My philosophy of congregational singing: There should be some level in the song at which every worshiper can experience God by participating. The more levels of meaning there are at once, from the immediate to the subtle, the richer the song is for single and repeated use. The four melodic parts must have foremost integrity as interesting, expressive individual lines, enriching and intensifying the meaning of the text (and not merely "sounding pretty"). My hymns are easiest to learn if the singers simply read their individual lines, instead of trying to do intuitive "harmonizing" against the soprano. That is, the individual parts are designed to be easily singable and expressive in themselves, and somewhat independent. Harmony, in my view, is much more a function of distinct simultaneous expressions (a dynamic texture of tensions and resolutions, as the individual parts play off one another) than a series of stereotypical chords. Dissonance and consonance must be used in a deliberate balance, always as a natural and direct expression of the text.
The general style of this hymn music can perhaps be described best by the words intense and thoughtful. My melodic and rhythmic habits tend to be a composite musical language of Bach, Mendelssohn, Grieg, Sibelius, Jerome Kern, and Richard Rodgers....
MIDI sequenced performances are now available for some of the hymns; download and listen to them! Or try this catalog of my other available MIDI experiments.
Here also is a humble example of my text-writing craftsmanship: Come, let us celebrate today.
And see also my review of The Harmonia Sacra, 25th ed. for further ideas about linear congregational singing and hymn composition. I explored some of those ideas further in a seminar presentation January 1, 2002: part of the 100th anniversary Harmonia Sacra sing at Weavers Mennonite Church, Harrisonburg VA.
My views about nurturing a healthy mixture of a cappella and accompanied singing are here.
ABUNDANCE II C.M.D. Thy causeless unexhausted love - Charles Wesley
BRIDGE 220.127.116.11. Love makes a bridge - Brian Wren
DAILY PEACE S.M.D. Our earth needs rest and peace - Bradley P Lehman and Wilmer D Swope
DEVOTED 8 8. 8 8. 8 8. O God, what offering shall I give - Joachim Lange, tr. John Wesley
DOL 18.104.22.168.7.7. Throned upon the awful tree - John Ellerton;
EARTH 7 6. 7 6. with refrain All things bright and beautiful - Cecil F Alexander
ELOQUENCE 8. 8. 8. 8. 8. 8. Prayer is the language of the heart - Charles Wesley
EUNICE MAY C.M. O for a heart to praise my God - Charles Wesley
EVEN L.M. At even, when the sun was set - Henry Twells
FIRSTFRUITS 8 4. 8 4. 8 8 8. 4. For the fruit of all creation - Fred Pratt Green
FIRSTHAND 7 6. 7 6. D. Where restless crowds are thronging - Thomas C Clark
FREI ABER EINSAM 8. 7. 6. 8. 8. 6. Lord, if thou know'st it good for me - Charles Wesley
GLORIA DEO irregular Glory be to God (inclusive-language Gloria Patri) - Bradley P Lehman
GLOWING PRIMROSE C.M.D. Your hand, O Lord, in days of old - Edward H Plumptre
GOD OF BETHEL C.M. O God of Jacob, by whose hand - Philip Doddridge
GUIDEBOOK C.M. O hear and speak the scripture truth - Wilmer D Swope and Bradley P Lehman
HAIL 7 6. 7 6. D. Hail to the Lord's anointed - James Montgomery
HEALING HEM L.M. with refrain By Peter's house - Anne Metzler Albright
JOYOUS DAISY 7 6. 7 6. D. How lovely is your dwelling - from Psalter (Psalm 84)
KALANCHOE 7 6. 7 6. D. Sometimes a light surprises - William Cowper
KINDLE L.M.D. O thou who camest from above - Charles Wesley
LAMB (two versions) 6 6 4. 6 6 6 4. Shepherd of tender youth - Clement of Alexandria, tr. Henry Martyn Dexter
