May the Peace of God is based on Philippians 4:7 and offers an assurance that we do not need to be anxious about anything. God has it all covered in ways that we cannot even begin to understand. In times of doubt, pray. In times of uncertainty, pray. When we have troubled minds, pray. Protect yourself with the power of Jesus Christ and experience peace.
I love the poetic feel of the King James passage “and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ”. I also like the NASB translation. “As the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.” It just seems a little more clear in the NASB translation that it is God who protects our hearts and minds, not us.
For context, this scripture is embedded between an admonition to make our requests known to God and a reminder that we need not be anxious. There is also the instruction to focus on what is right and true, behave honorably, and to dwell on the good things.
My composition is written for SATB voices, with or without piano accompaniment. My church choir did it a few times with accompaniment. Later, after the choir was more familiar with the composition, they sang it a capella. Both went well even though we are a small choir. The mood is generally soft and reassuring, just like the scripture verses. The vocal range is moderate with optional divisi for the bass voices. It can be used at any point in a worship service, but was intended for a benediction response.
Would you like to see more of this composition? Click here. Interested in some of my other compositions? Visit MusicNotes through this link.
I’ve mentioned it in other posts, I love a good Amen! I grew up in a church where you could usually expect an amen of some type at the end of every hymn. Obviously there was an amen at the end of every prayer as well. Therefore it is both familiar and comforting to have it there.
The online dictionary from Oxford Languages defines amen as an exclamation at the end of a prayer or hymn, meaning so be it. It is used in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim practices. The word itself has a Biblical Hebrew origin. In Hebrew it mean to be reliable or dependable, to be faithful, and to have faith or believe. It then passed into Greek, and then Latin. According to Wikipedia, amen occurs 30 times in the Hebrew Bible. It was used to affirm the words of another speaker (1 Kings, 1:36), refer to the words of another speaker without affirmation (Nehemiah 5:13), and as a final amen to one’s own words.
One of my favorite Amens is at the end of The Lord Bless You and Keep You by Peter C. Lutkin. One of my tasks during composition lessons was to write an Amen sequence. That was an assignment I really enjoyed. However, it was harder than I thought it would be.
According to archive.courierpress.com, The United Methodist church began deleting some amens from their 1966 hymnal and then did so entirely in their 1989 hymnal. In 1990 the Presbyterian Hymnal also omitted them. Apparently the Southern Baptist hymnal never included them. According to David Eicher at pcusastore.com writes that prior to the 1861 publication of Hymns Ancient and Modern, hymns didn’t include a sung amen. The Protestant Reformation hymns also didn’t have an amen. Some scholars think the addition of the amen was an error and that there was no precendent for having it there.
I wrote several versions of my Amen sequence, took my favorite one, and published it with two different voicings.
I think the reason that Amens work musically is because of two factors. The first is familiarity. For me at least, it takes me back to childhood. The other reason that it works musically is the vowel sound “ah” at the beginning of the word. It is such a beautiful vowel; nice to listen to and easy to sing. While all of the scholarly reasons for not having it sung at the end of a hymn may be historically accurate, I still like them!
May the Beauty of God utilizes the beautiful prose from John Birch to create a song of praise. I learned about John Birch while I was searching for poetry that I would like to set to music. I found his work at www.faithandworship.com where there is a bit of a bio and access to a huge collection of prayers. Birch describes prayer simply – a conversation with God. Sometimes his words are in the form of conventional poetry. Other times it appears to be an intimate conversation with the Creator. His website offered the prayers for use in worship, so I contacted him to ask for specific permission to set his music for choral performance. He graciously offered his permission for me to use any of the prayers available on the site.
I loved the image he painted of the love of God dwelling in other people’s faces, works, words, and love. In addition, the love of God displayed by us can therefore impact others so that they also can believe. The song ends with the words that all might see, and seeing believe.
It seemed to me that the musical setting required movement to match the joy and optimism of the words. I particularly love the energy that a hand drum can add to a choral work, so I added an optional drum rhythm. The composition would be appropriate as an introit, benediction, or orison for use in worship.
To see the complete piece, please click HERE or send me a message on this site.
My God Accept My Heart This Day was written by Matthew Bridges (1800-1894). According to songsandhymns.org he was born in Maldon Essex and raised in the Anglican church. He later converted to Catholicism. After residing in Canada for a while, he moved back to England. He then lived at the Convent of the Assumption at Sidmouth Devon until his death.
