Latest Publication: New York Staff Band Signature Series
Arr. Paul Schwartz, Arr. Dorothy Gates
Be Still is a beautiful setting of the tune Finlandia by Jean Sibelius. Performing artist, Lisbeth Scott is the haunting soprano voice in movies such as The Chronicles of Narnia and Avatar. Be Still was originally arranged by Paul Schwartz for one of her solo CDs, State of Grace. The words speak of God’s peace and comfort amid the trials of life:
Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
Stand calm within the storm of grief and pain.
Trust in Thy God to order and provide
Through every change his faithful light remains.
Be still my soul the restful peace within
Through trying times leads to a joyful end.
Tone Poem – Fearless
The world can be a frightening place, with all the uncertainty and evil that seems to be prevalent today. Being a Christian can at times be lonely in a world such as this, and this is reflected in the euphonium solo at the start of this tone poem, entitled Fearless. As the Christian goes out into the world (reflected at b. 28), they are mindful that ‘those who speak be fearless, those who serve be blameless’. This journey is not an easy one and there are ‘days I cannot see’, as we are reminded of in the middle section, starting at b. 118, but with this comes the assurance that ‘I’m in His hands, whatever the future holds’.
The final section of the piece features a full statement of Soldier’s Hymn, the first time it is heard in its entirety, although there are references to the tune throughout. The work finishes with the glorious statement, ‘Onward to the conquest, north to south and east to west, Forward to the glorious fight of love’. With the strength of God, we know we can move forward without fear.
This three-movement work, the title of which translates Always Faithful, was written as a concert opener for The Salvation Army Australia Territory Youth Band on their tour of the United Kingdom in 2017. The focus of the piece is God’s faithfulness to humanity (Strength Will Rise) and the response of humanity to demonstrate faith in Him (This I Believe – The Creed). The first song reminds believers that total trust in God is possible because He never fails and is utterly dependable. The latter song provides opportunity to respond to that faithfulness in asserting belief in God; Father, Son and Spirit.
The Glory of Jehovah
The Glory of Jehovah is a major work (some might even say “epic” work) for brass band, written for the New York Staff Band and the Canadian Staff Band’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in March 2019. The music is based on the entire book of Exodus in the Old Testament of the Bible. That translates into 40 chapters portrayed in 5 movements – a daunting task. The piece is very programmatic in nature and follows Exodus closely. However, because of the enormity of the book, some events had to be left out. The events that remain, are those that involve or portray the presence of God in some way. The music is mostly all original material, with the last movement being the exception. This movement is based on the popular song, Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here by Bryan & Katie Torwalt.
II. Moses & Aaron
III. God’s Mighty Hand
IV. Mt. Sinai
V. The Tabernacle
The dramatic score calls for players to use their voices in addition to their instruments by shouting, whispering and singing. It is heavy on percussion and special effects. Through this cinematic approach, the listener is transported on a musical journey, experiencing the presence of God in every step with Moses. From the dark, ominous oppression at the beginning to the serene Tabernacle experience at the end, it is clear God is with us in ALL circumstances – the good AND the bad. It is His presence in our lives that makes the difference. From Exodus it would seem God will do anything to be with us. Our purpose in life is to be with Him in His holy presence – worshipping. Holy Spirit you are welcome here!
If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.
The Lord replied, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work.
Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
To Ask the Lord’s Blessing
To Ask the Lord’s Blessing is based on the hymn tune Kremser and is traditionally known as a Thanksgiving song in the United States. The first line of the hymn being, ”We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing.”
The original text was written after Dutch Protestant forces overcame Spanish Catholic oppression in which they were forbidden to worship and was written as a request to the Lord to bless their victory.
The opening bars reflect a battle field in which multiple lines of forces join together in ever increasing intensity. A powerful major chord represents the moment of victory followed by the presentation of the main tune and text in a brighter major key.
The music returns briefly to the battle scene but ends with a majestic drawn out cadence and a victorious final chord.
The piece is a reminder to all Christians to seek the Lord’s will and blessing in all aspects of life.