LAZARUS C.M. At Bethany, where Christ had friends - Wilmer D Swope and Bradley P Lehman
LILY L.M. Eternal beam of light divine - Charles Wesley
MKO's 50TH 8 6. 8 6. 7 5 9. Sing to the Lord with vibrant voice - Janeen Bertsche Johnson (written for celebration of Mary Oyer's 50th year of teaching, 1998)
MOUNTAIN PEAK 7 8. 7 8. with alleluias Christ upon the mountain peak - Brian Wren
OFFERING L.M. Pour down thy spirit from above - William Romanis
ORCHIDS 5 4. 5 5. 7. We are your people - Brian Wren
OYER 7 7. 7 7. Prince of peace, control my will - Mary Ann Serrett Barber
PASSAMEZZO COURTSHIP C.M.D. All good, all wise, almighty Lord - Charles Wesley
PRAYER C.M. Prayer is the soul's sincere desire - James Montgomery
PROMISE 7 6. 7 6. D. O Jesus, I have promised - John E Bode
QUIETUDE 22.214.171.124. Daily we come, dear master - Fred Pratt Green
RAW PASSION 126.96.36.199.6. O that I could cast all my load - Charles Wesley
SINCERITY 188.8.131.52.8.8. Try me, O Lord, and search my heart - Charles Wesley
STANDING AGAPE 8.8.6. 8.8.6. O love divine, how sweet thou art - Charles Wesley
STORM 7 7. 7 7. 7 7. Holy Spirit, storm of love - Brian Wren
SYMPATHY 6 6. 6 6. 8 8. Thou God of truth and love - Charles Wesley
TOUCH C.M. Heal us, Immanuel, hear our prayer - William Cowper
TRANSCENDENCE 11 10. 12 10. Born of beginnings - Larry Warkentin
TRINITY 7 7. 7 7. 6. Glorious mystery of God - Anne Metzler Albright
TRUEST SINGING 10.9.10.7. I sing to you from summers of my heart - Jean Janzen
TURN 8 7. 8 7. Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow - William
John Sparrow Simpson;
UNLESS 184.108.40.206. Gentle Jesus, meek and mild - Charles Wesley
VENI C.M. Come, Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire - Charles Wesley
VIRTUE'S REWARD 220.127.116.11.D. Christ, my life, my only treasure - Charles Wesley
WATERFORD C.M. O God of truth, whose living word - Thomas Hughes
WATTS' 23RD C.M.D. My shepherd will supply my need - Isaac Watts
WHISPER 7 6. 7 6. 7 7. 7 6. Open, Lord, my inward ear - Charles Wesley
WILLST DU DEIN HERZ MIR SCHENCKEN 7 6. 7 6. D. O day of rest and gladness - Christopher Wordsworth (This tune is arranged from a melody in the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach)
WINGS L.M. O God, thou art my God alone - James Montgomery
"Our earth needs rest and peace" (text only) is published in The Hymn, April 1993.
MOUNTAIN PEAK has been transposed to C and republished as #209 in The Covenant Hymnal: A Worshipbook (Evangelical Covenant Church), 1996.
HEALING HEM has been published in a choral arrangement by Philip Orr of Orrganized Sound. This arrangement has also been recorded for publication by the Presbyterian Church USA.
MKO's 50TH is published in Canadian Mennonite, April 11 1998.
WHISPER is recorded in a two-piano arrangement by Marilyn Houser Hamm, on the CD/cassette Hymnal Masterworks: Solo Piano (Faith & Life Press, Newton KS, 1994).
WHISPER and OYER are recorded by a choir from Eastern Mennonite University, on the companion cassette to the book Praying with the Anabaptists by Marlene Kropf & Eddy Hall (Faith & Life Press, Newton KS, 1994).
FIRSTFRUITS was featured in a summer 1995 workshop presentation by the Hymn Society in the US and Canada. It is also scheduled for republication in 1996, in a forthcoming collection from Brethren Press.
Most of these hymns have been featured as anthems and introits by the choir of University Reformed Church, Ann Arbor MI, and elsewhere. Many of the unpublished hymns have also been sung congregationally in hymnsings and worship services led by the composer, in Washington DC, Philadelphia PA, Elkhart IN, Ann Arbor MI, Waterloo ON, Champaign IL, and Harrisonburg VA.
See also my resume...