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Posts tagged “Christian

Lift Me Up (New song – finally!!)

Something about working full-time again has given me an excuse to not find a great deal of time for working on music. Despite the twinges of desperate longing when I hear beautiful music (Candlelight a few weeks ago, for instance – what, me cry while listening to Cathedral Choir? Never!!), I somehow have difficulty creating the time to craft beautiful music of my own. I think I’m just being lazy.

I actually began working on the lyrics for this piece over a year ago – probably around August/September 2012. I finished the score in June, and around July finally used the microphone my parents gave me last Christmas to record the voice part. I had the mock-up mostly finished in November, but only found the time this past weekend to sit down again to give it a “fresh” listening to see what else I needed to adjust before I could call it “finished.”

I sometimes feel like there are a lot of “perfect” people in church – or at least, a lot of people who seem that way to people who don’t know them intimately. It is easy to think that if all those “perfect” people in the congregation were to find out about one’s faults or struggles, they would instantly condemn the wayward soul as being out of touch in their walk with the Lord. Even if the pastor regularly makes the comment from the pulpit that the church is “a bunch of imperfect people serving a perfect God,” it seems like we don’t have very much opportunity to realize that this is true.

I’m not suggesting that we should air everybody’s secrets from the stage, and I get the “glorify God instead of our issues” concept. But at the same time, the Bible says that His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses, so would it not encourage others in pain to know that other people in church, other strong Christians, also suffer? To know that they have a relative in trouble that they want the church to pray for, or that they are struggling with depression, and to watch how they deal with that difficulty? To realize that it does not make one a “bad Christian” if one has troubles in this life, is sick, has times when it is hard to fight off doubts, sometimes has to struggle against sin (we do still have flesh, after all), or does not have a “perfect” life? To be aware of the depth at which a fellow Christian has been and from which God has rescued him, and take heart that if God was able to pull that person out of their troubles, He can do the same for them?

It annoys me when preachers or speakers or songwriters gloss over real struggles and make it seem as if it is the simplest thing in the world to simply “call on the name of Jesus” and have everything be set right. Even if they claim to have been depressed like David, if they make light of it, how is someone going through a similar circumstance to believe that that speaker really understands what it is like to be in an emotional black hole, and thus believe that it really is possible to be set free from it like the speaker was? I don’t think we should glorify our problems, but does it not glorify God the more to acknowledge just how much He has done by admitting how bad the problems were that He was able to overcome anyway?

I didn’t want to write this song. Even though the lyrics are essentially lots of snippets from the Psalms, slightly modified to fit and interspersed with a few additional lines, it feels far too revealing to share. At the same time, though, that was part of what I felt was the reason God was asking me to write it. To admit the pain I’ve felt, to bring the listener into the reality of where I’ve been, and my attempts at getting out; to let others know they are not alone. Unlike a normal “Christian” song, it never really resolves itself; the trouble isn’t over when the song is. Instead of saying, “I’ve been there and I’m fine now, so buck up, shut up, and shape up; you wouldn’t be having trouble if you were right with God,” the idea is to say, I’ve been there; I know what it feels like; so let me cry with you, and then let me tell you what God has done for me. Facing trouble and being broken does not by default mean that your relationship with God is also broken, and I believe there is a verse somewhere about sharing each other’s burdens…

Lift Me Up WAVE

Lift Me Up PDF

My God, my God,
Why have You forsaken me?

I cry out to you
I used to lift my eyes
But I can’t lift them anymore

I am lonely when not alone
My heart is troubled
When nothing’s wrong
All is darkness within my mind
Free me from my anguish;
Free me from my anguish, Lord!

I laugh and start to cry
I’m sad and don’t know why!
My joy is turned to gloom.
Lord, free me from my anguish.
Free me from my anguish.

To You, O my Lord,
I lift up my soul!
In You, my God,
I will put my trust.
You are my God and my Savior
You are my hope;
Help me find hope.

Turn to me and be gracious to me
For I am lonely and afflicted;
My head pulled down in despair.
The darkness opens up before me;
It seeks to pull me in.
Lord, free me from my anguish.

To You, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.
In You, my God,
I will put my trust.
You are my God, and my Savior as well.
You are my hope;
Help me find hope.

Lift my eyes up to You.
Oh, lift me up,
Lift my eyes up.
Lift me up!
Help me praise You,
Help me thank You,
For all You’ve done
And have yet to do.
Lift my eyes.

