This is my third CD
recording project to date. This was recorded and mixed
in a whirlwind timeframe of two weeks in June 2010.
Many of these tunes are ones I had played during the
monthly Communion service at
James Crinken Church in Shankill, Ireland.
Included on the recording are
six traditional hymns
and five tracks
composed by myself (see titles
The title "The
Communion of Saints" comes out of the idea in the
traditional creeds (ie.
The Apostle's Creed). Although elements of
theological speculation were later attached to the idea of "communion of
saints", in its most natural form -- it simply refers to
the fellowship and heritage of all believers (both living
and dead) spread out through time (past, present,
future), across cultures and languages who
participate in the shared experience as members of "one
body" in Christ. I also had in mind the idea of
"Holy Communion", a different, but also related idea.
previous CD recordings, where I used several other
instrumentalists, I decided to focus on just solo guitar
arrangements with subtle keyboard accompaniment
known for his soundtrack for the PBS documentary
The result here is a more contemplative sound
than in past recordings.
All tunes were recorded
using my Taylor 412-K acoustic guitar in DADGAD tuning.
1. To Be A Pilgrim
The words come from a
song known by the title "Who Would True Valor See" from
John Bunyan's "Pilgrim Progress". It was later put to
the tune from the traditional Sussex melody "Monk's
Gate" by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), and
English composer of several well-known hymns and
collector of English folk songs. Ironically, he was
described by his second wife as "an atheist ... [who]
later drifted into a cheerful agnosticism."
2. St. Kevin's Hymn*
This hymn was written
from numerous other tunes I had going around my head. It
is inspired partly by a hymn called "O Jerusalem", as
well some of the music from the Taizé Community of
France. St. Kevin was the founder of the monastic site
of Glendalough in the 6th century, located in County
Wicklow, Ireland, about 20 miles south of where our
family lived for almost 3 years.
3. Brethren, We Have Met
Words for this hymn are
by George Atkins, 1819. Music from the tune "Holy Manna"
attributed to William Moore in 1825 I first heard an
instrumental arrangement of this hymn by classical
guitarist Christopher Parkening ("Simple Gifts" -
4. Walk The Kids* /
These are two tunes I
wrote in a slip-jig rhythm. "Walk The Kids" title is
inspired by my daily walks with the kids as I drop them
off at school. Dalkey Island is a small island just off
the coast near Dún Laoghaire harbour in Ireland. The
island is the site of the 8th-Century St Begnet’s
Church. I had fantastic views of the island from our
house in Bray, Ireland
5. Beech Spring
The tune itself comes
from an old "shape-note" hymn and was published in a
Hymnal titled "The Sacred Harp" in 1844. Shape notes
were a form of simple notation using various shapes,
rather than lines on a staff, to represent the pitch.
tune is commonly heard in the hymns "Come, Ye Sinners,
Poor and Needy" written by Joseph Hart 1712-68 and "Lord
Whose Love in Humble Service", written in 1961, words by
Albert F. Bayly
6. What A Friend We Have
The words to this
well-known hymn were written by Joseph M. Scriven in
1855. to comfort his mother in Ireland while in
Canada. This music comes from Charles C. Converse
(1868) under the tune "Erie", after the port town in
Western Pennsylvania. In World War I, the tune was
paired with the words to “When This Bloody War is Over.”
Translated into multiple languages, it is known in
Indonesia as the hymn "Yesus Kawan Sejati". And in
Japan as "Itsukushimi Fukaki" ("Deep Affection").
7. The Waves*
I loved the water and
numerous beaches around Ireland where we had lived for
almost 3 years. The repetition of the flowing and
ebbing of the tides reminds me of constancy of faith,
hope, love in a world that appears at once
both orderly and random, beautiful and terrifying.
8. What Wondrous Love Is
This hymn is also a
well-known "shape-note" tune found in the "Sacred Harp"
hymnal of 1844. Sung in Dorian mode, it has a
beautifully meditative sound well-suited to accompanied
singing. I find it has a striking similarity to old
Irish "Sean-nós" style of singing. This is my own
arrangement for instrumental guitar.
9. Easter Slip Jig*
This is a somewhat
experimental tune I wrote, intended as sort of hymn of
joy set to the dance rhythm of a slip jig with the
themes of Easter, resurrection, spring, and renewal.
The tune comes from "Old
100th", which is found in the Geneva Psalter 1551. The
hymn later associated with this tune was written in 1674
by Thomas Ken, an Anglican Bishop. It was originally the
final verse of a longer hymn called "Awake, My Soul, and
With the Sun". I remember singing this often at the
Methodist Camp in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
God, from Whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, all creatures
Praise Him above, ye
Praise Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost [Amen]'
11. Drawing In The Sand*
I had been working on
remnants of this tune a few months back. But it
fell into it's completed form almost on the spot in
Ronan's studio. It's a very brief arrangement of
what's intended to be a longer tune -- which we faded in
and out, leaving the listener with just a bit of mystery
-- a story left unfinished, if you will ("There's
room for more, Sam!", says Frodo). The title of the tune
recalls John 8, where the Pharisees bring to Jesus a
woman caught in adultery. It is one of those odd details
that have the ring of authenticity:
"...Jesus bent down and
started to write on the ground with his finger. When
they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and
said to them, 'If any one of you is without sin, let him
be the first to throw a stone at her.' Again he stooped
down and wrote on the ground. " (NIV)
The companion to Southern
literature: themes, genres, places, people ...
By Joseph M. Flora, Lucinda Hardwick MacKethan, Todd W.
HymnSite.Com (Rev. Linda K. Morgan-Clark )
Sacred Harp Singing: History & Tradition
by Steven Sabol of the Potomac River Sacred Harp Singers
And, of course, WikiPedia