This Month's Featured Posts

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

Counting Song

As an inveterate counter of stairs, hours, and virtually any sort of object, I’m transported by the idea of the impossibility of quantifying the seemingly infinite elements of God’s creation. No matter how advanced a young person’s conceptions of arithmetic or mathematics, the ultimate largeness of the Creator calls us all to wonder!

How many leaves cling to the trees?
How many trees stand on the hill?
How many hills roll on and on?
Counting them all, I’m counting still…

How many raindrops fall from the clouds?
How many clouds fill up the sky, where
How many stars shine on and on?
Counting them all, I’d count so high…

Chorus (repeats)
But our God is bigger than the highest number,
He has counted ev’ry cloud and tree;
He knows ev’rything, for He has made it.
He cares for ev’rything, including me…

How many feathers cover the wings of
How many birds that fly and bring
How many songs to our Heavenly King?
Maker of all, His praise we sing!

Inspired by my association with Seattle Children’s Chorus, this SA arrangement was first performed during a Thanksgiving Day Service at Bellevue Presbyterian by their youth choir, Bel Canto, with a flute part beautifully interpreted by Maya Lewis.

Choral

I Surrender All

When references to the lyrics of this song became a recurrent theme in Dr. Scott Dudley’s sermon series at Bellevue Presbyterian, I composed this fervent gospel version for the congregation to sing with the choir. At times drums, trombones, and brass band have joined the piano accompaniment, as it has been rendered by the choir, ensembles, and soloists in many different contexts.

The inspiration for Judson Van DeVenter’s text was quite personal:
“For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, he caused me to sing.” His colleague in ministry, Winfield S. Weeden, set his powerful poem to music, and it became the most enduringly popular of all the hymns they composed during their fruitful ministry together.

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.

Refrain:
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at his feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to thee,
Fill me with thy love and power,
Let thy blessing fall on me!

Choral

A Small Suite

Little Talk
Spiders
Snail’s Pace
Butterfly Wings

Since my first introduction to the prize-winning poetry of Aileen Fisher as a young mother, I have been a very vocal fan of her whimsical word crafting for children. While searching for fresh material to provide winsome lyrics for the younger kids of Seattle Children’s Chorus, I stumbled upon these four poems in “Always Wondering,” a collection of “Some Favorite Poems.” I quickly and joyfully got to work creating A Small Suite. Kris Mason, Artistic Director, conducted the premiere, and soon after, Alliance Music Publications, Inc. became its publisher, bringing the music and the poetry that I loved into many lives. Each piece stands alone, but they are designed as an integral seamless whole, musically and thematically.

“Little Talk”
Don’t you think it’s probable
that beetles, bugs, and bees
talk about a lot of things–
you know, such [things] as these:

The kind of weather where they live
in jungles tall with grass,
and earthquakes in their villages
whenever people pass.

Of course, we’ll never know if bugs
talk very much at all–
because our ears are far too big
for talk that is so small.
———-
“Spiders”
Spiders are so sort-of-thin,
whatever do they keep it in–
the yards of thread they need to spin?
———-
“Snail’s Pace”
Maybe it’s so
that snails are slow:
they trudge along and tarry.

But isn’t it true
you’d slow up, too,
if you had a house to carry?
———-
“Butterfly Wings”
How would it be
on a day in June
to open your eyes
in a dark cocoon,

And soften one end
and crawl outside,
and find you had wings
to open wide,

And find you could fly
to a bush or tree
or float on the air
like a boat at sea…

How would it BE?

by Aileen Fisher

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.