This Month's Featured Posts

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

Be Thou My Vision

Originally I arranged this stirring Celtic hymn for two flutes (Along with My Love I’ll Go), and interwove the original hymn tune with a novel counter theme. The SSA version echoes that original arrangement with the addition of a flute. When writing the version for Bel Canto, the SSA youth choir of Bellevue Presbyterian, I was asked to create an optional Baritone part for the young male voices. Also, I’ve added an extended piano introduction, and have written words for the counter theme that precedes the traditional hymn:

I do not know the way to go,
the steps that I should take
to walk in paths of righteousness
for Thy name’s sake.

—————————————————
And the prayer, poetically expressed by a long-forgotten Celt, provides powerful inspiration for all followers of Jesus Christ across time and space:

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me save that thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word;
I ever with thee, and thou with me, Lord.
Thou my great Father, thy child I will be,
Thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.

Riches I heed not, nor vain empty praise;
Thou mine inheritance, now and always.
Thou and thou only first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of heaven, when vict’ry is won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Choral

Waiting Water

“Waiting water; still– ’til the stone falls so freely, sending circles into eternity…”

In Waiting Water, the endlessly expanding circles set in motion by the action of a single stone represent the enduring significance of each word and deed done in Jesus’ name. Through the image of ripples affecting the breathless face of the water, we see that God’s creation always awaits the activity of his Spirit. Our faithful actions participate in the movement of the waters of creation, “sending circles into eternity…”

Waiting Water begins with Jesus’ quotation of Isaiah’s ancient messianic prophecy, a prophecy that Jesus fulfilled in his ministry to the poor, the hungry, the sick, the blind, and the oppressed. He also gave special attention to little children, ones who “belong” to the Kingdom of Heaven. This Kingdom, eternal life prepared “from the foundation of the world,” awaits all who faithfully follow in Jesus’ steps. The piece concludes with an image of God’s creative desire from Genesis 1:2 – “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water.”

In contemporary film, moments of great intensity are very often accompanied by choral music. “Waiting Water” provides a “sound track” for the expectant excitement of these intensely significant words.

[Luke 4; Isaiah 61]
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim
release to the captives,
and recov’ry of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor!

~~~
Waiting water, still—
’til the stone falls so freely,
sending circles into eternity…

~~~
[Matthew 19]
Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them;
for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.

~~~
Waiting water, still—
’til the stone falls so freely,
sending circles into eternity…

~~~
[Matthew 25]
I was hungry and you gave me food;
thirsty and you gave me drink;
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you clothed me,
sick and you cared for me.
I was in prison and you visited me.

~~~
Waiting water, still—
’til the stone falls so freely,
sending circles into eternity…

~~~
[Matthew 25]
Just as you did it for one
of the least of my family,
you did it unto me.
Come, you that are blessed by my father.
Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world.

~~~
Waiting water, still—
’til the stone falls so freely,
sending circles into eternity…

~~~
[Genesis 1]
The Spirit of the Lord
moved upon the face of the water…

Choral

Celtic Winds

Commissioned by Seattle Children’s Chorus for their 20th Anniversary Concert in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, this dramatic arrangement of The Skye Boat Song and The Wind that Shakes the Barley expresses a fervent Celtic longing for freedom, depicting great courage in the face of oppression.

Loud the winds howl!
Loud the waves roar!
Thunderclouds rend the air!
Baffled our foes, stand on the shore,
Follow, they will not dare!

Speed, bonny boat, like a bird on the wing,
“On-ward” the sailors cry!
Carry the lad that’s born to be king
Over the sea to Skye.

Though the waves leap,
Soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean’s a royal bed.
Rocked in the deep, we shall all keep
watch by your weary head.

The beloved Skye Boat Song tells of the romantic figure Bonnie Prince Charlie, disguised as a serving maid, escaping in a small boat to the Isle of Skye after the defeat of his Jacobite (Scottish and Irish) uprising in 1745. The Wind that Shakes the Barley, an old Irish rebel song from the 1798 rebellion, tells a more tragic tale. A young man meets with his true love amid the barley, and while agonizing over leaving her for love of his country, a foe’s bullet ends her life, thus deciding his fate– he must fight.

The integrating musical motif which unites the songs is the sweeping motion of the wind in the barley, and the wind on the sea, depicted in the sound of the voices and in the flute, played by Maya Lewis. This setting is derived from the original arrangement for two flutes, recorded on the CD, Along with My Love I’ll Go.

Vocal Solo

I’d Rather Have Jesus

When asked to develop music for an endowment dinner, this old song immediately came to mind. It represents the perfected priorities of a well-lived life (here arranged for mezzo-soprano Cynthia Dean).

Long before its composer, George Beverly Shea, became the world-famous baritone soloist for the evangelistic Billy Graham Crusade, he wrote “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” in response to his mother’s influence. She had left Rhea F. Miller’s 1922 poem on their piano, hoping that her son would read it, and he did. The words moved George, and spoke to him of his own aims and ambitions. He sat down at the piano and began singing the poem to a tune that seemed to fit the words, and the next day sang it in church. Though George had been offered a popular music career with NBC, a few years later he chose to become associated with Billy Graham and sang this song to millions of people around the world.

 

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;

I’d rather be His than have riches untold;

I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands.

I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand…

 

Than to be the king of a vast domain

or be held in sin’s dread sway.

I’d rather have Jesus than anything

this world affords today.

 

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;

I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;

I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame,

I’d rather be true to His holy name.

 

He is fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;

He is sweeter than honey from out the comb;

He is all that my hungering spirit needs.

I would rather have Jesus and let Him lead…

 

Than to be the king of a vast domain

or be held in sin’s dread sway.

I’d rather have Jesus than anything

this world affords today.