March 27, 2012

Hymn History: He Lives!

Alfred H. Ackley was born on January 21, 1887. His father, a Methodist preacher and musically gifted man, gave Alfred his foundation in music at an early age. Alfred went on to study harmony and composition in New York and London. His specialty was cello. Over time, he felt a call to preach and pastored for many years, but never stopped writing music and hymns.

One particular morning, Easter Sunday in 1932, Rev. Ackley was preparing for his services of the day. As he was shaving, he tuned in to the radio in time to hear a special Easter broadcast.

“Good morning!” The well-known liberal preacher began. “It’s Easter! You know folks, it really doesn’t make any difference to me if Christ be risen or not. As far as I am concerned His body could be as dust in some Palestinian tomb. The man thing is, His truth goes marching on!”

Rev. Ackley was furious. “It’s a lie!” he shouted at the radio set, forgetting that the speaker could not hear him.

Mrs. Ackley did hear him, however, and questioned, “Why are you shouting so early in the morning?”

“Didn’t you hear what that good-for-nothing preacher said?” he replied. “He said it didn’t matter whether Christ be risen or not!”

Rev. Ackley knew that the truth of the resurrection DID matter, as evidenced by a conversation he had had with a young Jewish man just a few weeks prior. “Why should I worship a dead Jew?” the young man asked; to which Rev. Ackley had replied, “That’s the whole point. He isn’t dead; He’s alive!”

Rev. Ackley, in telling the story later, said that he preached that Easter Sunday quite differently than he had ever preached before, but at the end of the day, still felt that he had not yet said everything he wanted to say!

His wife sized up the situation and said, “Listen here, Alfred Ackley, it’s time you did that which you can do best. Why don’t you write a song about it and then maybe you’ll feel better. You’ll have something that will go on telling the story.”

That very night, Rev. Alfred Ackley wrote out the words, and then composed the melody just as it appears in our hymnals today.

I serve a risen Saviour, He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.

In all the world around me I see His loving care,
And tho’ my heart grows weary I never will despair;
I know that He is leading thro’ all the stormy blast,
The day of His appearing will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind.

He lives, he lives Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!

Adapted from Music in the Air, Mark Ward Sr. and Al Smith’s Treasury of Hymn Histories

March 23, 2012

The Best Of: Easter Activities Edition

Welcome to The Best Of: where I round up some great links for you from around the www. that I have enjoyed this week! PS: These links are best enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee. :)

Susan Paradis has a  new worksheet Bunny Basics (as well as a whole host of other Easter activities...which you should be able to see if you go here.)

Melody at The Plucky Pianista has several Easter activities: an Easter Egg Scramble, Easter Egg Scavenger hunt in Middle C position, Easter Egg Scavenger hunt Elementary,  and Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt Early Elementary

Pianoanne says Hooray for Eggs! =)

I am sure there will be more links as Easter draws closer. For now, does anyone know of any I've missed?

Have some great online musical content that you don't see featured? Perhaps I don't know about it! Leave me a comment so I can check it out! =)

March 20, 2012

Hymn History: His Name Is Wonderful

Audrey Mieir was used by God to write this chorus that has become a favourite in the gospel field, and she tells the story of its writing this way:

“Christmas came on Sunday that year and for once His birth seemed more important to everyone than toys and presents. Fragrant pine boughs perfumed the air in our little Bethel Union Church in Duarte, California. A kind of hushed expectancy filled the place as ‘Silent Night, Holy Night’ swelled from the organ. All heads were bowed, eyes were closed, and an occasional tear rolled down a wrinkled cheek - remembering 50, 60, even 70 other Christmases, thankful for the love of God and family, their presents and His presence! Little children sat impatiently anticipating the re-creation of the old, old story - their eyes sparkling, reflecting Christmas tree lights, not wanting to miss anything including the Christmas play, afterward the dinner and presents which were stacked and waiting.

The curtain opened. There it was as it would be depicted countless times that day, the humble manger scene. Mary was a shy teenager, cheeks flushed with excitement, holding someone’s baby doll close in her arms. A young Joseph hovered over her, his smooth face discreetly hidden in old drapery. A beautiful angel glittered and shone, out-brillianced only by the flashing smile for mom and dad in aisle two. Her halo had slipped precariously to one side. Eleven-year-old shepherds shuffled down the aisle with unmistakable reticence, their jeans peeking out form under dad’s old robe.

