New Carol: In Those Days Augustus Sent

wreathAbout Lessons and New Carols: a spiritual discipline for Advent 2013 of writing new texts to old hymn tunes following the readings of a Lessons and Carols service.

One of the things I’m struggling with as I go along this hymn writing discipline is copyright. There are many wonderful tunes I could be using that are still under copyright. The tunes that aren’t are mostly old, European hymn tunes. It would be great to use tunes from around the world (published more recently and under copyright). But, for now, I’m working with that I have.

This new carol is called “In Those Days Augustus Sent.” The great news is after the last carol (which I admit wasn’t the most singable), this carol is set to the highly singable TEMPUS ADEST FLORIDUM. You may know it as “Good King Wenceslas” or “Gently Mary Laid Her Child.” Both sets of text set this tune firmly in the Christmas wheelhouse.

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New Carol: Day has Dawned on Us in Darkness

wreathAbout Lessons and New Carols: a spiritual discipline for Advent 2013 of writing new texts to old hymn tunes following the readings of a Lessons and Carols service.

It may not come to a surprise to most of you that writing a hymn about the Fall in Genesis 3 (the traditional first text in a Lesson & Carols service) is difficult. That hymn is still stewing.

The second traditional text is Genesis 22:15-18 which I still haven’t fully decided if I want to write on that text or find another text about the ancestors God covenanted with. That hymn is still stewing.

So I jumped ahead to the traditional third reading: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7. This text is way more intimidating than the Fall. How can I do better than Handel?? You simply read this text and hear For unto us a child is born, for unto us a son is given.

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Lessons & New Carols

wreathFor Advent this year I wanted to take up something spiritual that would give me some energy and let me be creative and whatnot. When the call went out for Advent! Awake! new devotionals for Advent I signed up to write the first one with the prompt being essentially “it’s Advent and Genesis 1:1-2:4.”

Oh, the open-ended projects! There are times when that freedom is amazing and times when I sit staring at that little flashing line on an empty page. So, after about five different narrative reflections which might someday turn into something, I gave up. I said, “Screw this, I’m writing a hymn!”

I don’t know how y’all handle stress but apparently hymn writing is helpful for me.

The end of the process was “When in Creating Our World,” a new text to the hymn tune ABERYSTWTH. If Joseph Parry (the composer) was alive today I have a feeling we’d be really good friends because his hymn tunes have given me some incredible inspiration over the past few years.

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Background to The Christ the King Sunday Reflection

You can read the entire Christ the King Sunday Reflection printed in the 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook here.

A year and a half ago when I responded to an email from a seminary friend who had gone off to work at the then mysterious Presbyterian Mission Agency about writing a piece for the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook, I had one thing in my mind: not Christ the King Sunday. Not Christ the King Sunday. Not Christ the King Sunday.

Then the email came back… Your day will be Reign of Christ/Christ the King Sunday.

Of course. Because this is how life, ministry, and writing go: sometimes you are confronted with the very thing you wanted to avoid.

My desire to avoid Christ the King Sunday was not trying to avoid talking about the sovereignty of God or the truly God-ness of Christ or any of the traditional topics preached on during that day. My desire to avoid Christ the King Sunday was liturgical.

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New Job!

First, thank you all for your support through my job searching process.

pcusa blue and white

Second, I have started my new job as the Assistant Young Adult Catalyst within the Presbyterian Mission Agency!

I began the job yesterday so I could overlap with my predecessor, the awesome Abbi Heimach who is leaving to begin seminary next month. I wish her all the best and encourage you to follow her.

In this position I’ll be able to do everything I love in ministry–working with young adults, doing social media, teaching, technology, talking to people, dreaming big ideas, etc. Plus I get to work in the national office in Louisville and be a part of all the wonderful ministry that’s happening here. It’s really exciting. I’m in the process of validating my ministry so I can get ordained and become a specialized minister. More later as that develops.

Thank you again for all your support. I’m going to miss Princeton. I think I’m going to like living in Louisville once I get used to the humidity. (And sweet tea is amazing if you haven’t tried it.) I’m meeting a lot of wonderful people and learning lots as I go along. I’m also looking forward to furnishing my new apartment which at this point has an air mattress, a folding chair, and a lamp.

