Wedding Music for Piano – Oath of Unity

December 18th, 2010

I wrote this wedding music for piano with an accomplished pianist in mind. However, this detail should not stop anyone from attempting it. I set out to create a broadly usable piece to be used towards the end of wedding preludes and I hope that I have done this well enough to appeal to most performers. The only questionable challenge is that there are some wide intervals throughout the work. I am able to reach a major ninth with ease and therefore wrote many without a second thought. If this is not the case for you, please feel free to change a few notes using your best judgement.

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Sample Score

There are three hymns woven throughout this work. The sample above contains an arrangement of “O Perfect Love”. The other two are “Take my Life and Let It Be” and “Be Thou My Vision”:

     

These samples are taken from my album, Purpose. Click here for more information.

Additional information

I wrote this wedding music for piano to be premiered for my friends, Pam and Ryan, at their wedding for prelude. The danger with this role in a program is that the beginning material is either easily missed, or it rudely interrupts conversations. I have attempted to use this problem to the performer’s advantage by utilizing John Cage’s philosophy: Any sound you hear during the performance is part of the music. While I disagree with Cage on many points, I do believe that there is something to be had with the idea of artistic noise. I actually want the audience to passively participate in the performance by talking at a respectful volume until the piece starts to unfold it’s main themes more clearly. It is the performer’s job to play beneath their mummer and crescendo as they decrescendo by becoming interested. I have yet to see it actually work out that way, but it’s a nice idea…

Since I was writing for a wedding, I have obviously written a piece about marriage. I’m am very passionate about the issue of divorce, and am strongly against divorce outside of marital unfaithfulness and even then only in extreme cases. This work is a charge to any bride and groom to fulfill their oaths to one another out of unconditional love no matter what their situation is. The harsh section of this piece represents the more unpleasant parts of marriage; but this section is fleeting and resolves quickly by returning to the original themes depicting unconditional love and faithfulness. The main take away I want people to have is that the love within marriage unites two people so intimately that the darker parts of the relationship are nullified.


An Indirect Solution

June 3rd, 2010

One of you says, “I follow Martin Luther”; another, “I follow the Pope”; another, “I follow Baptist doctrine”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was the Pope crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of the Baptist denomination?

C.S. Lewis describes the Christian denominations as a single house with multiple rooms. If you are part of the house, you are living for the same purpose and with the same life direction (seeking a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and behaving accordingly). However, every Christian gravitates towards people with the same specific doctrinal beliefs. Lutherans are in one room, Evangelicals another, Anglicans another, and Roman Catholics another. There is nothing wrong with this. It’s a big book and we’re going to disagree on how to interpret it. But the problem comes in when these different groups refuse to leave their rooms and associate with other people in their family. This behavior doesn’t encourage people from the outside to come into the house and enjoy a relationship with Jesus Christ themselves (which should be our greatest concern). On the contrary, it discourages them from entering and is actively counterproductive to the work of the gospel. Not to say that we have any power over the effectiveness of the Lords work, but he does want his children to be obedient. I Corinthians 1:10, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” Then Paul says this again in Philippians 2:1-2, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”

Unfortunately, all of the various denominations are so set in their different doctrines that they have deprived the body of Christ from necessary diversity. For example, Baptists don’t tend to associate with Pentecostals because Baptists are stiff and reserved while the Pentecostals are hyperactive and emotional. When people of these types don’t worship together, the Baptists become too stiff and the Pentecostals too emotional. Worshiping God must have aspects of both thoughtful meditation (Psalm 119:27) and of joyful noise (Psalm 98); Baptists and Pentecostals need each other in order to not take their natural tenancies too far. Different denominations contain different types of people, and these different types need to each other in order to maintain healthy and well balanced worship. In other words, denominations create extremes.

Getting God’s people to come back into the commons area of God’s house is going to be quite a challenge. In fact I don’t really see how its even possible. But where humans fail, God will succeed. Not only that, but he will succeed while using us to do it. That being said, I don’t quite understand the implications of the idea that I am now going to present to you. I see how it could work, but I know that it is not going to happen the way I think it is. Only God can move in the hearts and minds of his people to having the response necessary in order bring the body of Christ back together again. All I can do is present an idea that God has put on my heart. What God does with it in your hearts is up to him.

To bring all the churches together something must develop that members from all of the various denominations can be a part of. Higher education is already doing this to a large extent. For example, Cornerstone University (where I did my undergraduate studies) has more than 45 denominations represented in its student body. After growing up in a Baptist environment my entire life, this was an incredible opportunity for my ideas to merge with the view points of students from other backgrounds. It resulted in me actually getting into God’s word and discovering truth like I’d never experienced it before. This is the type of growth that could happen should Christians find something comparable to this in their own communities. Unfortunately, higher education can only go so far since it is very expensive and it is completely unreasonable to hope for a Christian university in every geographic context. It is also unreasonable to expect private elementary and high school education to accomplish church unity since this targets a fairly narrow demographic.

Music education is very peculiar. Because of the performance orientation it has, it drives people from very different backgrounds into that same room to enjoy an intellectually rich presentation together. Since the audience is typically connected with one of the people performing, and the people performing are connected to one another, these performances result in social connections that would’ve been impossible any other way. In this way music education has the power to bring random people together in order to strengthen the relational context of a community. But then make everyone in that room a passionate believer in Christ Jesus, and the result isn’t just a well connected community. What results is a well connected church that otherwise did not exist provided that this program does not exist only in a single church. And this finally brings us to the point I wish to make.

Create an inexpensive and Christ oriented music education program in a community that is connected with every church in that community, enroll representatives from every congregation to participate, back it up with prayer, and encourage every congregation to observe the resultant artistic presentation, and you will see entire church bodies uniting starting with the individual layperson and working its way up into the leadership.

If you live in the Lansing area and would like to see this happen, look over the plan in my blog entitled “The Church’s School of Music” and contact me to let me know you want to help make this happen. If you don’t live in the Lansing area but you would like to see this happen in your community, be bold and give it a try.

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Thank you all so much for your support by inviting people to join the Facebook group.  I’ve been pretty overwhelmed by the results so far.  To the newcomers, thank you for joining us and taking a look at what God is doing here.  Feel free to invite your Facebook friends to the group yourself.  You can find instructions on how to do this in the post from last week.

May God continue to work out his plans in completely unpredictable ways.

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