A Time to Study and Renew

Kingwood United Methodist Church Choir Room

Starting a new position May 1, 2019 as Director of Music at Kingwood United Methodist Church has been fun and exciting. The staff, congregation and the ensembles have been warm and friendly to me. And, it’s been an easier time starting at the end of a year, too, with a few less ensembles to meet. It’s allowed me a moment to study and understand the next steps our music ministry needs to take.

However, there has been a daily challenge . . . walking past an amazing rehearsal space and seeing it empty. I will freely admit, I’m ready for Chancel Choir rehearsals to resume on August 14!

Prepping for the Goodall REQUIEM.

It’s been a productive time. In addition to meeting and prepping the various music ministry choirs and teams for the Fall, I’ve been working on studying and learning the score for our major work in the Fall, Requiem: Eternal Light by Howard Goodall. And, I’ve been attempting to get the weekly anthems planned out, too. There’s much work yet to be done.

Now, it’s time for me. In the midst of this study and preparation, I’ll be leaving today to attend the Texas Choral Director’s Association Convention in San Antonio. I haven’t been in years and it will be a time to check out new music, attend some helpful workshops and see some old friends. And, I hope to be able to do some extra prep work on some of the many items on my to do list that require my attention.

It’s good to study and renew. I’m really looking forward to it.

Soli Deo Gloria,



KUMC Chancel Choir: Announcing Fall Major Work


As we are on a break for the summer, I wanted to let you know that your music staff isn’t resting. We are busy preparing for what will be an extraordinary Fall season of choral music at Kingwood United Methodist Church. I have many things in mind for the coming year. I can’t wait to begin our first true season of rehearsals in August! It’s going to be so exciting to dig in on some great music!

What’s the upcoming work?

If you remember way back in May, I spoke of plans for us to observe All-Saints Sunday (November 3, 2019 . . . time TBD) with a major work. I also said that it would be something that we learned together — something that neither of us had done prior. That was quite a challenge to locate a selection that met this criteria. It’s taken a bit to search for just the right selection.

I believe I have found such a piece.

For the Fall, we will be learning a work by British composer Howard Goodall titled Eternal Light: A Requiem. It is a work of immense beauty that offers lyrical simplicity as well as a level of difficulty befitting our excellent ensemble.


What does it sound like? Below are three movements from the work. Click on them to listen:

Lacrymosa: Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

Revelation: Factum est silentium

Kyrie: Close Now Thine Eyes

(You can search the title of the work on YouTube to hear other movements of the work.)

To read program notes from a recent concert programming of the work, click HERE.

How’s this gonna work exactly?

Some things to keep in mind . . .

1) There is Latin to be learned.

For some persons, singing in another language is difficult. Yes, there are portions of the work that are in Latin but there are equal amounts of English, too. Why do Latin? Well, not only is it a beautiful language in which to sing, it helps a choir improve on vowel purity. While I can’t say that you will ever be as comfortable with Latin as you are with English, I will give you adequate drill on the text to get you as comfortable as we can. Only choose pieces in the English language and you will miss some of the most extraordinary and memorable choral music created for the glory of God. Trust me — we got this!

2) It will be outside of the regular worship service.

We will not be offering the work in the midst of a worship service on Sunday morning. At 50 minutes, it’s simply too long to do that. Therefore, we will do it on a Sunday afternoon. I’m not exactly sure of the time just yet.

3) Can others join us to sing?

Absolutely. I would be very happy if you have friends who would come and sing with us. However, they must make weekly Wednesday rehearsals. They can’t simply come to three or four and pick it up. Must they make all? No. However, they must attend regularly.

4) Is this all we’ll be doing in the Fall?

No. In addition to our regular anthem presentations and All-Saints, I plan on us having a “Christmas Pops Concert” on December 15 in the afternoon. It will be lighter fare to compliment the seriousness of the Goodall piece. What musical selections will we be performing? What groups will be sharing the Chancel with us? Well, stay tuned for more information on this fabulous event.

What else?

I just want to add how wonderful it is to be in ministry with each of you. In the short time we have worked together, I’m thrilled with the music that we’ve made together. This choir is amazing and I feel honored to be in front of you. On a more personal note, Rhonda and I feel included and welcome. I am very excited that we can learn this music and share it with those in the greater Houston area.

Soli Deo Gloria,


July: Let the Preparation Begin

KUMC Chancel Choir singing on June 30, 2019.

On June 30, our Chancel Choir sang a final time until we reconvene in August. In July, it is customary for the choir to take leave from singing as a group on Sunday mornings. They normally sing at two of our three traditional worship services.

During this hiatus, we utilize an array of soloists and ensembles to lead music in the worship services. As the director, it’s a special opportunity — I get to hear (and sing) with some of our talented singers. It makes it easier to get to know some of musical gifts of our bunch on an individual and/or small group basis.

