This morning I found out that my song, “We Belong to God,” won The Hymn Society’s contest calling for new settings of Psalm 100. I’ve written about thirty psalm settings, and this one is one of my favorites (there are even a couple of bars of samba in the verses). Back in March, when my trio recorded all of the tracks for Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns, we also recorded seven additional songs with guest vocalist Sarah Kervin. “We Belong to God” was one of them.
Also this morning, I watched/listened via Facebook Messenger to several hundred people sing “We Belong to God” at the annual Hymn Society conference (this one is being held in Waterloo, Ontario). Two Sundays ago I also heard (and played for) a couple of hundred people singing the same song at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale, Minnesota. I was overwhelmed- or perhaps I should use the biblical word, “overshadowed,” by the enormously receptive and participatory congregation. This is in no small way due to music director Roger Stratton, who has been sharing my music with his choir and congregation for about a year. Thank you, Roger, and everyone at GA. I can’t wait to come back!
I also found out that I won another composition contest- this one for a choir- in the last week. I’ll be writing a newly commissioned piece for this group this fall. When the contract is signed, I’ll reveal specifics!
All of this news and accompaniment (because I believe that all of you who are singing my music are accompanying me on my journey) encourages me immensely as I sit at my desk each morning and write out piano parts (honestly, not my favorite thing to do!) for the sheet music e-book that will correspond to the upcoming recording, Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns. Almost all of the hymn arrangements as played by my trio are meant to be sung– I wrote these arrangements for congregational singing. I trust that in the coming months and years many more churches, chorales, justice choirs, and even listeners who hear my instrumental music will sing and hum the music that I am blessed to create and share.