Tag Archives: Bible

Soli Deo Gloria

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Besides studying their music, there is a lot to be learned from the actual lives of the great composers.  I’ve always been fascinated by composers’ lives and often fantasize about being in their time, seeing them day to day, and what they were actually like.  The “Big 3″ of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven tend to be deified to such a degree that we can’t imagine the musical world without them.  We may be right to think this way, but they were human just like us, and I think we sometimes lose sight of that fact- when we play a glorious piece by Mozart for example, that seems as though it were given straight from the heavens.  This is why I enjoy reading about their lives- it helps me understand their humanity and their strivings…what they were reaching for, and what inspired them.

Being a church musician myself, I’ve always been intrigued by J.S. Bach and the fact that virtually everything he wrote was in service to the Lutheran church.  This would be unheard of nowadays.  Sure, there are full time church arrangers and composers, but they are not generally composing on a weekly basis.  Bach managed to write new music every week for services.  Was he simply churning out pieces as fast as possible for a paycheck, or was there something else driving him?

It turns out that Bach was in fact a very religious man.  Some other composers such as Schubert and Beethoven wrote religious works and masses, but were not overtly religious themselves from what we can tell.  But Bach’s faith is evidenced by his repeated use of one simple phrase – Soli Deo Gloria.  To God Alone be the Glory.  Bach wrote this phrase on every work he completed, even non religious pieces.   He was not writing only for his church- he believed in the greater responsibility of personally giving glory to God through his music.  He even took this idea a step further with the following statement (and I believe I’m paraphrasing):  “There are two purposes of music – to give glory to God, and the refreshment of the soul.”

This is inspiring to me as I play weekly at church, as I know it is to countless others.

Just Where He Needs Me

Inspiring words to the hymn, Just Where He Needs Me.  I’ve included a link below to a video of one of my first cornet teachers, Derek Smith.  He is playing this hymn with a Salvation Army Staff Band, one of which my dad was the principal euphonium player (New York Staff Band).

The words remind us that whatever our current situation, God goes before us and prepares the way.  We may not feel we are in the perfect location or living the life we intended for ourselves.  But God knows where we are needed in the plans He has for us.  Let’s remember that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgHFHvhfcT8

 

1 Just where He needs me, there would I be,
Working for Jesus who died for me;
Thro’ disappointment or victory,
Just where He needs me most!

Refrain:
Just where He needs me most,
Just where He needs me most;
His work to do, faithful and true,
Just where He needs me most.

2 Just where He needs me! He goes before;
Just where He needs me, till life is o’er;
Till I shall see Him on heaven’s shore,
Just where He needs me most! [Refrain]

3 Just where He needs me by day or night;
Just where He needs me—into the fight,
Or wait for orders; He leads aright,
Just where He needs me most! [Refrain]

4 Just where He needs me! He knows the way,
So would I follow my Lord today;
Where Jesus wants me, there would I stay,
Just where He needs me most! [Refrain]

The Trumpet Shall Sound!

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Welcome to my blog!  This is a place for me to share my thoughts on a variety of topics, with an obvious emphasis on musical arranging and all things brass.  I hope you enjoy this forum and feel free to provide your comments and feedback!

Since I am primarily a trumpet player, I’m going to ask the question, “what’s so special about the trumpet?”  I’ve spent almost my entire life and countless hours practicing this instrument.  Why was I drawn to it? What’s so special about it?

I think the trumpet holds a unique place in our consciousness.  Its notes are associated with anything from a morning wake up call, to a fanfare, to a solemn military processional.  It has a regal quality that many of us are naturally drawn to.  The trumpet is an instrument of power, but also one of exquisite beauty.  It’s used in brass brands, jazz bands, school bands, and orchestras.

All of these uses and qualities of the trumpet are wonderful.  However, the most significant for me is summed up in the beautiful George Frideric Handel aria, The Trumpet Shall Sound.  This aria, from the Messiah (of “Hallelujah Chorus” fame) uses the biblical text, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” – 1 Corinthians 15:52.   This verse is about the second coming of Christ.  The trumpet signifies the return of Jesus to this earth.  As much as I love the sound of the trumpet and playing this instrument, it pales in comparison to the love for and hope that I have in the return of my Savior.  What a wonderful reminder every time I pick up my “horn” to practice or perform- that we will hear a similar sound on that last day!

Here is a link to a performance of The Trumpet Shall Sound by Handel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy7XVvu6oqE