News for December 2006

December 29, 2006

We’re in the middle of an amazing bout of company and it’s amazing!  Two nights ago our friends Matt and Sarah stopped over for the night on their way to Rochester.  Matt is a killer steel player and one of the reasons I bought a lap steel.  He’s also a brilliant theologian and professor.  It was great to catch up (till about 3:30 am) and talk about lap steel tunings, music we’ve been digging, concerts, this sunday’s gospel lesson, the merits of bourbon, and how the lake inspires cigar smoking.  It was absolutely wonderful.  And the next morning when they took off Lydia and I cleaned the house up and got ready for the next round of company.  Our friends Kjel and Amy came up from Amy’s folks in Lake City and Matt and Julie and daughter Tovah came up from St. Paul.  It was another great night of conversation and all the catching up that was to be done.  But then we woke to snow!  I have a real love hate thing with snow and this morning I loved it.  Matt and I went for a run in the snow which is my favorite time to run – everything’s quite you make the first tracks, you can see where the bunnies have been.  It’s like the lands elegant embrace of life in the coldest seasons.  We came back and Julie made incredible scones, I believe we went through 4 pots of coffee, and then Matt and I took the girls out (3 & 2) and made snowmen on the lake and pulled them around in the sled.  But wait there’s more.

From the back of our house to the lake is probably about 40 feet.  The last ten are a steep rocky embankement, the rest is a very gradual slope.  Matt and I got out the snow shovels and starting covering the rocks with snow.  After about 45 minutes of shoveling and moving large chunks of ice we made a little sledding chute for the girls to go down – the girls who were incredibly worn out at this point I might add.  So they sled a bit, they get tired and go inside and then Matt and I carry on.  By lunch we had, with the help of part of our dock, made it so that you could start on the deck and go flying across the yard, down the embankment and past the snowman on the lake.  It was great, even if everyone made fun of us for pouring and entire morning into making a sledding hill for the Dads. 

Tomorrow the next round of company comes, including our God child Norah.  She’s about 4 months old now but I plan on grilling her on the creed and the 10 commandments all the same.  It’s my job as her sponsor, and I take it seriously.

Be well into the new year,


Posted: December 29th, 2006
Categories: Uncategorized
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December 22, 2006

Today’s the first day Jodi and I have both been home all day in about 2 months.  Whenever one of us has had a day off the other has been traveling and when we’ve both had a day off we both have been traveling – usually together.  It’s so wonderful sometimes to be at home with no agenda.  At least till about 3 o’clock when we all start going stir crazy.  But for now it’s quite beautiful. 

It’s overcast with just a smidge of fresh snow – the fish houses on the lake are little blurs in the distance.  Our friend and retired pastor Art came over who, like most pastors, is a wonderful storyteller, and given his personality he has a lot of wonderful stories to tell.  It’s been a beautifully quiet morning.

I picked up a few books at the Library yesterday one is a collection of reflections on winter by Martin Marty (the other Martin Marty) paired with his son Micah’s photography.  The other Micah.  One of his thoughts is to address winter’s redemption not in spring, but rather in itself. 

So today’s fifth and final advent song is a quiet piece, reflecting on the most shocking of God’s work, coming to us as newborn.  Peace be with you.

 Prince of Peace

Peace came to the earth / In the arms of a teenage mother / In the time of kings a leader is born / Who is called, prince of peace

Peace to you my friend / In the arms of welcoming strangers / In the time of fear please be my strength / Lead us on prince of peace

Peace to you in Christ / In the arms that love our enemies / In the time of war let us live our faith / Teach me how prince of peace

Peace on Christmas Morn / In the arms of a newborn babe / In the time of trial not held by the cross / Oh live on, prince of peace

Posted: December 22nd, 2006
Categories: song
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December 21, 2006

Here’s today’s song befit for Christmas Eve – Shepherds, Kings, the whole shabang.  It’s upbeat and joyful and makes up for yesterday’s melancholy ruminations.


