Easter Cantata still progressing . . . (more Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding)

Easter Cantata still progressing . . . (more Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding)

(Original posting 4/17/2017) Well, March was the target date for completing my thesis project (an Easter cantata) to qualify for Spring graduation, but it’s not going to happen, . . . sigh. I knew it was an ambitious goal from the get go, so the disappointment is not too great. In fact, it appeared all along that this project would require at least part of the summer to complete and that’s just what it’s going to take. I want to spend the time needed to get this right since I’m looking at this more as a debut product rather than just another hurdle in a degree plan. It would be much more gratifying to see it performed than to have it spend its days on a dusty library shelf. (for more background on what this project is about see my 3/13/2017 post on Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding)

At present, I’m working on the final movement , a traditional choir anthem about substitutionary atonement and Christ’s call to discipleship titled, He Became Like Me. (And no, just because it’s the final movement doesn’t mean the cantata is nearly done! Writer’s block was building up, and I jumped to the end to find some fresh creative energy.) As any good presentation of God’s word should do, the piece is a musical call for response to the Easter message and will close with the fourth stanza of Isaac Watts’ classic hymn, When I survey the wondrous cross.

He Became Like Me is actually a text and melody I wrote well before going back to school. My inability to successfully sculpt it into a pleasing form was at least a part of the impetus pushing me back to school to learn how to make it work. As I near completion of my degree it is delightful to find that this song wasn’t just a bumbling beginner’s muddle but actually contains some good musical ideas and a compelling text. Speaking of text, here are the lyrics:

He became like me so I could be like Him;
Laying down His riches, becoming just a man;
Familiar with my sorrow, acquainted with my grief;
Setting my example with His hands, His feet;
Exchanging all His glory for a twisted crown of thorns;

Surrendering His power, clinging to the tree;
Refusing ev’ry aid, He paid it all for me;
Craving ev’ry curse, the Father’s wrath to know;
Embracing ev’ry nail, so the blood of grace would flow;
and seeking out the tomb, to bury ev’ry sin.

And then, He rose again.
And now He calls me friend.
He’s my redeemer, defender, my counselor, and my God!
Love so amazing, love so divine!
And all that He asks from me, is to take my cross daily,
And to follow Him faithfully, and offer Him
All I have, all I am, All I will ever be,
       just as He did for me.

He became like me, so I could be like Him.

©2017 – Robert Myers / Wheatmyer Music – All Rights Reserved

Seeking the Face of God: Evangelical Worship Reconceived

Seeking the Face of God: Evangelical Worship Reconceived

(Original posting 4/10-2017) Today brought a complete surprise. In my music ministry philosophy class last Spring one of our assignments was to write a review of a recently published book on Christian worship. Well, I had mostly forgotten about even reading the book, let alone writing the review, when the announcement came through that my review had been published in Artistic Theologian, the annual journal of the School of Church Music at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. The book in question is J. Daniel Day’s Seeking the Face of God: Evangelical Worship Reconceived. Re-reading the forgotten review was a bit of an out-of-body experience as it felt a lot like reading someone else’s writing. But I’m glad to have read it again as it reminded me of what an important book it is, one that has played no small role in developing my own philosophy. I won’t go into a description here (a link to the full review is shown below) but merely recommend it highly to everyone in vocational worship ministry as well as anyone with a healthy curiosity about what Christian worship is all about.

http://artistictheologian.com/2017/04/08/seeking-the-face-of-god-evangelical-worship-reconceived/
 Available from: https://www.amazon.com/Seeking-Face-God-Evangelical-Reconceived/dp/1938514408

Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding – An Easter Cantata

Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding – An Easter Cantata

(Original posting 3/13/2017) “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished” (ESV). So Luke quotes Jesus speaking to the twelve in the eighteenth chapter of his gospel. This was the third time that Luke records Jesus predicting the events to occur during Passion Week. In a New Testament survey class I took last summer, these passages and others from the Gospels called my attention to the purposefulness of Christ’s actions on his journey to Jerusalem and on to the cross. Though we may sometimes think of his betrayal, arrest, scandalous trials, and execution as the result of tragic circumstances that rapidly spun out of control, this was not at all the case. Jesus knew what was coming and he proceeded, not grudgingly, but resolutely. In fact, it is not too much to say that he orchestrated the events in perfect accordance with God the Father’s plan. This determined purposefulness is the crux of the inspiration and message for my latest major composition, an Easter cantata titled Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding.

The work is for my master’s thesis which I expect to complete by this summer. It will consist of about 45 minutes of music with additional dramatic/liturgical elements plus a unique feature in a dramatic sacred musical, the opportunity to incorporate observance of the Lord’s Supper. It is intended to be used either for a musical worship service or as a sacred concert in observance of the Easter season.

I have several musical goals in addition to portrayal of the Passion Week events and message. First, I would like for the work to expand the color palette beyond what it typically employed in commercially produced church music and give something that has concrete artistic merit that would be fitting for the concert stage as well as the sanctuary. Second, I’m aiming to keep the difficulty level within the grasp of the high school and part-time adult musicians that make up the backbone of most church music programs. I always want my music to be rewarding for both performer and listener. Third, I would like for the music and the text to delve deeply into the rich theological issues presented by the events and prompt the performers and audience into earnest examination of the full message of Christ’s passion.

Of course, when Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding is finished it will need a performance. So . . . if this sounds intriguing to any of y’all out there with a pioneering spirit I’d love to talk to you about programming this work into your Easter plans for 2018!

Experiments in Self-Publishing I

Experiments in Self-Publishing I

(Original posting 3/9/2017) I’ve been wading into the self-publishing waters of late, avoiding the traditional submission-to-established-publishers route for the time being (more on that decision at another time), and have just had my first piece accepted at Sheet Music Plus. It’s an arrangement of the hymn tune HYFRYDOL for brass quintet. You probably know it better by the hymn name, Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. It’s available for preview, listening, and purchase at Long Expected Jesus. It’s a great piece for the Advent season and, no, it’s not too soon to be planning for Christmas.

Sheet Music Plus is one of three organizations offering digital storefronts for self-publishing composers which attracted my attention. Each has its own set of pluses and minuses but overall they look to be viable avenues for self-published sheet music.

I first registered with Swirly Music (www.swirlymusic.org) for two main reasons: they’re small, giving my pieces a better chance of being noticed by casual browsers and allowing for a degree of personal service, plus they have IMO the best user interface, one that allows for full-length preview of scores yet still protects against freeloading. Swirly specializes in high quality printing by expert music printers. If you desire good quality scores that can be touched and felt Swirly is a great source. I currently have three titles available at Swirly Music. Two are for SATB choir and piano, Lo, a Rose, and At the Cross. The other is for solo piano, The First Noel.

Sheet Music Plus (www.sheetmusicplus.com) does a huge amount of business, has a vast catalog, and has a simple and free submission process. On the downside, it’s very easy for works to get lost in the oceans of titles that they offer. SMP currently offers digital downloads only. So far, I only have the one title mentioned above at SMP but expect to add more shortly.

My Score is the self-publishing brand of JW Pepper. They are one of the most respected publishers/retailers of sheet music for educational and church musicians. They maintain a very nice professional user interface for self-published composers that integrates smoothly with their main business. They also are a big business with a large catalog that has the same face-in-a crowd issue as SMP. So far I don’t have any titles at My Score simply because there’s a small financial hurdle to get started with them and I’m cheap. Once I get the kinks worked out on getting my business model set up I expect to list titles at My Score also.

Wheatmyer Music now has a motto!

Wheatmyer Music now has a motto!

Yes, our motto has arrived! You might ask, “What took you so long?” But a better questions would be, “What’s the motto?”. Well, WheatMyer Music’s motto is, “Revealing beauty in music.” Your first reaction is probably to think, “WheatMyer Music makes pretty music,” but that would be only a sliver of the motto’s meaning. A little explanation is in order to convey the motto’s essence. The motto signifies that WheatMyer Music means to not only originate and present music that is aesthetically pleasing, but that also points towards, elaborates on, and praises beauty while developing the listeners’ apprehension and appreciation of the same.

The revealing part of the motto implies that there is something that is covered, or hidden, or at least not readily discernible, which needs to be revealed. We hope to write music that digs deep and exposes unexplored significance, whether it is through a fresh examination of a familiar text, painting a new text with a compelling aural experience, or probing the inner depths of the listeners’ affections via a sonic kaleidoscope.

The word beauty in the motto means so much more than aesthetic appeal. To understand beauty it is necessary to consider the source, standard, and perfection of beauty which is found in none other than the attributes of the unseen LORD God. In him we see that beauty means goodness, rightness, purposefulness, truthfulness, glory, splendor and more. When we say that we want our music to reveal beauty, we want it to commend and honor what is good, right, purposeful, and true and thereby point to and emulate our creator’s glory and splendor, whether that is by setting a sacred text for the sanctuary or writing an instrumental work for the concert stage.

In summation, our hope is that the music you experience through WheatMyer Music will not only be beautiful, but will also show you what beauty is, point you toward the reality that lies beyond pleasurable sound, and incline your heart to a quicker and deeper appreciation of the beautiful.

Wheatmyer Music now available at Swirly Music!

(Original posting 1/1/2017) Big news! My first commercially available sheet music is now for sale on Swirly Music! Go here: https://www.swirlymusic.org/composer/robert-myers/  to see for yourself. Swirly Music is a new, non-profit distributor of new 21st century sheet music written by self-publishing composers. They have some wonderful new music made available to the public where the composers are free to express themselves outside the constraints of commercial publishers. Their user interface is as good or better than anything I’ve seen elsewhere. Buyers can view and listen to entire works while still protecting the composer from piracy. For the music consumer it’s a great place to find fresh, new music. For composers it’s a bold, new approach to taking your work to market. Check it out!

What’s in a name? The Wheatmyer Music backstory.

What’s in a name? The Wheatmyer Music backstory.

(Original posting 1/1/2017) What’s the significance of the name WheatMyer? Glad you asked! Here’s the story:

Wilmer Wallace “Jim” Myers was born September 2, 1914 to Catherine Isabel McMenis Myers and George Newton Myers. He was one of eight siblings. One of these, Velmer, died at age 18 in 1930.

