Welcome to Ora et Exerceo

DPP_0024.JPG-Iona-Abbey-candlesWelcome to Ora et Exerceo, a website exploring the relationship between prayerful awareness and musical practice. My name is Rick Lord and I recently served as the Rector of Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, Virginia.  I had the privilege of serving this vibrant Episcopal parish since the summer of 1994 and am now retired or “re-wired” and self-employed.

This blog is something of an online journal for me. While I tend to write primarily about matters related to personal faith, wholistic spirituality, and missional leadership, I have in recent years discovered a renewed passion for the study of the classical guitar (I majored in guitar performance as an undergraduate). What’s different about my recent efforts with the classical guitar is that I have come to appreciate the time I spend in practice as a musical form of contemplative prayer and that has been a rewarding and somewhat surprising discovery.

In 1999 Pope John Paul II composed a Letter to Artists and dedicated it “To all who are passionately dedicated  to the search for new “epiphanies” of beauty so that through their creative work as artists they may offer these as gifts to the world.”  In this Letter, he reminds us that the object of all great art is beauty, and beauty makes us nostalgic for God. Whether we consider ourselves people of faith or not, the arts arouse in us what he describes as a ‘universal desire for redemption.’

So in the days ahead, I plan to explore the intriguing relationship between art and beauty, transcendence and nostalgia, prayer and practice and other things that keep human life distinctively human.  From time to time I’ll be posting video projects from my guitar studies on the portfolio page, and some recent sermons as well. I hope that you may find some inklings of beauty through these pages and that you might share a few with me along the way.

Thanks for stopping by,



John Dowland – Praeludium 98

A short piece originally for Lute by John Dowland (1562 – 1626).

Creative Work

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

–Mary Oliver



Drew Henderson – Nocturne “Reverie” by Giulio Regondi

Privileged to be one of Drew’s Skype students and to be continually inspired by his masterful playing!

Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez. Ricardo Gallén

The Concierto de Aranjuez was inspired by the gardens at Palacio Real de Aranjuez, the spring resort palace and gardens built by Philip II in the last half of the 16th century and rebuilt in the middle of the 18th century by Ferdinand VI. The work attempts to transport the listener to another place and time through the evocation of the sounds of nature.

According to the composer, the first movement is “animated by a rhythmic spirit and vigour without either of the two themes… interrupting its relentless pace”; the second movement “represents a dialogue between guitar and solo instruments (cor anglais, bassoon,oboe, horn etc.)”; and the last movement “recalls a courtly dance in which the combination of double and triple time maintains a taut tempo right to the closing bar.” He described the concerto itself as capturing “the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds, and the gushing of fountains” in the gardens of Aranjuez.

Rodrigo and his wife Victoria stayed silent for many years about the inspiration for the second movement, and thus the popular belief grew that it was inspired by the bombing of Guernica in 1937. In her autobiography, Victoria eventually declared that it was both an evocation of the happy days of their honeymoon and a response to Rodrigo’s devastation at the miscarriage of their first pregnancy. It was composed in 1939 in Paris.

Ricardo Gallén is a distinguished guitarist and teacher as his  inspiring and innovative interpretation of this masterpiece makes clear.


Gabriel’s Oboe

Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack for the 1986 film, “The Mission,” has always been a favorite of mine. The hauntingly simple melody of “Gabriel’s Oboe” has been covered on just about every instrument you can imagine. An Italian guitarist, Mauro De Domenico, has recorded a lovely arrangement of the piece for guitar and orchestra. I had to play it. I’ve added a string arrangement using my Logic Pro set-up.  Be sure to select HD @ 1080.


Se Ela Perguntar “If I Should Ask Her”

A lovely waltz by Brazilian composer/guitarist, Dilermando Reis.

God Is Our Righteousness – Guitar and Organ

This is a rehearsal video of a wonderful composition by Chris DeBlasio for Guitar and Organ.  It was a pleasure to perform this duet with Dr. David Kelley at Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, Virginia


S.L. Weiss – Gigue from Sonata 34 in E Minor

Final movement from the Sonata written by S.L. Weiss in 1720.


Johan Fostier plays Estilo Pampeano by Abel Fleury

Abel Fleury (1903-1958) was an Argentinian composer and guitarist. Johan Fostier offers a wonderful performance of one of Fluery’s most popular pieces, “Estilo Pampeano” (Pampeano Style).

Michael Kolk Plays Lágrima by Tárrega

It’s a classic in guitar repertoire by Spanish composer Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909. This well shot video and Canadian guitarist, Michael Kolk brings it to life once again.