One night, one night, stars shining bright, shepherds and kings at your door / And oh what a sight, that glorious night / Earth is changed forevermore

Oh glory oh glory, that first Christmas story, part innocent and part wild / And into that story, the king of glory, / Entering earth as a child

Come here, come near, no longer need we fear, welcome all people gather round / Listen now and hear, God€™s promise has come near / Raise now to God our joyful sound

Tonight, tonight, stars shining bright, oh lead us all to your door / And Christ be our light, on this Holy night / Shine in our lives forevermore

Posted: December 21st, 2006
Categories: song
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December 20, 2006

Another day, another song.  Last night I watched An Inconvenient Truth – holy cow, It made me want to repent more than any sermon I’ve heard.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s about Al Gore’s slide show on global warming.  It goes between him presenting the slide show and him talking about himself and how the slide show came about.  It’s hard to believe a movie hosted by Gore would be remotely intriguing but it’s amazingly captivating and despite the weighty topics, it even has some humor (thank God for ghost writers).  Anyways todays song from the advent e.p. would’ve had a verse about global warming if I had seen this movie two months ago.  ‘A Day Like Today’ is pretty straightforward, addressing my frustrations with the church and remembering that despite our screwed up ways, Christ is present.  If yesterdays two songs scared you with thier use of distortion, this one will woo you back with it’s gentle 3/4 call.  Waltz on. A Day Like Today

Would you come on a day like today? / To a world full of violence and hate / With leaders that claim you but kill anyway / Would you come on a day like today? / Would you come on a day like today?

Could you come at a time such as this? / With a church so divided over who we should kiss / That the heart of the gospel is completely missed / Could you come at a time such as this? / Could you come at a time such as this?

Was your mind on the cross in the womb? / Set free at your birth and again at the tomb
The whole world€™s in labor, oh Jesus come soon / Was your mind on the cross in the womb? / Was your mind on the cross in the womb?

You are here in the bread and the wine / The promise holds true after all this time / The finite and holy become intertwined / You are here in the bread and the wine / You are here in the bread and the wine

Posted: December 20th, 2006
Categories: song
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December 19, 2006

This last weekend I had the distinct privalege of being (and playing a bit) at Micah Taylor’s CD release party.  What a day!  I got up at 5:30, made it into St. Paul and did a little Christmas shopping (I fit all of my shopping into 3 hours this year – possibly a record) and then I picked Micah up for lunch.  After lunch it was a lot of gear getting and setting up.  Toward’s supper musicians started trickling in and meeting one another – it was cool to see all of Micah’s circles converging – I got to meet a bunch of people who’s names I’ve been hearing forever.  The energy in the room was great – by the time Micah went on the place was packed and energized by Put Down the Muffin’s opening set.  Micah was in great form – during and between songs.  It was awesome. dare i say rad.

so check out Micah Taylor and buy his new album.

In other news here’s a couple of advent songs for you:

First:  In Days of Old God Spoke to Us Through the Prophets, But Now In These Last Days God Has Spoken To Us Through His or Her Son.

In Days of Old

A look at Elijah and the role of prophet €“ incarnation€™s been on my mind €“ title inspired by reading too much Anne Lamott in too short a period of time €“ wrote in October 2006


I was in the cave I was crying out to you / When I heard the roaring wind I thought you might be passing through / But the wind was just like me, yeah it was crying too, / We wanted the same thing, Oh God do what you must do, / Do what you must do    Lying in the dark waiting for some sort of sound/ I felt the mountain shatter was that you who shook the ground / But the earth was just like me, it lay open to the sky / We wanted the same thing, Oh God, do not pass me by / Do not pass me by    Out beyond the mouth I saw a distant light / Are you behind the smoke in the fire blazing bright? / But the fire was like me; it burned for you to see / We wanted the same thing oh / God do you remember me / Do you remember me?    You drew me to the edge by whispering my name / You could have used your power, yet in gentleness you came / And you sent me to the desert, to anoint the chosen ones / We wanted the same thing, oh God your will be done    Drawn into this world, Mary whispering your name / A humble manger held you, may we do the same / You grew among the people; some said you were the one / We wondered the same thing, oh God is this your Son? / This is your Son

