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There Is a Green Hill Far Away


“There is a green hill far away…”

If ever there was a phrase designed to evoke images in the mind of a child, it’s that one. I think the author, Cecil Frances Alexander, intended it to be so since it was first published in her work, “Hymns for Little Children”.

It certainly evoked images for me, though the “green hill” of my imagination was nothing like the reality. Still, it served the purpose and helped my wandering mind to remember Jesus during the Sacrament.

As an adult, it’s still my favorite of the hymns we use for our Sacrament services. (I’m apparently not alone, since it has now been published in many hundreds of hymnals worldwide.) It’s the hymn I turn to most often to keep my mind focused on the sacrifice of our Savior and his love for me.

The version in our hymn book contains four verses. The author penned five. The omitted verse is beautiful, but the meter makes it awkward (though not impossible) to include in a hymn setting:

He died that we might be forgiven,
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.

For this version of “There Is a Green Hill Far Away,” I have set the four commonly-used verses to a new tune that’s been pestering me for… oh… ten years or so. It gets a bit embarrassing to sift through my old to-do lists and see the same entry transferred over that many times. On the other hand, somehow it feels like a bigger accomplishment when I finally get to cross it off! 🙂

Here’s a recording of the solo version, featuring Tj Pini on vocals and Jana Hanni on violin:

There is also an SATB version available.

You’ll notice that I altered verse three just a smidge. Which is a thing I forbid people to do with my own lyrics. Which seems a bit cheeky. Oh well, when my lyrics enter the public domain, you may alter them with impugnity. I promise not to haunt you.

Next up: another new Christmas song.

Baby Jesus

In a Manger Bed, and an attempt at a virtual choir

Awhile back the Mormon Tabernacle Choir produced a new recording of the Hallelujah! chorus from The Messiah. They included over 2000 … count ’em… 2000 voices from all over the world. And it’s perfect. I’m thinking the MoTab had some automated way to combine all those voices. If they had done it the way I [Read More…]

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In That Holy Place revisited

One of the highlights of my summer was having the beautiful and talented Katie Bastian come to Colorado to play to work on music. One of the songs we recorded was, “In That Holy Place,” which I wrote by assignment way back in 2002. Katie and I spent a nice, long weekend recording this and [Read More…]

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Two Lovely Videos

Here are two old-but-new renditions in video form, with contributions from several wonderful people. First, here’s Tj Pini singing “Created in His Image.” The accompaniment has been reworked for this one. You can find it on the song page. The video footage was done by Natasha Nashadka, an erstwhile Colorado girl who moved away and [Read More…]

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Another beautiful voice: Tiffany Mortensen

Listen to the nice surprise that showed up in my in-box: So beautiful! Tiffany has graciously offered this to us for free download.* Visit her at *Click the icon at the top right that looks like this: Share this!

Damien and Lyric

Primary Music :)

Last October, a primary choir sang a medley of “Search, Ponder, and Pray” and “I Think When I Read That Sweet Story.” I was asked to arrange this specifically for the conference, and the sheet music was not then available. Now, thanks to the lovely folks in the Music and Cultural Arts office… ***drum roll*** [Read More…]


A couple of Christmas additions

Just a quick update this time. I’ve added an SATB hymn called “As Sudden Angels Filled the Night,” with an optional obbligato for two flutes. The words were written by my friend Toni Thomas, and the music is by yours truly. I don’t often write straight hymns, so this was fun (and challenging) for me. [Read More…]

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A Christmas Album worth hearing: Laura Pattillo – Oh Holy Night

Here’s a wonderful new album by singer Laura Pattillo to start your Christmas season off right. The arrangements are by Kurt Bestor, and the combination is gorgeous. I wanted to know a little more about her, so I asked her how she’d describe herself…


Rain and Hope: The last “Gratitude Project” Installment.

The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day. ~Dr. Seuss One day back in the dark ages when I was about six, I sat at our living room window watching my hope for a day outdoors melting in a steady [Read More…]


How Can I Do Anything but Love Him?

I know that he died that I might be forgiven my follies, my sins, and be cleansed from them. How wonderful is this love. How can I, knowing this, do anything else but love him, my Redeemer?” Joseph Fielding Smith On the long list of things for which I am grateful, the Savior is at [Read More…]

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Hymn of Grateful Praise - Front Cover Pastel Lake with bars

Hymn of Grateful Praise

There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf Last year I determined that for all of 2015 I would write and arrange only songs that expressed gratitude. Music that asked for nothing, and gave thanks for the really wonderful things [Read More…]


Because you asked: General Conference Music

This lovely rendition of “If the Savior Stood Beside Me,” performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the Sunday morning session of General Conference, was arranged by Sam Cardon. The sheet music is, unfortunately, not available. (Neither is the conference center organ, or those amazing organists… so it’s probably for the best. 😉 ) This [Read More…]


Situation normal…

If you’ve dropped in to see me over the past week, you’ve noticed that my site has been either slow as molasses or nonexistent. After fighting with it for four days, I finally gave up and moved it to a new host. So far, so good. My apologies if you’ve needed things and couldn’t connect. [Read More…]

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Behind every good songwriter…

…or mediocre one, as the case may be, there’s a support staff without whom the magic wouldn’t happen. Share this!


