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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.

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

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

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…

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.

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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.