The procession halted and the choir sang, “Sleep in heavenly peace.” Dr. Luther Mieir’s voice filled the small church - ‘His name is wonderful,’ he said with his hands lifted heavenward. And I - I heard the familiar rustling of angel wings. I did not know at that strangely moving moment that a once-in-a-lifetime experience was about to happen. As I grabbed my old Bible and wrote in it, more than with any other of my songs, I felt as if I were only a channel, as if I were not otherwise involved

God blessed ‘His Name Is Wonderful’ and it seemed to capture people’s hearts but one day I met Tim Spencer who said to me, ‘Audrey, it’s a good song but there just isn’t enough of it. Maybe you could write a bridge for it.’ he explained the word to me and showed me how I could extended the song and enlarge the blessing of its message. I was just on my way to lunch. After I had ordered my hamburger, I began to think of Tim’s suggestion and so I opened my Bible there in the booth to the concordance and began to run my finger down the list of names given to Jesus in the Scripture. I wrote them down on my napkin. After I had returned to the office, I went to the piano and finished the song.

At that moment, I did not foresee the ministry one little song of praise could have and that I would hear it sung all around the world. I heard it in Sweden, all through Korea, and the Philippines. Never shall I forget the thousands of students in Hong Kong lifting it heavenward from their roof top schools; nor hearing it sung in the Garden of Gethsemane - and experience that was truly ‘joy unspeakable!’”

God bless you, Audrey Mieir, and thank you for the immortal “His Name Is Wonderful!”

Adapted from Al Smith's Treasury of Hymn Histories

His Name is Wonderful,
His Name is Wonderful,
His Name is Wonderful,
Jesus my Lord.

He is the Mighty King
Master of everything,
His Name is Wonderful
Jesus my Lord.

He's the Great Shepherd
The Rock of all ages
Almighty God is He!

Bow down before Him
Love and adore Him
His Name is Wonderful,
Jesus my Lord.

March 16, 2012

Best Of: Little Things Edition

Welcome to The Best Of: where I round up some great links for you from around the www. that I have enjoyed this week! PS: These links are best enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee. :)

A Little Thought: "Thought for the week"

A Little Truth: "This Quote Should Be on Every Wall of my Studio"

A Little Note: "You Know You Are Doing Ok When"

A Little Game: "The Amazing Keyboard Race"

A Little Arrangement (just released!): "How Great Thou Art"

A Little Humor: Cocktails? During piano lessons?

Hope everyone had a fabulous March break!!

Have some great musical blog content that you don't see featured? Perhaps I don't know about it! Leave me a comment so I can check it out! =)

March 13, 2012

Hymn History: Onward Christian Soldiers

The Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould was ordained as a clergyman of the Church of England in 1864. He must have been an interesting man, for he was not content to merely propose to his future bride, but he also performed the ceremony! It must have been quite an experience to hear the officiating minister ask himself, “Will you, Sabine, take this woman, Grace, to be your lawful wedded wife?” and then reply to himself, “I will.” Anyway, when the bride kissed the groom she was kissing the minister at the same time. Whether he took the fee out of his left pocket and deposited it in his right after the ceremony has never been determined.

Pentecost, the Sunday that comes fifty days after Easter, is knowing in England as Whitsunday, an abbreviation of White-Sunday, from the custom of wearing white on that occasion. The day following, Whitmonday, is a legal as well as a Church holiday. On Whitmonday, 1865, Rev. Baring-Gould had arranged an outing for the children of his parish, including a hike from his own Church to a nearby village. Knowing that children like to march, and also how difficult it is for their elders to keep them together unless they are marching, he asked his helpers to find a good marching hymn to help them keep order during the hike.

The helpers could find no such hymn. Since Rev. Baring-Gould had already written other hymns, several of the parishioners suggested that he write his own marching hymn.

Unperturbed, this thiry-one-year-old pastor did just that. With no thought of writing a hymn for a nation at war, little dreaming that his stanzas would ever be so misconstrued, and taking a theme from Haydn’s “Symphony in D” for his music, he dashed off five stanzas of this thrilling hymn.

Rev. Baring-Gould lived to the age of ninety and wrote over eighty-five books, but he is more often remembered for one of the most militant marching hymns in all Christendom.

An interesting note: both this hymn and another of Sabine Baring-Gould’s hymns are written in the same metrical pattern: The first and third lines have six syllables; the second and fourth contain 5 syllables, with the whole pattern being doubled into a poem of eight lines.
Adapted from "Living Stories of Famous Hymns," Ernest K. Emurian

March 9, 2012

The Best Of: St. Patrick's Day Edition

Welcome to The Best Of: where I round up some great links for you from around the www. that I have enjoyed this week! PS: These links are best enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee. :)

Super short list today, but wanted to share some new games ala St. Patrick's Day!

Susan Paradis made my job easier, and complied all her St. Patrick's Day related games and activities here. (Includes composing activities, games, and worksheets!)

Sarah designed some Shamrock Interval Builder Cards that look easy to use this coming week!

I did some internet hunting, but this was all I could come up with for St. Patricks day! Does anyone else know of some other resources/links that you could share with us? We'd love to hear! Just leave a comment below. Also, tell us what you are doing to celebrate this week with your students!