Loyce Lorraine Wheatley, oldest of three sisters, was born June 2, 1916 to Dolly Belle Arman Wheatley and Henry Ervin Wheatley. Loyce also lost a brother early, Bobbie Dean, who died at age 7 in 1930.

Loyce and Jim were married on July 29, 1939 in Malvern, Ark., one month before Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Jim went to work as a projectionist at the Strand movie theater in Hot Springs, Ark. and Jim and Loyce later become operators of Henry’s drive-in theater, The Wheatley Drive-In.

World War II interrupted Loyce and Jim’s plans when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Jim was inducted into the Army Air Force (predecessor to the Air Force) and was sent to Lake Charles, La. for basic training. Loyce, remaining in Hot Springs, was pregnant with their first son, James Wallace. Jim was transferred to Aloe Army Airfield in Victoria, Texas, joined by Loyce, and son James. Their second son, Texas Douglas Ryan, was born in 1944 while Jim was still stationed at Aloe.

Jim trained as a B-17 tail gunner. Survival rates for these crewmen was not high as it was one of the first positions attacked when in combat. Jim’s film experience proved to be a determining factor in his military career. When it was discovered he could operate projectors he was assigned responsibilities in the training and entertainment activities on the base. His experience proved to be so essential that he was passed over for combat duty on several occasions. When his orders to ship overseas finally came through, the war ended before his departure.

Loyce and Jim moved back to Hot Springs and resumed work at the Wheatley Drive-In. Jim took a day job manufacturing brooms and mops and eventually built his own factory and started his own cleaning and supply business in 1954. Loyce and Jim’s third son, Robert Jonathan, was born the next year.

When Henry Ervin died in 1969, Loyce inherited 1/3 of his 1,212 acre ranch. Loyce and Jimmie became part-time owner/operators of a modest cattle ranch / timberland which they called “the farm”, running as many as 100 head of Black Angus cattle. Since it was officially Loyce’s property, her name went first and they operated the property under the name Wheatmyer Farm.

Loyce passed on in 2003 and Jim joined her in 2004. They left a cherished legacy to their three sons, nine grandchildren, and fourteen great-grandchildren.

In choosing the name for WheatMyer Music there were many dead ends. Derivations of my first and last name, in addition to being cumbersome, didn’t produce an exclusive branding since both Robert and Myers turn out, to my surprise and consternation, to be very common names. Attempts to coin clever turns of a phrase turned out saccharine idioms and atrocious puns, and didn’t produce anything that connected with my own identity. So, since part of “the farm” is now my own, I turned to a family tradition and WheatMyer Music was born, a distinctive name that pays homage to my parents’ legacy and recognizes both sides of my family tree.

Kids are smart enought to learn Christian doctrine

Kids are smart enought to learn Christian doctrine

(Original posting 7/1/2015) I don’t get geeked out about too many things, just a few, like college football, science fiction, Yellowstone, etc. But when you start talking about theology, doctrine, and music, all at the same time you’ll have my full attention.  So, when I discovered one of The Gospel Coalition’s latest projects, Songs for Saplings, my ears perked up. One of my pet peeves is the weak doctrinal foundation of many Christians. Combined with this is the steady decline in musical skill in the general population and the church in particular. Songs for Saplings addresses both of these problems at the same time with a musical approach to teaching our children the underpinnings of our faith. You may shudder to think about teaching your kids about the nature of God, the Trinity, sin, atonement, end times, and the like. But with short, simple, fun songs for kids, Songs for Saplings tackles all these topics and many more. So, if you have kids, or have any responsibility for a child’s Christian education, please look into this and think about how you might put it to use.

A Baptist’s Thoughts on Baptist Ordinances

A Baptist’s Thoughts on Baptist Ordinances

(Original posting 12/19/2015) Mere symbols. That’s how a Baptist might typically describe baptism and the Lord’s Supper. However, reading the New Testament one would get the impression that these are something more than that. For their first two hundred years, Baptists thought of these ordinances as more than symbolic. Perhaps they were onto something? Here’s a paper I presented for Baptist Heritage this summer (2015) arguing that what Baptists call ‘ordinances’ are not mere symbols, but, ‘mighty signs’.

Baptist Ecclesiology – The Ordinances

The Holy Spirit’s Role in Corporate Worship

The Holy Spirit’s Role in Corporate Worship

(Original posting 6/22/2015) Unless you’re of the charismatic persuasion, you probably get a little queasy at the thought of “Spiritual” worship. It conjures up all kinds of images of out of control assemblies that just aren’t what you might think worship should be like. But we shouldn’t shy away from this topic, because it’s totally biblical. Paul says that we are “the ones who worship by the Spirit of God” (Phil 3:3). So how then should we think about the Holy Spirit’s role in worship? Well, it happens that Timothy Ralston at Dallas Theological Seminary has written an enlightening discussion of this topic that answers just that question. It’s hosted at the excellent site, bible.org. Check this out: https://bible.org/seriespage/spirits-role-corporate-worship