According to wikipedia.org he began his career as an author at the age of 25 with a poem named Jerusalem Regained. He later wrote The Roman Empire Under Constantine the Great. Bridges also wrote several hymns. One of the most well known hymns by Bridges is Crown Him with Many Crowns. I really like that one.
I found My God Accept My Heart This Day in Songs for Christian Worship (1950). What I liked most about it was the image of offering myself to God to be a part of God’s family. The hymn does not shy away from the fact that we are sinners and require God’s assistance to live a life that would be pleasing to God. I later learned that there is a 5th verse to this hymn that was not included in my hymnal. Verse 5 references the Holy Trinity. All Glory to the Father be, All glory to the Son. All glory, Holy Ghost, to thee, while endless ages run.
In this composition I considered not only a vocal range that would be accessible for nonprofessional singers but also a melody that reflects the lightness of heart one would enjoy after giving over their life to God. I really like a tune that sticks in your head or that you might hum as you leave worship. I think the flow of this piece accomplishes that.
Savior, Teach Me Day by Day was written by Jane Eliza Leeson in 1842 and it has been included in Hymns & Scenes of Childhood. It is considered a hymn of obedience to God.
Jane Eliza Leeson was born in 1807 or 1808 in Wilford England. She was christened at St. Mary’s Church in Nottingham and then converted to Roman Catholicism as an adult. She died on November 18, 1881 in Leamington, Warwickshire. Leeson was a prolific hymnwriter, published many collections of hymns, and published English translations of hymns that were originally written in Latin.
Savior, Teach Me Day by Day is currently in public domain. One of my favorite lines includes “loving Him who first loved me” which ends each stanza. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us” and this Bible scripture appears to be a primary source for the hymn. Other Biblical references are numerous. Hymnary.org lists quite a few. Matthew 11:29 makes reference to learning from God and John 14:15-18 offers instruction for obedience to the commandments of God. Both concepts are present in this hymn.
I chose to use the words and re-set the tune. It is set in the key of D, and within a range that is easy for most choirs and congregations, using 4-part harmony. I love congregational hymn singing so it was important to me that it didn’t feel uncomfortable for a congregation to sing. It can be sung a cappella or with piano accompaniment. I also added a 2 measure Amen at the end. As I have said before, I love an Amen at the end of a hymn. If you are interested, my version can be found here.
Anybody feeling stress recently? Loneliness? Anxiety? The Lord Be With Us As We Walk is a hymn offering comfort that we are not facing the trials of living alone. God is always with us. The words to this hymn were written by John Ellerton. You can find a brief bio of John Ellerton here.
This is another hymn that I chose to write a new melody and harmony for since I liked the words but was unfamiliar with the music. In this particular arrangement I added the Amen. I’ve always liked a good Amen at the end of hymns and I don’t really understand why they have been left out of newer hymnals.
The prayer for God to walk with us along our homeward road seems to have two different meanings. This could refer to our daily travels and activities, or perhaps our journey toward our heavenly home that we reach at the end of life. There is also a reminder that we should be mindful of God in our thoughts and our conversations.
Asking God to be with us through the night also makes a lot of sense. The fear of dying in one’s sleep is really pretty common. The belief that bad things are more likely to happen at night is also prevalent. All of the verses appear to be a prayer for comfort and safety, and acknowledging our need for God in our lives.
My setting of this hymn is generally in a comfortable range for non-professional singers. It also has alto, tenor, and bass parts that compliment the melody and generally emphasize the text with moving parts.
If you are interested in viewing the entire hymn click HERE.
When I started composing choral music I spent time going through old hymnals (I have a lot of them) and picking hymns that I didn’t know, were in public domain, and I liked the words. That seemed like a good place to start. One hymn I discovered was This is the Light of Day by John Ellerton. I really liked that it was a description of the Sabbath. He included light, rest, peace, prayer, and first of days as the characteristics of Sabbath.
John Ellerton was born in London in 1826. He graduated from Trinity College at Cambridge in 1849 (B.A.) and 1854 (M.A.) and was ordained in the Church of England in 1851. Ellerton served in many capacities including Curate of Easebourne Sussex, Lecturer of St. Peters, Brighton, and Vicar of Crewe, Roding. He also worked as a hymnologist and wrote or translated about 80 hymns.
My favorite line is in verse one. O Dayspring, rise upon our night and chase the gloom away. I had to look up the word dayspring. The dictionary indicates that it is an archaic word for dawn. One source suggested that sunrise/dawn is a symbol of God’s intervention into our world. I think that fits well with this text. The other image that popped into my mind was a lighthouse. People often compare Jesus to a lighthouse that guides us to safety. The metaphor of night and gloom seems representational of all the chaos in our world that will be dispelled with the return of Jesus to our lives.
Interested in seeing the full hymn (my version)? Click HERE.
Hi everyone. I’m back. I know I’ve said this many times. I always mean it too. Then life gets busy and I fall off the path. That sounds like life has been a struggle, but in many ways I’m living my dream. While I’m still working a full time job, and a part-time job, the rest of time is dedicated primarily to music; playing music, and listening to music, and composing music.
In May I had the intense pleasure of hearing my choir sing several of my compositions and in June I submitted a composition for publication. Yesterday I uploaded some compositions to MusicNotes.com for sale. This really is a dream come true. It just goes to show that one is never too old to reach for their dreams. It just sometimes seems like it. Do I wish that I had done more sooner? Of course, but all of this life experience has brought me to this moment. I just can’t feel sorry about that.
Some days my most difficult choice is whether I’m going to play piano, write music, play my hammered dulcimer, or play my mandolin in my free time. This is a really great problem to have. What about you? Do you have a dream or ambition that you feel ready to pursue? If you don’t quite feel ready, what is holding you back? For me, it was self doubt. I’m glad I kicked that way of thinking to the curb. If I can do it, you can too.
So, I said that I’m back. You might wonder what that means. It means that I have made a commitment to myself to return to regular posts on this blog. Some of the posts will be about my music. Other posts will continue to be insights on daily living. I’m asking for your help in this. Feedback is an important part for me and it helps to keep me motivated. If you like something, please tell me. If you have questions, please ask me. I really would like to hear from you.
Attraversiamo literally means “let’s cross over.” I learned this word while reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was captured by it with the first reading and it has continued to sit in the back of my mind ever since. Attraversiamo. This is actually pretty amusing since I am generally averse to change of most any kind. Changing sides of the road doesn’t hold any special appeal, but the thought of crossing over in a larger sense is strangely alluring. I think of crossing a bridge, changing life priorities, and pursuing new passions. This leads to my alternate title – What did you do during the pandemic? I chose to pursue some new attitudes and develop some new passions.
I want to say a few more words about the book Eat Pray Love. Everytime I read or listen to it I recognize something new. It speaks to me in a new way. There are several books that offer a similar chance at new discovery. Perhaps it is because I blinked out for a moment when reading it the first time and missed something, but I think it is really because each time I read it I am different. I have changed. I have crossed over. Attraversiamo.
As I have mentioned in other posts, I seem to be in a season of change. Perhaps it is age, perhaps it is societal influences, or maybe I’m just ready. Simplifying things has become a priority. My life has generally been fairly complicated, with many irons in the fire. I previously liked it that way most of the time. But particularly since the pandemic, I have enjoyed the slower pace of life. In that way it was a blessing in disguise. Some people have really struggled with the isolation from other people. For the most part, I have savored the quietness. I’m packing up things I no longer need or want so that I can donate them and I’m only keeping things that still bring me joy. Attraversiamo.
I’ve started a practice of letter writing to keep in touch with my dearest friends. Admittedly, waiting for a response has been challenging since I’ve been used to almost instant gratification from my previous social media days. I’ve found that I enjoy choosing what paper I’m going to use as well as sharing the events of my life. Attraversiamo.
Many people have complained of boredom. I instead have had so many things that I truly love to do that it is often difficult to choose between them. And…..I have collected instruments. My passion for music has reignited. Not only have I continued playing piano and hammered dulcimer, I am now the proud owner of a mandolin, kalimba, steel tongue drum, and a bagpipe practice chanter (more on bagpipes in another post).
I took a class in choral composition, embarked on a self study of music theory, and I attended the Estill Voice Level I Training in July. The choral composition class with Elaine Hagenberg was pure joy and I have continued to compose almost daily since it finished. The Estill Voice training kicked my butt but was still wonderful.
You might not immediately see this as a change for me. How is this crossing over? In the past I was focused on the end product, but now I am taking pleasure in the process. Attraversiamo.
What changes are you ready to make in your life? Are you open to noticing opportunities? I haven’t always been open to the possibilities ahead, but now…Attraversiamo.