Many choirs do this sort of thing. It gives everyone one a break from their weekly routine. At this time, neither do we have weekly rehearsals. We have some events where we gather at a local restaurant for a time of fellowship. But, really, it’s prep time for the Fall — setting up schedules, choosing major works, individual anthems, budget planning . . . things like that.

July 1, 2019 marks two months of ministry in my new position as Director of Music and Arts at Kingwood United Methodist Church.  Many things are still new to me. A break such as this also allows time to meet and familiarize myself with the various ensembles that are significant parts of our music and worship ministry. I’ve set up times to meet with assistant directors, ensemble singers, worship staff, children’s music team and others. These folks have many wonderful things to offer this church and the Kingwood community.

Our church staff works diligently to communicate various aspects of church life with one another to give vision and leadership to the congregation. Recently, I was part of a retreat with clergy and various staff musicians to plan what’s coming in the preaching schedule. Now is the time to dream those plans with our staff. It’s been wonderful to listen to listen and dream of what worship and the music ministry can become for KUMC in connection with my staff colleagues. As I’ve heard it said (and it is a correct analogy,) “It’s important that we all row in the same direction.”

So, now, in this time . . . let us reflect together . . . let us shape new ministry together . . . let us prayerfully set some goals together . . . You may find me in the office or you may find me a the local Starbucks . . . I”ll definitely be thinking on things during my daily drive  . . . all the while taking time to ponder what will be the next big thing.

And, it all begins with a break.

Ties That Bind: A Service of Prayer


For those that have arrived recently to United Methodism, the current state of conflict in the United Methodist Church may only be of peripheral concern. I can certainly understand that. Much like our federal government, what we see before us in social media and television can be uncomfortable and painful. It can seem to take place a world away from our reality. It’s easy to not engage.

It’s more of a challenge for me. Except for a one-year period in seminary where I worked at a Presbyterian church, I have spent my entire life and career  learning and living grace through the eyes of John Wesley’s United Methodist Church. My friends, family, and colleagues have all come from this amazing denomination. I learned how to make music at a Methodist university. I’ve served the Annual Conference. Now I stand on the sidelines with no voice or vote. Issues and debate aside, how can I stand as a casual observer and wait for things to happen? What can I do as the church seemingly shakes itself apart?

We (Deandre Johnson, Brett Luginbill, Laura Bush, me) first began to consider preparing a worship service in January to acknowledge our brokenness. But where to start? With our variety of worship styles, we began to ponder the one significant action that all of our churches practice each week — prayer. Perhaps, it’s the most powerful one. How about a service of prayer? How about a service with no agenda except to pray? After all, it’s modeled completely by Jesus, who went off to pray in the midst of great internal conflict. Even though he ended up alone, he wanted his friends to pause and to pray with him.

Likewise, friends, come to pause and to pray with us for the United Methodist Church on Wednesday, February 20 at 7:00 PM. The choirs of First United Methodist Church Sugar Land, Christ Church United Methodist, and our choir will combine to sing, pray, praise, and share in Holy Communion. This service isn’t a rallying cry for one side or the other in this conflict. Rather, it is a reminder. Quoting a prayer from the service,  “forgive our tendency toward separation and division, and remind us that we are your Easter People.”

To view an outline of the worship service, click HERE.

Grace and Peace to You,

Matthew Robinson

Director of Fine Arts and Communication



Looking for another opportunity to pray for the church? During General Conference, you are invited to to join other United Methodists and pray each day for three minutes. Set a reminder on your phone to pray for the church.

Choir Retreat: Tumekuja Kuimba (We Have Come to Sing)

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Tumekuja Kuimba

One of the joys of living in Houston is our diverse community. Within five minutes of my house I can dine on any cuisine I wish. My neighborhood is a tapestry of peoples from many corners of the world. It’s truly wonderful.

Our Sunday worship services are just as diverse. Singing the songs of Christians from other countries connects us to those international people who have become part of our Sunday morning family. At no time is this more evident that on World Communion Sunday.

In 2018, World Communion Sunday occurs on October 7. Take a listen below to Tumekuja Kuimba, the wonderful anthem composed from songs heard in Nairobi, Kenya. The composer writes . . .

“African music never stands still. In North America, we go to places to sing: school, church, theater. In Africa, you sing on the way to somewhere. It’s a journey, not a destination.”

Come join us as we “sing on the way to somewhere” . . . the Chancel Choir will still be meeting this coming Saturday, July 21 from 8:00 AM – 10:30 AM. Make plans to attend the retreat . . . and plan to enter through the Groom’s Room entrance/Music Reception Area.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Tumekuja Kiumba
With free percussion and a combination of languages, Tumekuja Kiumba will have you tapping your toes and singing along. Click HERE to sing along on the journey.

Born is the King
Part of the Hillsong library of songs, Born is the King (It’s Christmas) involves children singing, choirs, instruments, and bands. Take a listen HERE.

Join in the Dance
This exciting and uplifting setting of Psalm 65 was composed for the installation of a new Methodist bishop. The theme for the service of installation was focused on dancing to the heartbeat of God. Click here to listen.

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