There has always been a need for the soothing balm of music. In a world that is constantly bombarded with bad news and chaos from every angle, sacred music transports the listener and performer alike into heavenly realms of joy. Such was the case with the sixth installment of the “Power and Glory of God Through Music” concert series, “Worthy is the Lamb.”
There can be no finer point of study than the salvation of mankind. That God would condescend to come to this broken world and pull it out of the pit into which it had dug itself is a testament to love on a scale incomprehensible. And all that is required of us is to accept the offering the Lamb of Heaven brings. We live, because of this Lamb, Jesus Christ. We sing joyously, “Worthy is the Lamb!”
The titles of the concert, put into verse:
O Trinity Te Deum, The Heavens Are Telling
of All Things Bright and Beautiful
How Great Thou Art, oh God,
Be Still, My Soul, singing Alleluia
to The Church’s One Foundation
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,
accept our song of the The Old Hundredth Psalm
from “all people that on earth do dwell,”
Worthy Is the Lamb that was Slain and now lives!
Music, the Language of the Redeemed
The program started out with Trinity Te Deum, a modern work by a young composer who has established himself as a solid entity in the halls of choral composition. The piece featured sparkling brass and harp, with strong organ support. It was a fantastic way to start off the program.
Part 1 - Christ, the Beautiful Creator
This first part of the program focused on the creator aspect of Christ. Featuring a range of compositional styles from Hyden’s “The Heaven’s are Telling” to Rutter’s “All things Bright and Beautiful”, this section was gentle and soft, right until the orchestra performed “How Great Thou Art” by Dan Forrest.
Part 2 - Christ, the Source of Peace
The energy of the orchestra only piece of Part 1 was countered nicely by Wilberg’s arrangement of “Be Still My Soul,” a lovely introspective presentation of Christ as our source of peace. The next piece brought even more calm to the weary soul with another Wilberg arrangement that had the choir only sing one word: “Alleluia.” And yet when listening to this piece so much is conveyed by just that one word. Then, as if to rouse the saints from any slumber they may have been lulled into, Dan Forrest’s “The Church’s One Foundation” roared to live with brass, percussion and organ, powerfully affirming the position of Christ as the root of His Church.
Part 3 - Christ, the Worthy Lamb
The final section of the program started big and stayed that way until the end. Headlined by yet another Wilberg arrangement, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” the audience was brought into heaven’s light by a piece that, although started quietly, ended with such a thunderous sound it would be hard to imagine would could follow. Vaughn Williams was up to the task with this “Old Hundredth Psalm” setting, for full orchestra, choir and organ. At this point there was little space to go higher. Nothing would be more appropriate than the ending to Handel’s Messiah then “Worthy is the Lamb!” With this music, every musician was pushed to the max in joyous song, filling the cavernous space of the church with rapturous strains of melody and harmony. Worthy is the Lamb! Amen!
About the Program
The music program presented on February 22, 2020 is part 3 in the second chapter of the "Power and Glory of God Through Music" concert series. In 2019, this chapter continued with the concert "Christ Our Song" and concludes here with "Worthy is the Lamb!" The final part of this chapter focuses on the Savior of the world; the Son of God who came down to give His life to save us. Worthy is the Lamb! Together with several other churches in the area, we are bringing to our audience a grand program of sacred, uplifting, and awe-inspiring music featuring a combined mass choir, orchestra, and organ.
We are constantly bombarded with news of bad things happening; on the local level, on the national level, on the global level. Music offers a break from that. Specifically, this music program exists for two reasons: to return a musical offering to the Lord, and to provide a brief respite from the constant bombardment of bad things in the world around us.
It may be noticed that there are no holidays near the program date. This is by design. The goal is to provide a musical oasis, no matter how brief, without the emotional ties to a holiday or event. The program is altruistic in nature; it exists because music and musical opportunities are good as well as fun.
Bill served the First United Methodist Church of Orlando for 23 years as Director of Music and Worship Arts. There he administered a program of 14 ensembles and annually directed two concerts with full orchestra. Prior to Orlando, Bill held similar positions with churches in Fort Myers, FL; Wood River, IL; and Sioux Falls, SD. He holds degrees from Millikin University (BME) and the University of Illinois (MM). Previously, Bill served The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts as national president and vice-president, as well as president of the Florida chapter.
