This Month's Featured Posts

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

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

Home

The text for “Home” directly quotes some of Jesus’ last words given to his disciples. One morning, as I was reading Chapter 14 of John’s Gospel, I was struck by the beautiful symmetry of Jesus’ message, and decided to set it to music in a way that would highlight its form, after that of a poetic palindrome (a framework proceeding and receding symmetrically from a mid-point). Marvelous, hopeful, intimate words of reassurance and union surround a simple, stark central teaching: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” The piece begins and ends with the concluding verse of David’s Psalm 23.

“… and I will dwell in the house of the Lord…”

Don’t be troubled,
Don’t be afraid,
Have faith in God,
Have faith in me.

I am making a home for you.
I, myself, will bring you there to be with me.

I am the way (home), I am the truth, I am your life.
~~~
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
~~~
I am the way (home), I am the truth, I am your life.

I will ask the Father to send a Helper, to be in you, to show you truth.
We will come to you, and make our home in you forever.

You are not an orphan,
You are not alone,
You have my peace,
I am your home.

“… and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever…”

The ultimate message is that, through the agency of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, God’s desire is that his home be in us, as we are at home in him… union on earth and in heaven!

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!

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.