Complete Website Makeover

 

 

Dear Fellow Musicians and Worship leaders,

 

It’s a new year, and we are finally getting around a complete makeover of the Hymnprovisation.com website and branding to make it more readable, useful and practical for you.

We are in the process of a complete makeover of Hymnprovisation.com which will include a new header, logo, and new design to serve you better. In addition, we plan on adding new content, sheet music for sale, and pre-sales of the book,

Hymnprovisation- The art of improvising and effective accompaniment. 

Our goal is to serve fellow musicians by collecting and offering useful information, advice, input and training, for church musicians, worship leaders and hobby musicians. We hope to do this through the means of this website that is both easy to navigate and also meets the needs of our readers in a clean and professional manner.

We need your input!

In order to do this well, we are going to need your help!

We’ve created a short survey that we think will help us narrow down the needs of our readers to better serve them. Would you take a moment to fill this out? We will be carefully and prayerfully considering your responses and Lord willing, we will be able to serve you better this year.

We are grateful to those of you who already have taken a few short minutes to do this!

What we hope to accomplish in 2017:

Please bear with us as we test out and try to implement some new things including,

  • Creating a professional looking website with better content, tailored to your needs in an easy to read and navigate format that doesn’t turn readers off.

 

  • Distilling and Communicating our mission and purpose better.

 

  • Collaborating with other musicians and professionals in the fields which you are interested in.

 

  • And adding additional content including:
    • Writing and posting to the blog at least twice a month.
    • More links to other helpful websites
    • More videos.
    • A new page with sales of vintage, POP and newer sheet music.
    • Pre-sales of the book as mentioned above.
    • Adding specific content related to your responses to our survey as to how we can assist you better. (Please take a moment to tell us how we can help you this year.)

Music Conferences

Many of you have asked about whether we are going to do another music conference this year. The answer is, I would like to, but simply cannot afford it at the moment. Even though we had a generous sponsor, 46 paying attendees and several very kind individuals who volunteered much of their time and resources, it just didn’t come close to covering the cost of putting it together. I was a bit concerned that the cost of attending wouldn’t be affordable to those who wanted to come, and yet, for the quality of instruction, it turned out to be a very fair deal. We are still praying about this, but unless the LORD directs otherwise, we will plan to do one again in 2018. There is still a small possibility of organizing one this Fall, but I will need volunteers in order to make this happen. (I just can’t afford to take 6 months off of my regular job this year to plan, organize and execute it myself.)

Funding for this ministry

This website is a ministry. Not a 501.C.3 tax exempt charity, but a ministry nonetheless. It is not a money-making proposition but something I do because I love quality sacred worship music, and because I like to help other people be able to make quality music. Pretty much every aspect of it cost money. Sending emails to you, taking the time away from paying work to write, improve this website and blog, select content, etc,-all of it has costs and there may well come a time when I am unable to continue this because other needs are more pressing. Until then, I have been blessed to be able to do this and hope to continue. If the LORD puts it on your heart to donate to this ministry, that would be appreciated, but I am not requiring or even asking. You can contact me privately if necessary.

 

I’m sure we are missing something, and since our goal is to serve YOU, won’t you let us know what would be helpful to you? Please take a few moments to take the survey or leave a comment below and let us know!

Once again, don’t forget to take the survey here!

 

The Pinnacle of Music

James Koerts  in his blog, posted a quote about music and why True Worship music is the Pinnacle of all music. It’s worth reading, and because he is a fellow believer who has much, much, more experience in this field, I’m going to suggest you go to his website and check it out here! While you are there, don’t forget to sign up for his newsletter, and receive a free hymn arrangement from him. Check out his blog, CDs, and arrangements!

James is a fantastic pianist, writer and arranger of music, and serves on the pastoral staff of Mikado Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia. He is passionate about worship. Not talking about it. Doing it. And there’s nothing like bringing people into the presence of God through corporate worship. It’s one of his favorite things to do. (I personally think he really excels at accompaniment that is not distracting!)

Learning from my own advice

Today, I played an offertory for church. Offertory isn’t my favorite thing to play for. I’d much rather play for the congregation to sing. I am an accompanist, not a soloist. But I was asked to play, and the others who sometimes play, couldn’t, so I agreed to.

I have to add here, I’m not a fan of passing the bag or offering plate. I grew up in a church that had a small wooden box in the back somewhere. We never talked about it and never asked for money, yet God always provided our needs and then some! When I first started coming here and was asked to play offertory, I was a little conflicted, since I personally believe the “brown box” is the better way to go about this. But I came to grips with it for three reasons:

  1. I was giving an offering of my gifts, to the LORD, through worship music.
  2. The music was (usually) a blessing to others, and since, what we do to the least of these, we do to Him, I was blessing Him!
  3. I believed in the work the church was funding with the monies the collected.

I usually have this honor once a month, but was asked to do it two weeks in a row (last week, and this week). Last week, I played a rousing rendition of “Wonderful Grace Of Jesus” which wasn’t close to perfect, but many people were impressed with. Jim, our assistant Pastor, commented, “Now that is what I call an offertory!” Even as I walked in this morning, a week later, several people complimented me about it. I should’ve taken that as a hint.

