Monthly archives "August 2015"

TAO September 2015 – World Wise Communion

“World Wise Communion”

Ah, the idealism of youth! As a college student, I loved the maxim, “Music is a universal language uniting the people of the world.” It still inspires me today, although my idealism has been tempered by a few decades of experience with the inconvenient reality of the human condition. With the poisons of fear and anxiety underlying our daily newscast, we need an antidote. What more reason to keep making make music?
It isn’t just us that like to play our instrument: “musicking,” the new-ish term for music making, is a part of every culture. Yes, on the other side of the globe musicians like us are working to heal the hurts, to right the balance, and to celebrate the goodness of life within their own communities. What if we all got together? We can. We can by uniting our hearts with the many churches that celebrate World Communion Sunday on October fourth. Even if this holiday is not on your church’s official liturgical calendar, you can further the cause by programming music from another culture’s repertory. Help your people get connected with others of like mind.

Most of us have had to educate ourselves about the case for including global music in worship and about the immense resources that are now available. If world music isn’t your forte, I recommend C. Michael Hawn’s New Songs of Celebration Render: Congregational Song in the Twenty-First Century (Chicago: GIA Publications, Inc., 2013). His Gather into One: Praying and Singing Globally (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2003) is another terrific introduction to the topic.

Over the years, I have learned that there are two basic ways to bring world music into the service. We can suggest the flavor of the culture by playing non-hymn based music. We can also play arrangements of hymns representative of other cultures’ worship. Fortunately, there are more resources than ever. So many, in fact, that I will sample music from just three areas of the world: Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Conveniently, you can cover the entire world in single volumes, such as Ronald Roschke’s Yours is the Glory: Settings of Global Tunes for Organ, (Augsburg Fortress, ISBN 9781451420876), and Rejoice, O Earth: Organ Improvisations on World Songs (Augsburg Fortress, ISBN 97845142171) by Michael Bedford. John Behnke’s 3 Global Songs (Hope 8057), offers optional hand percussion parts. You can have the toes of your entire congregation tapping with “Siyahamba,” “Linstead,” and “Halle, Halle, Halle.” Every organist’s friend, Michael Burkhardt, has tucked two global treasures into his Balboa Park Suite (MorningStar10-710), including the Korean, “Lonely the Boat,” and from Puerto Rico, “See the Eastern Star.” His arrangement of “Tokyo” in Eight Improvisations on 20th Century Hymn Tunes (MorningStar 10-707) is equally useful. You don’t need to know these tunes to know what part of the world they come from. They are as atmospheric as Joyce Jones, “Aka Tonbo (The Red Dragonfly),” found in her The Music of Joyce Jones (Hinshaw S067).

The first stop on our tour of world organ music is Asia, where you will find Philip Jones’ Asian Praise: Organ Preludes on Asian Hymns (Vivace 308) and Jayne Latva’s An Asian Organ Collection (Augsburg Fortress 9780800679088) waiting for you. Both are based on hymns in the United Methodist and Presbyterian hymnals. Optional percussion will add to the atmosphere. Also offering a flavor of the East is this lovely Suite for Organ (Wayne Leupold 600213), based on Taiwanese folk songs, entitled “Cloudy Sky,” “Raining Night Flower,” “Bird,” and “Train,” written by Pei-lun Vicky Chang. If you are up to the challenge of learning them, here are two wonderful works to consider by my dear friend, Chelsea Chen: Taiwanese Suite (WL 600246) and Three Taiwanese Folksongs (WL 600279).

Africa is not such a dark continent with Godwin Sadoh’s many arrangements. His Twenty-Five Preludes on Yoruba Church Hymns, Volume I (WL600212) are as easy as they can be. His Five African Marches (WL600101), only a little more challenging, are more rewarding to play. Based on folk songs from his native Nigeria, Impressions from an African Moonlight (WL600192) is equally rewarding. So is Nigerian Suite No.1 (WL600169). If you love rhythm, you will love Nigerian Suite No. 2 (WL600214), and you will also love Carl Heine’s African Tunes for Organ (MorningStar 10-723). These will require a little extra preparation, but are they fun! Tucked at the very end of Daryl Hollinger’s From Every Corner: Diverse Organ Preludes (Augsburg ISBN 9780800623500) is a very nice “South African Trilogy” you will enjoy.

Finally, let’s make a stopover in Latin America, where style alone will mark its location on the musical map. Vivace Press has published four volumes in its Mexican Organ Series. Composer Ramon Noble commands the first and fourth volumes (VIV 301, 349). His “El Flautista Alegre” and “La Bamba” are most charming. Jose Jesus Estrada owns volume two (VIV 317), and Alfonso de Elias and Manuel de Elias, father and son, are showcased in volume three (VIV 331). Each of these volumes holds easily learned treasures worth your exploring. Also, very useful is Noel Goemanne’s San Antonio Suite (H.W. Gray GB00670). Here are four movements of Latin flavor waiting for you to enjoy. Music from Brazilian composer, João Wilson Faustini, draws from the folk and sacred songs of his native land in three volumes of Brazilian Organ Music (WL600203). What a wide variety of styles and textures he has included within a moderately easy framework! Calimerio Soares, another Brazilian composer, focuses his skilled pen with equally simple, short arrangements in two volumes of Pequenos Prelúdios Folclóricos (WL600256 & 600208). If you are curious, I recommend you take a look at the extensive repertory list on the national website, Under “Professional Education, Calvert Johnson and James Welch have collated a continent’s worth of composers’ works for you to consider.

Moving on to sources for Latin American hymn tune arrangements, let’s look at Laudate, Vol. 6 (976792WEB), where you will find something on “Resucitó” and “Pescador de Hombres.” (There are also several African tunes in this volume, too.) Another terrific resource is Un Cantico Nuevo (Concordia 97-7645). Arranger, Jeffrey Honoré, has taken a slightly different tack by arranging familiar Anglo hymns in a more Latin context. He has also included two of my all-time favorites, “Alabaré,” and “Cantad al Señor.” Ironically, I have found that one of the very best resources I can point you to, however, may be right there in your own music library. Take a look—in the past few years, many publishers have included Latin American hymn arrangements in their volumes. See if you have overlooked them.

Fall is coming. So is World Communion Sunday. With all the music available to us, it is easier than ever to “Think globally, play locally.” You can help your congregation find its place in the global village. If music truly is an international language, then we have the world at our fingertips. Play on!