Like the works of many composers, my compositions run the gamut from instrumental music to art songs and choral pieces. However, working with words has always given me the greatest pleasure. Praise the Spirit, with its title taken from Patricia B. Clark’s wonderful creation hymn, well reflects how various kinds of poetry can inspire the "making" of music. The texts I have set range from the ancient—Psalms of David and a hymn by Clement of Alexandria, first century—to some of the best hymns by today’s active writers. The choir and congregation of Palmer Church have sung my music for 30 years. Over time, I have composed a number of works especially for Palmer, including three works heard on this recording, "Adam lay ybounden"; "Memento, Domine"; and "O Taste, and See." (The latter two were composed for the choir’s trip to East Anglia in 2004.) Of the remaining anthems and motets, practically all were commissioned or composed for a particular group or purpose. "True Anointed One" was commissioned for the 1987 Mid-Winter Region VII conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians; "God So Loved the World," to honor John and Leona Schaefer and the Choir of Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City, MO; "Our Holy Tribute, This," commissioned in 1995 to celebrate the reopening of the nave of Christ Church Cathedral, Houston; and "No More a Stranger or a Guest," to honor the staff of the Mississippi Conference on Church Music and Liturgy. The hymns included here come from my three hymn collections, all published by Selah Publishing Co.: Sing, My Soul (1996); Songs for a New Creation (2002); and New Harmony: A Harp of Thousand Strings (2006), a collaboration with hymn poet Richard Leach. These books represent a significant portion of my output since 1981, when I first began composing hymns.
—David Ashley White
† indicates works commissioned by Palmer Memorial Church
Spirit, moving over chaos
text: Patricia B. Clark, 1997
Spirit, moving over chaos,
bringing light where there was none,
be to us a light, revealing
where the work is to be done.
Praise to God, among us dwelling:
praise the Spirit giving light.
Breath, instilling animation,
giving life, informing soul,
breathe into this congregation
life that makes the Body whole.
Praise to God, among us dwelling:
praise the Spirit giving fire.
[Wind, inflaming fear-filled bodies,
sending them to tell the News,
fire anew your church’s spirit,
show the path we ought to choose.
Praise to God, among us dwelling:
praise the Spirit giving fire.]
Power, Life-force, Inspiration,
blowing, breathing, brooding here,
call, enliven, and empower
for your work, both far and near.
Praise to God, among us dwelling:
praise the Spirit giving strength.
Comfort, comfort ye my people
text: Isaiah 40:1-5, vers. Johann G. Loearious, 1671, tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1863, alt.
Comfort, comfort ye my people, speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness mourning ‘neath sorrows’ load.
Speak ye to Jerusalem of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover, and her warfare now is over.
Hark, the voice of one that crieth in the desert far and near,
calling us to new repentance since kingdom now is here.
Oh, that warning cry obey! Now prepare for God a way;
let the valleys rise to meet him and the hills bow down to greet him.
Make ye straight what long was crooked, make the rougher places plain;
O let your hearts be true and humble, as befits his holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord now o’er earth is shed abroad;
and all flesh shall see the token that the word is never broken.
The Apple Tree
text: Anonymous, collection of Joshua Smith, New Hampshire, 1784
The tree of life my soul hath seen,
laden with fruit and always green:
the trees of nature fruitless be
compared with Christ, the apple tree.
His beauty doth all things excel:
by faith I know, but ne’er can tell
the glory which I now can see
in Jesus Christ, the apple tree.
For happiness I long have sought,
and pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see,
‘tis found in Christ, the apple tree.
I’m weary with my former toil,
here I can sit and rest awhile:
under the shadow I will be,
of Jesus Christ, the apple tree.
This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
it keeps my dying faith alive;
which makes my soul in haste to be
with Jesus Christ, the apple tree.
Adam lay ybounden †
text: fifteenth century, Sloan MS
Adam lay ybounden, bounden in a bond;
four thousand winter thought he not too long.
And all was for an apple, an apple that he took,
as clerkès finden written in their book.
Ne had the apple taken been, the apple taken been,
ne had never our lady abeen heavene queen.
