Peter's Blog

Spill the Beans Lent and Easter Resources

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Spill the Beans Issue 38

Easter is on the earlier side this year, but we have a rich smorgasbord of ideas available for Lent and Easter seasons all the way to Pentecost Sunday in the next issue from the Spill the Beans Resource Team. This issue covers from Ash Wednesday (17 February 2021) to Pentecost (23 May 2021). Based on the Revised Common Lectionary texts, we are continuing to provide a rich variety of resources and continue to be mindful that many of us may have a mixed economy of worship and age group activities, some in person and others online.

Note that we are adding audio-visual resources regularly to the Facebook group, so please do keep an eye on that.

Sampler

Created by folks here in Scotland, this issue has lots of ideas and resources for you to inspire, adapt, use in leading worship or for age groups in Junior Churches and youth groups. If you have not used Spill the Beans before then please have a look at this sample.

If you'd like to download a full copy of Issue 38 for use in your church or personally, then click the 'Buy Now' button below. The cost is only £12 (GBP). You can make a secure payment via PayPal and then an email with secure link to the download should wing its way to you. Please note that you can only download the file using this link three times, so please make sure you save the file to your computer as soon as you have downloaded it. We recommend first downloading to a laptop or desktop computer before moving to phone/tablet.

Please follow the instructions carefully. The pdf file is approximately 8 MB so it may take a little time to download. Please be patient as your computer does so!

Spill the Beans Issue 38 Cover

Buy Now

You can also get involved in feedback and discussion on the Spill the Beans website, where we try to put up weekly PowerPoint backgrounds too. There is also a facebook page in which we share ideas and we have introduced a new facebook group which you can link to from the facebook page and which we hope will provide a place of mutual support, ideas and encouragement as we trek together through this new adventure.

Print Copies

The office in which the printed copies are made is currently still closed due to the pandemic so we cannot provide any printed copies of this issue. Our apologies for that inconvenience.

 

Stronger For The Storm

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Not one of our own virtual choirs, and I had forgotten I had sent off a contribution to this one that was organised by Aberdeen University under the banner of iSing4Peace. It is a beatiful song written by Paul Mealor, Grahame Davies and Fiona Kennedy who sings lead vocals. The choir is global.

It can also be bought here, with money going to support The British Red Cross (Disaster Fund), VSA, The Royal Commonewealth Ex-Services League, and the University of Aberdeen Development Trust.

In the current tumultuous times, it certainly has a positive uplifitng spirit.

A Virtual Christmas Choir Extravaganza

Written by Peter Johnston on .

A massive thank you to everyone who has contributed to our many Christmas Carols, Songs and Anthem over the last few weeks. Here they all are in their finished state ready to help lead us during this festive season. Or, work your way through them and get into the spirit of this time of year, loosening your vocal chords and letting rip!

Hark! the herald angels sing

O come, all ye faithful

Sharing God's Christmas Light

A new song from Fischy Music.

Once in royal David's city

A big thank you to Ella and Olivia for their starring part in verse 1 of this carol:

The Angels Say

This Fischy Music song was a bit of a mammoth one to complete, but we got there! Enjoy!

God rest you merry gentlemen

O little town of Bethlehem

Still, still, still

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our anthem for Watchnight, the beautiful Mack WIlberg arrangement of the Austrian carol, "Still, Still, Still".

Have a good Christmas, please do join us online for our streamed Christmas services where you will get a chance to enjoy singing along with these.

Brother James' Air (Psalm 23)

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Thanks to everyone who participated in our latest virtual choir endeavour that we will be using this coming weekend for Remembrance Sunday. This is an arrangement by Alan Bullard of the words of the 23rd Psalm, The Lord's my Shepherd, to the beautiful melody of Brother James' Air.

 

Resources for Advent and Christmas

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Spill the Beans Issue 36

Hot off the press is the next issue from the Spill the Beans Resource Team. Issue 37 is 150 pages of resources and ideas covering the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany season all the way to Transfiguration Sunday (29 November 2020 to 14 February 2021) and based on the Revised Common Lectionary texts. We are continuing to provide a rich variety of resources and mindful that many of us may have a mixed economy of worship and age group activities, some in person and others online.

Note that we are adding audio-visual resources regularly to the Facebook group, so please do keep an eye on that.

