Wounded Alleluias

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!

Wounded alleluias!

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

CHORUS:

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

VERSE: 1

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

CHORUS: (REPEAT)

VERSE 2

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

CHORUS (REPEAT)

© 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.

How to Make Your Own Virtual Choir

Make your own virtual choir performance in just 8 steps. This guide includes tips for planning the project, recording participant tracks, and editing the submissions into a final performance ready to post and send. For related technology and tools, visit Sheet Music Plus.

You’ve seen them everywhere online: grids of iPhone videos of people singing together in chorus. From Broadway stars and professional choral groups to church and community choirs and even ad hoc regional and global networks of singers, the defining group music making moment of the decade so far is…

VIRTUAL CHOIR

Here we’ll walk you through what a virtual choir is and give you a step-by-step guide to creating your own, whether for the choir you regularly sing with or direct, or for a new group of singers you’ve brought together for a specific project.

more “How to Make Your Own Virtual Choir”

StreamSing: A Free Virtual Reading Session with Jubilate Music Group

As our annual Sacred Choral Sale continues, we’d like to highlight a fantastic opportunity to explore new music for spring and Easter.

Join host Mark Cabaniss, President & CEO of Jubilate Music Group, and his special guest, composer Lloyd Larson, for StreamSing, a free virtual reading session.

In this approximately hour-long express session, Mark and Lloyd tell stories, look ahead to our future opportunities for ministry and community as church singers, and preview new music perfect for distanced, streaming and virtual choirs from Mary McDonald, Lloyd Larson, Tom Fettke and more.

Here are just a few of the titles featured in StreamSing:

more “StreamSing: A Free Virtual Reading Session with Jubilate Music Group”

Helping Singers Learn at Home! Hope Publishing Choral Selections with Rehearsal Tracks: Fall 2020

A message from Joel Raney, Composer & Choral Editor at Hope Publishing

Joel Raney
Joel Raney

I know that these days many of us are searching for ways to keep our singers engaged without gathering. Here we feature several of our most popular titles that have part-dominant rehearsal tracks available for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, as well as stereo accompaniment tracks. Whether you’re doing a virtual choir or some sort of limited socially distant singing, these tools are a terrific way to help singers learn new music at home on their own.

Stay strong and safe!

In Christ Alone with Cornerstone

Arr. Joel Raney
SATB Octavo
Instrumental Parts
Performance/Accompaniment CD
Voice-Dominant CD

Listen & follow along with the score

Originally, this appeared in Joel Raney and Lloyd Larson’s best-selling Lenten cantata, Hope in the Shadows. This medley pairs the popular Keith Getty song with the praise chorus “Cornerstone” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

more “Helping Singers Learn at Home! Hope Publishing Choral Selections with Rehearsal Tracks: Fall 2020”

Pepper Choplin: Once upon a Morning – From Resurrection to Pentecost

PepperChoplin
Pepper Choplin

Guest post by composer Pepper Choplin introducing his new cantata, Once upon a Morning: From Resurrection to Pentecost. Choplin is known as one of the most creative writers in church music today. With a diverse musical background, Choplin incorporates varied styles such as folk, Gospel, classical, and jazz. His published works include over 300 anthems for church and school choir with 20 church cantatas and two books of piano arrangements, and over 120 groups have commissioned him to write original works for them. Since 1991, his choral music has sold several million copies. Choplin has conducted eight New York concerts of his music at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center with 250 voices and full orchestra. In his hometown of Raleigh, he has conducted eight mass performances of his cantatas at Meymandi Auditorium (home to the NC Symphony) with over two hundred voices and orchestra. In 2019, he conducted Handel’s Messiah (Christmas portion) with the 150-voice Cary Community Choir with orchestra. He also visits many schools, churches and conferences to conduct and to entertain. 

 

OnceUponAMorningI always wanted to write this cantata. Then a church in Pennsylvania commissioned me to write a spring cantata outside of the typical Easter work. For a year, I surveyed directors and singers about different potential subjects. This idea got them most excited.

