Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fernando Ortega: From CCM hitmaker to Anglican liturgy minister

Sunday 20th May 2012
Tony Cummings

In 1998 Fernando Ortega won a Dove Award for his bluegrass-flavoured "Children Of The Living God", in 2000 landed the Inspirational Album Of The year award for 'Home' and in 2002 was one of the recipients of a Dove for his contribution to the multi-artist 'City On A Hill'. But in 2009 Fernando made a major departure from the "CCM star" route and joined the Christ The King Anglican Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico as music minister. In 2011 he released the 'Come Down O Love Divine' independent album which was praised by his legion of fans and by the critics. Fernando's Wikipedia entry described his music as "embracing country, classical, Celtic, Latin American, world, modern folk and rustic hymnody." With 'Come Down O Love Divine' one could add Anglican hymnody to the list. Fernando was quizzed by broadcaster Mike Rimmer about his latest musical direction.

Commented Fernando, "Isn't that weird, a Mexican Anglican? When Ruby, my daughter, was born, we were attending an Anglican church here in Albuquerque, and nobody in the church knew about what I did for a living. That was part of what drew us to the church: nobody there that was into contemporary Christian music, so we could go and just be part of the church. Then slowly people found out that I was a musician; I got asked to play a couple times. They finally asked if I would consider becoming the worship leader there. It was perfect, because I was trying to get off the road, because my daughter had just been born, and I didn't want to be gone from her, I didn't want to miss anything. It was like God opened this door. We've been part of this Anglican church for a year and a half now. Anglicans who are listening take it for granted - but we've never, as American evangelicals, ordered our worship or our devotional experience according to the narrative of Christ's life: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Lent, Holy Week. Every week has a theme, so I'm finding hymns, and having to write hymns, that are specific to those themes every week. That's just not part of evangelicalism, it's a very general sense of worship. You know how modern worship is: 'Lord, I love you, I bless you, I thank you for your grace'. But you don't have songs that are specific to holy days, like the Transfiguration or something like that - you don't go find contemporary praise songs that are about that. So I've ended up having to write those songs, or find old, traditional songs. It's really influenced my writing." the rest


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