Sampler

Created by folks here in Scotland, this issue has lots of ideas and resources for you to inspire, adapt, use in leading worship or for age groups in Junior Churches and youth groups. If you have not used Spill the Beans before then please have a look at this sample.

If you'd like to download a full copy of Issue 37 (including audio files) for use in your church or personally, then click the 'Buy Now' button below. The cost is only £12 (GBP). You can make a secure payment via PayPal and then an email with secure link to the download should wing its way to you. Please note that you can only download the file using this link three times, so please make sure you save the file to your computer as soon as you have downloaded it. We recommend first downloading to a laptop or desktop computer before moving to phone/tablet.

Please follow the instructions carefully. The compressed zip file is large at approximately 15 MB so it may take some time to download. Please be patient as your computer does so! Once it has downloaded (you may want to check your "Downloads" folder) you will need to extract the contents (this option may appear at the top of the window or if you right-click on the file).

Spill the Beans Issue 37 Cover

Buy Now

You can also get involved in feedback and discussion on the Spill the Beans blog, where we try to put up weekly PowerPoint backgrounds too. There is also a facebook page in which we share ideas and we have introduced a new facebook group which you can link to from the facebook page and which we hope will provide a place of mutual support, ideas and encouragement as we trek together through this new adventure.

Print Copies

The office in which the printed copies are made is currently still closed due to the pandemic so we cannot provide any printed copies of this issue. Our apologies for that inconvenience.

 

Cultivating Gratitude

Written by Peter Johnston on .

In this week's discussion evening we were thinking about other practical ways of developing our own sense of gratitude. Here is another series of ideas that can be used to cultivate gratitude. This list is proposed by Mary Jo Leddy (in a book called "Radical Gratitude) as ten "habits of being that can help us live with spirit in a dispirited time and place."

This is not a list that you need to complete, it is a more a bowl of ideas from which you pick the one(s) that will work for you.

  1. Begin before you are ready. “Beginning steps in gratitude so not have to be great or grand. They need only to be real.”
  2. Practice gratitude in prayers, reflections, chants, and meditations.
  3. Gather with “like-spirited” people. Find or start a group committed to practicing gratefulness as a way of life.
  4. Live more simply. Let go of material things that burden you.
  5. Look for examples of grateful people in your life and from history learn from them.
  6. Think with your heart. Trust your feelings of gratefulness and your longings for a better way of life.
  7. See differently. Develop “soft eyes.”
  8. Be connected to a longer wisdom tradition, one that helps you understand the spiritual insights of the past.
  9. Find a beloved community, a neighbourhood, a town, a place of worship, and be part of it, really part of it.
  10. “Contemplate the face of the world.” Gratitude empowers us to stare at reality and overcome what is challenging, violent, and evil.

 

The Daily Examen

Written by Peter Johnston on .

In this evening's discussion gathering with our second session in the "Grateful" series we discussed an ancient practice of self-reflection that comes from St Ignatius of Loyola, called the Daily Examen. This is a short time taken each night to review, select, and offer thanksgiving. It came about in St Ignatius' time because he found many folks just did not have time during the day to dedicate to prayer, so he offered this alternative practice which is still valuable today.

Harvest 1,000 Can Appeal

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Here's an advance preview of the video created for Ferryhill Primary related to Harvest Thanksgiving and the 1,000 Can Appeal that we are running with Ruthrieston West and South Holburn Parish Churches.

Throughout October we're hoping to collect over 1,000 can, tins, jars of food for Instant Neighbour Foodbank. You can drop off donations directly to us at Ferryhill Church at the usual times of 1-2 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. every Wednesday. (Note that in the evenings now that it is getting dark please come in through the main doors of the church to drop off your items in the foyer).

You can also drop off donations at South Holburn Parish Church on Holburn Street on Tuesdays (10-11 a.m.), Thursdays (7-8 p.m.) and Saturdays (11-12 noon).

The Harvest Thanksgiving Service at Ferryhill will be on 11 October, streamed live online at 11 a.m.

A big thank you to Rev Dr Julia Pizzuto-Pomaco and Rev David Stewart for their vocal acting!

 

Harvest Virtual Choir Planning

Written by Peter Johnston on .

You have the chance to join in for a harvest thanksgiving choral anthem. We would like to create our own version of John Rutter's "Look at the World". This is an anthem the Ferryhill Singers have sung before and we look forward to creating a virtual choir rendition.

