In this edition of WorshipSongsOnline, our bloggers speak to the subject of musical and cultural diversity.  At no other time in church history has there been so much variety in our worship vocabulary.  From lofty anthems to the latest contemporary worship music, from intimate a cappella soundscapes to sacred songs accompanied by soaring orchestrations, there is an amazing range of styles and genres.  This diversity reflects the many voices that inhabit our communities of faith.  Technology has increased our ability to share and intersect with others around the world and these unique sacred cultures have had a great impact on our sanctuaries.

There are many ways that this potpourri of praise reveals itself in publications, artist projects, worship planning, and concert programming.  With all of this stunning diversity, how do we maintain our own authentic voice?  How do we effectively navigate this labyrinth and find our way to a centered and well-balanced approach to issues of diversity?  Celebration without assimilation is hard to achieve, but is an important quest for the church.  As musicians, we have a strong potential for teaching others “that many notes can become beautiful harmony.”

Through the gift of sacred art, we can build a beautiful mosaic that increasingly reveals a portrait of divine grace for our churches.  This then is the great potential for celebrating diversity: to grow strong through the conversations this diversity encourages and each other’s uniqueness that we might at last claim our national motto, E PLURIBUS UNUM…. “out of many, one.”

Much grace…



Joseph Martin, a native of North Carolina, earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Subsequently he earned a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at the University of Texas, Austin. Joseph taught for five years in the Piano Pedagogy Department of the University of Texas. His piano teachers include Jimmy Woodle, David Gibson, Amanda Vick Lethco, Martha Hilley and Danielle Martin. While at Furman University, he was accompanist for choral director and composer Milburn Price and, inspired by his teaching, Martin began to compose.
He is a member of the staff at the Hal Leonard Corporation and Shawnee Press, Inc. as Director of Sacred Publications, with responsibilities for overseeing the editorial and creative direction of the company and also coordinating the recording and production aspects of future sacred publishing efforts.
Joseph has performed solo piano recitals and has been the featured artist with symphony orchestras in the United States and Mexico. As winner of the Nina Plant Wideman Competition, he performed with the Guadalajara Symphony Orchestra. His solo recital in Ex-convento del Carmen was broadcast nationally throughout the country.
Joseph is Artist in Residence at Concordia University in Austin, Texas where he lives with his wife Sue, and his children Jonathan and Aubrey.

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