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.

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”

Lorenz: Keeping Worship Fresh with New Music

LorenzLogo2020Publishing over 1,000 new works every year, Lorenz offers an extensive catalog of choral, keyboard, and instrumental music to support the ministry of churches large and small. From traditional and liturgical to blended and contemporary, music for many styles of worship can be found across its imprints: Lorenz Publishing Company, Medallion Music, and The Sacred Music Press. Having been at the forefront of new church music for over a century, Lorenz is home to best-selling titles written by the most prominent names in church music today, and is committed to supporting the creative work of future generations of composers and arrangers.

O sing to the Lord a new song; for he has done marvelous things. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the Earth. (Psalm 98:1, 4 NRSV)

BryanSharpeLorenzThe Psalms tell us to sing new songs to the Lord. This biblical mandate inspires how we use our gifts. We compose, arrange, edit, and publish new music so that churches and individuals have the resources they need to praise the Lord with instruments and voices. As times change and fads come and go, and as one generation passes to the next, we will always need new music to keep our worship current and relevant.

Bryan Sharpe
Director of Church Choral Publications, Lorenz

more “Lorenz: Keeping Worship Fresh with New Music”

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”

Lee & Susan Dengler: A Holy Week Cantata Reflecting on Sacrifice and Sorrow

Guest post by composers Lee & Susan Dengler introducing their new Holy Week cantata, When Darkness Comes. Lee and Susan are the authors of over 400 choral anthems, cantatas and vocal and piano solo collections that are used worldwide. They have served as music leaders in churches, and have taught music on the elementary, high school and college levels. Both are professional singers and have performed in recitals, operas, oratorios and musicals. They reside in Goshen, Indiana.

LeeDenglerSusanDengler

Lee Dengler & Susan Naus Dengler

Easter was in mid-April that year. We who work in church music are relieved when Easter comes that late in the season, allowing adequate time to prepare for the music of Lent and Easter.

However, there was a lot going on in our house back then. We were awaiting the birth of our second child. The due date was April 1. Because of church responsibilities, we hoped that this baby would arrive on time. Rebecca Joy only made us wait two extra days before she appeared on the scene. Even though Palm Sunday was only two days later, we could fulfill our Holy Week responsibilities without too much stress.

There were, however, a few things that we hadn’t counted on. more “Lee & Susan Dengler: A Holy Week Cantata Reflecting on Sacrifice and Sorrow”

Songs of Freedom

In this guest post by Dr. Stan Engebretson and Prof. Volker Hempfling, editors of Carus-Verlag‘s new collection, Hallelujah: Gospels and Spirituals for Mixed Choir, we explore the difference between gospel and spirituals in their development and in musical form.

HallelujahCollectionCarusPowerful voices full of emotion and moving intensity — that’s what comes to mind when we think of gospel music. And “Amazing Grace” is certainly one of the first songs we think of. It’s a song that spread beyond Christian churches to become famous as a protest song against slavery and as a hymn sung by human rights activists. “I once was lost, but now am found.” With the Christian idea of redemption, the song expresses a confident belief in liberation, the central theme of gospel music. But paradoxically, this song, which many people regard as the quintessence of American gospel music, was actually written by the former captain of a slave ship, John Newton. When he escaped from a storm at sea in 1748, he saw his salvation as divine providence and fundamentally transformed his life in the following years, after a while giving up his trade completely, becoming a clergyman, and even campaigning against slavery. His song, “Amazing Grace,” became extremely successful and was later adopted by the African-American spiritual and gospel community, performed by such artists as Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin and the Harlem Gospel Choir.

But what makes a song a gospel song, and how does it differ from a spiritual? more “Songs of Freedom”

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”

Top 5 New Cantatas for Lent and Easter

1. The Easter Story by Thomas Fettke & Thomas Grassi
SATB
Performance Time: 35 minutes

Cantata_Easter_Story

The Easter Story combines a profound narrative by Ken Bible with musical selections from Tom Fettke and Thomas Grassi. Fettke and Grassi have drawn upon several folk music sources, including hymns from The Sacred Harp and The Columbian Harmony, and spirituals, carols and songs from English, Irish and Hebrew traditions. The narrative is steeped in scripture, helping to relive the events in Jerusalem leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

This cantata recommends using two narrators, but can be performed with one. It is beautiful whether accompanied by piano or orchestra. more “Top 5 New Cantatas for Lent and Easter”