Monday, January 15, 2007

God Makes a Great Man...

I'm exhausted from all that this weekend has entailed, but it wouldn't be right not to drop a few words on the events of the last few days.

This weekend, my Dad, Rev. Hollis Hiscock, retired from almost 43 years of full-time ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Dad has worked in various capacities, but the bulk of his career has been as a Rector, which is the 'head priest' of an individual parish. He has worked in Newfoundland and Ontario. He has edited a provincial church paper, and he has taught at the high-school and university levels.

For most of that time, he has had the love and never-ending support of my mom, Helen.

He has visited the sick, counseled the troubled, held the hand of the dying. He has lead regular Sunday services, and national church events. He has chaired countless meetings and committees. And yet, he has never missed a birthday, or a choir concert, or a chance to just chat.

We've all known this weekend was coming for a year now, but the last few days have been more a daze than anything else. We're all ready for it - it just doesn't quite feel real.

On Saturday, the church held a huge dinner that welcomed so many people, they had to have 2 seatings. After the meal, we all made our way up to the church for stories, entertainment, and tributes. Several people sang, including an Elvis medley dedicated to Mom. Gerald and I did a set of songs written for Mom and Dad. We did "One Sure Step" that we wrote for the 40th anniversary of Dad's ordination. I did "All Because of You", a song I wrote for Mom. And we finished with Gerald's new song, a tribute to Dad and his ministry, "God Makes a Great Man".

Sunday morning, we had a Holy Communion service at 10am, featuring hymns and prayers from all the different books Dad has used in his ministry. We were blessed with performances by the Drama Group, the Handbell Choir, and all 3 vocal choirs. Dad chose all the music, including asking the Youth Choir to sing my song, "Marching in the Light of God". He asked Gerald and me to sing "Here I Am Lord". This song has been of great significance to Dad in his ministry. We did up our own arrangement with Gerald doing fingerstyle guitar, me on lead vocals, and Monika and Leo on harmonies.

The church was packed, which was great, but I couldn't get over the range of people who came. People from all the different services. People who don't come to church regularly. People who were old, young, and everything in between. People who have moved away, but who came back to celebrate this day with Mom and Dad.

I wish I had something profound to say today. I just feel so overwhelmed by it all, and the pressure to say something great is stunting my thoughts. So, all I'll say is this:

My grandfather, Dad's dad, used to say, "Leave a place better than the way you found it".

Dad, I think you're leaving the church better than the way you found it.

For that, and a thousand other things...I'm so proud of you!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

NSAI Round in Toronto

Tonight was a first for me - I did my first round concert!

For the un-Nashvilled in the crowd, a "round" is a concert when four songwriters sit on stools and play their songs. They start at one end of the group, each playing one song at a time, and round and round they go.

This kind of concert is the norm in Nashville, but very rare here in Toronto. However, our NSAI group has started holding a monthly round, and tonight, I was one of the featured writers!

I was on stage with Laura Ranieri (NSAI-TO co-chair), Jeff Davies (great picker), and Asetha Power (gorgeous voice and a Newfoundlander!). We each did 4 songs each.

I will admit up front that I was wickedly nervous before the show started. It was my very first round, so that brought on a few nerves. And also, it was all my own stuff, which is always a little scarier for me. But the biggest thing: I was doing Christian music in a bar. Who knew how people would react? My greatest fear was that my songs would become the "bathroom break" of the show.

Before the show, I just prayed, asking for the reminder that my music doesn't need to please anyone else in that room. I just wanted to lift my songs up to God, and let Him take care of the rest.

Once the music started, I relaxed and had a great time listening to everyone's songs. I opened with "Infinitely More", and followed with "I Call Out Your Name", with audience improvised harmonies. Next, I did my Christian-drinking-song, "The Wedding at Cana". The choir did this song at our wedding, but it's had a small re-write this year, and it's now good to do as a solo. This one got many smiles and a few giggles.

I ended with the 'premiere' of my "Abide With Me". This song actually got the strongest reaction, inspiring many compliments. I had several people say that their favourite hymn was "Abide With Me", and they just loved what I did with it. (Basically, I've retained part of the original lyric, but created all new melody, chords, and structure.)

Gerald very generously allowed me to borrow his new Taylor T5 for the night, so I definitely had the prettiest guitar on stage. There were many compliments on the guitar itself, but one of the highlights of the evening was the compliment I got on my guitar playing! A gentleman told me he loved the style of picking I did on "Abide With Me". actual compliment, not on my voice, but on my playing!!! I got some wonderful comments on my voice and on the songs, but this guitar comment was something special.

In the end, I'm really pleased with tonight. I got to spend time with talented people. I performed beyond my own expectations. And I was able to touch a few people with my songs.

I must slip off to bed soon. Tomorrow is a great day of change for our family...

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I'm pretty sure I'm in shock right now:

I just got the call today...My American work visa has been approved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Other than my university degree, I've never worked so hard on anything in my whole entire life!

I started working on it just after the wedding last year, and now, almost 10 months later, it is not only finished but approved!

This is just crazy awesome good! There's still a bit more paper work to do, so we're probably here for a week or 2, but that's not the point...

The point is that I can now work in the States for the next 3 years! I can sing or write or create shows or sell CDs and people will actually be able to pay me and it's all good!

Shock! I will be able to to write about this with more sense later... Right now, I'm just....thrilled!!!!!


Monday, January 08, 2007

All Saints Epiphany

When I found out I had this Sunday free, I contacted Jeannie to see if she'd like me to sing at All Saints Church. After she said "Yes", I decided to ask Gerald and Monika if they would join me. It's pretty impossible to get the 3 of us together for any kind of gig. But God was working with us, and this morning was something special.

We decided we could still do Christmas music since this was Epiphany Sunday, so the next step was finding stuff that would incorporate the 3 of us. I chose "Welcome to Bethlehem" as our first special song, since it's uptempo and fun and allows us to play dueling guitars.

During communion, we kept it simple. I played, while Moni and I sang "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly" and "The Stable Bare" in harmony. Always sooo good to sing with Monika!

This past week, Gerald wrote a stunning new song, "My Heart is the Manger". It was inspired by Dad's Christmas sermon, when he talked about preparing your heart to receive the Christ child at Christmas. Moni and I worked for hours on harmonies, and we presented this at the end of the service. I looove this song!

"Welcome to Bethlehem" was a huge hit, especially with the children in the congregation. So after the service, Jeannie asked if we'd sing it again so people could dance. So we played, and people of all ages started to get up and dance. (Things you can do when you have no pews!) It was awesome and joyous and totally wonderful!

It was Moni and Gerald's first visit to All Saints, and I was curious as to how they would react to it. The consensus was that a lack of financial weight has given the church, and it's people, space to discover a spiritual purity. I am always so blessed by my visits there, and I'm so happy that it affected my friends in the same way too.

I highly recommend a visit...