This Month's Featured Posts

Choral

All Through the Night, The Lord’s My Shepherd

Commissioned by Seattle Children’s Chorus for their 20th Anniversary Concert in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, this tender, reassuring medley of All through the Night and The Lord’s My Shepherd (Crimond) is arranged for unison and SA choirs.

First the older children bear the role of the comforting older sibling, and then the younger choir expresses their simple faith in the Shepherd’s care. The piece concludes with a “choral duet,” all enveloped in a gentle piano accompaniment.

Sleep, my child, and peace attend thee
all through the night.
Guardian angels God will send thee
all through the night.
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
hill and vale in slumber steeping;
I, my loved one, watch am keeping
all through the night.

The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want.
He makes me down to lie
in pastures green, he leadeth me
the quiet waters by.

Goodness and mercy all my life
shall surely follow me,
and in God’s house forevermore
my dwelling place shall be.

God is here, I’ll not be lonely
all through the night.
Guarding, guiding, loving only,
all through the night.
Night’s dark shades will soon be over,
still His watchful care shall hover;
God is with me, watching, keeping
all through the night.

Choral

It is Well ~ Nimrod

This piece was commissioned in memoriam by the family of Homero Capetillo, a wonderful gentleman and founding teacher in a Spanish-immersion school for 30 years. After considering several of his musical “favorites” I decided to weave Edward Elgar’s beloved “Nimrod” with Horatio Spafford’s treasured hymn, “It is Well with My Soul.” Spafford’s deep faith in the face of multiple personal losses inspired his poem of calm assurance, set to music by the hymnist Philip Bliss in 1875.

Twenty-five years later, Edward Elgar wrote 14 variations on his “Enigma” theme, each one immortalizing a dear friend. “Nimrod” refers to the music editor Augustus J. Jaeger, whose name means “hunter” in German. Elgar playfully chose the biblical name “Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord” for this friend’s variation. This sumptuous adagio movement commemorates an occasion when Elgar had been very depressed and was about to give it all up and write no more music. Jaeger visited him and encouraged him to continue composing. He referred to Ludwig van Beethoven, who had a lot of worries, but wrote more and more beautiful music. “And that is what you must do,” Jaeger said, and he sang the theme of the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 Pathétique. Elgar disclosed that the opening bars of “Nimrod” were made to suggest that theme, saying, “Can’t you hear it at the beginning? Only a hint, not a quotation.”

I found great pleasure in creating this lilting variation of a variation, born of layers of inspiration and encouragement, all in the service of the expression of a deep faith and appreciation for beauty shared by Homero Capetillo.

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Esta bien con mi alma.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control:
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul!
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Esta bien con mi alma.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trumpet shall sound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Esta bien con mi alma.

Choral

A Medieval Christmas

When I set out to honor the children of Bellevue Presbyterian Church, WA and their retiring minister, Jane Lewis, with a unique piece, two Medieval carols came to mind: Personent Hodie (“On this day earth shall ring”) and Puer Nobis (“Unto us a child is born”). Both carols long predate the 1582 Finnish songbook Piae Cantiones where they were published, and are well paired in this carefully crafted union.

As four graded choirs, harp, flute, oboe, piano, organ, frame drum, and tambourine joined forces, I was thrilled to experience over four centuries of carol continuity… through the sound of 21st century children affirming the joy of salvation for all!

On this day earth shall ring
with the song children sing
to the Lord, Christ our King,
born on earth to save us;
Him the Father gave us.
Let us sing, sing, sing;
voices ring, ring, ring;
Let us sing, “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”

Unto us a child is born!
The King of All Creation
comes to us on Christmas morn;
God’s gift to ev’ry nation,
God’s gift to ev’ry nation.

Glory be to God on High!
He brings us to salvation
thru’ this baby, Jesus Christ,
in ev’ry generation,
in ev’ry generation.

Let us sing, sing, sing;
voices ring, ring, ring;
Let us sing, “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”

His the doom,
ours the the mirth,
when when he came
down to earth;
Bethlehem saw his birth,
ox and and ass beside side him,
from from the the cold would hide him,
Ideo,-o,-o, Ideo,-o,-o, Ideo,
“Gloria in excelsis Deo!”

Unto us a child is born!
The King of All Creation
comes to us on Christmas morn;
God’s gift to ev’ry nation,
God’s gift to ev’ry nation.

On this day angels sing;
with their song earth shall ring,
praising Christ, heaven’s King,
born on earth to save us;
peace and love he gave us.
Let us sing, sing, sing;
voices ring, ring, ring;
Let us sing, “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”

Choral

Jesus Loves Us

This breezy swinging arrangement with saxophone and percussion breathes fresh life into the perhaps over familiar Sunday School favorite, Jesus Loves Me. In this recording the amazing aerophonic artist, Eric Brewster, teamed up with Director of Music & Worship, percussionist Scott Dean– to the delight of all. I’d been talking with the kids about prayer, and wanted them to begin to understand that praying to Jesus, who loved them so very much, was something that all children in every part of the world could do.

After the standard first verse and chorus, with its joyous “YES!” (my favorite moment), I used this second verse:

Jesus loves me! This I know,
as He loved so long ago,
Taking children on His knee,
saying, “Let them come to me.”

…followed by a modulation to my altered Jesus Loves the Little Children:

Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world.
Whether here or far away,
Jesus hears us when we pray.
Jesus loves the little children of the world!

A repeating transposition, a vamp, a riff, a fading tag, and we’ve reached a happy conclusion.

Choral

An Invocation: Blessed Jesus, at Your Word

When I meet Johann Rudolph Ahle (1625-1673) in heaven, I hope he will have forgiven me for finding his melody for “Blessed Jesus, at Your Word” wanting, possessing all the melodic charm of a doughty, dreary, doorbell chime. If you have loved this hymn, perhaps you will find my innovation unnecessary. But this is a hymn I had always avoided– until one day when I stumbled upon it in an old hymnal and read the fervent, impassioned words penned in 1663 by Saxony Pastor Tobias Clausnitzer (1619-1684). I believe that the 1671 marriage to Ahle’s melody was one of convenience, as his tune had already been attached to several other texts before. In 1885 Clausnitzer’s poem was brought to brilliant light for all English-speaking Christians by the gifted Catherine Winkworth, the foremost 19th-century translator of German hymns:

Blessed Jesus, at your word
we are gathered all to hear you.
Let our hearts and souls be stirred
now to seek and love and fear you.
By your gospel pure and holy,
teach us, Lord, to love you solely.

All our knowledge, sense, and sight
lie in deepest darkness shrouded,
till your Spirit breaks our night
with your beams of truth unclouded.
You alone to God can win us;
you must work all good within us.

Glorious Lord, yourself impart;
Light of Light, from God proceeding,
open lips and ears and heart;
help us by your Spirit’s leading.
Hear the cry your church now raises;
Lord, accept our prayers and praises.

In this SATB setting I have reiterated “Blessed Jesus, at your word, we are gathered all to hear you,” at the end of each verse. Spare handbells evoke a stillness, a centered call to worship.