Feeling just a little too good about last week’s offertory, I couldn’t think of what I should play this week. Even when I got to church, I hadn’t figured it out. In the past, often, I will have picked out a hymn or gospel song, and worked up some arrangement for it, and when it came time, a  still, small but firm voice, says, “Don’t play that one. Play this one instead.” Sometimes I listen to this, and sometimes I don’t. When I have listened, often people have come up and told me how they were blessed. And then I am blessed that they were blessed, and I think it was what’s called a double blessing! When I don’t listen, bad things happen. :/
Such was today. I wasn’t sure what to play. Several hymns stood out, but I kept comparing them with last week’s offertory song, and well, it’s hard to top Wonderful Grace Of Jesus! But that’s where I kept getting derailed.

It’s not about what the people think is it? Who am I really playing for, the congregation, or the King of kings?

As the time came to decide, I chose to do one of my all-time favorite hymns: I Am His, and He Is Mine. When I opened the hymnal to that page, (as I do to follow the words while I play) the opposite page was, A Child Of The King. I heard that still, small voice again:

“Play that instead.”

“But I don’t really know how to do that one so well, LORD, and it only has like three chords in it (okay, maybe more, but it’s not a terribly exciting melody!”

“So?” 

“…and this one is my favorite- I know how to play it, and make it sound good!”

“So you are more worried about impressing men, huh? Okay. Go ahead.”

The prayer was ending…it was time to choose: Child of the King, or I Am His, and He is Mine…?

And I chose.

I wish I could say that I was playing to bring honor to my LORD, but sadly, I let my pride get the better of me. It was awful: It sounded horrible, and I was nervous because I was worried about what people were thinking. I felt all 500 eyes on me. I stumbled. I forgot what key I was in at the middle of the last line. I recovered the best I could and ended what was once a beautiful hymn, that I had destroyed by distracting from the message of the song. I wasn’t playing to my LORD, I was trying to play to the crowd, and miserably failing at worshiping the LORD!

Folks, don’t make the same mistake I made! Whether it’s an offertory, special number, living room session, or accompanying a thousand people, your audience as a minister in the house of the LORD, is always God the Father. It’s not Mom or Dad, or uncles, aunts, friends, family, or anyone else. It’s God, and God alone!

If I could encourage you in one thing only, it would be to not worry about what anyone else thinks, but to honor the LORD with all you have been given, whether that is time, talent, wealth, family, or anything else that is “yours”. It all really belongs to Him, for all things are created by and for Him, and He is before all things. And it is by Him alone, that all things consist. (Colossians 1:16–17)

Now go and bless the LORD!

 

 

 

Psalm 100

As I was reading the Psalms the other day, Psalm 100 stood out to me:

PSALM 100

A Psalm of praise.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

A joyful noise of praise, a song of gladness…not a mournful, sad, melancholy one. I recently heard that some congregations take Psalms like this to say we should refuse to have minor, or melancholy music in praise to the LORD. Of course other Psalms talk about how terrible God is, and the things He does or will do to His enemies. If we were to just take just Psalm 100, and apply the I-don’t-read-the-rest-of-scripture rule, we would have to rule out the following well-known and very good hymns:

What Child Is This? O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, O The Deep, Deep, Love of Jesus, Once To Every Man and Nation, I’m Just A Poor, Wayfaring Stranger, and Flee As A Bird To Your Mountain, to name just a few!

Or what of a sad words?

Were You There When They Crucified My Lord? Man Of Sorrows, What a Name! When I Survey The Wondrous Cross! Up Calvary’s Mountain, and Abide With Me would be outlawed.

I don’t know about you, but I am not going to throw out these hymns and the hundreds of others that have melodies appropriate to their words.

This Psalm says to me, that we should thank the LORD for His truth, and everlasting mercy, with a glad song of joy. It is a song of praise to our LORD for the greatness of His mercy, not an instructional command that we can never have music appropriate to the words we are singing. In fact, it is the opposite! It is an example of music appropriate to the words: I noticed it did not say, come before the LORD with a sad song of mournfulness for His great mercy and truth. That would have been inappropriate because it goes against nature! The laws of nature which our incredible GOD has so intricately set up include things like music: We know by our spirit, what music is appropriate for the moment.

That being said, could it be true that there is some music, while never appropriate for use of praise to the Holy God, (whose name is Prince of Peace, and who dwells in Holiness and whose Majesty fills the earth and heaven), is appropriate for other things?

Are lullabies appropriate praise to God? How about Opera? What about Military March music? Or Ragtime? Or Love Songs (between man and woman)? or Rock and Roll, or Rap? What about the song of a newborn believer that knows no other kind? Maybe a native somewhere is beating his drum in praise to God who has done great things for him. Is that sinful?  I’m not saying we ought to excuse music that is definitely demonic, rather, let the Spirit of God guide you in your praise to God, and while speaking the truth in love, don’t be too hard on those who have not yet received the measure of grace which you have.

It may be that all of these in some way bring praise to the LORD. I am not qualified to make that statement with authority, but I believe it’s certainly possible!

One other thing written in the Psalms comes to mind as I wrap this up. Psalm 66:1-2 tells the reader, “Make a joyful noise unto God all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.”

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” -Colossians 3:15

This much we know we should do!