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Category “Music”

More Love to Thee

The following hymn, which gained popularity during the 1870’s, was written by Elizabeth Prentiss after two of her children died suddenly of illness in 1856.

Elizabeth, struggling with thoughts of God’s unfairness and in profound grief, was told by her husband that, “Love can keep the soul from going blind.”  Understanding that God is love, and seeing that increased devotion toward him was the solution to her grief, she penned the following verses that would become part of the widely published hymn, “More Love to Thee.”

Once earthly joy I craved,
Sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek,
Give what is best;
This all my prayer shall be:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work,
Send grief and pain,
Sweet are Thy messengers,
Sweet their refrain.
When they can sing with me:
More love, O Christ, to Thee,
More love to Thee,
More love to Thee!

I have been asking the Lord to draw me closer to him, but secretly hoping that it would not involve stress, pain, or struggle. Shortly before reading the above hymn, I read in Hebrews 12:5-11 the following instructions:

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;  For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Possibly the Lord is preparing me for chastening, or considering my recent discouragement, helping me through it. Verses 12-13 follow with this encouragement:

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

Music Pick: Song for Bob

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Music Picks

 

From the “I don’t know how in the world it didn’t win a Oscar” category, it’s Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ soundtrack to the lengthily named movie, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford. This particular track, Song for Bob, is a six minute opus of strings, piano, and bass. The track has near-perfect timing, adding new layers moments before the previous ones become repetitive, keeping an ambient feel while leaving you humming a tune.

A Song for Bob starts with a sequence of piano chords, then drops them for a layer of rich strings that maintain the chord progession. After about 1:30, a single violin begins to assert itself with hints of a melody. Just when it seems like it’s going to fade, the piano returns to strengthen the tune. After a few measures the violin revives, and the two duet to the emerging melody. Finally, a strong bass rhythm joins in, working towards a crescendo as the strings build. Finally, the song peaks and the heavy chords fade, and the trio of piano, bass, and violin coast to a halt.

While this is the most successful piece on the soundtrack, the entire album is fantastic. Get it.

Music Pick – Luca Stricagnoli’s “Braveheart” Instrumental

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Music Picks

I’m not going to say much about this one. Just watch and listen and be amazed at the talent this one-man-band displays.

You can find more of his work and purchase his music at candyrat.com.

Music Pick – Unbreakable

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Music Picks

 

The soundtrack for Unbreakable, scored by James Newton Howard, is as understated and underrated as the movie. In particular, I love the 12th track – The Orange Man. It starts with a mellow brass fanfare flavored with a Lawrence of Arabia vibe (it actually sounds a little Jerry Goldsmith’s Mummy score, though with less crisp urgency). After a brief crescendo that segues into the main theme, a dozen seconds of tension form an interlude.  Then, with a roll of kettle drums, the score quickly resolves into a full reprisal of the theme.

Now comes the best part, and the reason I picked this track. I am an absolute sucker for what I call “the silver trumpet.” This is the punctuation of a score with the strong melodic line of a single brass instrument. I’ll post more of these later. In this case, the silver trumpet sounds at 1:13 mark, and gradually blends into the strong finale. It is glorious. The track ends with a few thoughtful piano chords.

You can purchase the track or the album at Amazon.com.

Music Pick: Loreena McKennitt – Kecharitomene

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Music Picks

 

This instrumental is performed by the consummate musician Loreena McKennitt and features the wonderfully melodic sound of a hurdy gurdy accompanied by a drum-line like rhythm. McKennitt’s music often has a Mediterranean / Middle Eastern / Indian flavor to it. This particular piece, Karcharitome, was written by McKennitt and is meant to evoke the joy that Mary must have felt when Gabriel said to her, “Chaire, kecharitomene !” [Hail, highly favored by His grace!] The song can be found on her album, An Ancient Muse, and should be available in your preferred format / ecosystem.

Thy Broken Body, Gracious Lord

I stumbled across a beautiful little hymn today, squirreled away in the footnotes of a convicting article by C. H. Mackintosh. The hymn was written during the formation of the Plymouth Brethren, between 1837 and 1838, and published in the first brethren songbook, Hymns for the Poor of the Flock. The author is Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, and he penned these words some where around the age of twenty-five. I think this song really brings out both the wonder and importance of the remembrance meeting.

Thy broken body, gracious Lord,
Is shadowed by this broken bread,
The wine which in this cup is pour’d,
Points to the blood which Thou hast shed.

And while we meet together thus,

We show that we are one in Thee.
Thy precious blood was shed for us,
Thy death, O Lord, has set us free.

Brethren in Thee, in union sweet,
(For ever be thy grace ador’d),
‘Tis in Thy name, that now we meet,
And know Thou’rt with us, gracious Lord.

We have one hope—that Thou wilt come,
Thee in the air we wait to see,
When Thou wilt take Thy people home
And we shall ever reign with Thee.

 

Music Pick: The Island – My Name is Lincoln

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Music Picks

 

This song starts out with some eerie pads and strings but employs choral elements for the melody. Flowing guitar arpeggios interlude, but the song ends up being an epic piece where brass and drums aggressively complement the vocal melody.  I often studied and conducted research to this music, and now I prepare lesson plans to it. It never really gets old. My wife says it makes her want to fly. I have  heard this piece in the trailers of Avatar and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, so we’re not the only ones who think it is epic.

Steve Jablonsky surprised me in 2005, coming out of relative obscurity to compose the soundtrack for Michael Bay’s sci-fi thriller The Island. Since then, this Hans Zimmer protégé has become a go-to composer for Michael Bay, scoring all three Transformer movies as well as a handful of television series and a number video games. I’m particularly fond of tracks like the grand Arrival to Earth from Transformers and the militant Heroic Assault from the game Gears of War 2.

Music Pick – Bell Canada 2010 Commercial by Darren Fung

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Music Picks

This commercial played in the 2010 Winter Olympics. One thing you’ll notice about my music picks is that I’m a sucker for brass and bells. This one has both, along with some stirring opening strings. Factoid: I remember reading an interview in which the composer Darren Fung said that he disliked the chimes at the end but was told by Bell Canada to put some “sparkle and magic” in the finale.