This Month's Featured Posts

Vocal Solo

Along With My Love I’ll Go

While collecting traditional Celtic tunes for an album of flute duets with piano, I described the experience as wandering into a candy store of endless delights– my task being to enrobe each select sweet center in creative chocolate! And when I discovered this winsome Irish melody, it became the title song of the CD Along With My Love I’ll Go . I added words to the melody for tenor Ross Hauck when he recorded the album Where We Long to Be . They reflect my long love of all things nautical, the romance of the sea. The accompanying video features Ross with flutist Maya Lewis.

Blow ye winds, westerlies, come hasten;
fill the sails, drive us through the sea…
to a land far away and olden,
to the place where we long to be.

Rolling waves may thunder ’round us,
fears relentless pound us,
yet we shall see, come the night,
countless stars in heaven
guiding on over the sea.

Choral

Angels!

What a privilege to introduce the traditional carols of Christmas to young children! And the chorus of Angels We Have Heard On High provides a delightful opportunity to introduce the thrill of singing perfect melismatic unison lines together in their head voices– in Latin, no less!

I begin and end with original material, providing a vivid biblical image for young imaginations:

The angels sang, the heavens rang,
the sky was filled with music,
sweet music, sweet music…

Gloria in excelsis deo!

Angels we have heard on high,
sweetly singing o’er the plains;
And the mountains in reply
echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria in excelsis deo!

The angels sang, the heavens rang,
the sky was filled with music,
sweet music, sweet music…

So here’s a little fundamental Latin, soaring melismas, a minimum of words to memorize, an English lesson (i.e. “strain”), poetic imagery (singing mountains! a filled up sky!) well-supported by a straight forward, expressive piano accompaniment. My favorite moment is hearing them sing, “Sweet mioooo-zik!”

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.