A Pastoral Reflection on Oscar Wilde’s “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”

Zac HicksArt and WorshipLeave a Comment

I’ve been preparing as a student for a most unique course on “Doctrine for Preaching and Pastoral Care,” with Dr. Jonathan Linebaugh at Knox Seminary. It will happen in a few weeks. He has us reading some unconventional (and splendid) material. The course is particularly designed to intersect with my English Reformation tract, as it is attempting to exposit the pastoral heart behind the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. Along with a few great theological books, we have … Read More

The Chink in the Reformation’s Iconoclastic Armor

Zac HicksArt and Worship, Church & Ecclesiology, History of Worship and Church Music9 Comments

Zombies in the Lights A few days ago, I ended up in a really fascinating dialogue on Twitter with thoughtful worship leader, Jordan Atwell (@jordanatwell) and visual liturgy smart guy, Stephen Proctor (@stephenproctor). We were entertaining the question, in response to my tweet about this wonderful article, about what it looks like to pastorally engage visual aesthetics in worship. We tend to think of things like projection, screens, lights, and other visual atmospherics as either neutral cultural phenomena or (more … Read More

Why EDM Sounds So Liberating

Zac HicksArt and Worship2 Comments

(Originally published in 2014)  Electronic Dance Music (EDM) has taken over pop culture. Its infectious beats, airy synths, signature builds, and explosive climaxes are now a household sound, from car commercials featuring Dirty Vegas, to Maroon 5’s backing track to “Love Somebody,” to the viral “What Does the Fox Say?” Those who outright dismiss EDM as illegitimate art mock its bland repetition, its mind-numbing sameness.  Such critiques miss the subtle nuancing and gentle sculpting that occur over time, and they … Read More

Sufjan Stevens’ Insight Not to Be Missed

Zac HicksArt and Worship, CultureLeave a Comment

A Lot Under the Bus Author David Roark has published a well-written article about Sufjan Stevens vis-à-vis the “Christian Music” scene. Roark has located the turn from Christians-as-artists to “Christian artists” in the 1960s, with the Jesus Movement’s evangelistic objectives and youth culture targeting. The bulk of the article is focused on the dichotomy between what artists like Sufjan are trying to do and what the “Christian Art” world is doing. I appreciate the article, but at the same time … Read More

Two Posts Not To Miss

Zac HicksArt and Worship, Personal Stories & Testimonies, SongwritingLeave a Comment

So, I’ve been doing a lot more guest-posting, especially over at LIBERATE, but you’ll also see me writing articles a few other places, like Reformed Worship and Doxology & Theology. For those that follow my blog, I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss these articles. A Review of Dan Siedell’sWho’s Afraid of Modern Art “Hearing Art Tell Me Who I Am” First, and most importantly, I want to commend to my readership an unparalelled book that weaves together art … Read More

A Book on Rock that Both Melts Your Face and Slays Your Soul…Just As It Should

Zac HicksArt and Worship2 Comments

I hope every worship leader is a lover of rock n roll. I hope they love its history, development, pivotal artists, and diversification. I hope these things because, as I’ve said elsewhere, thoughtful, intentional worship leaders should recognize that the musical ideas, idioms, expressions, and foundations are part of a now rich sonic tradition. Church musicians who lead various forms of contemporary/modern worship would find their skills blessed and strengthened for having taken the time to delve into their tradition’s … Read More

Fascinating Insight Linking Indian and Gospel Music

Zac HicksArt and Worship, Worship Theology & ThoughtLeave a Comment

A while back I posted on a wonderful little session where Bobby McFerrin exposed the trans-cultural nature of the pentatonic scale. I think a similar insight can be seen here in the common, trans-cultural “soul” of music as blues/slide guitarist Derek Trucks talks about his influences (thanks to Coral Ridge Music’s Lindsey Blair, for pointing this video out to me!). A little after the 8-minute mark, Trucks notes how though the tonality of an Eastern scale and a bluesy gospel scale … Read More

How Worship Leaders Can Better Minister to Artists, & Help Them Minister to Us

Zac HicksArt and Worship, Worship and Pastoral MinistryLeave a Comment

Dayton Castleman, “Tilting at Giants”There is a marvelous set of posts over at Q Ideas answering the question, “What Can Artists Teach the Church?” The answers to those questions consist of five responses–three posts and two videos–all brief, but powerful. The landscape of the discussion is broad, but I want to funnel it down to something very specific and apply the discussions to worship leaders/pastors. I’ve discovered in my own journey that we church leaders often narrow the scope of … Read More

Exegeting Sound: Hearing the Reverberations of the Gospel in EDM

Zac HicksArt and Worship2 Comments

Update: The article referenced is no longer available on the original site. It has been posted here. A post of mine just went live this morning over at Liberate entitled, “Why EDM Sounds So Liberating.” Consider it an attempt at what some call “cultural exegesis”–an exercise in understanding culture by teasing out meanings and subtexts. Worship leaders like me theologize far less about music than lyrics. When we’re talking about “theological depth” in worship music, we’re often talking about the … Read More

Album Roundup: Songs from the Book of Ephesians, The Journey Collective

Zac HicksAlbum Reviews, Art and Worship, Church & Ecclesiology1 Comment

I’m very, very excited about this collaborative project from the folks at The Journey Church in St. Louis.  First off, I’m excited to see more projects like this–whole albums centered around books of the Bible. We saw this with the Gospel Coalition’s wonderful Luke album and with Sovereign Grace’s killer Romans album. And now we’ve got some Ephesians-based material! Beauty! Musicality/Production The production on this album is polished and inspiring. To my ear, many of the songs are not only … Read More