Free me from myself!
From myself…

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Undivided Heart

“Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in  your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.  I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” – Psalm 86:11-13, NIV

I like this passage.  However, I didn’t exactly go hunting for it; it simply happened to be one of the Psalms I read the day I was on a “try to write lyrics by focusing on syllables-per-line count” kick.  That was probably a couple months ago by now–I didn’t date it–but when I finished “Seeking God’s Peace” and therefore needed a set of lyrics so I could write a choral piece, I found it in my little notebook and decided the poem I’d written based on David’s prayer in Psalm 86 had potential.

Funny, isn’t it, how God arranges things to coincide?  Leaving aside the length of time it’s taken me to finish this piece, what with other chores and such butting in and stealing my time to work on it, when I chose the lyrics, it was simply because they seemed like they flowed well and I thought I could write an effective choral work with them.  There was no “I’m going through such-and-such a time and so I’ll really be able express what I’m feeling” reasoning behind it.  The last few weeks, however, I have spent a lot of time in two minds–regarding a decision that isn’t exactly “spiritually” related, but in two minds, nonetheless–and the fact I was working on a song titled “Undivided Heart” seemed awfully ironic.  And even as I would point out to myself that it was not a decision between the world and God, I would realize that in a way, it was–because whether or not I knew which one was which, ultimately, one choice was what I wanted, and the other choice was the one God wanted.  I’m not saying that EVERY choice we make in life is a God-or-me choice–I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to wreck or even cause complications for God’s plan if I wear the green shirt today instead of the blue one, for example.  However, this one is a little bigger than what clothes to wear and will definitely affect the specifics, at least, about how God will be able to use my husband and myself–even if I don’t think about it that way most of the time.  So although from a slightly different angle than David’s original Psalm, this song became my own prayer as I worked the last couple weeks to craft music that would adequately express the words.

Personally, I like the result (although there were quite a few moments yesterday afternoon while making the mock-up when I definitely did not!).  I hope you do, too.

Check out the WAVE file here: Undivided Heart

And for those who like to see the music, the score is here: Undivided Heart

Lyrics:

Cares of the world,
Cares of the spirit;
My heart is torn in two.
Both sets of cares
Call for my attention;
Which one do I choose?

Give me an undivided heart
That I might praise You, Lord;
A heart solely focused on You.
I’ll remember Your love,
Your unending grace;
Make my heart undivided towards You.

It’s so easy to focus
On what my eyes see
And forget there’s so much more above.
Lord, help me remember
What I see is not important
When compared to Your marvelous love!

Give me an undivided heart
That I might praise You, Lord.
A heart solely focused on You.
I’ll remember Your love,
Your unending grace.
Make my heart undivided towards You.

An undivided heart can praise You.


Psalm 40

My Sunday school class finished a study of the Psalms the week before last.  A couple of months ago, we looked at Psalm 40, a beautiful Psalm about trusting God and His renewal and rescue from trouble.  Around the same time, I was feeling bummed out, and the first several verses of this Psalm were very comforting.  And what do you know, I happened to be at a point between compositions…so I decided to create a choral piece.

I actually started with a verse later in the Psalm to open it up–I think it makes the waiting on the Lord section that much more meaningful to hear first that yes, the psalmist is/was in some kind of trouble–he isn’t going on about God’s goodness during the happiest time in his life.  God is faithful even during the storms of life.

PDF score: Psalm 40

Listen here

Lyrics:

Be pleased, oh Lord, to save me;
Oh, Lord, come quickly to help me.
Be pleased, oh Lord, to save me;
Oh, Lord, come quickly to help me.

I waited on the Lord;
He turned to me.
I waited patiently on the Lord;
He turned and heard my cry!

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
Out of the mud and mire.
He set my feet upon a rock,
And gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
A hymn of praise to God.
Many will see and fear (many will see and fear),
Many will see and fear (many will see and fear),
Many will see and trust in the Lord.

May all who seek You rejoice, Lord.
May all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You.

 

 

 


The Blessedness of Not Knowing

The blessedness of not knowing
Would never have crossed my mind
As something incredibly desirable
Or even a blessing.

I like to know
I want to see
I feel safe with control.

But when all my supports disappear
And I find myself grasping at straws
Desperate for a rock to cling to
(Forget trying to stand),
I find great peace and freedom
In simply trusting my God
And relinquishing control,
Letting go of the need to know.

I cannot see tomorrow;
I cannot even see this afternoon
(Forget my whole future!)

Instead, I am learning to trust,
To simply trust God to show me the next step
Neither too soon, nor too late,
But in His perfect timing.

It is hard.  I want to see.

But my only hope is in trusting my Rock,
In surrendering my all to Him
In not trying to second-guess
But laying aside speculation
And asking Him for the grace
To be satisfied with my daily bread
And to follow my Shepherd
Like a gentle lamb,
My own desires laid aside.

