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A Christmas Carol

SATB with Percussion

The G.K. Chesterton poem, A Christmas Carol, is one of my favorites.  I was so happy to set it to music, and then to receive a recording from David Young with his Illinois Wesleyan University Choir, I was very pleased with the results.  Your singers will enjoy the dialogue between the sopranos (Child) and the basses (World), with the "bells" of the altos and tenors in the distance. All the voices join together for an expressive ending to this subtle lullaby.  I think the triangle and wood block add needed color and rhythm to the work.  A unique addition to any Christmas service or concert.

Here's the poem:

A Christmas Carol
by G. K. Chesterton

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O Weary, Weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the Kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O Weary, Weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood at Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.

Tags: Christmas  SATB

Bread of Life

SATB with Piano

This is one of the first pieces I composed after starting Sacred Voice Music Publishing.  I wanted to write an anthem for use on Communion Sunday or during communion, that would be relatively easy to prepare and could be used more than once. 

The text is drawn from the Gospel of John, Isaiah 55, and Psalm 34.

Tags: SATB  Communion

Cantate Domino

SATB or SSAA with Percussion

Song of Praise based on Psalm 96:1-4.

This praise song came to me when I was grocery shopping!  Came back home and had it written out that evening. 

It's a lot of fun to sing, and adds joy to any worship experience!

Tags: SATB  SSAA  Praise

Canticle of the Sun

Mixed Chorus with Piano

This work, Canticle of the Sun, is dedicated to Father Richard Rohr, OFM, who is the founder and animator of The Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The text is based on a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi, which is a Song of Praise:

Canticle of the Sun

Most high, almighty Lord God,
Praise, glory, honor and blessing are Yours.

Praise with all creation for our Brother Sun, who brings the light of day.
In him we see Your splendor.

Praise for our Brother Wind, for air and clouds, calms and storms, through which You cherish all life.

Praise for our Sister Water so useful, lowly, precious and pure.
Praise for our Brother Fire, who lightens the darkness.
How beautiful and playful, full of power and strength.

Praise for our Mother Earth who sustains and keeps us, bringing forth fruits and flowers and grass.
Praise for those who grant forgiveness and peacefully endure, for You will crown them in Glory.
Praise for our Sister Death. Blessed are those who die within Your grace.

Praise and Bless the Lord!
Give thanks and humbly serve the Lord!

Tags: SATB  Praise

I Live My Life in Growing Orbits

Mixed Chorus with Four Hand Piano

This composition was commissioned by The Chequamegon Area Choir, Washburn, WI, and premiered on April 9, 1994.
Dedication: Lucy Culver, Lois Franson, Lester Fry, Ragna Holman, Carol Janicek, Wentworth Quast, Thelma Weber, and all who contribute to the life of The Chequamegon Area Choir, in the past, during the present, and into the future.

I was given this poem by one of the choir members, and was inspired by its depth and grandeur.  To be honest, the music wrote itself; I was just along for the ride.  This is a great concert closer, which was the case for the Thomas Circle Singers, who were so kind to share their magnificent recording.

I Live My Life in Growing Orbits

I live my life in growing orbits,
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and I have been circling for a thousand years,
and I still don't know if I am a falcon, or a storm,
or a great song.

RAINER MARIA RILKE (translated by Robert Bly)
Used with permission by Harper Collins Publisher.

Tags: SATB  Large Work

Psalm 23

SATB or SSAA a cappella

Psalm 23 was originally composed for solo voice with guitar in a simple setting for singing at camp or in a casual setting.  While singing with a church choir, I was inspired to arrange it for SATB a cappella choir.  I was pleased with the results of the arrangement, and I hope you are, too!  It is also available for SSAA voicing.

The recording is by The Sacred Voice, a small vocal ensemble I founded in 2001 to present sacred choral concerts to raise funding and awareness for people in need.  The Sacred Voice went on to become Caritas Vocal Ensemble.


Psalm 66

SATB a cappella

Psalm 66 is a Choral Introit with joyful rhythms and flowing melodies.  It dances and sings!

I'm grateful for the excellent recording by Caritas, a choral ensemble in Minneapolis that raising funding and awareness for people in need through the gift of song.  Check out their website: Caritas Vocal Ensemble

Tags: SATB

Sing Alleluia!

SATB with Piano

Sing Alleluia! is an anthem I wrote for the season of Easter.  It's a fun but challenging piece for your church choir, with joyful syncopation and alternating a cappella sections with the piano.

Tags: SATB  Easter

The Word Is Born

SATB a cappella

When I read the Fred Pratt Green poem, The Word Is Born This Very Night, I immediately knew I wanted to set it to music for SATB a cappella choir.  I also imagined the music being sung in a candlelit church on Christmas Eve.

This amazing poem, published with permission by Hope Publishing, asks the question, "...who will heed the Man?"  The answer to the question: "...listen to the Man!"  The initial melodies are woven to a dissonant climax on the phrase "Which Adam first began", depicting the war that Adam started in the Garden of Eden.  Peace quickly returns as we "listen to the Man!"

The excellent recording is courtesy of Le Donne, directed by Wayne Kivell, from Northfield, MN.

The Word Is Born is featured annually during the Christmas season on EWTN: "The Word Is Born: Christmas with the Louisville Chorus".

The Word Is Born This Very Night
Fred Pratt Green Copyright 1972, Hope Publishing (used with permission)

The Word is born this very night:
Hail, Mary, full of grace!
A hanging lantern sheds its light
On Joseph's anxious face.

The Word must come from human form,
In God's redemptive plan.
A Babe takes every heart by storm,
But who will heed the Man?

The Word is born this very night,
And humble is the place;
The world is dark, but hope is bright,
And sinners look for grace.

The Word has come to end the war
Which Adam first began.
O bless the Babe who sleeps on straw.
And listen to the Man!

Tags: SATB  Christmas