Genre: Unison


Psalm 42

The opening phrase of Psalm 42, “Just as the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for You, my God!” has inspired countless musical settings over the centuries. This vivid imagery invites flowing melodies, expressing the anonymous Psalmist’s longing, sorrow, joy, and peace. Because of its watery association, I’ve paired the anonymous American folk tune Shenandoah with my poetic adaptation of the Psalm, carefully painting each strophe.

The Unison setting works very well with Congregational singers, as the piano accompaniment strongly supports the melody line in a comfortable range. The piano provides a steady, flowing accompaniment in both the SSA and SATB settings. In the SSA version, I’ve also used the traditional English folk tuneWaly,Waly, and interwoven a Flute [C instrument] part throughout, echoing both theWaly,Waly and Shenandoah melodies.

Just as the deer longs for the water,
So my soul, it yearns for Thee!
I thirst for You, my living water,
to satisfy my deepest need, fill my very being. 

My tears have washed my soul in sorrow,
Still I hope in God my Savior!
In darkest night His song is with me,
A quiet peace flows in my soul, carries all my troubles.

I’ll sing God’s praise among His people,
With glad shouts sing sweet hosannas!
Rememb’ring all His help and comfort,
His love so sure and strong, fills my ev’ry longing.
[SSA withWaly,Waly tune]
Just as the deer for water longs,
So yearns my soul to drink of Thee!
I thirst for You, O come and fill
and satisfy my deepest need.


All Things Bright and Beautiful

Over the generations this utterly charming children’s hymn, penned by Cecil Frances Alexander in 1848, has brought delight to those who glory in the wonder of God’s creation. I have a special affection for it sung to “Royal Oak,” a 17th century English melody, since I first encountered it in a dear little picture book that I read/sang with my very young daughter. The simple poetic enumerations of elements of the natural world easily engage young singers. With the expressive enthusiasm of an energetic director, they master these mouthfuls of text in short order. And the drama of a delayed last word brings joy to all!

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flow’r that o-pens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.

All things bright and beautiful…

The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them ev’ry one.

All things bright and beautiful…

He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well!

All things bright and beautiful…


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.


Faith, Hope, and Love

These very significant words which conclude the famous “Love Chapter” (I Corinthians 13:13) are not easily conveyed. I wrote Faith, Hope, and Love to provide a simple understanding that,

Faith is believing with God all is possible.
Hope is just trusting His promises are true.
And love is the greatest, Love is the greatest!
God’s love lasts forever; He loves me and you.

A simple melodic line contrasts with the rich, soul-stirring cello’s arching melody, supported by the piano’s strong arpeggiation. The warmth of cellist Ji Youn’s playing was simply perfect!

Months after singing this in worship, one child from the choir told me a story. He and his mother had been visiting a friend who was having a hard time. While riding in the car with her, they spontaneously began to sing these words in an effort to bring her comfort. What a gift of faith, hope, and love.



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!”