I am the luckiest. For most of my childhood I was blessed having both of my grandmothers living in my hometown. It was an added bonus having two great grandmothers nearby as well. A special bond exists between grandmothers and granddaughters. We had silly sleepovers, crazy fun outdoor adventures and warm family gatherings.
And there was music. When I first began accompanying the children in Sunday School, Grandma Jennie was the music director. I loved hearing her play her autoharp. Each year the family laughed and laughed as we performed the bells at Christmas time. I would ride my bike over to her house to practice her organ when I was around ten. I still remember one day taking a break from my practicing so that she could teach me to dance the cha cha. Oh how we giggled!
Singing around the piano, Grandma Nott would request her three favorites: Minuet Waltz, Blue Moon and I Need Thee Every Hour. She sang straight from her heart. She was born and raised in Texas, and if there’s one thing a Texan knows, it’s how to sing a plaintive melody. My sisters and I would always ask her to sing the folk songs she learned from her mother that tugged at our heartstrings.
This arrangement is dedicated to my beautiful grandmothers. It was written for three-part women’s voices. It’s a little on the low side. Here in the video my daughter sings it alone (er… as a duet if you count Skylee). To perform it as a solo, simply sing the second soprano part until measure 28 and then jump up to the first soprano. Thanks again and again Jesse for the video!!! You ROCK!!! I am also including an instrumental audio version with three part harmony.
We live in challenging times. Uncertainty is the new norm. I pray for us all as we navigate our way through this mortal journey we call life. Now more than ever I find myself leaning heavily on my love of family, my faith, and on music. Music has an energy all its own and if in listening to my arrangements you find peace and a momentary respite from your worries, it makes my heart full.
The Lord is my light; then why should I fear? By day and by night his presence is near. He is my salvation from sorrow and sin; This blessed assurance the Spirit doth bring.
The Lord is my light; tho clouds may arise,
Faith, stronger than sight, looks up thru the skies
Where Jesus forever in glory doth reign.
Then how can I ever in darkness remain?
The Lord is my light; the Lord is my strength.
I know in his might I’ll conquer at length.
My weakness in mercy he covers with pow’r,
And, walking by faith, I am blest ev’ry hour.
The Lord is my light, my all and in all.
There is in his sight no darkness at all.
He is my Redeemer, my Savior, and King.
With Saints and with angels his praises I’ll sing.
The Holy Ghost. The third member of the Godhead. A personage of spirit, He teaches us what to do and where to go. Yet as I go about life His influence can be easy to miss because He often speaks in a still, small voice. I love that the sign of the dove has been given as a calm, serene, peaceful witness for the Holy Ghost.
George Reynolds stated, “The Holy Spirit is also something which we, for lack of better terms, may characterize as energy, a force, a power, an influence, which proceedeth from the Godhead and fills the universe, both the visible and invisible. This energy, this influence, can be poured out; the inner man can be immersed in it as the body in the waters of baptism.”
LeGrand Richards shared that the Holy Ghost is in the medium through whom God and his Son, Jesus Christ, communicate with us upon the earth, unless through personal visitation. The Holy Ghost enlightens our minds and gives us the knowledge and the truth when we have faith in Christ and seek sincerely in order that we may accept the truth.
It is humbling to stand at the base of the Lincoln Memorial and look up into the face of the man who lead our country through some of its most troubled times. Abraham Lincoln has always been and will remain my favorite president of the United States. A self-educated man, he possessed a sharp wit and rose to greatness in part due to his perseverance, courage and vision. He once said, “It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong.”
In a speech made just before he took office in 1860, Lincoln said, “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.” Dare to Do Right — an arrangement for children’s choir. Click HERE to download free sheet music
I have always admired Joseph Brickey's painting Journey to Bethlehem. The little shepherd boy and Mary lock eyes as they pass one another along the road. Did the young boy’s heart burn within him? Did he wonder why?
On that very night Christ would be born and those chosen to be the first witnesses were humble shepherds. I think of the moments leading up to the angel appearing to them to declare good tidings of great joy. Might someone have been humming a low, quiet tune to calm the sheep? Perhaps a soft melody of a flute floated through the night air.
As I sat down to arrange this piece, I chose to begin and end it with stillness. At first it is the tranquility of shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. Towards the middle there is more of an urgency as they leave in haste to follow the star. And it closes with the peaceful night visit in the manger while those very same shepherds draw close to adore the newborn babe.
May the peace that comes from the Good Shepherd abide in your hearts this holiday season and all year through. Merry Christmas!!
In Ephesians 5:19-20 the saints are exhorted to go about, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Count Your Blessings brings back a feeling of nostalgia for me. I remember a much younger version of myself sitting in the pews at church each week next to family and friends, the sun streaming in through tall windows. We must have sung this hymn a lot because even today when I sing it, I feel the warm presence of my Grandma Jennie smiling over at me.
So with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I sat down at the piano to write with this familiar melody in my heart.
Count your blessings;
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings;
See what God hath done.
Bonnie Parkin gives great insight: “Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence.”
Living each day in thanksgiving takes effort. I’m sure I fail at it more often than not, but I know that when I do stop and reflect on the blessings all around me, both seen and unseen, it brings me great joy.
This piece brings my prelude offerings to a cool dozen. I have given the left hand the melody line so don’t be afraid to lean on it and let it shine. I hope that while playing it, Christ’s peace will find a home in your heart.
“True discipleship is for volunteers only. Only volunteers will trust the Guide sufficiently to follow Him in the dangerous ascent which only He can lead.”