If you do not know the anthem, you can listen to versions online such as this one: https://youtu.be/otw_zbhd3gE

Choral Instructions

At our Zoom discussion for this one there were a few things highlighted to keep in mind for the singing of the piece.

Where a verse is marked "CHILDREN (or SOPRANOS)" then all female voices.

Clear diction is very inportant and pay particular attention to the end of lines (Kevin has tried to give you this direction in the conductor tracks) but usually we are looking at a clear end of a note on the first beat of the next bar. The key exception to this is the last bar of each verse before the refrain where there is a crotchet rest (half a beat in this time signature) to get a good breath before the refrain.

In the refrain we really want the "...we may see:" to extend into "All the gifts we share," and then snatch a breath. Because there is movement in the harmony for altos and tenors it is important for sopranos and basses to hold on to "see".

Watch the big leaps in notes, trying to make those as crisp and clean (no sliding of notes) between them.

We are following all the instructions relating to dynamics as written so look out for those. A particular highlight is the refrain after verse 3 to ensure you sing that as smoothly and delicately as you can. We hope we can drop the accompaniment for that refrain in the final edit.

Finally, note that the refrain is slightly different for the final time and that the accompaniment does slow at the end, but not overly so. Listen to it a few times to get the change of tempo there. And then on the final "thee" it is just held for two beats, stopping singing as the final chord of the accompaniment begins - don't hang on to it too long.

Resources

Kevin Haggart, our organist and music director, has created a number of audio files to guide you with each part. We have also put together five conductor videos that you can use to watch (and listen) while recording yourself to try to keep ourselves together as we bring our individual parts together.

Full Audio Guide Track

A version with all voices for you to listen to is available here. We would recommend you listen to this a few times to get the feel for the anthem.

 

Choir

The musical score is available here.

A conductor track for the whole choir is available here: https://youtu.be/FS9ggIMlYjE

Sopranos

Guide track for Sopranos can be downloaded here.

 

The Soprano Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/M6WtKB0kQVk

Altos

Guide track for Altos can be downloaded here.

 

The Alto Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/pu1eFFvlW5g

Tenors

Guide track for Tenors can be downloaded here.

 

The Tenor Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/___52XAuDJE

Bass

Guide track for Basses can be downloaded here.

 

The Bass Conductor video is available here: https://youtu.be/QUfLKJrIn4w

Technical Instructions

We recommend having a good few practice sing throughs before you film yourself and then when you’re ready to go, you can record yourself by playing the audio track through headphones on a device other than the one you are recording on. This way, the recording will only pick up your lovely singing! (I personally found it easier to only have one headphone in my ear so I could hear myself singing better, but that’s just personal preference!)

Do as many takes as you need – I know I have never once got it right the first time! And remember: even if it sounds a little weird to hear your voice on its own, when everything is edited together it will sound beautiful! You may want to find a spot where you can stand to sing to help your breathing.

A couple of little notes about filming: if possible, try to film somewhere quiet and well-lit (ideally with you facing a window) so that the videos look lovely! Please film landscape instead of portrait – it is so much easier to edit everything together if the videos all have similar proportions. Lastly, please keep recording until the music finishes! This just means that we don’t have some people’s videos cutting out way before others’ and means we’ll have a better finished video.

The Cue Clap: for this song we would ask you to clap on the first beat of the sixth bar of the introduction. This has been marked on the score in each of the conductor video tracks.

While we can absolutely have people film on their phones/tablets, recording using Zoom itself results in a much smaller file which is more manageable (both for sending the file and for editing the video together). If you are recording using Zoom on a laptop or desktop computer note that there is a new version with some enhanced features that is just now available so you may want to go back to their website (https://zoom.us/download#client_4meeting) and download the client and install it so you have the latest version.

Once you have done this, open up the Zoom programme and on the home page click on the wee gear icon in the top right corner. This takes you to "Settings". Then click on the Audio option on the left column.

  1. Click the "Advanced" button at bottom right of the Settings window and check the box to Show in-meeting option to "Enable Original Sound" from microphone.
  2. Leave the Echo cancellation option on "Auto".
  3. Check the box for "Disable echo cancellation"
  4. Check the box for "High fidelity music mode"
  5. (If you have a stereo microphone you can also check the box for "Use stereo audio").
  6. When you then go to record your session on Zoom ensure that you have clicked the link at top left hand corner that would say "Turn on original sound" so that it illuminates in blue and says "Turn off original sound" - it is a bit of awkward language, but when it is blue then you are recording the original sound from your microphone.
  7. Ignore all of this if you are using Zoom on a tablet or smartphone as these options are not available!
  8. If you film on Zoom, the files will be saved once you end the meeting and it should save an audio file and a video file – it’s helpful for our editing if you can send us both of those! These are the m4a and mp4 files.

