Immortal Invisible

Immortal InvisibleI am posting my new song Immortal Invisible with this post. It’s the first orchestral arrangement I’ve written in a while, since before I started finishing up my collegiate studies a few years ago.

The Hymn

This hymn was written by Walter Chalmers Smith who was known for writing poetry. Out of all of the volumes of poetry that Smith has written, this is the only piece that remains in common use. It is found in most modern hymnals and sung in many churches today.

The first verse goes:

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible, hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

All of the verses of this great hymn help us to know more about who God is, that He is the creator and sustainer of life.  You might notice that light is mentioned several times throughout the hymn. Smith’s use of light is not to say that there isn’t enough light to see God, but that the splendor of His light is so great that we cannot look upon Him.

The theme of the song comes from 1 Timothy 1:17 which says, “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

The Arrangement

I started out playing the melody in a minor key and just thought about how beautiful it sounded. I also love cinematic music, so I decided to make it sound like it was meant for cinema. The hymn is triumphant and joyful and the arrangement surely ends that way. I didn’t want to lose that joy and triumph so I made sure the final verse had that. That is why I am not calling this arrangement a direct arrangement of the hymn Immortal Invisible God Only Wise, but this composition is based on the melody of the hymn tune.

The Recording

I use Logic Pro X for all my recordings. I originally played around with Cubase LE back in the early 2000s when I had a free copy. I bought my first Apple computer in 2006 and began using GarageBand for recordings. I loved being able to pull up an instrument patch, plug in my keyboard and go to town. Since then, I have upgraded to Garageband’s much more sophisticated older brother, Logic Pro X. Logic came with a lot of great software instruments, which the piano is a packaged sound recording of a Steinway Grand Piano. I changed the EQ on the piano a little to darken it up a little, and some reverb.

Some lower strings are introduced at the beginning, as well as the electronic click sounds and rhythmic synths. Higher strings are introduced in the second verse, along with french horns, and orchestral percussion. The orchestra sounds come from a software plugin company called EastWest. I am using their Symphonic Orchestra Gold Samples for all my orchestra recordings. I was able to obtain a copy several years ago and I have never looked back when it came to orchestral samples.

This is the first piece in a very long time that I have tried my hand at Mastering. The volume of the piece does not compare to professional recordings, but I think I’m getting in that direction.

Now, without further ado.. Immortal Invisible.

5 Tips for Leading a Small Church Choir

5 Tips for Leading a Small Church ChoirAs a pastor’s kid and a music minister, I’ve served in church worship ministry in a variety of capacities for the last 15 years. During that time, I’ve been involved in music ministries of all sizes, shapes and colors – as a worship leader, director of music, choir member and instrumentalist. Much of my full time, paid ministry leadership positions have been in small churches around 100-200 regular attenders – and usually with more traditional worship styles that include a choir. With that in mind, I’d like to share 5 tips for leading a small church choir.

  1. Manage your expectations. If you come from a background in academia, you might find yourself struggling with leading a small church choir. Many of your choir members may not be skilled vocalists with proper training – they may not even read music! Many small church choir members participate because they love to sing and they want to use that passion for giving God the glory. Once you embrace that and manage your expectations accordingly, you will find leading a small church choir much more enjoyable. And your choir members will appreciate your leadership as well.
  2. Keep it simple. In small churches, choir members are often leaders in other ministry areas as well. You should recognize that your choir members may not be able to devote all of their spare time to your ministry, and keep that in mind when planning the music ministry calendar.
  3. Don’t be afraid to challenge them. Although your choir members may not be trained vocalists (see tip #1), you should still push them to grow in their musical abilities. Don’t shy away from a challenging piece of music because you think your choir can’t handle it. Recognize that it’s going to be a challenge and be transparent with your choir about that, but inspire them to work toward it and give them the time to do so. You might be surprised what they can do, and they’ll be rewarded by the challenge.
  4. Train, train, train. This tip is related to tips #1 and #3. You are their leader, director, and pastor-teacher, and just as a teaching pastor pushes his congregation to grow spiritually and equips them to do so, you should be pushing your choir members to grow musically and equipping them as well. Allot some time in each rehearsal for training exercises. Offer vocal coaching. Teach them basic sight reading.
  5. Minister to your members. Whatever your job title at the church may be, as the choir director you are a worship leader who is stewarding others to lead in worship as well. That makes you a minister of the gospel of reconciliation between God and man through his son, Jesus. As a minister of the gospel, you should be ministering to your choir members – leading them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus, deepening their understanding of the gospel, and loving them by bearing their burdens and their joys. You should be involved in your choir members’ lives, praying for them often, teaching them truth and doctrine through the Word and in song.

Are you involved in small church music ministry? Do you have any tips for leading a small church choir? Share them in the comments!