Friday, August 22, 2014

Hymn-retune therapy, and prayers for peace

Recently there's been a lot of stress in my family's life. Someday I'll tell you all about it. But for now, I have this to share.

Often when I'm stressed, I turn to music... especially random musical impulses, that may just be my ADD-brain's way of coping, but I choose to believe also have some prompting from the Holy Spirit.

Today, I spontaneously retuned a couple hymns I came across doing worship planning for the coming weeks.

Here are some simple SoundCloud recordings of these hymns...

"My God, How Endless Is Your Love" - an Isaac Watts hymn (and paraphrase from Psalm 34) that I was not familiar with before today, but which touched me as a profound reminder of God's constant care and faithfulness.

"Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life" - a turn-of-the-century hymn (1905) by Frank Mason North, which seems to me an appropriate prayer for the peace of our cities in light of the conflict that has been going on in places such as Ferguson, MO lately.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Your Grace Is Enough for Jazz Worship

This Sunday, August 3rd, at First Pres Libertyville, we are worshiping together in one service with music led by our own, in-house Jazz ensemble. We call it, creatively, "Jazz Sunday."

We are blessed with a number of wonderfully gifted jazz instrumentalists and singers, and it is a blessing and sheer joy for me to make music with them on this (usually) once annual opportunity.

We make use of a lot of resources from Bill Carter's Presbybop jazz hymnal, and sacred jazz recording artist Deanna Witkowski. In addition, one of our members, Dan Brame, a high school band director in the area and a fantastic saxaphone player, has for many years done some amazing horn arranging for us, as well as some really cool jazz reharmonizations of classic hymns (e.g. "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go" which we're singing this Sunday).

This year I decided to try my hand at doing a reharmonization of a song for this service. I've done it for some of the short services pieces, like the Doxology, Sanctus, etc., but haven't had enough confidence in my skills to try a full hymn.

So I gave it a shot with the well-known modern worship song, Your Grace Is Enough (by Matt Maher), which is a very familiar song to our Chapel Service folks. Let me know what you think on facebook, twitter, or in the comments here.

Here is a rough, live recording of me playing and singing my reharm at the piano in our Sanctuary (my apologies for the soft vocals and occasional distortion, I couldn't figure out our new hand-held recording device):

The leadsheet is uploaded to google docs and can be downloaded if you'd like to use it. Enjoy!

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Song Is Love Unknown (retuned)

As Lent progresses, and Holy Week draws nearer, I wanted to share another new reworking of a familiar Lenten hymn that I've done this year.

"My Song Is Love Unknown", a hymn text by Samuel Crossman in the 1600s, was not very familiar to me until I came across it while looking for song ideas for Lent this year. It's a beautiful text, but the tunes it was set to were not very memorable, and I think that was partly why I had not known it well before.

But what a wonderful hymn! The poetry is magnificent, and the theological message is both deep and personal, placing us among the crowds that cried both "Hosanna" and "Crucify" during Christ's final week, and affirming that our true song is one praising the incarnational and sacrificial love of our Savior and Friend, who suffered pain and death as "love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be."

Also, the meter and rhyme scheme are fascinating. The stanzas each have a distinct A section and a B section, and each section has different phrase lengths and a unique rhyme scheme.

The A section of each stanza has 4 phrases of 6 syllables each, with a familiar, alternating rhyme scheme of ABAB.

The B section of each stanza has two pairs (4 total) of four-syllable phrases, and the rhyme scheme switches to ABBA, with the first and last lines rhyming.

I was intrigued and decided to take on the challenge of writing a new melody that would fit the text, compliment the poetry and make it accessible, and bring out the uniqueness of this hymn's shifts in meter and rhyme without making it sound like two disparate melodies duct-taped together.

The result is a tune that I'm pretty proud of (at least for now), and that I think meets the goals I had for it.

Give the song a listen (I've embedded a soundcloud upload of a rough live version below). And then comment on this post, give me feedback on facebook, or shoot me a tweet (@lukehyder), and let me know if you think it works

And if you would like to use the song in worship this Lent, you can view and download a leadsheet of my retune HERE.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days

This week I've been working on a new arrangement of the classic hymn for the season of Lent - Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days - for us to use this Sunday and in the coming weeks at First Pres.

I wanted to also find a way to compliment our church-wide theme for the season of Lent this year, which is "Take Up Your Cross."

So here's my attempt so far, with a folky setting of this hymn's most familiar tune, St. Flavian, and my new chorus. Check it out and let me know what you think!

If you want to use it in your own worship gatherings this Lent, you may download the PDF leadsheet here.

Then please shoot me an email to let me know [lhyder(at)boxp(dot)net] ... I love to hear about others using my songs!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Songs for Lent and Easter

One of my favorite college English professors once walked into the classroom late in the semester and said in a stern voice, "It is absolutely unacceptable! ... that I don't have your papers back to you today."

I sort-of feel like that posting to this blog six months after returning from my sabbatical ... A sabbatical during which I had promised to post to this very blog! My apologies. I beg your mercy.

I will perhaps occasionally reflect back and share some sabbatical stories and songs here in the future. However, for now I wanted to get this blog back to its original purpose of sharing songs and worship resources. If we also spark conversations, great! But those seem to take place on facebook or twitter more often these days.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday next week... and then we walk our 40-day journey to the cross and empty tomb.  I'll try to post some other pieces along the way, but here are a couple Lent and Easter songs for your perusal and use. Shoot me a note if you'd like more info or charts for these.

"Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley" - an early American hymn, rearranged but same basic tune.

"This Is The Day (Psalm 118)" - a contemporary psalm paraphrase, framed as an Easter worship song.