Category Archives: Music


WFMW — MP3 Downloads

A couple of weeks ago we learned a new praise chorus in church. Written by Chris Tomlin, it is a simple, melodic song that, as we sang it in worship to God, reached a crescendo that touched my soul. I hummed it (off-tune, of course) all the way home. When I walked in the door, I immediately sat down and looked it up in Amazon’s MP3 Store. Sure enough, the song was entitled Praise the Father, Praise the Son, and was downloadable instantly for $0.99. I bought it on the spot, and was listening to it 60 seconds later. It turned out to be much better than my tuneless humming.

All this was done even before I had lunch, which just goes to show that there are more important things than Sunday lunch.

sarah, rachel and jenny

Rachel’s good friends joined us for church on Sunday.

When I was a surly young teenager, there weren’t very many voices in the Contemporary Christian Music scene. There were the Praise Maranatha Singers, Amy Grant, Keith Green, DeGarmo and Key, Petra, and somewhat later, that Johnny-come-lately, Michael W. Smith.

My parents had some deep misgivings about the godliness of this so-called ‘Christian’ rock music, and so I had to listen on headphones, or deep in the bowels of my basement bedroom. I remember feeling vaguely resentful about that, and using their seemingly-unreasonable stance against contemporary Christian music to justify (in my own mind, at least) my rebelliousness in listening to secular rock on the sly. (As is the case with many teenagers, I exercised no monopoly on logic.)

Now I have a teenager of my own, and two younger ones who seem to think they are teenagers. As a Christian parent, I am determined to encourage my children in godliness, and not to allow Satan a foothold in the area of music. For this reason, I permit, and even encourage my kids to develop their own tastes in the area of music styles, but I insist that they listen to music that has godly lyrics and is performed by people who love and follow Jesus. I don’t see any benefit that secular music would provide to my children, and so far nobody has argued that point with me.

sarah sweetie pie

Sarah doesn’t want to argue with her daddy, no sir!

In the old days, we would sign up for some CD-of-the-month club (like Sound and Spirit) and buy whole albums featuring our favorite artists. Or maybe we would go to a Christian book store and listen to some of their demo albums. Either way, we’d end up buying a whole CD. Then we would cull through those songs and find the one or two songs on the CD that we could stand, and add them to our playlist on the computer.

In this modern age of wonder, we can listen to each song in advance and we buy only the ones we like, at a competitive price, albeit in digital form.

For Kathy’s birthday, I made a list of all the songs I had heard recently, that I actually liked. (Kathy and I have similar, but not entirely congruent, tastes in music – but, hey, if I liked ‘em, she probably would, too. Either way, there would be music around that I like.)

I listened to our local Christian radio station for days, making notes every time I heard them play a good song. I searched the web for new songs by artists we have enjoyed in the past, and spent hours listening to their albums. Eventually, I had a list of 25 songs or so, and I spent an hour one evening buying them all. I loaded them on a flash drive, and wrapped it up for her so she could have something tangible to unwrap.

Amazon makes it really easy for you – once you’ve installed the download manager plug-in for your browser, you simply click to buy, and the song appears magically in the “Recently Added” section of Windows’ Media Player.

Now, when I want to reward one of my children, I buy them a song on Amazon. “Have a song on me,” I tell the fortunate child. They usually spend half an hour or so browsing around until they find a song they like. Then we download it onto my computer, and copy it to the laptop or the kitchen computer so we can play it from anywhere. If any of the kids really like it, they’ll put it on their mp3 player.

let's start a band!

Which one of these kids is gonna grow up to be a rock star?

It hasn’t always been peaches and cream. The kids don’t all have the same tastes in music, and deciding whose playlist we listen to in the kitchen or family room has been the cause of some considerable strife in our family.

Ask me about the Strategic Music Compromise we have, dated and signed, on our bulletin board.

Still, I think when all is said and done, we’ll continue to glorify God in the music we play in our home, and (I hope) my children will not be tempted into rebellion in the area of music.


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Barely even a blog

When you find yourself crafting opening blogging sentences throughout the day, you know it is a sign that blogging has become a serious hobby. I don’t know if that is efficient or obsessed. Hey, that might be an interesting poll.

Kathy and Tim are:
1) Efficient bloggers
2) Totally obsessed bloggers who need to get a life
3) My blogging heroes
4) Who are Kathy and Tim?

Maybe we’ll save that poll for another time. It turns out I actually do need sleep to function well as a homeschooling teacher and mother of five children. Over the summer I could stay up late blogging and reading, sleeping in each morning. With a full homeschooling schedule, that ISN’T a healthy life plan.

All of which to say, I’m not going to blog tonight. No, I’m not. I’m going straight to bed. Someone else can take over the insightful, amusing, creative blogging for today. I’ll leave you with a picture of my younger two cutie pies and a link.

two silly kids

David and Sarah pose for pictures – this is their “serious” look.

A homeschooling friend recommended Crosswalk as a source of Christian online music. They have 10 music “channels” with everything from hymns, rock, kids and praise music. Crosswalk requires you register to enter the site but there is no cost and the music selection is incredible. As a serious variety chick (always interested in new and fresh music), I love having a new source of music available at my internet/fingertips. I mean, just now I got to hear a rocking version of the Veggie Tales theme song by Rebecca St. James. Wow! Have you heard that one? It’s wild. :)

P.S. Oh dear, even when I’m not blogging, I end up using up more than my share of the blogging web space. NIGHT!!

Project 365 – Day 270

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All Down Through the Ages

Beware: this blog entry has no pictures! Kathy went to bed early without blogging, and so, like an eel, I slither into the vacuum she left. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to share. You have been warned. :)

About ten days ago I wrote a post (Gotta Tell Somebody) about the powerful and touching Bible stories told in song by Don Francisco, a Christian musician I enjoyed in the 70′s and 80′s. I promised that I would post a review of Too Small a Price (another of Francisco’s songs), but I’ve changed my mind, and that will have to wait.

Yesterday, as we prepared the house for the Small Group Bible Study that often meets at our house, there was a moment of uncharacteristic silence, and I noticed that there was no music playing. This is pretty unusual for us, especially on Sundays when we do much of our cleaning — Kathy and I love to have Christian music to lift the spirits of any who are discouraged.

Because my wife is such a variety chick, we try to have a lot of music available — Kathy doesn’t like to listen to any one song or album too much. I tend to fixate on a small group of favorite songs, and it is not uncommon for me to listen to a single album (on shuffle repeat) for a whole day. Whenever there is no music playing, whoever notices it first gets to choose what we listen to (at least for a while), and so I quickly fired up Media Player on my computer and launched one of my favorite Don Francisco songs.

When the song was over, David (who was quietly playing a computer game in the kitchen) piped up:

“I like that song better than Blessed Be Your Name.”

This is nearly an heretical statement in our family, because that song (I first heard it recorded by Tree 63) had a huge impact on me, as partially discussed in this post from 2005. My children know that it is my favorite song, and several of them share that preference (or pretend to, hoping I’ll share my ice cream with them).

But it is true that this song is my favorite of the Don Francisco songs. I have a lot of favorites. This one is a particularly pretty and poignant song about God’s love for us ‘all down through the ages’ and His desire to be reunited with us, in spite of our sin and our rejection of Him. Please click on the Audio MP3 link below … I hope you enjoy it.

Adam, Where Are You?

Unashamed and naked in a garden that has never seen the rain,
Rulers of a kingdom, full of joy — never marred by any pain,
The morning all around them seems to celebrate the life they’ve just begun;
And in the majesty of innocence the king and queen come walking in the sun

But the master of deception now begins with his dissection of the Word
And with all of his craft and subtlety the serpent twists the simple truths they’ve heard,
While hanging in the balance is a world that has been placed at their command
And all their unborn children die as both of them bow down to Satan’s hand.

And just before the evening in the cool of the day, They hear the voice of God as He is walking
And they can’t abide His presence, so they try to hide away;
But still they hear the sound as He is calling:

“Adam, Adam, where are you?
Adam, Adam, where are you?
Adam, Adam, where are you?”

In the stifling heat of summer now the gardener and his wife are in the field
And it seems that thorns and thistles are the only crop his struggles ever yield
He eats his meals in sorrow ’til he sinks into the dust whence he came
But all down through the ages he can hear his Maker calling out his name.

“Adam, Adam, where are you?
Adam, Adam, where are you?”

And though the curse has long been broken
Adams’ sons are still the prisoners of their fears
Rushing helter-skelter to destruction with their fingers in their ears
While the Fathers voice is calling with an urgency I’ve never heard before
“Won’t you come in from the darkness now, before it’s time to finally close the door?”

