Guest post by Joseph M. Martin, Composer and Director of Sacred Publications for Shawnee Press
The quest to combine ministry with artistry has been a lifelong calling for me. I have always found my place and purpose in this pursuit. Composing animates me and breathes into my spirit an inner peace that is deeply sacred.
Reassuring rituals are part of my writing process—simple disciplines made special by repetition, reminding me to be grateful for the labor to which I have been called. With faithful regularity the process unfolds over and over, familiar yet surprising, comfortable yet challenging.
Climbing the stairs to my music studio is just one example. With each step there is the affirmation of how blessed I am to take this journey of discovery. I pass by relics of my education and past concert moments hanging on the walls. These remind me of treasured mentors and golden moments that have encouraged me through the years.
I pass by family photos that reassure me that I am loved and not alone. I gaze at a stained-glass window that reminds me of how the mystery and ministry of light makes even broken things beautiful.
Step by step, in this gentle rising, I am reminded that the source of the seeking is divine. As I reach the top landing, I turn on the lights. The shadows retreat, and my special sanctuary of instruments, books and tools welcomes me back.
To be gifted with the luxury of lingering with scripture, spending sacred moments researching our shared legacy of worship, pouring my praise into my pen and composing new songs is a special grace in my life. How can I keep from writing?
During this past year my climb has been heavy and burdened. The rising has been labored and the journey to creativity winding and rocky. Blank pages drone on in silence and the ink of inspiration is running low. I write songs, but voices cannot share them.
Choirs are bound and masked!
Instruments sit breathless and silent!
With wandering fingers, I search the scriptures. The slick, cool pages pause and start to speak:
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
This passage reminded me that we are still EASTER people. We carry in our hearts hymns of hope and new songs of joy.
There is a great crescendo coming! Soon a sonic shudder will quake the earth back to celebration. Our wounds will be washed, and our scars will sing! The foundations of this pandemic prison will shake, and the stones will roll away. Our choirs will find their purpose again. Our songs will soar, and our instruments will once again make a joyful noise. The echoes of our worship will resound in our sanctuaries and spill out into the world as a canticle of faith.
When that moment comes, may the Lord find ours hearts overflowing with the magnificent music of grace!
HEAL OUR ALLELUIAS
A PRAYER FOR SINGERS OF FAITH
HEAL OUR ALLELUIAS
TOUCH OUR WOUNDED PRAISE
COMFORT EVERY TROUBLED SONG
WITH YOUR GENTLE GRACE
SING TO EVERY SHADOW
BREATHE INTO THE NIGHT
MUSIC FROM THE HEART OF LOVE
A CANTICLE OF LIGHT
THE WILLOWS HOLD OUR WEEPING HARPS
JUST BEYOND OUR DREAMS
ONLY GRACE CAN BRING THEM DOWN
AND PUT THEM IN OUR REACH
IN THE STILLNESS OF THIS TIME
EACH BROKEN SONG REDEEM
MOVE ACROSS OUR SILENT STRINGS
AND WE WILL LEARN YOUR THEME
WRITE IN US A HYMN OF HOPE
CRAFT EACH CHORD WITH CARE
FIX IN US YOUR HARMONY
A SYMPHONY TO SHARE
HELP US TRUST YOUR GRAND DESIGN
COMPOSER OF THE HEART
MAKE US NOW YOUR INTSRUMENTS
AND LET THE MUSIC START
© 2021 JOSEPH M. MARTIN, (MARTIN CREATIVE SERVICES)
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Joseph Martin is recognized around the world for his many choral compositions, both sacred and secular. Martin is also Director of Sacred Publications for Shawnee Press, overseeing the editorial and creative direction of the company, and he has been a featured solo pianist with symphony orchestras throughout the U.S. and Mexico.