Devotion

Cover_Devotion_1

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Working on this project has been a life-altering experience, both musically and spiritually.  Prior to Devotion, I felt as though I was in a “good place” in my musical abilities and certainly considered myself a Christian.  However, upon beginning the composition process, I found a renewed zeal for honing my technical abilities at the piano, and more importantly, I found unshakable conviction in the truth of the Bible and the promise that God has for each of us.

My hope for Devotion is to create music that would encapsulate the meaning and general message of a few books of the Bible.  Originally, I was seeking to avoid programme music (that is music that essentially goes along with a story).  I felt that programme music was an incredibly interesting idea in its nascent stage, such as Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, but that some of the novelty has been lost with time.  So I originally placed myself in the Beethoven school of thought, “The whole work can be perceived without description – it is more an expression of feelings…” (Beethoven in reference to his 6th Symphony: Sinfonia Pastorale)  I had never been big on musical literalism, and I instead preferred to leave my music up to the individual interpretation of each listener.  Working on Devotion has considerably softened my stance on this, as there were many passages that I read that translated perfectly into music, and deserved to be treated in a concrete fashion.  Later, in a song-by-song breakdown, I will share some of these concrete passages and how they are reflected musically.

The Bible and the way that classical composition and jazz improvisation is constructed share parallels that I hope connect in this music.  Classical composition and jazz improvisation is essentially based off of the presentation of motifs/themes that get developed over time.  Sometimes these ideas might get repeated verbatim; sometimes they might go through changes of the harmonic, melodic or rhythmic variety.  However, the composer expects the listener to be at least somewhat, if not fully aware of these motifs/themes, and much of the fun of composing music is seeing how these ideas can be developed and how they may align with the listener’s innate expectations or present them with pleasant (or unpleasant, I suppose) surprises.  Similarly, there are themes in the Bible that remain constant and are developed throughout, such as devotion to God, charity, humility and caring for our each other.  There is also the theme of God’s promise of peace, strength and eternal life with Him that is ultimately the backbone of what the Bible and Christianity is all about:

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Proverbs 1:33

But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

These themes’ foundations are laid in the Old Testament and are presented in the New Testament through Jesus in largely unexpected ways.  In “Biblical times” (that is, the Torah became a written collection by 400 BC, which was preceded many, many generations of oral tradition) the prevailing belief was that God promised a Messiah that would come and establish a strong earthly kingdom:

Jeremiah 33:15-16

In those days and at that time I will make a righteous branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.  In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.  This is the name by which it will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior.”

Instead of an earthly, militaristic king, Jesus came as a heavenly and spiritual king:

Mathew 5:3, 10

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

John 18:37

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

In classical composition and in jazz improvisation, it is very common practice to reference or quote previous works.  For example, in Debussy’s piece Golligwog’s Cakewalk, there is a reference toward Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.  (Although, Debussy admittedly does this in an attempt to poke fun at the stark seriousness of Wagner’s work by placing it in a cakewalk…)  In jazz music, improvisers will regularly quote melodies from other works, such as Sonny Clark quoting “Birk’s Works” during a solo in “It Ain’t Necessarily So” (from Grand Green: The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark).  By referencing or quoting other works, the composer/performer is calling attention to a history and huge vault of musical knowledge that those who are “in the know” will appreciate.  These references greatly enhance the music, as it is an impactful way to bring additional meaning to what could just be “notes.”  Instead of a series of new notes/sounds, these quotations carry connotation and emotion to the music that listeners who are well versed in that style will recognize.