“Adam, Adam, where are you?
Adam, Adam, where are you?
Adam, Adam, I love you!”

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Gotta Tell Somebody

When I was a boy, there didn’t seem to be many ‘contemporary’ Christian music artists cranking out CDs. This may have been because CDs hadn’t yet been invented — in that day, it was 8-track, LP record and that latest in audio technology, tape cassette. Or maybe they just weren’t trying hard enough. At any rate, I remember Amy Grant, DeGarmo and Key, the Imperials and 2nd Chapter of Acts. Later I came across Petra and that new punk kid with the weird name, Michael W. Smith. But for a long time, if you wanted to hear something new in contemporary Christian music, you had to wait 18 months for one of a handful of artists to record a new album. Sometimes it seemed a bit of a long wait — I doubt modern kids with their iPods can imagine the barren nature of the soundscape. We old folks also walked seven miles to school in blinding blizzards, uphill both ways.

Don Francisco

Somewhere along the way I acquired a Don Francisco record or two, and was captivated by the first-person Bible stories he told in song. Now, when it seems as though you can’t shake a tree for fear that a Christian musician will fall out of it onto your head, these kind of songs seem to have fallen out of vogue. Ray Boltz (author of Watch the Lamb, my favorite first-person Bible song of all time) has a few under his belt, and Carmen wrote an excellent, amusing song from the perspective of Lazarus. Apart from those songwriters, though, most seem to have neglected this powerful literary device.

One of Francisco’s Bible songs, Gotta Tell Somebody Gotta Tell Somebody retells the story of Jairus, as he appeals to Jesus on behalf of his dying daughter (the gospel of Mark, chapter 5). If you know the story, you may remember that Jairus’ daughter dies while he is still escorting Jesus through the streets back to his house. It still brings a tear to my eye whenever I listen to it, as I imagine Jairus’ desperate faith, hoping against hope that his little girl might be raised from death.

The resurrection of this twelve-year-old girl is one of only nine such miracles in all of scripture, not counting the unspecified number of dead people who were resurrected when Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27:52). (I reach the count of nine as follows: Jesus, Lazarus, the Zarephath widow’s son, the Shunnamite’s son, the unknown man with cowardly friends in 2 Kings 13:21, Jairus’ daughter, Dorcas/Tabitha, the Nain widow’s son, Eutychus).

Don Francisco
Don Francisco — picture borrowed from his website

But I digress. The cool thing about these songs is the way Francisco communicates the emotion that the people in the stories may have felt — the songs really help me to identify with the characters in the Bible stories, and reach my heart rather than just my head. Click the MP3 audio link above to listen to the song.

As soon as I saw the MP3s were available, I rushed out to download a handful of the Bible stories, in particular. I loaded them up on Daniel and Rachel’s MP3 players, and strongly encouraged Joshua to listen to them — I want my kids to feel these stories in the heart the way I did when I was a boy.

Joshua listens to a Don Francisco Song
Joshua was a good sport for this staged picture. Doesn’t his new haircut look nice? Please feel free to comment — tormenting our teenager is a major perk of parenting.

Francisco adheres closely to the scriptural account, but adds some believable reaction, as in this line:

And although I tried to steel myself I trembled when he said
“Why bother the Teacher anymore, your little girl is dead.”

… or in the way Jairus’ wife is finally able to cry after her daughter is healed:

She rose and walked across the room and stood there at our sides
My wife knelt down and held her close and at last she really cried

Although having ready access to the written Word of God is a huge advantage that many Christians today enjoy, I think that sometimes we become so familiar with some of the stories that we lose some of the passion and excitement. Francisco’s songs touch my heart and renew my exhilaration with the awesome power of God and how I ought to react to His love.

Recently, Don and Wendy Francisco made the decision (which I applaud) to post MP3 versions of their music for free download, asking only for donations in return. If the music ministers to you, I encourage you to download and donate as your conscience dictates.

Tune in next week for a review of Too Small A Price, a song told from the perspective of a thief crucified next to Jesus.

Project 365 — Day 228

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The Power of Song

There are so many things I want my children to learn – how to study and do well in school; how to cook, clean, and help run a household; how to budget their money; how to be honest, responsible and hard-working; how to care for other people, and on and on and on (I doubt the list has an end). As a mother and follower of Christ, however, my intentions and hopes for them are more focused. One of my greatest desires is that my children study and memorize the Word of God.

joshua, david and sarah baking

Joshua and his little cooking assistants, David and Sarah, tackle a big baking project in 2004.

posing for a picture

Notice Sarah’s “picture posing smile.”


