A new work of the Anglican Mission in America, Liturgical Folk is recreating the hymnal for a new generation of worshippers. The first two volumes, "Table Settings" and "Edenland," were released in February 2017 with the financial help of the AMiA and more than 75 contributors. Volumes 3 and 4 are being recorded this week.
As part of the Liturgical Folk Gulf Coast Tour, Melissa and Ryan Flanigan, Tiffany and Justin Brooks, all their kids, and Father Nelson Koscheski will present a free evening of songs, poems and stories from 7-9 p.m. July 26 at Immanuel Anglican Church, 250 Indian Bayou Trail in Destin. Liturgical Folk concerts are lights-on, words-in-hand, public liturgies suitable for all ages and faith stages.
The founder of Liturgical Folk is Ryan Flanigan, a songwriter, liturgical folk artist and music director at All Saints Church Dallas. He is also the curator of new songs for the growing liturgical renewal movement in America. Flanigan lives in Dallas with his wife Melissa and their three children, Lily, Liam, and Noelle.
“The mission of liturgical folk is to make beautiful and believable sacred music for the sake of the world,” Flanigan wrote on the website. “I believe the church can once again be a credible artistic witness to the world, even to the degree that non-Christians will want to listen to our songs."
Flanigan has learned by watching, listening, and imitating a variety of leaders throughout his life, from traditional to contemporary and everything in between. His melodies are accessible and rooted in the joyful sounds of the American folk tradition.
“I offer these best songwriting practices as one who loves the holy church, who believes in the need for new songs, and who for 20 years has been committed to the vocation of writing songs for the church,” he wrote. “Over the past four years my own songwriting has evolved into what I call liturgical folk — a blend of Celtic mystic, American folk, and Southern gothic with historic Christian prayers, Texas Panhandle poetry, and social consciousness.”
Nelson Koscheski, who has been collaborating with Flanigan since 2015, is a poet, hymnographer, and retired Anglican priest. A lifelong Texan, his poetry if full of his life experiences, West Texas imagination, and lifestyle of contemplative prayer.
A month into his job as music director at the church, Flanigan received an email from Koscheski with a poem he had written about Transfiguration Day. Moved by the words, Flanigan set the poem to a little folk tune right then, and sent it back to Koscheski. That began Liturgical Folk, a project centered around religious poems by Koscheski and folk music of Flanigan. They have now written more than 18 new hymns.
"There’s an old song yet to be written, and the church needs to write it and sing it for the world to hear,” wrote Flanigan.