What You Actually Need for College Dorm Life

Pencil and Graph PaperRecently I was in a store that marketed a long aisle as “Dorm Essentials,” and it was full of stuff that was needed in a dorm back in 1993. Don’t waste your money on things like alarm clocks. Just don’t do it.

What you need to realize is that if you’re moving into student housing you’ll be moving out in 9-12 months, so you need to be aware that whatever you take with you or buy while you’re there will need to be shlepped out relatively soon. Simplify wherever you can. If you like taking notes by hand, buy a single notebook with tear-out pages so you can take notes and then put them into class-specific binders instead of carrying notebooks for every class.

Also, just a quick piece of advice, look at your college’s website now and see what on-campus jobs they have. Apply now or very soon. Those jobs are snapped up quick and they’re the best way to earn some extra money without having to worry about schedule interference. On-campus jobs are usually flexible and adaptable for students’ needs.

On to the main part of the blog post…

What You Don’t Need for College Dorm Life:

  • White out
  • Alarm clock 
  • TV
  • DVD player
  • Printer (use the computer labs)
  • Blank CDs & DVDs
  • Blender (why is this on dorm essentials lists?!)
  • Beanbag chair
  • Shower caddy
  • Flip flops
  • Decorative pillows
  • Body pillow
  • Water filter
  • Mini ironing board (borrow one if you need one)
  • Foam topper for bed
  • Fairy lights
  • Toaster oven
  • Storage trunk
  • Bookcases (they have these in the dorm rooms already)
  • Cork board
  • Obsessive number of organizers (under the bed storage is good but you don’t need every kind of organizer there is on the market)

Things to Wait & See If You Need for College Dorm Life:

  • Dry erase board (many dorms have them built into the door nowadays)
  • Lounge chair/futon/etc. (Do you really need it or could a back-pillow
  • Rug
  • Standing lamps
  • Microfridge & microwave
  • Bed risers (not allowed in some dorms)
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Handheld vacuum
  • Hangers
  • Plates & silverware

What You Actually Need for College Dorm Life:

  • Cell phone (any kind, basic pay-as-you-go flip phone is fine)
  • Laptop (any kind)
  • Power strip
  • Bedding & Bath linens (include a mattress pad if you want one)
  • Some favorite books
  • School supplies
  • Electric kettle or coffee maker (with reusable filter)
  • Small amount of clothing including lots of stuff to layer (easier to store & encourages you to do laundry, make sure you have at least one professional outfit in your closet just in case)
  • Laundry bag (not a basket or anything else that can’t be folded up and stored easily)
  • Laundry detergent
  • Desk lamp
  • Reusable water bottle, cup, & mug
  • Toiletries (nowadays most dorms being suite-style these are kept in the bathroom)
  • Headphones, chargers, & other accessories for electronics
  • Duct tape
  • Rolls of quarters (they disappear so fast)
  • Small tool kit & sewing kit
  • Painkiller (Advil, Tylenol, etc.), cold medicine, Pepto Bismol (trust me)
  • Hobby stuff (craft materials, running shoes, oboe, whatever)
  • Snacks with a long shelf life (I recommend granola bars & peanut butter)
  • Emergency cash (stored somewhere safe where you’ll remember it)
  • Medications & important papers (also transfer your prescription to a local pharmacy & set it to auto-refill)

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it gives you a good idea of where to start. Remember you can always get things after you’ve moved in. If you’re not sure whether or not you’ll need it, don’t bring it.

Preparing to Leave

20120731-095407.jpgSince moving out of my parents’ house to attend college the longest amount of time I’ve lived in one place is the apartment I’m currently in. I’ve been here about two and a half years, and at the end of this month my lease is up.

I talk a good game about clearing things out and boxing things up I don’t use often. The truth is I packed a couple boxes a few weeks ago and cleaned out my apartment in March as part of spring cleaning. It’s hard because I don’t know where I’m going. If I had a destination to move to or even a firm job offer things might be different. Right now, I’m finding it hard to prepare to leave.

There is a sense of home and comfort here. I know where the hot spots on the stovetop are and that the window shades in the bedroom are easy to get up but almost impossible to get back down.  I’ve done uncountable hours of reading at the desk and on the couch. I’ve written blog posts and papers, thrown parties and spent days alone, practiced guitar and burned new recipes all within these walls.