The New Testament and the story of Jesus is largely about fulfilling prophecy.  Now, Jesus’ story on its own accord is powerful and impactful.  However, when viewed through the eyes of someone is knowledgeable with the Tanakh, (the Old Testament) many of the writings in the New Testament carry new meaning and greater weight.  A particular passage in Luke really struck me in this fashion.  Luke 3:23-38 recalls 77 generations of the genealogy of Jesus.  To most readers, this likely to be a long list of hard to pronounce names.  (How does one pronounce Arphaxad?)  However, there are tremendous Biblical backstories and great meaning to many of these names.  The stories of David, Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, Noah and Adam are told in the Tanakh, and in turn, those names meant a great deal to the people who were around Jesus.  And when one reads the last four entries, there is unmistakable gravity to this list:

Luke 3:38

…the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

This genealogical list traces Jesus’ ancestry from his earthly father, Joseph, all the way back to the first person, Adam, who was the design and creation of God.  This list reveals the promise and plan that God created; that there was purpose and meaning in every generation from Adam to Jesus, and that Jesus would carefully fulfill every prophetical claim made in the Tanakh/Old Testament (these prophesies range from 300 – 400+ in number, depending on who you talk to).  God’s composition – humanity and its salvation through Jesus – was carefully planned far in advance, and far beyond our comprehension, at that.  The written story of this composition, the Bible, modeled the sort of exposition and development that musicians, composers, listeners, orators, writers and readers cherish: the initial presentation of ideas/motives/characters and their development in creative, unanticipated and compelling ways.  And so it is in this light that I wrote the suite of pieces that I’ve called Devotion, with the idea that there are themes that will recur and evolve that represent important figures of the Bible, hopefully also in creative, unanticipated, compelling and meaningful ways.

Genesis

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning God created the sky and the earth.

Genesis begins with the creation of the world, as we know it.  And so, my musical representation of Genesis begins with a big bang, or sorts.  From there, I present the first appearance of God’s theme.  This theme appears in every movement of Devotion, as God is omnipresent:

God Theme

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Genesis 2:2

By the seventh day God finished the work he had been doing, so he rested from all his work.

I couldn’t help myself here; I sure did put in a section in 7, with a rest on that 7th beat.  This is certainly a well-known verse, and the Sabbath (a day of rest) was an incredibly important idea to the followers of the Old Testament.

Rest on 7

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The story of Genesis is ultimately about how God promises us a perfect life with Him, yet people manage to ruin it almost every step of the way.  There is the original sin of Adam and Eve, which forever casts a shadow of suffering and imperfection in humanity, which leads to Cain killing his brother Abel, and Joseph’s brothers selling him in to slavery because of extreme jealousy.  However, God promised them/us a way out of that existence through the descendants of Abraham, and He gives humanity eternal optimism through those promises.

Musically, Genesis alternates between the hope and optimism that God provides with the perpetual missteps and failures by humanity.  Positive, hopeful themes are surprisingly turned dark (humans’ sins), and negative, darker themes are flipped around to inspire positivity (God offering redemption through his promises).  The piano solo, about 4/5ths through the piece, also provides a sneak peak into God’s ultimate promise – the promise of a savior, Jesus.  Jesus’ theme makes a quick appearance, although that will be more fully developed in Luke.  The music ends with a final statement of God’s theme, representing his eternal nature.

Job

In essence, Job is a story about bad things happening to good people.  Job was a God fearing, righteous man who lived a prosperous life and enjoyed a wonderful family.  However, Satan argues with God, making the claim that the only reason Job is a virtuous man is that Job is so blessed.  God allows Satan to “test” Job, giving Satan a chance to try to turn Job away from God.  So, Satan destroys all of Job’s possessions and kills his ten children.  And so, at the very beginning of the piece, I’ve written a small section that our ears initially hear as major, but a sudden crash interrupts the tranquility and sends us into a minor key.

However, throughout this tribulation, Job does not turn away from God.  Job says:

Job 1:21

I was naked when I was born, and I will be naked when I die.  The Lord gave these things to me, and he has taken them away.  Praise the name of the Lord.

Because Satan’s attempts are unsuccessful, Satan goes yet another step and strikes Job with excruciating and grotesque boils.  Despite losing everything, despite going through extreme personal pain and suffering, Job never curses God.  Eventually, God ends up blessing Job with twice as much success and prosperity than he had ever experienced before.

To reflect the story, I gave Job’s theme a melancholic, lamentful feeling, being careful to avoid any signs of vitriolic anger.