If this is all a bit complicated, don’t worry. It’s fine to just film on your phone/tablet – just be aware the file will be much bigger and might take a while to upload (depending on how good your internet connection is!)

When you have your recording, it would be helpful if you could rename the file with your name and which part you are singing (or playing), then you can upload your files directly to me using this dropbox link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/KJFwpXw50S4tdQxGRozJ

DEADLINE

It would be really appreciated to have the video submissions in hand by Sunday 27 September.

Enjoy yourselves!

 

Gather us in...

Written by Peter Johnston on .

We are still in a predominantly virtual world for worship at the moment, though we are seeking feedback from church members about the possibility of limited gathering for worship within the church building. But, that does not stop us from gathering together to worship in other ways. This week we had another virtual choir piece as we sang together "Here in this place" by Marty Haugen. 

Thanks to everyone who participated, another grand effort. More to come...

 

Spill the Beans Autumn 2020 Issue

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Spill the Beans Issue 36

We are continuing to live in very uncertain times and with a variety of different forms of worship being planned for the autumn months depending on the state of the pandemic. The Spill the Beans Resource Team have continued to create resources for worship leaders and age group leaders, recognising that variety, and we hope and pray that they are useful for you.

Note that we are adding audio-visual resources regularly to the Facebook group, so please do keep an eye on that.

This is the fourth issue in Year A of the Revised Common Lectionary and covers from Pentecost 13 to Reign of Christ Sunday.

Sampler

Created by folks here in Scotland, this issue has lots of ideas and resources for you to inspire, adapt, use in leading worship or for age groups in Junior Churches and youth groups. If you have not used Spill the Beans before then please have a look at this sample.

If you'd like to download a full copy of Issue 36 (including audio files) for use in your church or personally, then click the 'Buy Now' button below. The cost is only £12 (GBP). You can make a secure payment via PayPal and then an email with secure link to the download should wing its way to you. Please note that you can only download the file using this link three times, so please make sure you save the file to your computer as soon as you have downloaded it. We recommend first downloading to a laptop or desktop computer before moving to phone/tablet.

Please follow the instructions carefully. The compressed zip file is large at approximately 15 MB so it may take some time to download. Please be patient as your computer does so! Once it has downloaded (you may want to check your "Downloads" folder) you will need to extract the contents (this option may appear at the top of the window or if you right-click on the file).

Spill the Beans Issue 36 Cover

Buy Now

You can also get involved in feedback and discussion on the Spill the Beans blog, where we try to put up weekly PowerPoint backgrounds too. There is also a facebook page in which we share ideas and we have introduced a new facebook group which you can link to from the facebook page and which we hope will provide a place of mutual support, ideas and encouragement as we trek together through this new adventure.

Print Copies

The office in which the printed copies are made is currently still closed due to the pandemic so we cannot provide any printed copies of this issue. Our apologies for that inconvenience.

 

Rutter Virtual Choir/Orchestra

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Thanks to everyone who participated in our latest virtual choir and orchestra anthem.

The anthem is John Rutter's "As the bridegroom to his chosen", words by Johannes Tauler, arrangement by Kevin Haggart.

"A Little More" Virtual Choir

Written by Peter Johnston on .

Fresh from the editing computer is our latest musical endeavour for your enjoyment and uplift. It is a wonderful upbeat song with a real summer vibe from Fischy Music, arranged by our own Kevin Haggart, with a very important message about the One we believe in. This song was written as part of the collaboration between Spill the Beans and Fischy Music and is featured in the current issue of Spill the Beans.

Thanks to all the musicians and singers (some joining us for the first time from Blantyre and Canada) for their contributions.

If you want to use the song in your own online worship, then please feel free to do so either using the YouTube video itself or you can download a HD copy here (file size 377MB, download from Dropbox service).

Peter's Pause For Thought - Food

Written by Peter Johnston on .

This week's online assembly and pause for thought is now available. And can you beat my kitchen creation?

Song this week is "Why?" from Fischy Music.

"A Little More" Virtual Choir Notes

Written by Peter Johnston on .