Blessed be the time that apple taken was,
Therefore we moun singen: Deo gracias!
Conceived in the autumn (tune: “Janet”)
text: Rae E. Whitney, 1999
Conceived in the autumn, born at midsummer;
priest Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son;
promised by Gabriel, there in the Temple,
John is forerunner of the One soon to come.
Conceived in the springtime, born in the winter,
first-born of Mary, only son of the Lord;
Promised by Gabriel, welcomed by shepherds,
Jesus is Savior, and our God’s Living Word.
The Kingdom of Love
text: Carl P. Daw, Jr., 1985
Make straight in the desert a highway; prepare the way of the Lord;
let mountains and hills bow in reverence and valleys rise up for their King.
In joy shall the wilderness blossom, and streams through the desert be poured;
the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and tongues that were silent shall sing.
Break forth into singing, O Zion, your King is coming to you.
Jerusalem, shout with rejoicing, he comes to redeem you from fear.
For God shall bring peace and abundance, your praise and renown to renew;
prepare to receive your salvation: the promised Redeemer is near.
The reign of the Lord will be gracious, its blessings ever will last;
for then will God bring to fulfillment the promise of peace from above.
All creatures will prosper together, to plowshares all swords will be cast;
earth’s people will find their true freedom in God’s perfect kingdom of love.
Come on, my partners in distress (tune: “Wilma”)
text: Stanza 1, Charles Wesley, 1749, adapt. Richard Leach; stanza. 2-3, Richard Leach, 1994
Come on, my partners in distress,
companions through the wilderness,
with hurts and hopes to tell;
for now, forget your griefs and fears,
remember God will dry our tears,
and all things shall be well.
Come, Christ, our partner in all things,
and meet all those your calling brings
into our gathering place;
we hear the word by which we live,
we take the bread and wine you give,
and long to see your face.
Come, Spirit, partner, testify
with burning speech, with yearning sigh,
too deep for any word.
You ask so much on our behalf
that we would weep and we would laugh
to know that God has heard.
Are you weary of your burden (tune: “Wales”)
text: John Mason Neale, 1862, adapt. Richard Leach, 1997
Are you weary of your burden, are you sore distressed?
Come to me, says Christ, and coming, be at rest.
Has he marks that I may know him, and make him my guide?
In his feet and hands are wound-prints, and his side.
Is there diadem, as monarch, that his brow adorns?
Surely, yet the crown upon him is of thorns.
If I find him, if I follow, what is given here?
Many a sorrow, many a labor, many a tear.
If I still hold closely to him, what has he at last?
Sorrow vanquished, labor ended, Jordan passed.
If I ask him to receive me, will he tell me no?
Never: not if earth and heaven melt like snow.
Finding, following, keeping, struggling, is he sure to bless?
Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs answer, Yes.
God is One (tune: “Proffitt”)
text: Brian Wren, 1983
God is One, unique and holy, endless dance of love and light;
only source of mind and body, star-cloud, atom, day and night:
everything that is or could be tells God’s anguish and delight.
God is Oneness by communion, never single or alone;
all togetherness, including friendship, family, and home,
common mind and shared agreement, common loaf and sung shalom.
God is One through desolation: blindness, treason, blood and gall;
One, though torn by separation in the Christ’s forsaken call;
One through death and resurrection; One in Spirit, One for all.
Love came down at Christmas
text: Christina G. Rossetti, 1885
Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine;
love was born at Christmas; star and angel gave the sign.
Worship we the God-head, love incarnate, love divine;
worship we our Jesus, but wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token; love be yours and love be mine,
love to God and neighbor, love for plea and give and sign.
Sweet was the song †
text: William Ballet, seventeenth century
Sweet was the song the Virgin sang, when she to Bethlem Juda came
and was delivered of a son, that blessed Jesus hath to name:
lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla lullaby.
‘Sweet babe,’ said she, ‘my son,’ and eke a Savior born,
who has vouchsafed from on high to visit us that were forlorn:
‘Lulla, lulla, lullaby, sweet babe,’ sang she, and rocked him sweetly on her knee.
‘Lulla, lulla, lulla, lulla, lullaby.’
Alleluia, song of gladness
text: Latin, eleventh century; tr. John Mason Neale
Alleluia, song of gladness, voice of joy that cannot die;
alleluia is the anthem ever raised by choirs on high;
in the house of God abiding thus they sing eternally.
Alleluia thou resoundest, true Jerusalem and free;
alleluia, joyful mother, all thy children sing with thee;
but by Babylon’s sad waters mourning exiles now are we.
Alleluia, though we cherish and would chant for evermore
alleluia in our singing, let us a while give o’er,
as our Savior, in his fasting, pleasures of the world forbore.
Therefore in our hymns we pray thee, grant us blessed Trinity,
at the last to keep thine Easter with thy faithful saints on high;
there to thee for ever singing alleluia joyfully!
True Anointed One
text: Carl P. Daw, Jr., 1986
Let kings and prophets yield their name
to Jesus, true Anointed One,
for whom a nation looked in hope
yet failed to see that God had done
a strange and unexpected thing:
God sent a servant, not a king.
But God reveals to searching faith
the truths that pious dogmas hide:
when Jesus asked the twelve his name,
blunt Peter stepped forth and replied
in words that seemed both right and odd:
“You are Messiah, Son of God.”
Give us, O God, the grace to know
the limits of our certainty:
help us, like Peter, to declare
the still-unfolding mystery
of One who reigns though sacrificed,
our Lamb and Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
No More a Stranger or a Guest (tune: “Resignation,” American folk melody)
text: Isaac Watts, para. Ps. 23
My Shepherd will supply my need, Jehovah is his Name;
in pastures fresh he makes me feed beside the living stream.
He brings my wand’ring spirit back when I forsake his ways,
and leads me for mercy’s sake, in paths of truth and grace.
When I walk through the shades of death, thy presence is my stay;
one word of thy supporting breath drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes, doth still my table spread;
my cup with blessings overflows, thy oil anoints my head.
The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days;
oh, may thy house be mine abode and all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest, while others go and come;
no more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.
Memento, Domine †
text: Psalm 132
Lord, remember David, and all his trouble:
How he sware unto the Lord,
and vowed a vow unto the Almighty God of Jacob:
I will not come within the tabernacle of mine house,
nor climb up into my bed;
I will not suffer mine eyes to sleep, nor my eyelids slumber;
neither the temples of my head to take any rest;
Until I find out a place for the temple of the Lord;
an habitation for the Mighty God of Jacob.
Lo, we heard the same at Ephratah,
and found it in the wood.
We will go into his tabernacle,
and fall low on our knees before his foot-stool.
Arise, O Lord, into they resting place;
thou, and the ark of thy strength.
Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness;
and let thy saints sing with joyfulness.
For thy servant David’s sake,
turn not away thy face of thine anointed.
The Lord hath made a faithful oath unto David,
and he shall not shrink from it.
Of the fruit of thy body shall I set upon thy throne
If thy children will keep my covenant,
and my testimonies that I shall teach them;
their children also shall sit upon thy throne for evermore.
For the Lord hath chosen Sion to be an habitation for himself;
he hath longed for her.
This shall be my rest for ever:
here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein.
I will bless her victuals with increase,
and will satisfy her poor with bread.
I will deck her priests with health,
and her saints shall rejoice and sing.
There shall I make the horn of David to flourish;
I have ordained a lantern for my anointed.
As for his enemies, I shall clothe them with shame;
but upon himself shall his crown flourish.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
As the Father Has Loved Me
text: John 15: 9-12
And Jesus said, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”
O hilarious light
text: Joseph Robinson, 2003; paraphrase of Phos hilaron
O hilarious light, stark, shining from the creator’s face, O God, who comes to us in flesh born blessing and blessed.
Now, as the sun is setting, and we raise the lights of prayer,we sing unbounded joy to you.
Triune God who creates, redeems, restores, single God, who lives as Father, Son and Spirit.
You are all that is worthy to be praised by these our happy voices. O God with us, who gave us life, and gives your life for ours.
And to be known, as God and source, bliss and joy, throughout whatever worlds may be.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
So the day dawn for me (tunes: Wildridge/St. Charles, Queensborough Terrace)
text: Timothy Dudley-Smith
So the day dawn for me, so the day break
Christ watching over me, Christ as I wake.
Be the day shine for me, be the day bright,
Christ my companion be, Christ be my light.
Be the day dark to me, be the day drear,
Christ shall my comfort be, Christ be my cheer.
Be the day swift to me, be the day long.
Christ my contentment be, Christ be my song.
So the day close for me, so the night fall.
Christ watching over me, Christ be my all.
Our holy tribute, this
text: Clement of Alexandria, first century; tr. E. H. Plumptre
Our holy tribute, this, for wisdom, life, and bliss,
singing in chorus meet, singing in concert sweet the Almighty Son.
We, heirs of peace unpriced,
we, who are born in Christ,
a people free from stain,
praise we our God again,
Lord of our peace.
Bread of heaven
text: Josiah Conder
Bread of heaven, on thee we feed;
for thy Flesh is meat indeed:
ever may our souls be fed
with this true and living Bread;
day by day with strength supplied
through the life of Him who died.
Vine of heaven, thy Blood supplies
this blest cup of sacrifice;
Lord, thy wounds our healing give,
to thy cross we look and live:
Jesu, may we ever be
grafted, rooted, built in thee.
O taste, and see †
text: Psalm 34: 8
O taste, and see, how gracious the Lord is:
blest are they who trust in him.
Come, pure hearts
text: Latin, twelfth century; tr. Hymns Ancient and Modern, 1861, after Robert Campbell, alt.
Come, pure hearts, in sweetest measure, sing of those who spread the treasure in the holy Gospels shrined;
blessed tidings of salvation, peace on earth their proclamation, love from God to lost mankind.
See the rivers four that gladden, with their streams, the better Eden, planted by our Lord most dear;
Christ the fountain, these the waters; drink, O Zion’s son and daughters, drink, and find salvation here.
O that we, thy truth confessing, and thy holy word possessing, Jesus may thy love adore;
unto thee our voices raising, thee with all thy ransomed praising, ever and for evermore.
O Love divine (tune: “Selena,” Isaac B. Woodbury, 1850)
text: Charles Wesley, 1742
O Love divine, what hast Thou done! The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father’s co-eternal Son bore all my sins upon the tree.
The immortal God for me hath died: my Lord, my love, is crucified!
Is crucified for me and you, to bring us rebels back to God.
Believe, believe the record true, ye all are bought with Jesus’ blood.
Pardon for all flows from his side: my Lord, my Love, is crucified!
Behold him, all ye that pass by, the bleeding Prince of life and peace!
Come, sinners, see your Savior die, and say, “Was ever grief like his?”
Come, feel with me His blood applied: my Lord, my Love, is crucified!
God so loved the world
text: John 3:16-17
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Into the woods my Master went
text: Sidney Lanier
Into the woods my Master went, clean forspent, forspent;
Into the woods my Master went, forspent with love and shame.
But the olives they were not blind to him, the little gray leaves were kind to him,
The thorntree had a mind to him, when into the woods he came.
Out of the woods my Master went, and he was well content;
out of the woods my Master came, content with death and shame.
When death and shame would woo him last, from under the trees they drew him last,
‘Twas on a tree they slew him last, when out of the woods he came.
King of glory, King of peace (tune: “Herbert”)
text: George Herbert, 1633
King of glory, King of peace, I will love thee;
and that love may never cease, I will move thee.
Thou hast granted my request, thou hast heard me;
thou didst note my working breast, thou hast spared me.
Wherefore with my utmost art, I will sing thee,
and the cream of all my heart I will bring thee.
Though my sins against me cried, thou didst clear me;
and alone, when they replied, thou didst hear me.
Seven whole days, not one in seven, I will praise thee;
in my heart, though not in heaven, I can raise thee.
Small it is, in this poor sort to enroll thee;
e’en eternity’s too short to extol thee.