(Original posting 5/21/2017) Well, with the finale (He Became Like Me) completed it’s time to move back to the two remaining unwritten movements in my Easter cantata. These will be the settings of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ. Of course, these are the two most daunting movements. It’s not the music that is intimidating, as I already know what I want to do, but the gravity of the subject matter as the two most important events in Christianity weighs heavily as a duty to set them well. First up will be the crucifixion setting, which will also include the Garden of Gethsemane and the trial, and will be called, Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding. It will feature tenor solo with SATB chorus. The harmonies selected for this piece are inspired by Sergei Rachmaninoff’s setting of Simeon’s Song, the “Nïne otpushchayeshi” from his All Night Vigil. Although somewhat camouflaged, the strings introduce Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding with “Nïne otpushchayeshi’s” opening swaying chords and the rocking motion carries on as underlying accompaniment to the melody. We shall see how it turns out!
(Original posting 5/17/2017) In my last post I had just begun work on the final movement of my Easter cantata, which is a traditional choir anthem about substitutionary atonement and Christ’s call to discipleship titled, He Became Like Me. Well, while still preserving the right to make further editorial changes, I’m glad to announce that this piece is now complete! It is set for SATB chorus with piano and optional orchestral accompaniment. Although He Became Like Me is part of a full Passion setting, I plan to offer it as a standalone choral anthem as well in the near future. Click the link below for a MIDI sample of the orchestral accompaniment. Enjoy!
(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
(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!
(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!