Job Theme

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Job’s theme is interrupted many times by angst filled passages, representing the extreme torment that he faced.   However, despite these interruptions, Job’s theme remains steadfast – both in its lament but also its restraint.

The bass and piano solos can be viewed as “Job’s Blues.”  Sorrowful, bluesy, and reflecting on what has just transpired.  Additionally, these solo sections represent conversation.  In the Book of Job, four friends of Job come to console him, and to try to make sense of these tragedies.   By the end of the piano solo, God has restored Job’s health and well-being, and Job’s vibrancy returns.  God’s theme concludes the piece, reminding us of his jurisdiction in every situation.

Luke

The Gospels (the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are the most important books of the Bible.  These four books offer their accounts of the life of Jesus, who is God’s son and humanity’s opportunity for salvation.  Essentially, Jesus came to Earth to teach God’s word and to sacrifice himself after a sinless life for the forgiveness of humanity’s sins.

The music begins with a powerful restatement of God’s theme, signaling the forthcoming fulfillment of prophecy.  While many expected the messiah to be an earthly, powerful king, Jesus instead came in one of the most humble ways imaginable; Jesus was born in the small city of Bethlehem and spent his first night on earth sleeping in a feeding trough for animals.

And so, the music proceeds with a tender first offering of Jesus’ theme, representing his humble birth and childhood:

Jesus Theme

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After Jesus’ birth, the Bible does not provide many details about his childhood.  There are two very brief stories, but we are basically fast-forwarded to Jesus as a thirty-year old man.  The bass, in turn, plays Jesus’ theme after a short piano introduction that reflects on the maturation of Jesus and the beginning of his ministry.

As Jesus began his ministry, he garnered a lot of attention and a number of listeners.  Most notably, however, he had twelve men who dropped everything in their lives to follow Jesus and to learn from him.  The music in this section is in 12/8 time to symbolize these men, who are referred to as the twelve disciples.  Throughout all of Jesus’ travels, these disciples went with him and were witness to the miracles and profound teachings that Jesus offered.  This was a time of great optimism, as Jesus healed people with chronic ailments, performed acts that are beyond explanation (walking on water and stopping a raging storm) and taught revolutionary ideas about generosity, forgiveness and love.  Among his many teachers were:

Luke 6:31-36

“Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Luke 7:39-48

…When the Pharisee who asked Jesus to come to his house saw this, he thought to himself, “If Jesus were a prophet, he would know that the woman touching him is a sinner!” Jesus said to the Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” Simon said, “Teacher, tell me.” Jesus said, “Two people owed money to the same banker. One owed five hundred coins and the other owed fifty. They had no money to pay what they owed, but the banker told both of them they did not have to pay him. Which person will love the banker more?” Simon, the Pharisee, answered, “I think it would be the one who owed him the most money.” Jesus said to Simon, “You are right.” Then Jesus turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I came into your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of greeting, but she has been kissing my feet since I came in. You did not put oil on my head, but she poured perfume on my feet. I tell you that her many sins are forgiven, so she showed great love. But the person who is forgiven only a little will love only a little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Luke 10:25-37

Then an expert on the law stood up to test Jesus, saying, “Teacher, what must I do to get life forever?” Jesus said, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” The man answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” Also, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Jesus said to him, “Your answer is right. Do this and you will live.” But the man, wanting to show the importance of his question, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered, “As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, some robbers attacked him. They tore off his clothes, beat him, and left him lying there, almost dead. It happened that a priest was going down that road. When he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. Next, a Levite came there, and after he went over and looked at the man, he walked by on the other side of the road. Then a Samaritan traveling down the road came to where the hurt man was. When he saw the man, he felt very sorry for him. The Samaritan went to him, poured olive oil and wine on his wounds, and bandaged them. Then he put the hurt man on his own donkey and took him to an inn where he cared for him. The next day, the Samaritan brought out two coins, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of this man. If you spend more money on him, I will pay it back to you when I come again.’” Then Jesus said, “Which one of these three men do you think was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by the robbers?” The expert on the law answered, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Then go and do what he did.”

Things seemed to be going very well for Jesus.  He was gaining followers and God’s love and compassion was being spread to those who would listen.  However, the religious and political leaders were jealous and afraid of Jesus.  Jesus spent much of his time condemning the religious leaders for their hypocrisy and lack of authenticity.  And so they plotted to kill Jesus.  Judas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, offered to turn Jesus over to these leaders in exchange for money.  After this betrayal, the religious leaders are able to convince the mob of people that Jesus is a heretic, and a danger to incite trouble with the Roman Empire.  Jesus is ultimately severely beaten, nailed to a cross, and died one of the most painful deaths imaginable through loss of blood, dehydration and asphyxiation.  However, even while being murdered, Jesus said:

Luke 23:34

“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

The music in this section is in 11/8 time, symbolizing the betrayal of one of the original twelve, and the harmony is a cascading sequence of minor chords as Jesus’ death becomes imminent.   The music becomes increasingly more agitated, until abruptly ending with a very dissonant chord, signifying Jesus’ death.

However, Jesus’ story does not end there.  Jesus conquers death and shows himself to many of his followers and explains to them why everything transpired the way it did:

Luke 24:45-48

Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He said to them, “It is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that a change of hearts and lives and forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, starting at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

The book ends as follows:

Luke 24:50–53

Jesus led his followers as far as Bethany, and he raised his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he was separated from them and carried into heaven. They worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem very happy.  They stayed in the Temple all the time, praising God. 

Jesus leaves his disciples and reunites with God in heaven.  To reflect this musically, God’s theme and Jesus’ theme harmonize together to end the piece:

End of Luke_God and Jesus

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Acts

One of the sermons that has stuck with me most was about the changing power of the Holy Spirit.  If one questions the veracity of the God and the Bible, then I think the radical changes that God and his Word make in people is an extraordinarily great piece of evidence to God’s existence and power.   There are plenty of people out there who have lived depressed, crime-filled, selfish, addicted, or just generally unfulfilling lives who are radically transformed when they become a Christian.  In fact, one of the greatest evangelists in Christian history was at one point a dedicated persecutor, perhaps even murderer, of Christians.   His name was Paul, and his story is told in the book of Acts, and we’ll get to him in just a little bit.  So to me, Acts is about the drastic change that people can experience when committing their lives to Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:2

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.

The initial appearance of the Holy Spirit was an abrupt and tangible experience.  Musically, I tried to imitate this grand entrance, with sweeping, cascading passages.  I then present the Holy Spirit’s theme, which represents its transformational power:

Holy Spirit

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After the appearance of the Holy Spirit, the disciples (who at this point are called the Apostles) are able to heal the sick, cast out evil spirits, and even raise the dead.  The early Christians were persecuted, again by religious and political leaders, and following Jesus was an incredibly dangerous thing to do at the time.  Despite the threats to their safety, the Apostles continued to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, which was a significant departure from how they had basically abandoned Jesus during his crucifixion, out of fear of having the same fate.  These Apostles had been dramatically transformed – courageous, compassionate, and full of conviction – through the changing power of the Holy Spirit.

The opening section of Acts is about this change.  After the Holy Spirit’s theme, there are rhythmic overlappings that are meant to change how one perceives the previous musical entrance.  God, through the Holy Spirit, never ceases to change people and I wrote this section to reflect that constant evolution.

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And this brings us to Paul, originally known as Saul.  His conversion is a remarkable story, and bears reading in full:

