I’m currently working on a big choral commission for the centennial celebration of Trinity Lutheran Church in Owatonna, MN. (“Big” as in, youth and adult choirs, handbells and handchimes, woodwinds, brass, strings, timpani, harp, and praise team.)
While it is relatively easy to write a festive choral piece that would add to a centennial celebration day, it’s a lot harder to write something that will continue to be used by the church for years to come. With that in mind, I wanted to do a reality check, creating a demo that would strip back all the instrumentation to reveal how well the song itself sings. I’m glad I did because the very act of recording the song showed me places I should leave space for breathing, words that tripped the tongue, and parts of the melody that could be streamlined. What remains is smooth as butter.
My study of Psalm 84 revealed a Psalm full of wide-eyed wonder about God’s temple, but also trust in God’s presence on the journey of life. Most commentators break the Psalm into three sections: 1. The beauty of God’s temple. 2. The blessing of the journey (to the temple and the journey of life). 3. God’s presence in the heart and life of the faithful. What a beautiful theme for a church that has journeyed for 100 years and is looking to its future! I followed this same three-part structure in my song.
The song is what I often call a “blender.” That is, a song that can live comfortably in both traditional and contemporary settings: think “In Christ Alone,” “There Is a Redeemer,” etc. This demo leans toward the contemporary with guitars and drums, but the full arrangement (to be completed any day now) leans more traditional, as it will be premiered in a large hall with lots of reverb. Ultimately, I think it will be right at home in both Trinity’s weekly traditional or contemporary services.