The song we’ve picked for our next virtual choir is a new one from Fischy Music: ‘A Little More’. It has a great summer vibe and excellent ear-worm qualities!

This one we will sing in unison for the verses (so everyone is singing the same tune) but we will then split into harmony for the chorus.

The male voices singing the tune and altos/sopranos singing in harmony. You can find a copy of the vocal score here.

Zoom Meeting

We will be hosting a Zoom meeting to go over everything which may be helpful particularly for those who have not done this before. This will be on Saturday 20 June at 3 p.m.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85231797859?pwd=QWV6S2h2aGQ2ek9WakJhL1RUNkg3dz09

Meeting ID: 852 3179 7859
Password: 316953

We will go over everything at that meeting but here are some notes so you can make a start on learning the song and preparing!

And for any old hands out there, you know what to do already so you can just start recording when you are ready to go for it!

Kevin Haggart, our organist, has created three backing tracks which highlight each of the vocal parts so you can choose the appropriate one to sing along to.

Soprano Voices

Download audio file here or listen:

 

Alto Voices

Download audio file here or listen:

 

Male Voices

Download audio file here or listen:


 
Technical Instructions

We recommend having a good few practice sing throughs before you film yourself and then when you’re ready to go, you can record yourself by playing the audio track through headphones on a device other than the one you are recording on. This way, the recording will only pick up your lovely singing! (I personally found it easier to only have one headphone in my ear so I could hear myself singing better, but that’s just personal preference!)

Do as many takes as you need – I know I have never once got it right the first time! And remember: even if it sounds a little weird to hear your voice on its own, when everything is edited together it will sound beautiful!

A couple of little notes about filming: if possible, try to film somewhere quiet and well-lit (ideally with you facing a window) so that the videos look lovely! Please film landscape instead of portrait – it is so much easier to edit everything together if the videos all have similar proportions. Lastly, please keep recording until the music finishes! This just means that we don’t have some people’s videos cutting out way before others’ and means we’ll have a better finished video.

The Cue Clap: for this song we would ask you to clap on the first beat of the third bar. So when you listen to the introduction's "Dum-Dum-Dumm, Dum-Dum-Dumm, CLAP-Dum-Dumm, etc. It is the same bar that the drums start.

While we can absolutely have people film on their phones/tablets, recording using Zoom itself results in a much smaller file which is more manageable (both for sending the file and for editing the video together). If you do record using Zoom, here are a few extra instructions:

  1. Turn off "Automatically adjust volume" and then set the slider yourself. Start around the half way mark and then try singing as loud as you are going to get and watch the blue indicator line - you do NOT want this to go much over half way at your loudest - adjust to suit.
  2. In "Advanced" (button at bottom right of the Settings window) checking the box to allow "Enable Original Sound"
  3. In this same section turn the options for "Suppress Persistent Background Noise" and " Suppress Intermittent Background Noise" to Disable.
  4. When you then go to record your session on Zoom ensure that you have clicked the link at top left hand corner that would say "Turn on original sound" so that it illuminates in blue and says "Turn off original sound" - it is a bit of awkward language, but when it is blue then you are recording the original sound from your microphone.
  5. Ignore all of this if you are using Zoom on a tablet or smartphone as these options are not available!
  6. If you film on Zoom, the files will be saved once you end the meeting and it should save an audio file and a video file – it’s helpful for our editing if you can send us both of those!

If this is all a bit complicated, don’t worry. It’s fine to just film on your phone/tablet – just be aware the file will be much bigger and might take a while to upload (depending on how good your internet connection is!)

When you have your recording, it would be helpful if you could rename the file with your name and which part you are singing (or playing), then you can upload your files directly to me using this dropbox link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/Nfqhvyw5mF4dHTX8hAK1

Have fun!

Pause For Thought - Friendship

Written by Peter Johnston on .

This week's pause for thought for younger folks, thinking about the events of the past few weeks. Includes the song "That's what a friend is" from Fischy Music.

Pause For Thought - Home

Written by Peter Johnston on .

This week's Pause For Thought for younger folks (or young of mind!). The theme is on "home" and what we value about our homes.

If you want to get creative and make your own paper house you can follow the instructions available here where you will also find a link to a video which I did have to use in order to work out the final fold and where to tuck the corners in.

As I was doing some work earlier today and gathering information about refugees in Scotland I came across this lovely story of Marwa from Syria: