Author Archives: michael

Do You Hear?

What time is it?

Do You Hear?

Awwwww yeah, it’s that time! This is the orchestral interlude to the epic Christmas opener for this year. The sound is straight out of Sibelius, so … be gracious. I’m including the score for those who wish to geek out. The section you hear starts on page 5, bar 48.


They will build and dwell, they will plant and eat

Our church follows the lectionary (sorta), and the Old Testament reading for this week comes from Isaiah 65. I’m prepping for Sunday, and the words of the passage struck me so powerfully. You should really take 5 minutes to go read the whole thing:

Isaiah 65:11-25

Did you read it? Go read it!

I’m not moving on until you read it.


OK, good.

In the middle of the passage, verse 21, comes this,

“They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”

I can’t really even put into words why it struck me so powerfully, but I was glad to remember that in coming Kingdom, there is still work, but it is never an act of futility. It is always fitting, always fruitful.

Round Midnight

I was tracking some piano last night for a beautiful song that Chad put together, it was late and the lights were down and everyone was asleep, so I took a few minutes afterward to play through one of the greatest jazz ballads every written.

This is what the Steinway sounds like with a pair of Neumann TLM 170s on it.

Round Midnight by Thelonious Monk

Sing, Ye Christmas Choirs

Working on the opener for the big APU Celebrate Christmas concert. It’s going to be a big epic choir & orchestra setting of “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, building up into a new anthem that I just finished last night. I’m kind of loving this.

Sing, Ye Christmas Choirs

Sing, ye Christmas Choirs
Ring, ye wild bells ring while darkness flees

Sing the Light of Heav’n
Sing of peace o’er all the earth while darkness flees,

O sing, ye choirs
O sing, ye choirs
Ring out, ye wild bells ring

Ring out Christmas bells
Ring out songs of joy for God has come

O Son of Israel
O Zion’s Daughter, sing! our God has come

Brightest of Adam’s wandering sons
Joined with the light of the holy one,

O sing, ye choirs
O sing, ye choirs
Ring out, ye wild bells ring

How To Handle Hard Questions

I love the webcomic XKCD for so many reasons, not the least of which is the unpronounceable title that stands for nothing at all. Today’s comic is all about handling insightful questions from students, and it struck home. I love it.

Our Best Habit

I got an email from a friend today, and it started me thinking about the things we do that build relationships, particularly marriage relationships. We’re in that stage where kids and careers are stealing away time from just the two of us, and we have to be more “on purpose” with almost everything in our lives.

So, here’s the big questions: what’s one thing you do, one habit or ritual, that builds up your relationship with your significant other.

Gretchen and I have struggled for years to figure out how to get regular time together. Date nights are great, but they end up being more expensive than we can really afford right now. Instead, we do a once-a-week “Late Dinner”. We feed the kids crap food at 5, let them have a movie night until 8, then one of use gets them to bed and the other starts cooking. We cook good food, we relax with no time pressure, and we talk in the kitchen while we do it. We sit down at maybe 8:30 or later, and we have a slow dinner. No kids, no distractions, just time to sit and talk.

It’s a new ritual, but so far, I think it’s our best habit. And it’s on my mind because I’m missing it tonight for a crap gig. Sorry, love.

What’s your best habit?

What’s That Stank? Oh, It’s Just This Christmas that I’m Laying Down

To me, my men and women of valor! To me, in my hour of need! To me, and aid me, so that I don’t have to do my own work!

I’m writing a big epic opener for the 2010 APU Christmas Concert, with soloists, handbells, orchestra, choirs, the whole shebang. The piece opens with “Do You Hear What I Hear” sung by antiphonal choirs, and then into the final verse of that song:

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

The piece is not quite epic enough to sustain the energy through the end of the piece, so I’m looking to transition from the song “Do You See” to something else. This is the part where you help me out. Any suggestions?


For those of you who missed the 2010 New Music Concert at APU (and heavens, what else could you possibly have been doing that’s more important than driving 7 hours to hear a 6 minute piece I wrote?), here is the recording of the piece I wrote. You’ll have to excuse the quality of the recording, especially when the speech comes in.

by Michael A. Lee

And for those who want to totally geek out, here’s the score.
Boudicca – Score (this doesn’t include pencil edits made in the final rehearsal)

The End of Men

The Atlantic has an article out on the decline of men in society. The premise is that, in the new economy, traditionally male traits like competitiveness, linear thinking, and being violent brutes are no longer coveted or profitable. Traditional female traits like getting along with others, sitting still and paying attention, and being pretty make women the bestest.

I mean, they use fancier language than that, but I think I captured the gist of it. From the article:

Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women?

As I’ve said before, I am deeply concerned by how society treats young boys. I am concerned that the values and logistics of social learning environments make young boys into early failures, and young girls in early successes. Time after time we see how critical the first few years of education are in determining how children think about themselves and their ability to achieve academically. Students who see themselves as failures in 1st grade may occasionally learn to shine later on, but it is the exception rather than the rule.

Now, according to The Atlantic, the idea that boys are only good boys if they act like girls has percolated up through the educational system into the larger society. The old stereotype that women had to act like men to succeed in business has been turned upside down.

The Feast Between

I’m prepping for Sunday’s sermon, the last in a series on the Prodigal Son. I’m talking about the feast, at the center of the story, the feast the serves as the hinge between the younger son’s return and the older son’s reticence. I’ve been thinking about the connection between communion and the feast.

Communion is an interim practice, bridging between the cross and the coming kingdom. It is a reminder of what happens at either end of the interim. It reminds us that Christ laid out the cash ahead of time for the feast that’s coming. He put down the deposit on a fatted calf and a keg. Communion reminds us of the price of admission. It’s also a foretaste of the feast that’s coming. Like at a BBQ, when you cut off just a little corner of the tri-tip and bring it over for someone to taste. It’s a small portion now to remind you of the bounty that’s coming.

Whenever Jesus uses the image of the feast, there are always two groups of people in the story: those who believe themselves deserving of a feast, and those who are shocked to be invited. In Matthew 8:11, “many come from the east and west, and take their place at the feast with Abraham” but the subjects of the kingdom are thrown out. In Luke 14 the invited guests beg off and refuse to come, so the doors are thrown open to the forgotten, who flood the king’s banquet hall. In the prodigal son story, the self-righteous brother believes he deserves a feast, and refuses to celebrate with his brother. The younger brother knows he deserves nothing, and so is welcomed back with joy and celebration.

The feast is for sinners.