Not Your Average Choral ‘Gloria’

Sunday  American composer and horn player Paul Basler worked as a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in Music at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya in 1993-1994. During this time, he was greatly influenced by Kenyan music;  he composed  Missa Kenyain 1995 for SATB chorus, piano and obbligato horn. The Gloria is an a capella rhythmic wonder that has become a favourite of youth choirs around the world. A translation is written below.

Glory to God in the highest, 
and on Earth peace amongst men of good will. 
We praise You, we bless You, we adore You, we glorify You, 
We give You thanks for your great glory, 
Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father. 
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, 
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, 
You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; 
You take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. 
You are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. 
For You alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lord, You alone are the Most High, 
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.



Sunday One of my favourite modern choral composers, Dan Forrest, has reset Charles Wesley’s hymn “Arise My Soul, Arise” in a beautiful arrangement for choir, piano and violin. Click here to hear it. 

Words by Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

Arise, my soul, arise, shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears;
Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

Five bleeding wounds He bears, received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers, they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

My God is reconciled,  His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child,  I can no longer fear
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.
Arise, my soul, arise.

Anima Christi

  One of my friends from college lives in the Philippines. She recently was accepted to join the Ateneo Chamber Singers, one of several very, very fine Philippine chamber choirs. LIke me, she has not done much serious music in the past few years and I’m so excited for her. Here is her soon-to-be choir singing a setting of Anima Christi by Philippine composer Ryan Cayabyab (the Latin text along with an English translation can be read here). I think they are fantastic.

The Music of Living

I see the world and live life through music. The same is true for Jeff. Part of that is in the DNA of who we are, and part of that has been nurtured. We’re both very lucky to have grown up in families and church communities that nurtured this.
Yesterday, my piano teacher passed away. The legacy of nurtured music she leaves behind is immense and the many memories of her contributions to church and community music pouring in this week have been inspiring and wonderful to read. Music teachers usually teach their students notes… she taught me that talent is something God entrusts us with to share with humility. She taught me that listening makes us better not just in music, but in all areas of life. She helped me discover the great joy that is found in making music with others (far more joy, it turns out, than being a soloist!) and she taught me that approaching music (and all of life) needs to be with the whole self and the right attitude. I have been able to choose a life filled with music, in part, because of her teaching, and this has been a gift bigger and more meaningful than I can ever express.It’s usually most appropriate to play somber and quiet pieces of music for memorials. Today, I just can’t. The gift of music is something to celebrate and be immensely thankful for. So today, I remember someone who nurtured the gift of music for me by singing Dan Forrest’s celebration anthem, “The Music of Living”.

Giver of life
Creator of all that is lovely
Teach me to sing the words to your song. 
I want to feel the music of living
And not fear the sad songs
But from them make new songs
Composed of both laughter and tears.
Giver of life
Creator of all that is lovely
Teach me to dance through the sounds of your world. 
I want to move in rhythm with your plan
Help me to follow your leading
To risk even falling
To rise and keep trying
For you are leading the dance
Giver of life
Creator of all that is lovely
Teach me to sing the words to your song. 

Passion Music: Tying it Together

It’s no secret that I really like the modern hymns written by Stuart Townend and Keith and Kristyn Getty. Yesterday in church we sang The Resurrection Hymn– it’s become as essential for my Easter as “Christ The Lord is Risen Today” and “Low In the Grave He Lay“. The first Getty hymn I heard was “The Power of the Cross” at Easter five years ago at a church in Minneapolis. I was so touched by this hymn that when I got home, I set out to find everything else written by the Gettys.

While listening to this piece again morning, Jeff remarked that it ties together the entire Easter story and would be a great conclusion to this year’s week of Easter music. So here it is, sung by the Bob Jones University Singers, conducted by Craig Courtney (a great composer in his own right).