclesiastical art and design as well as the architecture of sanctuaries and chapels set aside for the celebration of the Eucharist. There will also be rare opportunities to handle and view closely different materials and media, including textiles, silverware, sculpture, painting and furniture.
Visual Communion will demonstrate the crucial importance of the visual arts in the rich heritage of Christian sacramental liturgy and t heology, opening up new ways of seeing art made and used for the glory of God.
The symposia will take place in Durham, Coventry in Autumn 2018; Chichester and Winchester in Spring 2019; and culminating in a major two day conference in London in November 2019 at which Rowan Williams will give a keynote lecture.