Hymn Settings for the Year: 55 Piano Gems published by Augsburg Fortress

Hymns for All SeasonsAugsburg Fortress has released Timothy Shaw’s book of hymn arrangements for piano, Hymn Settings for the Year: 55 Piano GemsThis book contains all the pieces he wrote in his 52 in 52 series. Here is a description from the publisher: “This collection of hymn settings in diverse forms and styles will serve you well throughout the church year. Some of these pieces may be used as preludes or postludes, while others may be used as hymn introductions and alternate accompaniments. Teachers who want to introduce hymn settings to students will find this a valuable teaching tool. This is also a great resource for funeral service music.”

My Top 10 from 52 in 52

top 10As my year of writing one new piece of music a week drew to a close, several people asked, “Of all the pieces you’ve written this year, which do you like best?” This is a tough question to answer, of course, but I do have my favorites! Here is a list of my Top 10. Is your favorite on the list? Leave a reply below, or send me a message.

  1. When Peace like a River (It Is Well with My Soul) (VILLE DU HAVRE) – week 7
  2. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence (PICARDY) – week 52
  3. Were You There (WERE YOU THERE) – week 31
  4. Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound (NEW BRITAIN) – week 44
  5. When Morning Gilds the Skies (LAUDES DOMINI) – week 29
  6. Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee (ST. AGNES) – week 6
  7. My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less (THE SOLID ROCK) – week 38
  8. Take My Life (HENDON) – week 12
  9. Ah, Holy Jesus (HERZLIEBSTER JESU) – week 30
10. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (VENI, EMMANUEL) – week 14

New Music week 51: TERRA BEATA

52 in 52The penultimate piece in my 52 in 52 series is a setting of the tune TERRA BEATA (“This Is My Father’s World,” a stirring text written by Presbyterian pastor Maltbie D. Babcock). For inspiration, I looked to my own arrangement of this hymn that I wrote for Anne Martindale-Williams (cello, piano)—the rustic middle section of that first setting became the basis of this one. As an aside, perhaps you’ve noticed this tune’s incipit is remarkably similar to “Concerning Hobbits” (“The Shire and the Hobbits”) from Howard Shore’s soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings. Enjoy! (To accommodate different hymnals, I have included two keys here: E-flat and D major.)

New Music week 48: JESU, MEINE FREUDE

52 in 52This is one of my favorite hymns/tunes of all time—JESU, MEINE FREUDE, “Jesus, Priceless Treasure.” In the tradition of J.S. Bach, my setting is a free harmonization (in SATB-texture) that could be used to accompany a verse of the hymn. The text, written by Johann Franck in 1653, and translated by Catherine Winkworth in 1863, is so beautiful in its Pietist imagery:

Jesus, priceless treasure,
source of purest pleasure,
truest Friend to me:
ah, how long in anguish
shall my spirit languish,
yearning, Lord, for thee?
Thine I am, O spotless Lamb!
I will suffer naught to hide thee,
naught I ask beside thee.

Hence, all fear and sadness!
For the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father,
though the storms may gather,
still have peace within.
Yea, whate’er I here must bear,
thou art still my purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure.