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!