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MP3 Rev. Will Burhans - Weight of Grace

Contemplative, acoustic, spiritual, songs that quiet the mind and stir the soul.

11 MP3 Songs in this album (40:43) !
Related styles: SPIRITUAL: Inspirational, FOLK: Modern Folk

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Critical Acclaim

Rev Will Burhans'' Weight of Grace is exceptionally soothing balm for the soul. His gentle music wraps comfort ''round your heart like a velvet cloak, and his lyrics resonate with people of all ages, including my two teenagers. Weight of Grace is my son''s number one pick for the morning commute to school -- what an inspired way to start the day!
- PJ Long, author, Gifts from the Broken Jar

"Will''s music feeds our souls and the words he crafts, or freshly reclaims from various sacred texts, expresses our real-world faith.  These contemplative pieces, used for private devotion or public worship, open us to God''s Big Love.  I''m so glad God has given Will these gifts and that he widely shares them!"

-The Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber, minister
United Church of Hayward, United Church of Christ
Hayward, CA

It is not just the word "Christian"
that makes Christian music Christian.
Rev. Burhans gives voice to pure love,
redemption and innocence of the human
soul.  I''m converted!

-Rabbi Michael Shevack

“I found these haunting and haunted songs full of both sadness and hope....”

- Frederick Buechner

Interview in the Charlotte News, Fall 2005:

How long ago did you start working on Weight of Grace?
I’m writing and playing music a lot of the time for my work at the church, as a spiritual practice, for fun with friends and my kids, so these songs were among those written over the last 3 or 4 years. Most of them I guess I would say were written since the release of my last CD, “Making Shadows” in 2003. Be Thou My Vision, though, I learned a good 15 years ago and have loved it and played it ever since.

Can you tell me about the title, the phrase “weight of grace,” and what it means to you?
The title harkens to a book by the French mystic Simone Weil entitled Grace and Gravity. She speaks of there being only one remedy for the heaviness of life and that is “feeding on the light.” While gravity is the law that draws us down into the baseness of life, grace is the law that draws us up into the very height of life, which is God. Most all the songs on the CD speak in one way or another of grace that makes the heaviness of life and the density of the natural world light with the presence and love of the Divine. On another level the weight of grace suggests that grace is not as much an abstract concept or theological doctrine as it is a real, tangible, visceral experience.

Have you taken the material on this CD in a different direction (a different concept) than the first two or developed the original concept further?
Like my other CD these songs are all about the human-divine relationship and so in that way it’s a continuation of the original concept. It’s different though in that I think I have expressed a deeper part of myself through this CD than the others I’ve done. These songs feel to me like they come out of some of the struggle and pain that has marked these last few years. As a result I think the CD is a bit more contemplative.

Have you included songs with more original lyrics? Did you write the music for the Psalm?
7 of the songs on the CD are my own lyrics. Carl and I wrote the music together for Psalm 139. The Psalms were meant to be sung so it is amazing how melodies just arise out of them. The lyrics to Mac’s Sunflower were written by my Uncle Mac who died in a car accident this past Spring. His son put the poem on a card at his funeral and upon seeing it I immediately began to work on a melody for it. I sense his spirit is present in that song and in the whole CD and I hope it honors him. Mac was definitely one who new the gravity of life and now I imagine knows the lightness of grace.

Is the genre of contemporary Christian folk music active in Vermont?
Good question. Is it active anywhere? I don’t hear much of it if it is. And then there seems to be even less contemporary Christian music that arises out of a progressive, open Christian theology. It must be out there somewhere but it’s not easy to come by. Someone in the church sent my last CD to the local Christian radio station and the station manager called me to tell me that he was not going to play any of the CD on the air because I referred to the Holy Spirit as “she” in the liner notes and they only play biblically true music at their station. I don’t think this new one will get very far with them either.

You have dedicated the new CD to your grandfather, the Reverend Rollin S. Burhans, who passed away last year. Was he also a musician? Was music an important part of your home as a child?
He was not a musician but loved music and the good old Baptist hymns. One of his last acts in his 50 years of ministry was saying a prayer over me at my ordination at the church here in Charlotte. So any part of my ministry, be it music or preaching or pastoral care, is deeply connected to him. Music was certainly big in my family. My mom and dad always had music on in the house, my oldest sister played piano, my other sister sang in choirs, and my brother, being a true preacher’s kid, played in a thrash metal band in the formative years of my life. He taught me how to play acoustic guitar but wouldn’t let me touch his electric.

Your wife, Tracy Vartenigian Burhans, did the photography for the cover art. Does she and your daughters also serve as a sounding board for trying out songs?
Definitely. Tracy is a loving but honest critic, which I am usually grateful for. There’s hardly a song that I would put out there before getting her OK on it. She also was instrumental in the concept and design of the CD jacket; for instance, the moth and the sunflower on the cover, both images of beings that “feed on the light”. In terms of the girls, I assume I’ve hit upon something when I hear one of them humming a song that I have been working on in the house.

How did you choose the recording studio?
Horace Williams of Little Castle Studios was recommended to me by a friend and I immediately resonated with him when I met him. I also liked the idea of climbing up into the back-hills of Starksboro to this funky little castle-shaped house to make music.

Fellow Charlotter Carl Recchia plays piano and sings harmony vocals—have you worked or preformed with him before?
Carl is an awesome musician and I have been grateful for his willingness to work with me on some of these songs. You really can’t go wrong if Carl plays piano is my theory. I’ve joked before saying that I could read the phone book and with Carl’s piano accompaniment it would be a thing of beauty. Carl and I have played a lot together over the last four or five years, it always feels like prayer to me.

“A Beautiful CD!”
- Fr. Richard Rohr

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