St. Philip the Deacon hosts hymn sing March 21
“Hymns aren’t just for when you’re wearing your Sunday best,” said Michael Morris, the director of contemporary music at St. Philip the Deacon in Plymouth. “God is certainly with you when you’re at the pub.”
With this idea in mind, Morris set out to organize Sing Boldly, a family-friendly, acoustic hymn sing scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 21 at Wayzata Brew Works.
On a weekly basis, Morris sings and plays guitar at either the 11 a.m. Sunday service or 7 p.m. Monday service, typically accompanied by other church musicians on cello, violin, bass and drums. The rest of his week, he leads a “complicated, piece-mealed life” including performing live at clubs throughout the Twin Cities as part of the Dewi Sant, an Indie rock ensemble.
Originally from Falcon Heights, Morris attended St. Olaf College where he studied theology. He later began pursuing music after realizing his passion for the arts.
Morris described growing up in a strong Lutheran community.
“For all the complicated lines that exist in the world of faith, the faith experience that I grew up with was very focused on grace and forgiveness,” he said.
At first, he thought about becoming a pastor, but when his dad died, Morris became more aware of his vocational call and where his talents would best serve the needs of the community.
Morris remembers thinking how short life can be, and believing “you might as well pursue what you feel strongly about … if you believe it will do good things for the world,” he said. He recalled a quote by influential writer and theologian Frederick Buechner – “Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”
Morris understood the power music has to help people feel.
Rather than preaching from the pulpit, Morris instead takes the weekly message given by the pastor and connects it to the congregation through music.
“I want to help people feel … that’s what I do,” he said.
For longtime member Joe Akers, Morris does just that each Sunday.
“Michael’s music has impacted us in so many positive ways,” Akers said, who attends the Sunday service with his wife and two high school-age children.
“He has a great sense of humor and connects with the (congregation) in creative ways that are fun, engaging and uniquely spiritual,” Akers said. “I think most importantly, we leave this service feeling uplifted and closer to God.”
“We have a long tradition at St. Philip the Deacon of musical excellence in our worship life, as well as a wide variety of worship styles every weekend,” said Pastor Tim Westermeyer. “Michael continues that tradition of excellence, while helping to stretch us in some new ways musically. He is also committed to affirming the deeply Lutheran instinct that congregational singing is the priority—which he leads and guides brilliantly.”
Singing praise and worship doesn’t only have to take place as a community on Sunday, Morris noted.
“I feel people can sing differently in a pub than a sanctuary,” he said.
Morris shared the story of how Martin Luther, in his early days, would take pub music and put sacred text to the songs. In Germany, pub music “was the music of the people,” Morris said.
The event title, Sing Boldly, is meant to be a pun on Martin Luther’s early teachings as he told followers to “sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly.”
“Pretty sure we’re not the only Lutherans to use that pun,” he said.
Typically closed on Tuesdays, Wayzata Brew Works has opened specifically for this event.
“It’s awesome space, awesome beer and awesome management,” Morris said, noting he presumes they will do the event again in the future.
One doesn’t need to enjoy beer to attend, either.
There are a lot of different reasons to attend, Morris said, even if it’s the “unexpected spectacle of seeing people sing in a bar.”
If you go
What: Sing Boldly, hymn sing hosted by St. Philip the Deacon of Plymouth
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 21
Where: Wayzata Brew Works, 294 Grove Lane E. in Wayzata
Cost: Free to attend
Contact Kristen Miller at [email protected]