Meditation on "Amazing Grace"
John Newton (1725-1807)
SAB choir, organ, and piano
Dedicated to my good friend, Carol
Available through manuscript
Between 2003 and 2008, I had the pleasure of working alongside Carol Ostrom at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Rockford, IL. I was the sanctuary choir director and Carol was the organist, music minister, and accompanist for the choir. One of our great joys during worship was to randomly select tunes from the hymnal and improvise meditations on them during the offertory or after communion. I set this arrangement of Amazing Grace to honor not only our shared passion for music, but her humble grace and artistry, which is a continued source of inspiration to me. While I have moved away from Rockford, Carol still serves Gloria Dei, as she has for the past 50+ years, continuing to minister with her music and no doubt still inspiring all those that hear her play.
Meditation on "Amazing Grace" features an instrumentation and voicing we worked with on a weekly basis at Gloria Dei: three-part mixed choir, piano, and organ. The work is designed to be a true meditation, slow and methodical to allow time for the text and music to be absorbed by choir and audience members alike. The climax of the work features ecstatic aleatoric melodic strands, layered over each more and more densely as the music transforms the performers and listeners. The piece comes to a gentle evaporative close similar to the opening strains, but the return of the aleatoric figures in the sopranos reveals a new truth: that through our meditation, we have been changed.