A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief (John Taylor)
This is likely the actual tune that John Taylor sang for Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail in 1844. It was uncovered by Taylor descendant Mark Taylor a few years ago. You can read about it here. My first setting is in the plain but lovely 19th century style that is common to our LDS hymnal. The second harmonization is a more musically complex one. A discussion of the history of this hymn can be read on my blog.
Best for Last (Children)
An original Mother’s Day song for Primary children. I love the idea of Heavenly Father as the consummate artist. While he proclaimed all his creations good, woman, who was created last, was his masterpiece.
Come Nearer Unto Me
The Pirates of Penzance has been a favourite of mine since I sang the part of Samuel in grade 8. I had always thought “Ah, Leave Me Not To Pine” would make a great hymn, and years later I wrote words for my ward choir to sing.
Come Unto Him
Also known by it’s first line, “I wander through the still of night”, this is an example in our hymnbook of a lovely text paired with unattractive music. My choral arrangement uses the tune “Waly Waly” and this is a congregational version of that music.
Give Ear Unto the Words of Him
The text of this hymn is one of several passages of scripture that I have set to verse, this one, D&C 45:3-5, in common metre. I wrote two other musical settings but decided the tune Resignation from the Southern Harmony, usually sung with the Isaac Watts hymn “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need”, fit best.
My Testimony (Children)
A few days before the deadline for submissions for the revised children’s song book in June 2019, the thought came to me that I should write a song describing some memories I have from my early childhood (pre baptism). Though these verses might seem trite, they describe quite accurately real experiences that influenced the course of my life.
Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow
When I first started writing hymns with Orson Scott Card I had the idea of writing a tune that he could set words to, and I came up with this odd melody. It was forgotten for 16 years, when I came upon the hand-written sketch I had made with lyrics for three verses. Here, finally, is the finished hymn I named Kirkland at the time of composition, after my Montreal ward. It’s certainly unique!
I wanted to write a hymn that summarized some milestones of early church history. The result is ballad-like, each verse telling a story, and that means a longer-than-usual hymn, but I find it satisfying nonetheless. I felt the text was strong, but it took me three tries over four years to compose music I was satisfied with. It is meant to be reminiscent of a 19th century American folk hymn.
Savior, Redeemer of My Soul
Orson F. Whitney was an apostle in the early 20th century who had a vivid vision of Jesus in Gethsemane that changed his life. This hymn, written years later, reflects that remarkable experience and I had that in mind as I wrote this new setting.
Thy Holy Light
One Sunday the line came to me “Father, in thy holy light, let me see the visions of the night.” I thought that would make a good hymn chorus, so I came up with two more rhymes, “Let my eyes discern the wrong from right” and “let me sit with those all clothed in white”. I jotted those down in my phone and forgot about it. Months later I came across this note and decided it was time. I looked for scripture stories that would match those closing lines. Then I tried matching music to the words. Then I wrote different music and revised my poetry to match that. Finally a version emerged that I was happy with. So, a little inspiration, a lot of persperation.
What Is This Thing That Men Call Death?
Listening to the Tabernacle Choir sing at President Hinckley’s funeral in 2008, I thought I’d like to try writing a setting of my own. This is the second version I came up with, words by Gordon B. Hinkley.
When First the Glorious Plan Was Heard
My mission companion Bob Woolley will remember me discussing hymns with him and deciding there ought to be a hymn on the premortal life. I wrote this text shortly after my mission and tried several times to set it (one attempt became the Christmas carol below). This version is from the midst of my setting so many Orson Scott Card hymns.
When First 'Twas Heard That Christ Was Born
This Christmas carol was written when I was a graduate student, staying home with a sick baby. It won a Carol competition at Brock University. The recording is of my Chorale in 2000.