What’s New?

 
Me, just taking what I require...
My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require.
(Sir Edward Elgar, 1857-1934)
  • Personal Composer Demo

    December 10, 2014

    Until further notice, the Personal Composer Demo may be downloaded here:
    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.

  • If I Listen With My Heart – Ryan Murphy arrangement

    November 29, 2014

    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 the choir mentioned that because of the intervals and breath control, it was more difficult to learn than it appeared. You might want to schedule a couple of extra weeks to work on it. :)

  • All Tied Up With a Bow

    November 17, 2014

    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 provided by Google… so I might have missed.)

    Not all the new things are huge this time, but since there are are several of them, I’ll just do them list-style. In addition to new recordings for each of these…

    Yzma New YearDid I meet my self-imposed deadline for all of these? Nope. But done is done, any way you want to say it, and I feel like a party is in order.

    Next up: The recent SATB rendition of “If I Listen With My Heart” done by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during LDS General Conference, courtesy of associate director Ryan Murphy. This will have to wait until I recover from all this excessive celebration, so look for it after Thanksgiving.

    *Just a note on the guitar chords: I generally don’t do guitar chords. I don’t play guitar, and every time I add guitar chords to a song, the guitarists I know tell me I’ve used the wrong form of the chord, or that they would have done it differently, or that I’ve put in something nonexistent or… or… or… It *is* true that you can express complex chords in different ways, and apparently the way I choose is the wrong way. Every. Time. For this song I’ve used the simplest possible form of each chord. If you guitarists out there want to write in something else, feel free. Just don’t tell me about it. ;)

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

    October 31, 2014

    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 hymn, with words by Christina Rossetti and melody by Gustav Holst:

    The arrangement is available for SSAA and SSATB. Ohhhhh this one was fun fun fun to arrange!

    And…

    When the Son of God Was Born“–a new accompaniment and obbligato for Alto/Baritone duet.

    Both of these settings have obbligatos contributed by the amazing April Moriarty.

    As always, all these tracks may be downloaded free in 128kbps MP3 format from the individual song pages. If you want higher-quality files, or the CD (with it’s really Christmassy artwork!)…

    The album containing these and other Christmas recordings is available from CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon, and all sorts of other places I can’t keep track of. It’s also available on CD, and through tomorrow, it’s on sale for $2.50 per copy.

    Filed under “Look What I Found…” If you’d like to hear what the choral version of “When the Son of God Was Born” can sound like, here’s a gorgeous rendition in Polish by the Wyższobramski Chór Kameralny, directed by Piotr Sikora.

    Next up: New accompaniments, and cello and violin obbligatos for the remaining tracks. And then… a long winter’s nap. ;)

    One quick final note…I’ve noticed that SoundCloud’s players are behaving badly in older versions of MSIE. If you can’t see the players above, you may want to update your browser. Or try Chrome. :)

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

    October 24, 2014

    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 a bit more upbeat and sound a bit more modern. Here’s a recording from Allyse Smith Taylor’s Christmas album.

    Available on CD: “On a Still and Starry Night” (All CDS)
    Flute by Anne Lauritzen
    Also new this time is a duet arrangement of “Born to Wear a Crown, with optional flute obbligato. Here’s Allyse’s duet with James Loynes.

    Available on CD: “On a Still and Starry Night” (All CDS)
    Flute by Anne Lauritzen
    Until now, this song was available only for SATB or SSA. If you’d like to hear the choral, listen to this lovely recording I found of one of the Ogden Institute Choirs singing it a few years ago at a Church Music Festival. What a lovely performance!

    The 128kbps audio files from Allyse’s album are available free on the individual song pages. You can get the high-bitrate files from CDBaby or iTunes. There is also an accompaniment tracks version available both from CDBaby or iTunes.

    Also, until November 1, you can get the “On a Still and Starry Night” CD with vocals by Allyse Smith Taylor for $2.50 per copy.

    Next up: “In the Bleak Midwinter” and… hmmm… well, I haven’t decided yet! Hopefully within the week again. (Did you notice I actually managed it this week? **pats self on back** :) )

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

    October 18, 2014

    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. (You see? I really do respond to requests. It just takes me a decade or two.)

    On a Still and Starry Night CDBoth these songs and 11 others have been recorded by the lovely and talented Allyse Smith Taylor, and are available on a new CD titled “On a Still and Starry Night.”

    As usual, you can download the 128kbps files free from the individual song pages, or get the high-bitrate files from CDBaby or iTunes. There is also an accompaniment tracks version available both from CDBaby or iTunes. (If you prefer, these also find their way onto Amazon… eventually.)

    The album is also available on CD, and as a Merry Christmas from us to you, until November 1, you can get the “On a Still and Starry Night” CD with vocals by Allyse Smith Taylor for $2.50 per copy, plus shipping.

    Here is “On a Still and Starry Night.”


    Available on CD: “On a Still and Starry Night” (All CDS)
    Violin by April Moriarty

    And here is “The First Noel.”


    Available on CD: “On a Still and Starry Night” (All CDS)
    Flute by Anne Lauritzen

    Next up, hopefully within the week, are arrangements of “Gesu, Bambino” and a duet setting of “Born to Wear a Crown.”

  • Last Christmas…

    September 26, 2014

    …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, and violin by Sarah Crowther.

    Here’s a YouTube video–just lyrics as the song goes along.

    Be proud of me though… this year’s Christmas Card Carol is already finished, along with a couple of other new things. They’re part of an album I’m working on with Allyse Smith Taylor that will be out in a couple of weeks. :)

  • Some odds and ends, because of…

    July 3, 2014

    …a new compilation CD. That I finally finished. Hallelujah. It’s called “He is My Song,” and here’s a list of what’s on the disk, with links to the song pages and a description of the new material that’s been added:

    Last but not least, the Personal Composer files are now done and posted for all the tracks included, so transpose to your heart’s content.

    Here’s a playlist so you can listen to the whole thing if you’d like, and info on where to get the album or any part thereof:
    Listen to this album…
    Get this album…
    …or any of its tracks using these links:

    As always, free 128kbps downloads for most tracks are located on each song page.

    There’s also an accompaniment tracks album available. Here’s the playlist and info for that one:
    Listen to this album…
    Get this album…
    …or any of its tracks using these links:

    As always, free 128kbps downloads for most tracks are located on each song page.

    Happy Thursday! Have a lovely weekend.

  • Lest we forget our home’s with God…

    May 5, 2014

    In the August 2010 edition of the Ensign magazine, a lovely hymn titled “Come Home” appeared. We used it in our ward choir, and I liked it well enough that when the composer, Michael Moody, suggested that I arrange it for choral anthem, I was thrilled at the prospect. Since Heather and I were working on a project at the time, I also arranged it for solo with equal-voice harmony, and we included it on the “Reaching for the Light” album.

    Here’s the result:

    The title is suggestive of music that might be appropriate for a funeral, and while the lyrics would certainly be suitable for that use, the broader message of the song is simply a warm invitation to each of us to return to our Heavenly Father, to live forever with Him as an eternal family.

    Scores for the arrangements of “Come Home” are available for SATB choir or for solo with optional equal-voice harmony. There is also a separate score for the obbligatos.

  • Video Fun and Games

    April 7, 2014

    The last couple of projects I’ve worked on have dealt with the visual arts. Let me help you to understand the irony of this.

    Mmmmm....

    Mmmmm….

    I drew an avocado once, for an art class in high school. It even somewhat resembled an avocado. I have been so proud of this achievement all my life that I often mention it with pride to my children, a couple of whom are visual artists who put my poor little avocado to shame. “The Avocado” has become a bit of a legend in the DeFord household, complete with those clandestine sympathetic behind-my-back glances that so plainly say, “Poor mom!”

    So, needless to say, when these last projects rolled around I didn’t do the visuals–just the music. :)

    One project came about when I was asked to speak at a nearby Stake’s Women’s Conference in March. At the conference, they were going to display some really outstanding paintings by a member of the stake, Megan Rieker. (Check out some of her art here. Take a look at her “Women of Inspiration” gallery… gorgeous stuff! I particularly love this one.) A couple of weeks before the conference, Meg and I had a chance to talk a bit, and found that … drum roll… I had been wishing for slides documenting a beautiful painting as it progressed, and that she had a beautiful painting that she had photographed in various stages from start to finish. Funny how these things work out.

    The resulting project is this video featuring “The Hour Draws Nigh” by Megan Rieker, set to the song “The Painter’s Hand.”

    (There’s also a version without vocals, and download information… check the song page. :) )

    The other project was an assignment from the LDS Church Music office, to arrange “I Am A Child of God” as background for a video to be shown during the 2014 General Women’s meeting. It presented a few interesting challenges: it was an 11th-hour sort of project, and needed to be done quickly; it was still in the planning stages, so there was no specific length, no specific voicings, no specifics at all, really!; and … well… spin it as I might, here was the real challenge… this beautiful children’s song has been arranged so many times by so many talented people that I was unsure whether or not I could come up with anything fresh. As it turned out, the video itself was so sweet it didn’t matter much what I did anyway!

    David Zabriskie did the orchestration; the video footage features wonderful people from around the world. The sheet music is just piano and a melody line. For suggestions on how it might be used, see the “I Am a Child of God” song page.

    So much better than avocados! ;)

  • ‘Tis the Season

    December 1, 2013

    Swirly Christmas TreeOne of the greatest things about self-publishing is that you can write Christmas music any time you like. For example, during the Christmas season.

    One of the worst things about self-publishing is that you tend to write Christmas music at the wrong time of year to be useful. For example, during the Christmas season.

    Case in point: Here’s a new Christmas piece, titled “A Holy Child is Born,” for vocal solo (with optional harmony for the third verse) and violin obbligato. In this track, the vocals AND the violin are provided by my wonderful friend, Sarah Crowther. Needless to say, she didn’t do both at once.

    The lyrics to this one are unusual for me. I tend to write in full sentences–with (*gasp*) occasional run-on sentences thrown in for good measure. This particular song contains a lot of fragments–short phrases that I used to try to describe the picture of that first Christmas as I was seeing it with my mind’s eye.

    There are a couple more Christmas things floating around in my head that will probably show up here in the next week or two, just in time to be of no practical use until next year. I should put up the tree, flock my windows and bake sugar cookies in July and see if it motivates me to produce Christmas music any earlier. Hmmmm… since the thought of that is making me grin, maybe I will. :)

    Oh… I’ve been meaning to mention this for awhile, so this is as good a time as any. One of the questions that pops up quite often about site content is, “Why is this vocal demo in a different key than the score?”

    The answer lies in the way the vocal demos are produced. I write a song and send it off to a vocalist, and then the conversation tends to go like this:

    Seven Sharps et alVocalist: Can I have this 3 semitones lower?
    Me: Um, sure, but that puts the last verse in 7 sharps, and every pianist in the world is going to hate me.
    Vocalist: Oh, no problem.
    Me: Right.

    So I change the key, and the vocalist records the demo beeeautifully and I am thankful that I caved. But alas, when I go to publish the score, I proof it at the piano and realize that yes, every pianist in the world is going to hate me. And since I truly cannot brave the wrath of every pianist in the world, I publish the score in the original key.

    If, knowing this, you want the score in the key used in the demo track regardless of its billion sharps or flats, it’s because you have to brave the wrath of only one pianist. In this case, just download the .pc file (assuming it’s available) and transpose to your heart’s content. When I hear the explosion from over your way, I will plug my ears and smile in smug satisfaction, knowing I did my best and that this meltdown is, for once, not my fault.

    Happy December!

  • God Will Provide a Lamb; and a cantata finally finished

    October 12, 2013

    Last night was a landmark for me… I actually finished something. Something big. And complicated. And boy am I patting myself on the back!

    The Praise to the Lord Cantata page has been a placeholder for (oh my… **blushes**…) two years(!) while I struggled to keep up with life. Last night I finished formatting the last score and converting the last file. It’s finally available in its entirety. That means…

    The SATB version of “Lying in a Manger” is also available. Many of you have written asking me when it would be posted, and it’s finally ready for you. (BTW, I have begun to dread questions that contain the word “When…?” ) It’s actually SSATTBB… but you can omit the harmonies in the TTBB and SSA sections to make it a simpler SATB.

    Abraham and Isaac prepare to travel to Moriah

    This is a story that affects me emotionally in a lot of ways.

    It also means that another of the songs from Heather’s lovely project, “Reaching for the Light,” is now uploaded and available. This song is also from the aforementioned cantata, and is called “God Will Provide a Lamb.”

    Since I was old enough to read, I have been particularly affected by the story of Abraham when he was commanded to sacrifice his son, Isaac. I remember sitting on my mother’s bed with an old, old, old red-letter edition of the Bible, reading the story and looking at the full-page color plate that faced the scriptural page. (The picture was much less gentle than the one at the left!)

    It wasn’t until much later that I recognized the event for what it was: a real-life “parable” about the sacrifice that Jesus Christ would make for them, and that He has made for me.

    This song describes that real-life “parable.”

    Here’s Heather Prusse singing the track, beautifully as usual:

    The song is available in both SATB, and low- to medium-voice solo.

    Happy Sunday!

  • For the earth is the Lord’s…

    September 25, 2013

    Thanksgiving Turkey

    No, I did not cook this. But if ever a poor turkey under my tender care looks this good, I will definitely take its picture.

    Elephants.

    Sometimes we do family portraits after dinner.

    Thanksgiving.

    Ahhhhh…. the word conjures up so many wonderful associations…

    …gathering as much family as you can cram into one house… roast turkey… sweet potato casserole… eating way too much… pumpkin pie with real whip cream… eating way too much… raucous family games…

    In the US, our “Thanksgiving” holiday falls every year on the fourth Thursday of November. It’s a day we set aside for gratefully remembering our blessings and the heritage we’ve been given. Oh, and did I mention eating too much?

    Late in October, my wonderful little LDS Institute choir here in Colorado Springs will present a concert to kick off our Thanksgiving season. This year, as the choir considered the theme for the evening, we landed on the idea of the amazing earth our Heavenly Father created for us, and all the wonders in the world around us.

    We chose as our title song, “This Is My Father’s World,” a beautiful hymn composed at the turn of the 20th century. The words were written by Maltbie D. Babcock (1858-1901), and the poem was set to music by Franklin L. Sheppard (1852-1930). I have adapted the words and melody for this arrangement for SATB choir, and also for medium-low voice solo. The solo will easily transpose up a couple of steps for you higher voices; I’m not sure you’d want to lower it, as it will probably get lifeless and growly set any lower.

    Here’s a rendition of the solo version, sung beautifully as usual by Mr. James Loynes:

    Our choir spent about half an hour on it over the last two weeks, and we’re finding it pretty easy to learn. The SSAATTB split for a couple of chords on the last page is quite manageable, so don’t let its looks fool you. (The piano accompaniment does end in four sharps for the last verse and chorus, so consider the abilities of your accompanist. I wouldn’t want them all looking for me… ;) )

  • It’s a good thing they recycle those youth themes… ;)

    August 6, 2013

    While my kids were teenagers, I guess I was more focused on youth themes and managed to get new music up early in the year. Since my kids are no longer in the youth program, it’s been getting later and later into each new year that I actually manage to get the music done and posted. Maybe it will help when the grandkids are teenagers.

    However late it may be, the new song this time supports this year’s youth theme:

    “…stand ye in holy places and be not moved …”.

    The song is titled “This is Holy Ground,” voiced for solo with optional harmony or SATB choir. An optional obbligato for oboe (or other C instrument) is included for use with both versions. The words are a reflection of this idea:

    “…holy places have more to do with
    how one lives than where one lives…”
    (Harold B. Lee)

    The demo recording is another of the tracks done for me by Heather Prusse:


    Available on CD: “Reaching for the Light” (All CDS)
    Backup vocals by Annabelle Smith

    Also new this time is a duet version of an older song supporting yet another youth theme, “Arise and Shine Forth.” The duet is sung by Heather Prusse and James Loynes:

    Perhaps I’ll be more timely with this year’s youth theme. Since in the past some of the themes have been rotated and re-used, maybe it will be a repeat of one that’s been done before, and I can claim to have been several years early with an existing song. At any rate, I should get better when my oldest grandchild enters the youth program. (In only 7 more years??? That can’t be right.)

  • I love it when a plan comes together.

    July 25, 2013

    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!

  • Light and Shadow

    July 17, 2013

    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

    Valarie

    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.

  • “The Lord is My Shepherd” revisited

    July 9, 2013

    “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!

  • Because You Prayed for Me: A Fire Song

    June 26, 2013

    "Reaching for the Light" CD cover

    See that lovely cover photo? My wonderful niece Adrianna Marie Giles did that for me. I’m a lucky auntie!

    Watch out folks… here comes the deluge. :) I have a whole new collection of things to post that have been in the works for a year.

    First, there are 15 new tracks, all featuring Heather Prusse (who is amazing). They’re available on a CD titled “Reaching for the Light.” An accompaniment track CD is also available. The super-high-quality digital downloads are available for purchase here. (For any of you who prefer it, they’re also available on iTunes–I hope that will make it easier for those of you on iPads/iPods/iWhatevers who have been having trouble with the downloads.)

    The CD and all the high-quality tracks are available immediately. I’ll be posting the scores and free MP3s a couple at a time over the next month or two, since the work involved in adding them all at once makes me want to head for the hills and live like a hermit.

    Listen:

    Because You Prayed for Me

    Miracles

    The two songs I have posted today are “Because You Prayed for Me,” a medium-voice solo with violin obbligato; and an updated arrangement of “Miracles” with flute obbligato. The Personal Composer scores are available for both selections should you wish to transpose or resize the music. Free 128Kbps MP3 downloads of each are available for personal use.
    The loooong story that follows below is what prompted “Because You Prayed for Me.” If you’re interested, read on. If not, go enjoy the music and this beautiful Wednesday. (Well, it’s beautiful here, and I hope it’s beautiful wherever you are!)
    The story:
    Waldo Canyon Fire evacuation

    Looks scary, doesn’t it? That’s because it was. See the 390th car back on the left? Yeah, that’s me.

    In June of 2012, we were chased out of our home and sent running for cover (along with 32,000+ other Colorado Springs residents) as a raging wildfire roared into the lovely neighborhoods just west of us. Low humidity, record high temperatures, and high winds blowing in precisely the wrong direction combined to create the perfect storm.

    Perfect for the fire, that is. Not so much for the rest of us.

    The Waldo Canyon Fire would become the most destructive in state history. It would go on to claim 346 homes, two people’s lives, and leave roughly 29 sq. miles of charred forests and decimated neighborhoods in its wake.

    It was terrifying.

    Waldo Canyon Fire

    Seeing a friend’s house in a shot like this was a bit of a shock, to say the least.

    As the fire crept toward civilization, we watched the news and social media, anxious for every bit of information we could get. Each passing day was full of smoke and statistics, evacuation notices and dire warnings, but each day was also full of well-wishers–friends, family, strangers from far and wide–who stopped by on Twitter or Facebook to say, “I’m praying for you.” (My favorite was a fellow denizen of a BYU sports message board who found it a bit odd to pray for us by our screen names, but did it anyway. She assured us that God knew precisely who she was talking about. I believe that. :) )

    A lost and confused visitor.

    What do you do when your habitat is on fire? Visit my back yard, of course.

    I can’t tell you how grateful the simple phrase “I’m praying for you” made me feel.

    When the evacuations were lifted and we drove the 10 hours home from my parents’ house, the song “Because You Prayed for Me” started formulating itself in my head, and by the time we got home, it was a full-blown lyric. A few changes, an appropriate melody and… voila! it should have been done.

    But it wasn’t done. It just wasn’t right. Or perhaps it just wasn’t the right time. I tweaked it and worked on it and worried over it for months, and it still wasn’t right. Then, before even a year had passed since the Waldo Canyon Fire had descended on us like a voracious dragon…

    Black Forest Fire

    It’s always amazing how beautiful pictures like this can be–in a horrible sort of way.

    …another wildfire erupted in the nearby community of Black Forest. If the first fire was a dragon, this fire was two. Or three. Or twenty. It’s appetite eclipsed the previous fire by far, destroying over 500 homes, claiming two lives, and prompting the evacuation of roughly 38,000 people in a very short space of time.

    This time the fire started in an inhabited area. Again the humidity was low, the winds were high and therefore this drove of dragons could pick and choose its breakfast, lunch and dinner. Which it did.

    Again we watched the news and worried, and again the messages of love and hope poured in from all over the country and around the world: “We’re praying for you.”

    Black Forest Fire

    The courage and skill of the firefighters was a wonder and a blessing. They’re rock stars around here.

    The weather forecast was grim: thunder and dry lightning with very little hope of rain.

    We prayed for it anyway. And on the third day of the fire, in the mid-afternoon, it came. Torrential rain, directly over the burning forest, giving the valiant firefighters the upper hand at last.

    Let those call it coincidence who will; we who lived it know better.

    It was a direct and unmistakable answer to prayer, sent from a loving Heavenly Father, as people near and far lifted up their voices together and asked for what they needed.

    Thank you!

    It feels so good to get to be grateful.

    Now, finally, the song feels right.

    This song was started by one fire, and finished by another. It doesn’t speak of literal fires, but has to do with the figurative “trials by fire” that each of us passes through in life, not once but many times.

    This song is my way of saying thanks to the many people who offer prayers for others during these fiery trials. It’s my way of acknowledging the amazing and sometimes under-valued blessing of knowing that someone is praying for you.

  • If we only choose to love…

    May 28, 2013

    “If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.”
    ~Marvin J. Ashton
    Here’s something to warm your heart–the story of a young girl who was bullied by her classmates, and the young men who stepped forward to prevent it. If you haven’t heard the story (or even if you have!) take five minutes to watch the video–it will make your day.
    “Angels in Disguise”
    So many people in this old world desperately need to see evidence of the love of God in the actions of their fellow men and women. Sometimes the challenges they face are apparent; sometimes they are brought to our attention by a parent or friend; and sometimes they are invisible, hidden away in hearts too fragile to share.
    “…in the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see.”
    ~Susan Evans McCloud, from the hymn “Lord, I Would Follow Thee

    The new song this time is called “Only Love,” written for solo voice in a medium range. The title of the song is an imperative, much like the commandments the Savior said are the greatest in the law: love God and love His children. Love is a choice. If it were not so, how could the Lord command us to do it? And how different would the world be if each one of us would only choose to love, to act in accordance with these two great commandments in every situation, in every moment of our lives?

    Imagine what could happen in today’s world… if each of us would vow to cherish, watch over, and comfort one another. Imagine the possibilities!
    ~Marvin J. Ashton

    The lyrics were co-written with my friend Josh Weed. He and his lovely wife Laurel came all the way from Seattle one weekend so Josh could sing the demo track. When he stepped into my little makeshift studio he had no idea what a relentless taskmaster I turn into under headphones, but he was a good sport about it, and did a great job on the vocals. If you’d like to record your own version of this song, check out Josh’s post here for details on a contest he’s hosting. ;)

  • It’s about time.

    May 9, 2013

    There have been quite a few things in the pipeline for more than a year now, waiting for me to have five minutes free to actually post them. Since it really is about time, here are a couple of them:

    Jacosa Limutau
    The first is a new accompaniment for “It Was for Me,” which is actually the first serious song I attempted, oh so many years ago. The accompaniment has bothered me for years, so I arranged it anew and I think I may like it better. (Time will tell–it always does.) Jacosa Limutau‘s gorgeous vocals were set to the original, but I’ve remixed it to include the new accompaniment.

    Sarah Crowther
    The other is a new solo version of “My Sister’s Hands.” I re-did this one for my friend Sarah Crowther to sing. You may have heard how amazing she is on violin, so I thought you should hear hear lovely voice as well. I think I like this accompaniment better too, but… ditto. ;)

    Impatient Music Figure
    Quite a few other songs and arrangements are drumming their fingers, tapping their feet, and sighing impatiently in queue, so updates will probably be a bit more frequent for awhile, lest they get fed up and mutiny.

    Happy Thursday!

  • It’s a bit frightening…

    April 13, 2013

    What site changes do.…to say the least.

    Pushing the button to change from my old site to this new one is… well… remember this Far Side comic strip? The one with the switch on the armrest of an airplane seat? The one with the switch marked “Wings Fall Off?”

    Here’s hoping the wings don’t fall off.

    If we’re still airborne, welcome to the new site!

  73 Responses to “What’s New?”

  1.  

    On Sunday our parish choir will be rendering “Guard Him Joseph” at our national festival of carols. A beautiful piece work indeed. Thank you for sharing

  2.  

    Hi Sally, thank you so much for making and providing all these beautiful songs for us to listen for free :) I have share the link to my church friend too.

  3.  

    Thank you so much for sharing your love of music with us! Your music goes right to my heart and I love to sing it! A friend and I just sang “Born Is the Light of the World” for our community Christmas concert. Actually, the song sang us: it resonated with our souls. Thanks again for sharing. You’re awesome!

  4.  

    Hi Sally, do you not have a facebook page?

    thanks,

    Barb

  5.  

    Dear Sally DeFord,
    I am currently serving a mission, and I get called on all the time to play for elders, etc., who are performing. I had not heard of you or your site. One of the elders I play for directed me there, and I have found wonderful arrangements to use for these events. I am so incredibly impressed with your beautiful music, and your wonderful talent for arranging songs. And more amazing than that is that you do not charge for your music. I’m stunned. Thank you so much for sharing your talents, and for making it free. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  6.  

    Thank you so much for sharing your music with us. I always use your arrangements when I need to sing in church or pick music for the ward choir. I’m so excited to use your arrangement of As Shepherds Kept Their Lonely Vigil for our ward’s Christmas program this year. Thank you for sharing your talents with us, and for free no less!

  7.  

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful ALL of it! You are an amazing musician and I am SO grateful you are willing to share that talent with all of us. May the Lord continue to bless you mightly!

  8.  

    How may I obtain your great arrangement of Jos. Smith’s First Prayer set to the Come Thou Font music for our choir? I have asked this before but haven’t heard from you.

  9.  

    Dear Sally, this is the second time I am sending a comment to you. I love your music and my choir does, too. ” Make Us One,” :I Have Not Seen, Yet I Believe,” are two of our favorites. I plan to have my choir sing more of your beautiful God-inspired creations.

    Question: I have spent hours and hours looking for a choral anthem of Philippians 4:8-9, and couldn’t find one that I like. Have you considered composing one for choir? I can be sure that it would be another beautiful one from you.

    I would really like the courtesy of a reply, Sally. May God continue to bless you as you use His gifts to bless us all.

    Ruby L. Agnir
    Choir Director

  10.  

    We just finished a Bi-Ward Musical Fireside with the theme, Come Unto Christ. It was beautiful. Many of the songs shared were yours. My daughter and I sang “A Place in His Arms.” Many people were touched by the spirit while we sang your words. May we share with you a recording?

  11.  

    i enjoy listening, playing the pieces and singing your songs. They are all heart touching. Thank you for uploading them here. May the Lord bestow His blessings upon you as you serve Him continually.

  12.  

    My utmost gratitude to madam Sally and to God for the talent He gave to you…I appreciate it so much your generosity of sharing your music freely…we have started singing your songs for our special numbers in church(solo, duets)…thanks for the site and everything in it, continue to be a channel of blessing.

  13.  

    thank you so much for your beautiful songs! i’m excited to play them all .. i love them so much.. thanks for it’s free! God bless you

  14.  

    Dear Sally, I am writing you to let you know how much my choir and I enjoy your anthems. We have sung a good number of them, and I am looking at new ones, not just for choir but also for solos and duets.

    God has truly given you a great talent which you are using to help others who are working in His vineyard. May the Lord continue to bless you and grant you many years of writing music for Him, to be performed by His children.

    In His Service,
    Ruby Agnir
    Choir Director
    Atonement Lutheran Church in Wesley Chapel, Florida

  15.  

    Recorded this the other day and put it on SoundCloud. “I Have Not Seen…” I did it on a whim – still sounds pretty good. Thanks for your music!

    Mike

  16.  

    Hi Sally -How may I get a copy of “How Lovely was the Morning” set to Come Thou Font” ? It is wonderful!

  17.  

    Sally, is it permissible to make an SATB arrangement of your beautiful song “An Angel to Watch Over Me”? As a Ward Choir we would love sing it in Sacrament Meeting on Mothers’ Day. As a choir leader I have been most grateful for your generous sharing of your wonderful music. Always inspiring and uplifting to both “performer” and “listener”. Thank you!

    Dee G

  18.  

    Dear sister Sally,

    I really praise the Lord of your kindness in sharing your talents with us. May the Lord continually use you to inspire others, to uplift their faith to God through your songs.

    •  

      Sally, thanks for your generosity. My husband and I are singing the Abide With Me, for our sons ‘not the homecoming’ with our daughter doing the obbligato on violin. The lower registry for the women works well with my voice. You have added in a terrific manner to a special occasion. We appreciate your time and website. Today I am going to search out someone that I don’t know well and do something nice. It’s the ‘pass it along from Sally’.

  19.  

    Last year I heard your beautiful arrangement of Joseph’s First Prayer done to the melody of Come Thou Font..I would love to get that for my choir but did not see it on the alphabetical listing.

  20.  

    I don’t know what my ward choir would do without your wonderful music. We use it all the time and I have even used
    your beautiful “For the Beauty of the Earth” with my beginning high school choir at a competition. Thank you so
    very much for sharing your talents. Merrilee Hunter
    Manila 5th Ward Choir Director
    Choir Teacher, American Fork High School

  21.  

    I just wanted to thank you for sharing your music. I have selected “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night” to perform in my ward choir in Aurora, Co. It was not easy to narrow the choice down since I love all of your arrangements. Thank You – I hope I get to meet you some day.

    •  

      I cannot express how much your music means to me and to the members of my ward. I’ve been the ward chorister forever (I believe about 18 years). As we started using your music in our choir, a new spirit came over us. It’s been unbelievable and so spiritual to see tears run down the cheeks of not only our congregation but of our choir members as they sing. It’s become a Christmas tradition in our ward to sing the majestic songs you have arranged for our Christmas program. We start out with “Angels We Have Heard on High” following with “Oh Holy Night”, we then sing in between talks as many of your arrangements as we have time for. This year as we ended our program with the choir and congregation singing “Silent Night” the spirit was so strong it was amazing!! Thank you, thank you so much!!

  22.  

    Sally,
    You have such an incredible talent, equally as boundless as is your heart!
    Thank you for the wonderful resource you are for other musicians.
    Certainly your Heavenly Mansion will most assuredly be elegant and delightful!
    Keep sharing your magnificent talents! God bless you!
    Becky in Idaho

  23.  

    Hello Sally,
    FYI
    Today in Church Vaughn Gibbs sang for the homecoming of two of our missionaries. We were talking and he said he used to sing and you would play in the ward he was serving…Mountain Shadows area when he was on his mission.
    He is our Elders Quorum president. He and wife are expecting their second child in 8 months.

  24.  

    Sally, really wonderful songs. I was searching SATB Sheet for Christmas carol. Your site i found it is free . Appreciating your effort

    Thomas

  25.  

    Hello Sally,

    I have been extremely blessed by your songs…God has indeed used you mightily. I am just wondering if is it possible also that you can compose some wedding songs appropriate for the church? There is not much of a selection of wedding songs available. Thank you so much and please keep on composing. It means a lot to me and my family…May God bless you more!

  26.  

    With 13 years as Ward Choir director behind me, I have spent a lot of time searching for music a limited budget could handle and I have found myself coming back to your site over and over. When my sister called to tell me she was a new choir director and “Help, what do I do?” I sent her first to your site. I also search for something to tempt my children to practice their violin, cello, or flute, and nearly always find just what I need on your site. I LOVE the new format. Thank you so much for sharing your talent.

  27.  

    Thank you very much for your wonderful music. The first song i used from your website (in church service) was “how great is the miracle” one year ago. Since then i performed this song in a gospel concert from epiphanias gospel choir last year in december and one more time in church service. I plan to perform it again on october 31st in church service and also in december in a concert in titus church in hannover/germany.

    The next songs i tried (but not performed in public yet) were “an angel to watch over me” and “when hope was born”. Maybe i will perform one of these songs this year in the gospel concert from epiphanias gospel choir.

    I really like your music and i want to thank you for this wonderful music and your website.
    Thank you and may the lord bless you..

  28.  

    Sister DeFord,
    I have been Ward choir director for five years now, so I feel my time in this position must surely be coming to an end; but, before it does, I must let you know how much your music has meant to me, to our choir, and to every member of our ward who has had the privilege of of hearing it performed.
    I am so amazed at your generosity! Really, there is no one like you. Sharing the beautiful body of work you have created without financial compensation is…. well, there aren’t really words for what it “is”, are there? I do know that your music and the way you choose to use it, is a true reflection of Christ-like love.
    Please know how deeply grateful I am (we all are) to you. You have given all of us, here, some profoundly beautiful musical moments.
    Margaret R

  29.  

    I just want to thank you for the beautiful music that you have for us to listen to. It really relaxes me after a long day. I also wanted to see how you get the voices for your song? Do you hold auditions? If so I am interested. Thank you

  30.  

    Our stake choir is singing this weekend while Elder Zwick from the Seventy attends to call a new stake Presidency. We are singing I Stand All Amazed and The Lord is My Shepherd. Sally DeFord music is regular fare in the Nampa Idaho South Stake and in my local ward as well. Thank you, Sister DeFord!

  31.  

    Sister DeFord, Today for choir we sang “If the Savior Stood Beside Me”. It was so beautiful. I unfortunately have a heart-of-stone when it comes to being moved to tears. It just doesn’t happen for me and I’m not sure why. But, today as we sang and I thought of the message we were trying to communicate to the congregation my eyes did actually fill with tears. The song really moved me in ways that I can’t adequately explain. When I sat back down with the Spirit still humming along my senses, I just felt an overwhelming desire to thank you for sharing your gift with the world. We have sung many of your songs in the choir and I have loved them all. You are so talented and your songs are so marvelous. I have tried to dabble around a bit with some songwriting and I am pitifully inadequate at doing it, so to hear and feel what you do is astounding to me. Thank you again. Thank you so very much.

  32.  

    Sister DeFord, what a great blessing your songs have been in my life. I have been looking for a place to send you a note and tell you how much I have loved the CD My All Is Thine. Music has been precious to me and through it I have found solace that has helped me through some very tough challenges. Now as I read your experience with the fires and your thoughts about everyone living through “fires”or “trials” which the prayers of others has sustained and blessed their lives, I can so relate. The statements of other to me “I’m praying for you” are also very precious and gratefully accepted. Some days I have cried through your songs, sometimes I sing along with the songs, and always I feel the great peace that comes from our loving Heavenly Father as He holds us in His arms and whispers in our ears and to our hearts. Thanks for your beautiful and precious talent that you so generously share with us.

  33.  

    I really love your songs sally! (From the heart) Thank you for sharing your talent. God will Bless you :)

  34.  

    Sally, I’m so sorry about the fires you’ve had to deal with. We live in the mountains of northern California and have had some bad ones, but luckily they were not in such populated areas. Our little ward choir has sung your songs for years . . . especially your Christmas numbers, that we sing at the Courthouse Christmas Sing every December. Thanks so much for sharing your talents so generously with us.

  35.  

    Dear Sally, Its a joy to listen to your lovely and heavenly compositions. God has really gifted you in a very special way. His name be glorified and may your work for Him draw many hungry souls to His Grace. Pray foe God’s abundant blessings for you. God bless.

  36.  

    Thanks so much for generously sharing your talent. On you site a few generations ago we could see in the alphabetical listing if a number had a flute or violin obbligato. Is there any way to locate those without simply clicking on each number?

  37.  

    Sally, I love your music and I love your friend, Melissa Rogers : )
    Thank you both of you for all you mean to me.
    Char

    •  

      Oh yes, Melissa is amazing isn’t she? :)

      •  

        Melissa is my cousin – sounds like you’re all fabulous if you are friends with Melissa ! I am the ward choir director and we just finished singing your arrangement of ‘Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing’. My favorite! Thank you thank you for Sharing your beautiful gift

  38.  

    I am looking for theme songs to do with family. I’d like an arrangement of “Families Can Be Together Forever”, for our choir. Other primary songs in choir arrangements. Any suggestions? “Love is Spoken Here” also. We have sung many of your arrangements over the years. Love them.

  39.  

    Absolutely love your music! Our ward choir has used so much of it. On a personal level, I would like to see more “piano solos”. Does there happen to be one of “In My Father’s House Are Many Mansions?”

  40.  

    Sally,
    We are SO blessed by your gifts of music that we share with others in church etc. My FAVORITE songs are your Christmas ones. Have you thought of “re-arranging” additional Christmas songs into solos?
    Your “Silent Night” is incredible. I would LOVE other SOLO arrangements of familiar Christmas Songs w/ different accompaniments – of course just do this in your FREE time :)
    thank you thank you thank you!

  41.  

    Thank you Sally, I am looking forward to Christmas. Our small church choir love to sing Guard Him Joseph. It is especially a great song because not many are written of him. God bless you for sharing.

  42.  

    Thank you so very much for your generosity with sharing your music with the world. As a private voice teacher and choir director for both stake and ward here in Southern, California, I go to your site first when preparing a special program and number. Again, thank you.

  43.  

    Sally I would love to have some arrangements for my younger lds students levels 1 thru 5 perhaps even some organ and piano duets for me to play along with them…

  44.  

    For some reason when I click on a link to view/print your music, nothing happens. Am I doing something wrong?

  45.  

    I am a Baptist, but with the beautiful music you write, I don’t think God minds what church I go to. I enjoy singing, and playing your music in my church. My pastor now visits your site, and also uses your music. God has surely blessed you with talent, and I am thankful.
    Thank you

  46.  

    Thank you so very much for all the wonderful music and their very meaningful messages. Thank you more so for freely sharing them too. Not only have you blessed us, but in our singing them in church has blessed many in our church.

    HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY!

  47.  

    Thank you for all the years I have listened to and used your music. You are so generous and I love your talent.

  48.  

    As others have said, I too always go to your music first for ideas. I have never been disappointed. I am involved in our Heber/Overgaard Arizona Community Choir and it is so tender and sweet to hear them sing your beautiful music. Of course our ward choir loves singing your musical sermons as well.

  49.  

    Sally,
    Thank you so very much for your generosity with sharing your music with the world. As a private voice teacher and choir director for both stake and ward here in Southern, California, I go to your site first when preparing a special program and number. Again, thank you.

  50.  

    I love all of your great work. Thank you so much. I am the choir director in my ward in Sandy, Utah and use your arrangements frequently. Love them. I also sing in a quartet and we have done “A Believers Prayer” with much success and enjoyument. I am hoping that you can provide more TTBB arrangments when you can. We enjoy them very much. thanks for much for all you do.

  51.  

    Thank you for sharing your gift to those of us who sing for HIM in our churches. It is delightful having wonderful, fresh material to add to the worship experiences. As an ex-professional performer, it is nice to have such good tracks to back me up, and I can now stand up, instead of sitting at the ol’ 88′s. John (2nd Baptist, Cumberland MD)

  52.  

    I’m looking forward to new Christmas songs. Our choir is anxiously awaiting your latest inspiration…….thank you so much for your generous sharing……chris

    •  

      You know, after last year’s drought, I’m looking forward to doing some new Christmas songs too! Fingers crossed. :)

      •  

        How does one listen to the music they have choosen? I do not know how to use this new set up. Sorry I do not like this new set up. It is not easy to get what I want.

        •  

          Sorry… I know I hate it when they re-arrange stuff at the grocery store. ;) You might find something on my Links page that you will be more comfortable using. Best of luck!

        •  

          To use the links to the sound on the website, you need flash-support in your webbrowser.Maybe you have to install adobe flashplayer (depending on your browser).

          You also need flash-support, if you want to use the link to soundcloud (soundcloud uses also flash to play the music).

          I hope this helps to use the soundlinks on the website. Sally was so kind to provide the sound also as downloadable mp3-files. at least these links should be usable (and these links do not require flash).

          •  

            Almost! The Soundcloud links on the song pages are HTML5 and do not require flash support. Some browsers do not yet support HTML5, but hopefully they’ll get with the program soon. :)

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