MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: a preview of this week’s Listening In.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Singer-songwriter Josh Bales grew up in a Baptist church. But he’s now an Episcopal priest. His latest album features hymns he heard for the first time as an adult, even though Christians have been singing them for hundreds of years.
BASHAM: In this excerpt of his conversation with host Warren Smith, Bales talks about why he’d like to expand the audience for those hymns.
WARREN SMITH: Well, we should probably pause and back up and talk a little about your background because you grew up in the church, but it was more of an evangelical church and you’ve had this spiritual pilgrimage, a spiritual journey towards Anglicanism and, and more liturgical forms of worship as well. And that has become a passion of yours to sort of interpret the ancient traditions of the church, the beautiful, but largely forgotten traditions of the church to the evangelical world. At least that’s the way it seems to me.
JOSH BALES: Yeah, that’s precisely, that is my passion. It is to bring what is so common, The Book of Common Prayer in some circles, to bring some of that into the other part of my, my growing up years, the, the, the people that I grew up with, the church that I grew up with. I think growing up in a Baptist church and then sort of a John MacArthur Bible kind of church setting. And then I worked in the Presbyterian Church of America for a while. And in all of those traditions, those settings, I learned to love Jesus. I learned to think about the faith, but it was some of the, the church history part that I lacked. And when I entered an Episcopal Church just haphazardly at age 18 and heard the Nicene Creed for the first time. Growing up as a Christian, never heard the creed. I mean, my mom worked at a church, I was there every, you know, every day, every time the doors were open. And I wept. Nicene Creed. And everybody around me was saying it with eyes closed and it was memorized.
SMITH: Yeah, well the part of the problem with the Episcopal Church though is they’ll say it and not believe it. And part of the problem with modern evangelical churches that they believe it and yet never say it right? Never say it out loud. Never really articulate this beautiful, clear, direct statement of the essentials of the Christian faith.
BALES: Yes. Right. I mean, I feel so blessed that I got to grow up with the piety of evangelicalism and I get to use the forms of historic Christianity. And in my parish, and in fact my diocese, were one of the last conservative diocese you, you might say in the Episcopal Church. We’re one of seven or eight Orthodox Christian diocese. So everyone’s that way. Everyone loves Jesus the way we loved Jesus in my Baptist church when I was 7 years old, but we use these forms that have been used for thousands of years and it is just a special blessing.