Mack Wilberg is a composer, arranger, conductor, choral clinician and the current music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. His compositions and arrangements are performed and recorded by choral organizations throughout the world. In addition to the many compositions he has written for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, his works have been performed by such artists as Renée Fleming, Frederica von Stade, Bryn Terfel, the King’s Singers, narrators Walter Cronkite and Claire Bloom.
- Be Still, My Soul
- Love Divine All Loves Excelling
John Rutter is a conductor, record producer, and prolific composer of primarily choral works. Some of his best known and internationally acclaimed works include "Gloria", "Requiem", and "Magnificat". In 1981, Rutter founded his own choir, the Cambridge Singers, which he conducts and with which he has made many recordings of sacred choral repertoire (including his own works), particularly under his own label Collegium Records. He resides at Duxford in Cambridgeshire and frequently conducts many choirs and orchestras around the world.
- All Things Bright and Beautiful
Dan Forrest has been described as having "an undoubted gift for writing beautiful music….that is truly magical" (NY Concert Review), with works hailed as "magnificent, very cleverly constructed sound sculpture" (Classical Voice), and “superb writing…full of spine-tingling moments” (Salt Lake Tribune). In the last decade, Dan’s music has become well established in the repertoire of choirs in the U.S. and abroad. Dan’s music has received dozens of awards and distinctions, with premieres in major venues around the world. Dan is active as a composer, educator, and pianist.
- How Great Thou Art
- The Church's One Foundation
Joseph Haydn was an Austrian composer of the Classical period. He was instrumental in the development of chamber music such as the piano trio. His contributions to musical form have earned him the epithets "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet". Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family at their remote estate. Until the later part of his life, this isolated him from other composers and trends in music so that he was, as he put it, "forced to become original". He was a friend and mentor of Mozart, a tutor of Beethoven, and the older brother of composer Michael Haydn.
- The Heavens Are Telling
Ēriks Ešenvalds is one of the most sought-after composers working today, with a busy commission schedule and performances of his music heard on every continent. After study at the Latvian Baptist Theological Seminary and the Latvian Academy of Music, he was a member of the State Choir Latvija. In 2011 he was awarded the two-year position of Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. Ēriks has won multiple awards for his work and undertakes many international residencies working on his music and lecturing.
- Trinity Te Deum
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams composed his first work at the age of six and learned the piano, organ and violin as a child. In 1897 went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, to read history and music. He returned to the college in 1889 as a pupil of Stanford and began his lifelong friendship with another student, Gustav Holst. They shared a determination to be 'English composers' and candidly dissected each other's efforts to find an individual style while at the same time encouraging each other. Williams' musical creed was that 'every composer cannot expect to have a worldwide message, but he may reasonable expect to have a special message for his own people'.
- All People That on Earth Do Dwell
George Frideric Handel
The first basis of Handel’s style was the north German music of his childhood, but it was soon completely overlaid by the Italian style that he acquired in early adulthood during his travels in Italy. When Italian operas fell out of fashion, he started composing oratorios, including his most famous, Messiah. During his lifetime, Handel composed nearly 30 oratorios and close to 50 operas. He was also a prolific writer of orchestral pieces and concerti grossi. He is said to have made significant contributions to all of the musical genres of his generation.
- Worthy is the Lamb, from Messiah
The Choir - An Exciting Partnership
The choir this year is composed of members from the Markham Woods Seventh-day Adventist church in Longwood, First Methodist Church of Orlando, Spring Meadows Seventh-day Adventist church, Forest Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church Choir, members of the Men of Markham Woods men's chorus, the vocal octet Restoration, several out of state choir performers, and numerous friends from the Orlando community and surrounding areas.
The concert is a unique and exciting opportunity to blend the choral talents of many congregations, and the result is anticipated to produce amazing experiences for both choir singers and audiences alike.
The Instrumentalists - An Incredible Experience
The concert this year provides a once-off exciting experience for the instrumentalists. Often an orchestra is composed of an established group. Here we have the blending of several smaller groups, including members of the Orlando Philharmonic, the Markham Woods Brass, Sabbath Strings, and students from Forest Lake Academy, Lake Highland Academy, and numerous friends from the Orlando community and surrounding areas.
Together with full pipe organ and handbells, the instruments for this years concert promise to deliver a spectacular experience for performers and audience alike.