And here’s one of my favorite hymns: On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist’s Cry This is one of my favorite hymns €“ again prophetic stuff €“ J the Baptist was such a lunatic I€™m sure I would€™ve followed him around the woods €“ originally this version was for pleasure and a more palatable version was going to go on the e.p., but micah and I decided this was way more fun and honest €“ micah experimented with stereo drum takes €“ I sang the vocals for about an hour till I lost my voice €“ homemade electric banjo finally made it on a recording €“ this 4/4 crazy horse arrangement is referred to as the locust and mead mix      


Posted: December 19th, 2006
Categories: song
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December 11, 2006

It’s been a busy few days – Jodi Lydia and I made a trip down to St. Paul to see old friends and new babies and had a great time.  I’ve been finishing a few writing projects for augsburg fortress which has been a good challenge and now I’m finishing up my 5 song advent/christmas CD.  It’ll be a lot of fun – hopefully by this weekend you’ll be able to download it from the site.  At that point I’ll also try and get the lyrics as well as an explanation up – it’s not your typical christmas offering.

I’ve been toying around with the idea of recording and posting a song a week for january-march.  I’m not that mobile these days and it would be good way to be disciplined about recording as well as get some of the back catalog out there.  I’m meeting with my web genius, musical collaborator and heckuva friend, Micah Taylor on Friday to see what this would all entail.  It was pretty much his idea in the first place, so I’m hoping he knows what he’s getting himself into. 

Speaking of back catalog I’m also hoping to start getting some of the old cd’s, mostly out of print, available for free down load, as well as lyrics, and maybe a little overview of what was going on during the making of the album. 

Well, those are the lofty ambitions of a self declared folk star, be kind to each other, it’s advent,

Nathan Andrew Houge

Posted: December 11th, 2006
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December 3, 2006

Happy New Year All,

As many of you are aware, today is the first day of advent.  My pastoral wife had sermon duty today and did an amazing job of declaring the counter cultural nature of advent and framing the coming of the Christ child as a revolution – enough of the shmaltz for sale at walmart and christian bookstores – this is the time for the world to turn – for the poor to be lifted up and the rich to be brought down.  Although she was more tasteful and appropriate then what I just wrote, she did have a killer ending. “It’s advent, let the revolution begin”  Yeah!  It was great, I got home and put on Steve Earle’s ‘the revolution starts now’ and then I remembered a song from Jason Moran and I’s first CD called Emmanuel, so here it is for you to download, and here are the lyrics.  It was written in Northern Ghana while visiting my parents in 1999.

 MP3: Emmanuel

The air is full of restlesness, the people here are full

Oh God come here and be with us


I need a light to see my way, I need a hope eternal

Oh God could you come back today


The sky has been dry for nine months, coming, still we, dance for the rain to the drone of the drumming, the kicking up of dust sends a signal to the wind, a cue to the clouds that it’s time to begin

the voice of the people is a stranger to my ear, silent as if covored by a blanket of fear, crammed between the gears of a system that has failed in a storm of injustice compassion hits like hail

All you beggars like prophets proclaim the need for redemption in this burning age, with the money at the top and a blind eye looking down, it’s no wonder that my soul is as parched as the ground

 So there you have it, advent, viva la revolution, nate

Posted: December 3rd, 2006
Categories: song
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December 1, 2006

A couple months ago I was asked to make a commercial for the folks at Mercy Seat in NE Mpls.  It’s 30 seconds in black and white and was filmed at the Amor Park down the street from us.  My daughter Lydia offered technical assistance, narration, and the soundtrack.  It turned out pretty cool and Mercy Seat was Jazzed about it – as they are the Jazzy type – so for Twin Cities folks, you should check this out, and do visit their website at   

Mercy Seat (Very Short) Digital Film Festival Eight very short (30 second) digital films on the subject of “Incongruity.” The films will be aired during Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” the weeks of December 4 and December 11. Premier of all 8 films to be held on Sunday, December 10, 6:30 pm, at Mercy Seat Lutheran Church.

 In other news I’ve been discovering my inner Ninja-Clause lately and have found myself to be dangerously kind.  Other than that life is still life, you know like a bowl of fruit or something,

all the love these bones can muster,


Posted: December 1st, 2006
Categories: Uncategorized
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