Give a child a cookie and they’ll be hungry in an hour. Give a child a SPATULA and they’ll never lack for cookies. Ancient Duckabush proverb.

Years ago my mother gave us a set of Steve Green’s Hide Em In Your Heart scripture cds. I immediately copied them onto cassette tapes so we could play them in the van. This was before cars routinely came with cd players. Oh wait, we STILL don’t have a cd player in the van. Let’s not go there. How long since we abandoned the 8 track and upgraded to cassette? We can’t rush right to cds and mp3s. These shifts in technology take time and adjustment.

hide em in your heart

There are two Hide Em’ In Your Heart volumes, both of which have been made into DVD’s as well. We loved these cds and played them constantly in the house and car. To this day, if you begin a song or verse from those two cds, my older children can belt out the finish.

Unfortunately Steve Green only made two albums and eventually a person does grow weary of listening to the same music over and over. I never did understand why he didn’t continue with the series – ran out of verses, lost his voice, got in copyright issues with the source of his songs??

sarah does some school

Wow, it’s 2003 and Sarah is already doing First Grade Math! She’s obviously a child progeny (as Calvin would say).

sarah 2003

I’m sure Daniel really appreciated Sarah helping him with his math.

Last year I stumbled across some amazing Bible memory cds (probably heard about them on the SHS loop, the source of treasures too many to enumerate). I listened to sample songs on and was so taken with them that I immediately bought all four of the cds (I never was one for just window shopping). These Family Worship cd’s, Seeds of Purpose, Seeds of Faith, Seeds of Courage, and Seeds of Praise are truly outstanding. I highly recommend them. If you don’t have young children, buy them for your friends or grandchildren. Find the Christian Director at your church and give him/her a set. Drop hints with relatives who buy for your children. Put them on your Amazon gift list. Borrow a friend’s child so you have an excuse to listen to the music yourself.

The songs are energetic, fun, and worshipful. The lyrics come from God’s true Word. The music varies from lively to moving but best of all it sounds like real ‘praise music,’ not kids music, but it’s praise music that is solely scripture. How powerful is that? The songs are performed by grownups (with occasional help given by children) and have a contemporary feel to them. On the CBD page, the cds come with this comment:

WARNING: This package contains songs that may result in the listener unintentionally MEMORIZING SCRIPTURE. Furthermore, those who learn these words may find themselves inexplicable recalling and/or applying them to real-life situations, as the Holy Spirit leads. USE WITH CAUTION.

samuel, daniel and david

Summer 2006 – Samuel gets a good grip on Daniel while David smiles on. These boys obviously need some good Bible music!

More and more I find myself playing the Seeds Praise Mix (as it’s called on my computer) on days when we have busy (i.e. stressful) mornings. On Sundays, in particular, everyone is rushed and a bit harried. It’s difficult (especially when both parents are NIGHT OWLS) getting a large family fed, dressed and out the door in time for Sunday school. Being on time is NOT something I do well as my children will gladly tell you.

On such mornings, I put on the Seeds Mix. With the music blasting and the Word of God filling the house, a new spirit of cheer and praise fills our hearts. It is remarkable how something so small can evoke such a dramatic change.


Rebecca favors classical music but might let Rachel and Sarah talk her into some songs from Seeds of Faith.

Listen to the clips and see if you agree. I separated out the links so you can reach each album easily. We’ve been listening to the collection quite a bit over the past two days and the children are rapidly picking favorites. This does lead to a bit of conflict when one child sneaks up to change the song while another child’s song is still playing. Is there something a bit odd about children fighting over what Bible song to listen to? Ah, these rascals will find something to fight over if it kills them (or is that the point?) Let’s see if they can resist the power of God’s Word reflected in these songs (“Do Everything in Love” comes to mind).

Note: these are NOT hymns. My children love hymns (Daniel and Joshua in particular) but they do NOT enjoy cds of children’s choirs performing hymns. I haven’t been able to find a decent collection of hymns aimed more for children. Still looking. If you know of a treasure I’m missing, please pass the info along!

As the Psalmist wrote:

Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. Psalm 33:2-4


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