I loved writing this cantata. These wonderful stories don’t receive much attention in church music. Yet, they contain so much drama and passion.

more “Pepper Choplin: Once upon a Morning – From Resurrection to Pentecost”

A Chat with Lloyd Larson

Guest post from Jubilate Music Group

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Lloyd Larson

Lloyd Larson has become one of today’s most published and performed church music writers. A frequently called-upon clinic and conference resource, Larson has been a singer, keyboard player, and arranger.

Having earned his B.A. from Anderson University, Anderson, IN, Lloyd next completed his M.C.M. at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), Louisville, KY, and undertook additional graduate work at SBTS and Ohio State University.

Larson’s extensive background in arranging and composing includes arranging music for an internationally broadcast radio program. Also, in 1989, he completed an editorial assignment for a new hymnal, Worship the Lord, for the Church of God, and co-edited the accompanying Hymnal Companion. In addition, Larson contributed to the Complete Library of Christian Worship, edited by Dr. Robert Webber. He has served as a church music director for decades (a role he continues to this day), which has inevitably informed his artful and well-crafted yet practical original compositions and arrangements.

Recently, Larson sat down with Mark Cabaniss, President and CEO of Jubilate Music Group, to discuss his work and to help us all get to know him a bit better. more “A Chat with Lloyd Larson”

Discovering Mårten Jansson & Bärenreiter’s Jansson Choral Competition

MartenJansson
Mårten Jansson

Every time we listen to Swedish composer Mårten Jansson we can’t help but get swept up in the whirlwind of emotions he creates. His music is full of all of the compositional elements that choristers love to sing: sweeping melodic lines, open chords and expressive dissonance.

Ultimately, though, performers and audiences alike fall in love with his music because they are drawn to the fundamental honesty at its core. Jansson approaches traditional sacred texts with humility, and he openly shares his experience of it through his music in a way that amplifies the text without pretense or contradiction.

JanssonMissaPopularis

This honesty should not be confused with simplicity or naïveté. Jansson’s stunning Missa Popularis, for instance, manages to connect us to a profound range of emotions, while uniting many layers of thought and tradition into the microcosm of a single piece of music. In addition to all of Jansson’s neoromantic tendencies, the Missa sits atop a foundation of Swedish folk dances and also sounds strikingly Medieval. Though perhaps most obvious in the opening of the “Kyrie” and the “Agnus Dei,” the feeling of the chant is present throughout the entire Mass. more “Discovering Mårten Jansson & Bärenreiter’s Jansson Choral Competition”

Dark Is the New Bright

Guest post by Mark Cabaniss

Just 30 or 40 years ago, the Tenebrae service was foreign to many a church, despite the service’s ancient roots. The Roman Catholic Church embraced it early, but it has only become popular and more regularly practiced in Mainline Protestant churches (and even some traditional evangelical churches) in recent decades.

These “services of darkness,” as they are often called, have become a “bright spot,” one could say, for churches around the world that are looking for fresh and creative ways to impart the Holy Week journey.

Sacred music publishers have responded to the heightened awareness of Tenebrae with a variety of publications that are ready to prepare and present as complete Tenebrae services with appropriate music and narration.

Tenebrae is a special service for Holy Week that can be conducted on Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, or any day of Holy Week when a church has a regular or additional special service.

The name “Tenebrae” comes from the Latin for “shadows” or “darkness,” and denotes a service of shadows. The Tenebrae service makes use of gradually diminishing light as candles are extinguished one-by-one to guide the congregation through the events of Holy Week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus’s burial. more “Dark Is the New Bright”

Sacred Spotlight: Good Marshmallows

Guest post by Mark Cabaniss

Years ago, I had the privilege of participating in a week-long choral arranging workshop led by legendary choral composer/arranger Alice Parker, held at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.  That week spent with Ms. Parker had a tremendous impact on not only my own choral composing and arranging, but my eventual role as a publisher as well.  Of the many wise and invaluable things she said to the class, one of several that resonated with me was when she said “There are good marshmallows and bad marshmallows.” more “Sacred Spotlight: Good Marshmallows”