It seems that people are clamoring* for a keyboard arrangement of “Many Fields to Plow.” Who am I to say No?
What I like most about the keyboard version is that it brings out the flowing nature of the melody in a way that my voice and guitar demo doesn’t. Above is the organ MP3, but it also works well with piano. If you ask nicely, I’ll send you the score.
*At least three people have clamored: Tammy, me, and one other.
One of my great joys is when students become colleagues and collaborators. In this case, one of my songwriting students, Tammy Moody, has a growing collection of “Garden Girl Hymns”–texts that find inspiration in the beauty of both work and the natural world.
She had originally written “Many Fields to Plow” with the tune RESIGNATION in mind. That is one of my favorite hymn tunes, but we decided that it was too closely associated with “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need” to graft on another text. Still, I wanted to write a new tune that had a similar dignified, earthy character to that folk tune. My new tune will never bump RESIGNATION from itself rightful place in hymnody’s canon, but I think it carries Tammy’s words well.
I will soon create a piano/organ accompaniment. For now, this leadsheet will need to suffice. [Note: This file was slightly updated on October 22, 2018.]
There are lots of songs about the Holy Spirit, but most focus on invocation or sanctification. What I really liked about Brian Foley’s text “Holy Spirit, Come, Confirm Us,” is that he talks about other roles of the Holy Spirit: confirming truth, consoling us and renewing us, and binding us to the life of the Trinity. Heady stuff.
Foley’s text is most often paired with a tune by John Stainer; it gets the job done, but is not particularly inspiring. Unbeknownst to either Foley or Stainer, I’ve written a new tune. Shhh! Don’t tell them. I want it to be a surprise.
Click on the MP3 above or check out the lead sheet. Enjoy!
Calvin College regularly sings a Korean blessing song that is just beautiful. The only problem is that the English translation doesn’t sound much like English! I was talking to one of the Korean worship leaders at Calvin about this and ended up offering to write a new translation of the song. Because that’s what I do.
The things I like about my new translation are that the English syllables map out exactly to the Korean and the English is more natural than the previous translation. I had to change the order of some words and phrases–something is always lost in translation–but I’ve retained all the fundamental ideas and images of the original.
The original song in Korean
May the love of God spring up in your soul, be a healing stream in the wilderness flowing.
And may the love of God quench the thirsty soul, feed the hungry heart; May the love of God flow through you.
Above is a quick demo. If you’re interested in seeing a PDF of the music, let me know!
I was scheduled for a conference call at 1pm today. I followed the link on my computer and waited until start time. As it got closer to 1pm, I noticed I was the only participant. Hmmm… So I followed the instructions for a phone connection to the group call. Now I and I were the only participants–one me on a phone and one me on the computer. Naturally, I greeted myself and exchanged pleasantries as I waited for the meeting to begin.
It soon became clear that I had the wrong time in my calendar. But never one to waste an opportunity, I began to play with the feedback loop created by turning up the audio on both my computer and phone.
My last collaboration with Christopher Webber was successful enough that I’ve been asked to compose two more tunes for his hymn texts. This time around it’s a simple text–much simpler than his normal fare. Since his texts–and the tunes that accompany them–are usually much heavier and more cerebral, I wanted to something bright, light, and lively.
Given the “walking in the light” theme of the text, I thought a walking tempo spiritual would be in order. In some ways, it reminds me of South African songs like “Siyahamba.” What’s important is that it fits the text like a glove–it really lets it sing.
So sit back and enjoy the dulcet tones of Greg, Greg, Greg, and Greg singing “Let Us Walk in the Light.”
And the final sketch that lost to “Swampzilla”?: It’s called “Crepuscular Ray,” and is something of a minimalist piece for young players. The music sounded to me like shafts of light coming through the clouds at sunset. It turns out there’s a word for that: crepuscular ray. I couldn’t resist choosing a title that featured a word most people would need to look up.
Interestingly, director Erin De Young was already familiar with the term. Her young boys had been reading a book on animals one night and it explained that rabbits and deer are called “crepuscular” animals because they come out to feed at twilight. As fate would have it, the next day they visited a nature center where the guide asked what kind of an animal a rabbit is. She was probably looking for “mammal” or something simple, but Erin’s 5-year-old piped up without hesitation: “It’s a crepuscular animal!”
Even though this sketch lost to “Swampzilla,” I still think it has lots of potential for a high school orchestra. Feel free to contact me about a commission.
I mentioned previously that the Rockford orchestras read through three sketches before choosing “Swampzilla.” You’re probably wondering which sketches lost to “Swampzilla” in the initial round of voting, right? Wonder no more!
“Amber Waves” is a sprightly, festive piece that felt hopeful, American, and…Coplandesque. I love the title “Amber Waves” because it’s lifted from “American the Beautiful” (“amber waves of grain”) but could also mean a girl named Amber waving.
Don’t judge me on how the Finale demo sounds! If you want to take a look at the draft, click here. If you want to turn this into a completed piece for orchestra, let’s talk.