Acts 9:1-25

In Jerusalem Saul was still threatening the followers of the Lord by saying he would kill them. So he went to the high priest and asked him to write letters to the synagogues in the city of Damascus. Then if Saul found any followers of Christ’s Way, men or women, he would arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem. So Saul headed toward Damascus. As he came near the city, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” Saul said, “Who are you, Lord?” The voice answered, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Get up now and go into the city. Someone there will tell you what you must do.” The people traveling with Saul stood there but said nothing. They heard the voice, but they saw no one. Saul got up from the ground and opened his eyes, but he could not see. So those with Saul took his hand and led him into Damascus. For three days Saul could not see and did not eat or drink. There was a follower of Jesus in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to Ananias in a vision, “Ananias!” Ananias answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to Straight Street. Find the house of Judas, and ask for a man named Saul from the city of Tarsus. He is there now, praying. Saul has seen a vision in which a man named Ananias comes to him and lays his hands on him. Then he is able to see again.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, many people have told me about this man and the terrible things he did to your holy people in Jerusalem. Now he has come here to Damascus, and the leading priests have given him the power to arrest everyone who worships you.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! I have chosen Saul for an important work. He must tell about me to those who are not Jews, to kings, and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” So Ananias went to the house of Judas. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus sent me. He is the one you saw on the road on your way here. He sent me so that you can see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something that looked like fish scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he was able to see again! Then Saul got up and was baptized. After he ate some food, his strength returned. Saul stayed with the followers of Jesus in Damascus for a few days. Soon he began to preach about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “Jesus is the Son of God.” All the people who heard him were amazed. They said, “This is the man who was in Jerusalem trying to destroy those who trust in this name! He came here to arrest the followers of Jesus and take them back to the leading priests.” But Saul grew more powerful. His proofs that Jesus is the Christ were so strong that his own people in Damascus could not argue with him. After many days, they made plans to kill Saul. They were watching the city gates day and night, but Saul learned about their plan. One night some followers of Saul helped him leave the city by lowering him in a basket through an opening in the city wall.

Saul, who later changed his name to Paul, once dedicated his life to eradicating Christians and their beliefs.  But through a life-changing encounter, Paul devoted the rest of his life to spreading the news of Jesus and in fact wrote fourteen books in the Bible.

And so, just like the Book of Acts, the second half of the song is devoted to telling the story of Saul/Paul.  This section and the following solo show the angst and turmoil that Saul causes, but still hints at the big changes in his life that are coming.  (This section is admittedly my favorite musical moment of the album.)

Rhythm change_Acts

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Saul’s persecution of Christians continues, until Jesus himself confronts Saul, and his life is drastically altered from that moment.  Saul finds peace, tranquility and solace in the love of Jesus, although his life would be far from carefree as Saul spends years in prison and faces the same sort of persecution that he once committed.

Musically, God’s theme interrupts Saul’s reign of terror before showing him a new, peaceful way of life.  To reflect Paul’s new life in Jesus, yet the persecution that he faces, the song ends with Jesus’ theme, but reharmonized:

Jesus reharm_Acts

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In fact, Jesus did tell his followers of the challenges they would face:

John 15: 18-20

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as it loves its own. But I have chosen you out of the world, so you don’t belong to it. That is why the world hates you.  Remember what I told you: A servant is not greater than his master. If people did wrong to me, they will do wrong to you, too. And if they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours, too.”

Revelation

Many theologians and historians have tried to decipher the meaning of this book for centuries, yet there is no consensus as to what it all means.  For me, a humble pianist, this book offered more than its fair share of difficulties in interpretation.  So, I ultimately took a very literalist approach.  The book is a vision revealed to John of Patmos about the end of times.  There is a lot of very abstract imagery (or perhaps visions that are beyond our comprehension) that is derived from the Old Testament, and there are a series of numbers that appear to have special significance.  Like alluded to in the beginning of this writing, there are a number of themes that are carried throughout the Bible, and while each book can be read on their own, the message is significantly enhanced when one has knowledge of all the books.  So in Revelation, when the author writes the following things, it is important to recognize their Biblical roots:

Revelation chart

 

According to many, there are over 300 of these references to other books of the Bible within Revelation.  However, I’m not going to pretend that I knew these allusions off the top of my head as I was reading, as many publications of the Bible have footnotes about these references to other portions of the Bible.

Another significant portion of Revelation that immediately strikes the reader is the consistent usage of numbers, particularly the number seven.  Seven seems to indicate some sort perfection, or conclusion.  Just to name a few instances: God created the world in 7 days, Jesus told us to forgive in the following fashion: Even if someone sins against you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times and says, ‘I am changing my ways,’ you must forgive that person,” in Psalm 119:164, “Seven times a day I praise you for your fair laws.”  And the list could go on and on.  The number seven cannot be avoided in Revelation, as there are seven: churches, seals, trumpets, and bowls of judgment among many others.

