(Original posting 6/1/2017) Progress, yes! First draft of the crucifixion setting (Wounded, Bleeding, Still Proceeding) is complete. Some of it I really like and some I’m not so sure about. Here’s a brief sample of the orchestral opening https://soundcloud.com/wheatmyermusic/wounded-bleeding-still-proceeding-orchestra-opening-clip. Listen for “borrowed” harmonies from Rachmaninoff. Time to set this on the back burner to let those uncertainties simmer while work begins on the one remaining movement, the resurrection! I plan to call this movement, “Why?” It will be based on the angel’s question in Luke 24:5, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” I plan to utilize a strong contrast between a dissonantly vague key center section set against a strong major key declaration of “He is risen!” to portray the astonishing news that Jesus Christ is no longer dead!
(Original posting 5/25/2017) Well, here comes Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer, and a long, long, summer it will be here in Texas. It’s time for bare feet, cook outs, baseball, tank tops, road trips, and all that goes with hot weather! Of course, Memorial Day is far more important than that and this website is a great spot to catch up on the somber significance of the day. But the beginning of summer also means it’s time to select your music for the coming Advent and Christmas season. You have started thinking about your Christmas music, haven’t you? May I offer a few suggestions? Here are four new and distinct options for four different forces that would fit well in your service and concert programming.
Lo, a Rose – for SATB chorus and piano. A somber and contemplative setting of the traditional carol, Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming. You’ll find this a lovely treatment of the tune and text that won’t tax your rehearsal time. This arrangement is moderately easy but allows good musicianship to shine. The light and delicate accompaniment, with hauntingly beautiful harmonies, directs the focus onto the text while providing just the right amount of color and interest. Thus, “Lo, a Rose,” allows a choir to demonstrate artistic merit without enduring exhaustive preparations. The setting portrays that the light and salvation brought to us by the Rose was achieved via a bitter and sorrowful path.
Listen and purchase on Swirly music here.
The FIrst Noel – for solo piano. This setting of the beloved Christmas carol applies fresh and distinctive harmonies to the traditional melody. A haunting, and slightly dissonant, introduction sets a contemplative mood that heralds a unique approach to the carol. The A sections contain lush harmonies and delicate lyrical phrases which contrast with the syncopated and ornamented melody of the up tempo B section. The work is within the grasp of the intermediate to advanced pianist without extensive rehearsal but still contains sufficient challenge to provide a rewarding experience for performer and listener alike. THE FIRST NOEL is an excellent piece for offertory, instrumental praise, candlelight service, or any occasion reflecting on the miracle of Christ’s incarnation during the Christmas season.
Listen and purchase on Swirly music here.
Long Expected Jesus – for brass quintet. This fresh setting of the Welsh tune, HYFYRDOL, works perfectly for an offertory, prelude, or devotional function. Although written for the Advent season, the multiple familiar hymns set with this tune make the piece suitable throughout the church year. It is readily performed by high school or higher musicians yet still contains sufficient variety and artistic expression to be rewarding for even advanced performers. The familiar melody is stated clearly throughout and accompanied with interesting and sonorous harmonies so as to be accessible to all audiences.
Listen and purchase on Sheet Music Plus here.
Divinum Mysterium – for full orchestra. DIVINUM MYSTERIUM is the tune name we know by the hymn, “Of the Father’s Love Begotten.” In this arrangement for full orchestra, the tune is woven together with CANTIQUE DE NOEL, or, “O, Holy Night,” in a compelling tapestry that captures the transcendence and the imminence of Christ’s birth. It would make a compelling addition to an orchestral Christmas program. Suitable for high school, college, or advanced church orchestras.
Listen on Sound Cloud here. Send me a note under CONTACT or in the comments below if you’re interesting in purchasing the score and parts or if you have questions.
(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 5/18/2017) Just what is worship? Experience? Intense emotion? Exuberant physical expression? Eh, . . . not so much, at least not according to how the Bible portrays it, nor according to the meaning of the biblical words we translate into the English, worship. But let’s let Paul Clark, Jr. take a stab at explaining all that in this article, Hope for True Worship Rooted in the Living God. Plus, it’s worth reading for the wonderful 1829 baptismal hymn he quotes at the end! It would make a worthwhile project for someone to set to new music. I wonder who could do that, hmmm?
(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 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.
(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 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.
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.