Google is now officially too big for its britches.

I’ve had a beef with Google since “searches in quotes” stopped working… not to mention searches that require the inclusion of +certain +terms and the exclusion of -other -terms. However, they hit one out of the park this last week. “Mobilegeddon” has struck, courtesy of the erstwhile-best-but-now-mediocre search engine we all know and used to [Read More…]


State of the Site 2014: A big “Thank You!”

Another year, another set of statistics. My site stats always surprise me. Nothing goes viral, nothing makes a big splash, and yet the end of the year numbers always leave me scratching my head. For instance: It would appear that there were 600,000 or so unique human beings out there who dropped in to visit [Read More…]


Personal Composer Demo

Until further notice, the Personal Composer Demo may be downloaded here: PERSONAL COMPOSER DEMO This is an .exe file. I do not know how your computer will respond to the attempt to download an executable, or what dire warnings it may give you. Happy transposing. I hope. Share this!


Another gorgeous voice: Mattie June

Here’s a sample track from a new release called “Noel” by Mattie June Millward. She recorded five of my songs/arrangements, featuring guitar by Clive Romney: O Come, O Come Emmanuel; A Manger Filled With Love; It Came Upon the Midnight Clear; Peace, Peace, Peace; and As Shepherds Kept Their Lonely Vigil. I’m just loving this [Read More…]


Jackman Music 2-for-1 Sale, Dec. 11, 2014

Just wanted to make sure you all are aware of Jackman Music’s buy-one-get-one-free sale, this Thursday, December 11. You have to buy multiples of two to get the sale price. This is a great time to stock up for the new year. Happy shopping! Share this!

Tabernacle organ manuals

If I Listen With My Heart – Ryan Murphy arrangement

In General Conference, October 2014, the Tabernacle Choir presented a lovely rendition of “If I Listen With My Heart,” arranged by associate director Ryan Murphy. Ryan has generously made the score available here so you can use it in your own choir. Here’s the performance from October: This version is deceptively simple. A friend in [Read More…]


All Tied Up With a Bow

You know that amazing feeling when you actually manage to finish something? Not just sorta finish, with a few loose ends that you’ll get to… um… eventually. I mean really finish? The last few scores and page updates for my Christmas album with Allyse Smith Taylor are DONE. Fertig. Terminado. Acabado. Gotowy. 完成した. (All translations [Read More…]


“In the Bleak Midwinter” and a new arrangement of “When the Son of God Was Born”

This is week three of the Christmas Music Deluge. I just realized (with a self-congratulatory smirk) that I have, so far, been able to meet my goal of one update per week until finished. We’ll see if that new leaf stays turned. Todays additions: In the Bleak Midwinter“–a new setting of the beautiful old traditional [Read More…]

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On a Still and Starry Night CD

“Gesù, Bambino” and a new duet setting of “Born to Wear a Crown”

In this latest installment of the Christmas Music Deluge, I’ve added a new arrangement of “Gesù Bambino,” (Pietro Yon/Frederick H. Martens) for Solo, SSA or SSATB choir. I love the original dearly just the way it is, so in arranging it I tried to do something a little different. This arrangement is designed to be [Read More…]

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On a Still and Starry Night (my 2014 Christmas Card Carol) and The First Noel

And it’s only October! How does *that* happen? 😉 This year’s carol, “On a Still and Starry Night,” is available as an easy hymn-style one-pager, or as a vocal solo or SATB anthem, both with violin obbligato. There’s also a new vocal/flute duet, “The First Noel,” based on the piano solo I arranged years ago. [Read More…]


A short little improv on “Away in a Manger,” and a Software Review: Forte Notation

The nice folks at a company I had not before heard of–Forte Notation software–contacted me and offered a copy of their Pro edition in exchange for a review here on the blog. Of course, one cannot review notation software without something new to notate, so I concocted a short, simple little accompaniment for LDS Hymn [Read More…]

Swirly Christmas Tree

Last Christmas…

…I came up with a Christmas Card Carol, alas, too late to post the score. So here it is as the first offering of the Christmas barrage that is about to begin. It’s called “Star of Wonder,” and it’s set for vocal solo only, with optional violin obbligato. The recording includes vocals by James Loynes, [Read More…]


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