It’s time to leave. I know it is. I trust that wherever I end up there will be another apartment that over time will come to feel homey, but I love this apartment. I’ll never have a first real apartment again.

There’s a time for everything, and I think now is a time to enjoy my apartment as it is. I can start packing tomorrow.

1 Year of Dream PC(USA)

dream pcusa logo

This post is also published on Dream PC(USA).

One year ago today something that has helped shaped the rhythm of my life was born–Dream PC(USA).

It began when GA 220 ended. Many people were upset about what GA did or didn’t do, and at least to me it felt like a lot of us VS them talk was happening. The hashtag #dreampcusa was already in use with people urging all of us to stay hopeful.

Taking some inspiration from #dreamumc which was born the spring of 2012, Dream PC(USA) launched on July 7, 2012 and asked people to join with us in prayer.

Over the next couple of months a small group had big dreams for Dream PC(USA). Some of those ideas have come true. Some others have not, and that’s ok. Dream PC(USA) still prays together every week. That has been our main ministry throughout this year.

Dream PC(USA) invites people to come together to focus on the Spirit’s presence because the Spirit is present in our world and in our lives. Please join us to dream, to pray, and to find new and renewed ways of being the church in the 21st century.


-Written by Emily Hope Morgan

Top 10 Reasons Emily is Excited about Glory to God

Glory to God

I’ve already blogged about why the new Presbyterian Hymnal is good in theory, but after spending the week at the Presbyterian Association of Musicians Worship & Music conference I am 100% in favor of Glory to God (G2G)!

Not  all churches will be able to transition to the new hymnal right away. It’s a big investment, but here are my top 10 reasons I’m excited about G2G. Even if you’re not planning on buying it for your church, think about buying it for your choir.


Top 10 Reasons Emily is Excited about Glory to God

1. New music. We’ll be singing to the Lord a new song! Lots of new pieces that can be used for the congregation and plenty that could be used in the choir and for soloists & cantors.

2. Old music. Much of the blue hymnal is still around! There’s also some well-known hymns that haven’t been in a Presbyterian hymnal before. There’s even a couple of old hymns everyone else in the seminar knew but I didn’t. (Although I was one of three people to know “Shine, Jesus, Shine.”)

3. More world music with different language options. Great for my church which has a lot of people whose heart language isn’t English. Also lots of Taize.

4. Reflective Easter hymns. Good hymns to vary your Eastertide or to sing on Easter morning if Easter is a difficult time in your community.

5. 30 pages of worship materials. New worship material around the main parts of the Sunday morning service. There will also be references about where to find other resources.

6. Integrated Psalms. I love the Psalms. John Calvin wanted people to sing Psalms in their everyday lives as they worked in the fields, rocked an infant to sleep, or prayed before a meal. By integrating the Psalms into the sections of the hymnal it gives the congregation the change to sing Psalms during all parts of the worship service and liturgical year.

7. New layout. The front part is about God, the back part is about our response to God’s action in the world, and where those parts meet in the middle is the service music (gathering hymns, santcus’es, etc.) It makes a lot of sense and will refresh the idea about when well-loved hymns can be sung.

8. Thoughtfully paired with the lectionary text. Every text of the Revised Common Lectionary has hymns for it, and every Psalm in the lectionary has a verse in G2G. A lot of hymns tell biblical stories as well. Are you preaching the Parable of the Lost Coin? There’s a hymn for that.

9. It’s well-balanced. It will provide good support for many different styles of worship. There’s even an expanded section about Jesus’ life.

10. You’ll be able to get it on your eReader, project music & lyrics easily, and there will be an app! An app, I tell you! What else could you possibly want for worship planning, college ministry, youth retreats, and whatnot?!



Hey, everyone. Thank you for supporting me as I’ve blogged over the past year and a half. I’m graduating from seminary on May 18. I know I’ve been a bit spotty in my blogging this semester, and I’m taking a sabbath from blogging of at least a couple of weeks. I’ll still be on social media and doing other things, but I need a bit of rest while I go through the graduation ceremonies and prepare to move later this summer. See you on the flip side!


Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest -Matthew 11:28