Augsburg Fortress, 2016

Piano solo (Easy-Medium)  Editors' Choice

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.

Composer’s Reflection: As the summer of 2014 drew to a close and the cool winds of autumn began to blow, I decided to undertake a project I had considered doing for quite some time: composing one piece of music a week for an entire year. To provide focus and limited scope, I chose to write brief settings of hymns that span the church year. I called this my “52 in 52” challenge, and I am so pleased that the resultant fifty-five hymn settings are now available in this collection.

In one sense, this book is a record of my experiments with musical form, harmony, and style. THE SOLID ROCK (“My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”) is my first attempt at writing in a jazz idiom. As a southpaw, I had fun writing HENDON (“Take My Life”), a solo for the left hand alone. ST. ANNE (“O God, Our Help in Ages Past”), in which the tune is stated simultaneously in both C major and E major, is more harmonically adventurous than much of the music I write. But this book is more than simply an experiment in musical composition—to me it is a musical journal, since music and memory are so powerfully intertwined. Certain pieces remind me of the joys and blessings I experienced during the year, while others recall difficult and painful times. Playing ITALIAN HYMN (“Come, Thou Almighty King”) stirs memories of friends who helped with a home improvement project the day I wrote that piece. VILLE DU HAVRE (“When Peace like a River”) reminds me of the week I awaited news about a professional opportunity. When I play NEW BRITAIN (“Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound”), which I wrote while a family member was in the final days of life, I am brought back to the poignancy of that week.

I hope you will find encouragement for life’s journey as you practice these pieces, pondering the texts on which they are based. And I hope you will enjoy performing them as much as I do, whether in the privacy of your home or in a public setting. Ultimately, though, I hope these “piano gems” will remind you of the person and work of Jesus Christ—our truest friend, the Lord of gladness, our priceless treasure.

Preview