And so, in this opening section, when there are these seven messages or warnings to the churches, I open the song with seven phrases of urgent warning.  The phrasing feels a little odd, as we are accustomed to groups of phrases that are divisible by two, usually four.  After these seven messages, Revelation continues:

Revelation 4:1, 4-5, 8

After the vision of these things I looked, and there before me was an open door in heaven. And the same voice that spoke to me before, that sounded like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.”… Around the throne there were twenty-four other thrones with twenty-four elders sitting on them. They were dressed in white and had golden crowns on their heads. Lightning flashes and noises and thunder came from the throne. Before the throne seven lamps were burning, which are the seven spirits of God…. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty. He was, he is, and he is coming.”

In the music, God’s theme appears (an open door in heaven) which is followed by 24 “hits” in the drum solo section.  Following that is the opening, albeit reharmonized,  portion of Reginald Heber’s hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

 

Holy Holy_Revelation

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Following this comes the “seven seals” which include the arrival of the four horsemen.  The sixth seal is a great earthquake, and the seventh seal is a “silence in heaven for about half an hour.” (I elected to make the silence a little shorter than that half hour.)  To represent the coming of the seven trumpets and seven bowls, which is a series of awful things happening to earth and humanity, there is a piano solo that is over seven sequences of minor chords that builds into a series of hits that builds into the number seven:

7 Build

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After the seventh bowl, the city of Babylon is destroyed and Satan is imprisoned for one thousand years.  However, at the end of these thousand years, Satan is released and he wages war against the people of God.  Satan is defeated, cast into a lake of burning sulfur, and the Last Judgment occurs.  I focused on the destruction of Babylon, the battle between Satan and God’s people, and the victory of God in the section that immediately follows the excerpt above.

The ending section states the triumphant victory of God and a fuller restatement of the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.”  The lyrics to this section are: Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and Mighty! God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity!” This takes us to the very final statement.  God’s theme, Jesus’ theme, and the Holy Spirit theme are united musically for the first time, representing their perfect union, the end of suffering and death, and the completion of God’s plan.

End of Revelation all in one

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The last chord, an E major 7 sus 2, is the first chord of Genesis, and the last chord of Revelation, reflecting the eternal nature of God:

Revelation 1:8

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

This project has been incredibly meaning for me, and I pray that you find meaning in it as well.  Through this experience, I have been inspired to be more generous in how I live.  Accordingly, I am giving half of all sales of this album to charity, specifically, a wonderful organization called Feed My Starving Children.  They are a Christian organization that is dedicated to feeding starving children and families all over the world.  In addition to this virtuous endeavor, they are excellent at what they do, in that each meal only costs 22 cents to produce and 92 percent of total donations go directly toward the food program.  CharityNavigator.org, in fact, gives them a remarkably high rating: 69.08/70!  Please visit www.fmsc.org for more information, and consider volunteering and/or donating!

Finally, I must extend thanks to my fellow musicians in this endeavor, Zach Schmidt and Andrew Foreman for their excellent musicianship and dedication in helping me make this dream a reality.  Thanks to Hermon Mehari for playing on the other songs in this album, sharing his creativity and contagious enthusiasm.  Thanks to Patricia Rutledge and Robert Hancock for their incredible generosity in helping to fund this album.  Thanks to my parents and family for raising me in a Christian home and supporting my love of music.  Thanks to Jason McGlone, Rob Schlette, and Matt Holmes for their audio expertise.  I thank all of you who are reading this and listening to my music, and I pray that you discover, or are more deeply entrenched in, God’s love from this experience.  And above all, thanks to God for this gift of music and the most consequential gift of all: eternal life through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ.

I leave you with three verses that were particularly meaningful to me as I was reading through the Bible and working on this project.

Luke 3:11

…Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.

Luke 12:22, 34

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Acts 20:24

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.