Oh, how hard!  I want…

But I want Jesus
I tire of complacency
I want reality
I want to know
And I find what I want, ironically,
Through the blessedness of not knowing.

3/1/05

My next project is choral, so I need lyrics…lyrics…so I was looking through old poems to see if any of them could be adapted.  Don’t know if I could make a song out of this one, but I like it. 🙂


My Jesus, I Love Thee

I was sitting in church a few weeks ago, following the words in the hymnal because I had a sore throat and it hurt to sing, when we turned to “My Jesus, I Love Thee.”  I’ve always loved this hymn–the melody is lovely, and the words are earnest.  Yet as I listened to it, I realized how carefully one has to pay attention to the words on some verses to grasp their full meaning.  The melody and harmonization/accompaniment are the same on each take, but the thoughts behind them differ.  The rhythm of the melody is fine on some verses, but on others, it doesn’t emphasize the sentence structure very well, and meaning is lost if one is not carefully analyzing the words as one sings (or listens).  “Hmm,” I thought, “I should make a choral arrangement of this song.”

With this intent, I copied down all four verses on a piece of paper during the offertory, and on Monday morning, I began work on the quickest choral arrangement I’ve ever written (since I have sooo many to compare it to…).  My goal was to fix the problems I had perceived as best as I could with an eight-voice choir and everything I ever learned in Dr. W’s classes about text painting, the memory of every nuance Mr. S ever insisted on for the peformance of a piece in Cathedral Choir, and all the film music emoting and “timeless” techniques I learned at CCC.  The purpose of music, after all, is to express, and as both Dr. W and Mr. S were fond of reminding us in class and choir, the purpose of music melded to words is to express the meaning of the words more fully than the words can do by themselves.  The music should support the words and give life to them, not simply offer a pretty setting so a choir or congregation can happily sing them without processing them.

If you read the lyrics below, you’ll see that I ran two phrases together on the second verse.  That wasn’t a typo–since I chopped out two beats in the arrangement to make it more apparent that the two are part of the same thought, I couldn’t quite convince myself to separate them in lyric format just for the sake of tradition. 🙂  I hope you enjoy the arrangement, performed by EWQLSO strings, which can be heard at this link (this is a newer version that what some of you may have been emailed): My Jesus, I Love Thee

Here’s the link to the .pdf score: My Jesus I Love Thee

Lyrics:

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.
For Thee, all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior, art Thou:
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now;
My Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee, Jesus, Savior.

I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death.
I will praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath.
I’ll say when the deathdew lies cold on my brow:
“If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever (ever) adore Thee (adore Thee) in Heaven so bright.
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow:
“If ever I loved Thee, if ever I loved Thee,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”


New Piece: Prayer of the Broken

All right!  This piece has lyrics by a good friend from Uplift Mountain–she sent them to me about ten years ago, back before I knew anything about writing music, and I created a horrible arrangement for it.  Every once in a while ever since, I’ve tried to come up with a better setting (and failed miserably!), and I finally found one in December which I finished in January and of which I made a string mock-up this last week.  Here’s the link to the .wav audio:

Prayer of the Broken

And the link to the .pdf of the score:

PrayeroftheBroken

Lyrics (tweaked slightly!):

Soli Deo Gloria, Soli Deo.
Soli Deo Gloria, Soli Deo.

Weary, worn, and heavy burdened,
My heart is sinking to the depths.
Tried and torn and ever-failing,
Oh, dear Savior, give me rest.

Raise me up on wings of eagles;
Plant Your joy inside my heart.
Give me peace, and give me comfort;
Restore Your hope unto my life.

Soli Deo Goria, Gloria.

I watch the days unfold before me,
Your ever-gracious gift to me.
Make me live out my salvation;
Give me strength to follow where You lead.

For my ways are wrong and often futile;
The steps I take lead me astray.
Reach down Your loving hand to guide me
And help me step by step (step by step), each slow step by step (step by step), to find the way.

Raise me up (for Your glory) on wings of eagles.
Plant Your joy (deep) inside my heart.
Prince of Peace and Lord of Comfort,
Restore Your hope (Your blessed hope) unto my life.

Make my life a sweet aroma;
I lay my life before Your throne.
Give me ears to hear Your wisdom, my King.
Your will alone, for Your glory, Your will alone, my King, be done!

For Your glory, Lord, Your glory! (Raise me up on wings of eagles)
Only for Your glory
For Your glory, Lord, Your glory! (Give me peace, and give me comfort)
For Your glory be all things.

Soli Deo Gloria (Make my life be)
Soli Deo Gloria (only for you)
Let me live
Soli Deo Gloria again.