Jul 252013

Duet time!

For as long as I have known Heather Prusse and James Loynes, I have wanted… longed… ached… to get their voices together on a song or two. Finally, with this latest new song, we managed it. (They actually did another duet together as well… it will follow shortly.)

The new song is titled “He is My All,” for either medium-voice solo or for mezzo/baritone duet. Heather and James sang it together, though they were never in the same room at the same time, nor indeed even on the same continent. Ain’t technology grand?

Here’s the track. Enjoy!

Jul 172013

PaletteI’m no visual artist. Give me a blank wall and a roller and that’s about as good as it gets around here.

I raised a couple of visual artists, however, and I know several others, and I’m always amazed at how they can take a blank canvas (or some other mysterious medium) and turn it into something incredible.

The new song this time is titled, “The Painter’s Hand.” It talks about the Master Painter–the One who does it best–and the masterpiece He intends to make of each one of us.

It’s available as a medium-voice solo with cello obbligato. It’s the next installment of Heather’s album, “Reaching for the Light,” and the album title is taken from this line of the lyric:

“He knows the strength that grows in shadow when I’m reaching for the light.”
Available on CD: “Reaching for the Light” (All CDS)
Cello by Ramona McConkie

About a month ago I was getting the score ready to upload, when a wise young Facebook friend posted this message:

Imagine this: you just painted an absolutely beautiful painting. It’s exactly what you wanted, and you’re really proud of it! You absolutely love it, so you give it to someone special. The problem is that they constantly point out the flaws. There’s always something that just isn’t right. And they don’t hang it up, they just leave it on the ground, not really caring what happens to it. Imagine that Heavenly Father is the painter, and you are the person He gave this painting to. Keep in mind that it breaks Heavenly Father’s heart to hear you constantly criticize yourself, out loud and in your head… You are absolutely beautiful in His eyes.

Thanks, Liberty! I couldn’t have said it better.

Valarie Olson


My dear friend Valarie Olson was my co-conspirator on this song.

As we worked on it together, we thought about the innumerable things in the world around us that challenge our sense of self-worth. The way our Heavenly Father sees us is so much more accurate than the way we often view ourselves.

We hold ourselves to unattainable and often undesirable societal standards. He sees the true beauty that is our inheritance as His sons and daughters. We see the flaws… the rough edges… the unfinished canvas. He sees us as we can become.

Cover Art with captionMy niece Adrianna is the photographer responsible for the album art–she’s also the lovely young lady in the picture… however that worked!

Here’s the shot she took, captioned with the line from the song that inspired the picture.

Click for a larger, high-quality file. You’re welcome to download it for any personal use.

Jul 122013
Here’s one of my absolute favorite modern compositions: “Behold the Wounds in Jesus’ Hands” with text by John V. Pearson and Music by David R. Naylor.

This is a go-to standard in my library. The words are touching and sweet, and the music is beautiful. This video uses the BYU Singers’ rendition.

This arrangement is do-able by the smaller choirs typical of local congregations. There is one very high passage toward the end, but the highest notes are optional. This rendition is a bit slower than I usually take it with a smaller choir–hey, this choir has the breath control and the acoustics to do that!

SATB anthem, SATB Hymn, SSA and Solo versions are available, as well as a full orchestration and an organ prelude version. Here are a some places to get it:

The SATB Hymn version appeared in the Ensign magazine, and is downloadable free of charge here: Hymn Version

Other versions are available from:

Jackman Music (Publisher): All versions (except the SSA)

Sheet Music Plus: All versions (except the organ prelude)–and at a discount, which is always good. 🙂

Happy Friday folks!

Jul 092013

“The Lord is my Shepherd, no want shall I know…”

Since I was a very young teenager I have loved the 23rd Psalm and the imagery it brings to mind. It’s easy to imagine “still waters” and “green pastures” and, even better, to imagine yourself into them. I also love James Montgomery’s lyric inspired by the psalm. I’ve never been too fond of the traditional tune though. It has always provoked me to bounce around between alto and soprano, searching for a melody.

So, of course, I decided to write one of my own. And when you start messing with melodies, you find that you have to adjust the words to match, so the words have been rearranged a bit, and a couple of new lines added.

Here’s Heather singing the resulting setting of “The Lord is My Shepherd” as a solo:

It’s also available for SSATBB choir. Don’t let all the letters scare you. The 2nd soprano part just gives the lower sopranos an option slightly below the rafters in a couple of places, and the baritone part keeps the higher basses out of the basement for a measure or two. (Well, okay, they also fill the chords out nicely. 😉 ) It’s a fairly simple choral arrangement, with much of the first two verses in unison sections. Deceptively simple I guess… achieving a good unison is real work, but when you get there it’s oh so nice.

There’s a violin obbligato that goes with it, and though you can hear cello in the recording, there isn’t a cello score. The cellist was simply following the bass line of the piano score.

Just for fun, I thought I’d try my hand at doing a sing-along video complete with melody and lyrics:

Heh… the only thing missing is the bouncing ball.

I’m also posting Heather’s new recording of “Come Unto Christ.” The arrangement itself isn’t new, but there is a new cello obbligato that goes with it.

Happy Tuesday!