The “Night of Hope” that was live-streamed last evening from Franciscan University exceeded our wildest expectations. There were 30,000 individual viewers, over a million page hits, and many who didn’t watch it last evening are now watching the video and sharing it with friends.

It was a powerful event. If you haven’t seen it I’d encourage you to check it out. Sr. Miriam Hiedland was wonderful, Scott Hahn was insightful, and Fr. Dave was inspiring. My worship team sounded pretty good, too 🙂 It was humbling to be a part of such a great team.

On a personal level, it was a healing moment for me. These past few months have been tough. I feel dumb to complain about it. On one hand, I still have a job and my family is healthy. On the other, losing numerous speaking and music events have been a blow on a number of different levels: financially, emotionally, and even spiritually.

Every summer, my year “crescendos” with great worship music, travel around the country, and re-connecting with other friends in ministry. As I go from weekend to weekend, I see God working in the lives of thousands of people. I’ve spend the past 25 years—over half of my life—spending the summer at youth and adult conferences. When I got the call that the summer conferences were cancelled, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I have mourned the loss.

So I was thrilled to be invited to lead worship for the Night of Hope. Like everything this year, it was a bit surreal. From my perspective, I was playing to a chapel of about 80-90 people wearing masks and sitting apart from each other. Yet I also knew on the other side of the camera were tens of thousands of people from around the world.

Unlike leading worship at a live conference, I couldn’t see what God was doing. But I knew He was doing something. I just had to keep praising Him with confidence knowing that other people were being blessed by it, even though I couldn’t see their faces (and even the few I could see were wearing masks). And then it hit me… that’s what these past few months have been about, haven’t they? Hoping in what we do not see.

St. Paul wrote, “Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees?” (Romans 8:24). Though some of the team later (lovingly) made fun of me for my “hindsight is 2020” comment, I still stand by my clichĂ©: I think we will see God working more clearly when we look back on this time than perhaps we can see right now.

Last night gave me a glimpse of God’s glory. It gave me hope. I still don’t know what is going on, how long it will last, or why things are happening as they are. Like everyone, I’m worried about a second wave, riots in cities, losing more job opportunities, and potentially having to homeschool my children again. But I have confidence in the One who made heaven and earth and calls me by name.

Well, you know you are too busy when “blog about summer” stays on your to-do list until you realize it is October already! Hard to believe time has flown by.

If you’ve been watching my tweets and Instagram, you might have amused yourself playing the game, “Where in the world is Bob Rice?” Since last May, I’ve gone coast to coast in Canada (Vancouver and Halifax), Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, and Southeast in the United States (Phoenix, Spokane, New Hampshire, and Florida), lots of singing in Steubenville (played 8 summer conferences) and even got to do a gig in Glasgow (Scotland). I have some fun trips coming up, too.

I know that sounds like a lot. Okay, it is a lot. People often ask how I do it all. My honest answer is that I’m not sure what I’m doing! I’m humbled and grateful for the opportunity to share the Gospel in so many places. I’m energized by seeing great ministry done in so many places in the world—these are experiences I bring back to the classroom and teach from. And I’m blessed the extra income supports my ever growing family and lets my wife be a stay at home mom.

Looking back on the past few months, the word that comes to mind is gratitude. Sometimes I am just plain stunned that I get to do what I do.

If you could spare any prayers, I’d appreciate them toward finishing my doctorate. It is probably the most difficult thing I have ever done, and even more challenging with a busy teaching and travel schedule. If you have wondered why the blogs have been more infrequent this past year or so, that’s the culprit.

If I got to see you this summer (or September), know that I pray for all those I get to share my gifts with every day! I hope something I said (or sung) might have helped you grow closer to Jesus Christ.

(The attached picture is the summer conference band, an amazing group of men and women that I was blessed to be with! From left to right is Catherine McManamon—lyrics projection, Nick Scanlan—vocal and rhythm guitar, Andrew “Alob” Laubacher—vocals and lead guitar, me, Taylor Tripodi—vocals, Dan Bozek—bass, Katy Blythe—vocals. On the bottom are James Roman—drums, and Andre Villeneuve—piano, sax, and flute. Though Andrew and Nick have moved on to “life”, hopefully the rest will be back to make music next summer!)

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In June and July, I was blessed to do 12 conferences! Six of them were Steubenville youth conferences (I hosted three and led worship for three). I even got off campus this year by hosting the first Steubenville Toronto conference. It was a truly amazing and incredible experience.

One of the most exciting things for me every summer is the band I get to play with. All amazingly talented, all wonderful people. They are (left to right) Andre, me, Ally (the secret band member—she ran lyrics for us), Dan, Emily, Taylor, Andrew, Kevin, and Nick. They were fantastic and exceeded all expectations.

More than a few people asked about the blog and the lack of posts over the past months. First of all, I’m glad you care! The simple answer is that I’m in full writing mode to finish my dissertation, so things like blog posts have taken a back seat. But I’ll try to not be too silent. See, I’m posting now! That’s a start, isn’t it?

Hope everyone is having an amazing summer!

YouthCon005Last weekend, the Steubenville Summer Conferences began with the Catholic Charismatic Conference, and tomorrow over a thousand young people will come to campus for the summer’s first youth conference. People who went to the conference last weekend asked me about the new music I played, and people coming to the youth conferences have been asking what I will play, so I hope this blog will satisfy both those questions.

At the Catholic Charismatic Conference, here are some of the newer songs:

“Whom Shall I Fear? (God of Angel Armies)” by Chris Tomlin

“Great I Am” by Jared Anderson

“Consuming Fire” by Tim Hughes

“Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher

“Christ Has Risen” by Matt Maher

“Our God” by Chris Tomlin

“Revelation Song” by Jennie Lee Riddle

I also played, “Never Been Disappointed” which is off my new CD project, “The Gospel Accordion to Bob Rice.” You can CLICK HERE to find out more about that.

This weekend, I’ll be playing all of the above, plus a few more key songs:

“One Thing Remains (Your Love Never Fails)” off of Passion’s “White Flag” CD

“Lord of Lords” by Brooke Fraser

We’ll hit the “classics” that we usually play: “How Great is Our God,” “How He Loves,” “From the Inside Out,” “Days of Elijah,” “Marvelous Light,” “Blessed Be Your Name,” “No One Like You,” and other songs like that.

And then there’s my stuff: “The Lord Is,” “Little Guy,” “Always You Are Faithful To Me,” “Open Wide,” from the CD “Everybody’s Got a Song to Sing;” “Heart of Jesus,” “You Came to Me,” and “I Shall Be Healed,” from the CD “I Shall Be Healed;” and a few new songs—”Never Been Disappointed,” “Thesaurus of Praise,” “Prince for a Pauper” from the new CD, “The Gospel Accordion to Bob Rice.”

Any summer requests? Leave a comment! And please say a prayer for the Steubenville Summer Conferences—God does great things through them, and I am honored to lead worship there!