March 6, 2012

Hymn History: Lord, I'm Coming Home

Professor William H. Kirkpatrick had been writing Gospel music for many years, but perhaps no piece worked in such miraculous ways as the one he wrote in 1902.

Mr. Kirkpatrick was leading the music for a Methodist Camp Meeting near Philadelphia. God had given him reason to doubt the salvation of a certain soloist that had been chosen to help with the meeting. Each night, after singing his solo, the soloist would leave, never staying to listen to the message or participate in the fellowship of God’s people. Feeling burdened for this singer, Mr. Kirkpatrick began to pray for the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart.

Two days went by, and although the messages of the evangelists were stirring many people’s heart to decide for Christ, the singer failed to be moved. As Mr. Kirkpatrick continued to pray he questioned, “Will God ever hear my prayers?”

He was so burdened that he felt the Lord led him to perform a rather unusual plan. The Lord led him to write a special invitation song with the soloist in mind, and then have him sing it. He did this, and that very evening, the Lord worked. The soloist, instead of leaving directly as was his custom, stayed for the preaching after and was the first at the altar to accept Christ as Saviour. This new song that so worked in his heart was, “Lord, I’m Coming Home.”

George Sanville, a close friend of Mr. Kirkpatrick, tells the following interesting story about the Professor:

“The year was 1921. Kirk was at his desk in his study working on a poem which he would later put to music. Mrs. Kirkpatrick was tired and had retired for the night. She awakened sometime later and seeing that the light was still on in her husband’s study, she called to him, ‘Professor, it’s very late, don’t you think you had better come to bed?’ He replied, ‘I’m all right, dear, I have a little work I want to finish. Go back to sleep, everything is all right.’ Mrs. Kirkpatrick went to sleep, but when she awakened a second time and called, there was no response. She went to his study and found him sitting in his chair but leaning forward on his desk. Mr. Kirkpatrick had boarded the Heavenly Train for that continuing city of which he had so often written so beautifully.”

This is the poem that Mrs. Kirkpatrick found, so accurately depicting the life that the Professor lived dedicated to the Lord:

Just as Thou wilt, Lord, this is my cry
Just as Thou wilt, to live or die
I am Thy servant, Thou knowest best,
Just as Thou wilt, Lord labor or rest.

Just as Thou wilt, Lord, which shall it be?
Life everlasting waiting for me --
Or shall I tarry, here at Thy feet?
Just as Thou wilt, Lord, whatever is meet.

That was all. He left this life quietly, in full obedience of a complete surrender to the Will of God. “I will receive you unto Myself, that where I am, ye may be also.”

Adapted from Al Smith’s Treasury of Hymn Histories

I’ve wandered far away from God,
Now I’m coming home;
The paths of sin too long I’ve trod,
Lord, I’m coming home.

I’ve wasted many precious years,
Now I’m coming home;
I now repent with bitter tears,
Lord, I’m coming home.

I’m tired of sin and straying, Lord,
Now I’m coming home;
I’ll trust Thy love, believe Thy word,
Lord, I’m coming home.

My soul is sick, my heart is sore,
Now I’m coming home;
My strength renew, my home restore,
Lord, I’m coming home.

My only hope, my only plea,
Now I’m coming home;
That Jesus died, and died for me,
Lord, I’m coming home.

I need His cleansing blood I know,
Now I’m coming home;
Oh, wash me whiter than the snow,
Lord, I’m coming home.

Coming home, coming home,
Nevermore to roam;
Open wide Thine arms of love,
Lord, I’m coming home.

March 5, 2012

The Best Of: Considerations Edition

Normally I post "The Best Of:" on Friday afternoons, but my computer was giving me fits and would not post! Instead, you get to enjoy a Monday edition, so sit back and enjoy some great reads. Happy Monday!

Welcome to The Best Of: where I round up some great links for you from around the www. that I have enjoyed this week! PS: These links are best enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee. :)

Some things to Read:
Don't Warm Up - WHAAATT?? Greatest piano tip ever! :)
Adding Another Dimension to your Studio - Karate? Who knew?
Called to Authenticity - do we take this call seriously enough?
I Have Been doing this for 30 Years 
Teaching Tips from Snowboard School - this has been a great series so far! Who would have known that snowboard school and piano could go together! :)
Congregational Accompaniment Considerations - 3rd in a series of great posts

Specifically for teachers:
Assignment Notebook/Pages for Students - Joy has such and interesting discussion going on in the comments section! It is inspiring to learn from other teachers!
When Students Forget Their Books - 25 great ideas

Vintage sheet music candle (ends today!!!)
Music-inspired necklaces (ends Thursday)

What musically-inspiring things have you been reading this week??