Many will be the times that this anthem blesses and enriches a service of worship. This lovely new setting for SATB Choir and Piano is strong and resolute while at the same time tender and submissive. Use it often.
Composer’s Reflection: This anthem is dedicated to Ron and Sue Lutz, who have ministered at New Life Presbyterian Church (Dresher, PA) for over 30 years. Ron is approaching retirement, and this is my attempt at honoring him. The text, I think, acknowledges the challenges and blessings that any pastor and spouse would face over the years, and it also reflects the resolve necessary to be faithful in ministry. One of my favorite things about the music is the key change to B-flat major (mm. 40-52). This gets the singers into a higher range, setting up the climactic moment (m. 50), and underscores the meaning of the text. In D-flat major we sing, “O Jesus, I have promised…” and in B-flat major we sing, “O Jesus, you have promised…” Our resolution to follow Him is rooted in the covenant promise He has made with us (“Salvation comes from the Lord,” Jonah 2:9). My other favorite moment comes in mm. 58-61, when the choir sings a cappella to provide textural contrast. I love the chord on “grace” (m. 58), a first inversion chord with added 2nd, and use it often in my writing.
O Jesus, I have promised to serve you to the end;
be now and always near me, my Master and my friend;
I shall not fear the battle if you are by my side,
nor wander from the pathway if you will be my guide.
O let me feel you near me! The world is ever near:
I see the sights that dazzle; the tempting sounds I hear.
My foes are ever near me, around me and within;
but, Jesus, draw still nearer and shield my soul from sin.
O Jesus, you have promised to all who follow you
that where you are in glory your servant shall be too.
And Jesus, I have promised to serve you to the end;
now give me grace to follow, my Master and my friend.
Be now and always near me, my Master and my friend.