New Hymn Collaboration with Chris Anderson: “God Supreme”

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Several weeks ago, Chris Anderson (who pastors a church near Atlanta) posted a hymn text on Facebook that he’d written in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage. It caught my attention right away. At the nudging of one of my own pastors, I decided to try to set it to music. I recorded a little “sketch” of the tune on my phone and texted it to Chris, sparking about a month of back-and-forth tweaking of text and tune until it was ready for release.

I have admired many of Chris’s hymn texts, including “His Robes for Mine,” which my church has adopted with great enthusiasm (especially around the Lord’s table). And though we’ve enjoyed a “hymn writers camaraderie” for several years, this has been our first collaboration.

One of the great joys of working with a pastor-theologian on a hymn is the great depth of the text. Chris writes doctrinal notes for many of his hymn texts, and he wrote one for this new hymn as well. It is well worth reading!

Chris writes: “God Supreme” is a new hymn and my first collaboration with my friend Paul Keew. It’s a lament (as explained below), and Paul has captured precisely the right tone for the song. It’s not angry; it’s somber, almost mournful. But it’s also hopeful. The “folk” feel of his composition is perfect. It’s an honor to finally team up with him on a song we both hope will be a blessing to Christ’s church!

Take a look and hear a piano demo on our music page. The hymn is free for you and your church, as with all our music (the same goes for the music at churchworksmedia.com). We pray it will bless you and your church!

“Wand’ring Pilgrim” Music Video

Mitch Silvius (Silvius Motion Pictures) did a fantastic job creating this music video for our new song “Wand’ring Pilgrim!”

Mitch was also the Director of Photography for the soon-to-be-released documentary “The Life of David Brainerd” (available now for preorder).

“Wand’ring Pilgrim” Now Available!

LifeofBrainerd_MP3cov FINALa_1600x1600[Post updated 1/17/15]

The wait is over! Download “Wand’ring Pilgrim” today. Then keep up with us on Facebook and this blog!

Available from these stores: iTunesGoogle Play, and Bandcamp (includes full preview, any-format download, and accompaniment tracks).

NOTE: Make sure your song/album title search for “Wand’ring Pilgrim” includes the apostrophe (or search by artists: “Paul Keew” and/or “Jon Horton”).

This song is part of a larger project that includes a DVD documentary and a devotional based on the book “The Life of David Brainerd” by Jonathan Edwards. Follow the link to find out more about these products (available for preorder).

Go Behind the Scenes on Facebook

[Updated 2/19/15]

Now is a great time to start following Watchsong on Facebook, where I’ll be adding pictures, videos, and stories from our recording sessions, as well as other extra little tidbits about the song.

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Picture caption: Jon Horton setting up tracks during our initial recording session in the “cavernous-sounding” entry hall of Colonial Baptist Church, Virginia Beach, VA.

So go ahead and give us a little “thumbs-up” by clicking our “Like” button, and you’ll be included in every juicy little update! While you’re at it, sign up for email updates for this blog, too!

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Update: I found out that just “Like”-ing a Facebook page does not necessarily mean you’ll get updates (gasp)! Click on “Liked” at our FB page and check “Get Notifications” to keep up with the latest news.

“Wand’ring Pilgrim” Coming Soon

I’ve been working on a collaborative song project this fall with Joe Tyrpak of ChurchWorksMedia. Joe has written and produced a documentary, “The Life of David Brainerd,” the most popular book published by Jonathan Edwards, a book which draws heavily from the private diary of David Brainerd, 18th century missionary to the Native Americans.

Brainerd’s diary contained two brief poems–the only poetry known to have been written by Brainerd. Joe wanted these poems set to music so they could be shared and sung and made known. He adapted the poems to match metrically and then commissioned me to set them to music.

I took the idea to Jon Horton, a friend and fellow musician at my church, and one of the most talented musicians I know. Jon helped me finish the song, arrange it for recording, and then record it. It has turned out to be one of the most unique and creative song projects I’ve ever worked on, and I’m very excited to release the song as a single later this week!

Song/Album: Wand’ring Pilgrim (from “The Life of David Brainerd”) [Preview audio]

LifeofBrainerd_MP3cov FINALa_1600x1600“Wand’ring Pilgrim” will be available for digital download on Bandcamp (in any digital version), iTunes, Amazon MP3, and Google Play. It will also be integrated with the soon-to-be-released documentary “The Life of David Brainerd.”

Sign up for email updates and Like “Watschsong.com” on Facebook to keep up with news about the new song release; get behind the scenes with photos, videos, and followup posts taking you deeper into the making of this unique project; and be the first to get your hands on the free lead sheet! Oh, and did I forget to mention that we made a music video?!

New Song Recording: A Broken Vessel

New song_Broken Vessel

My friend and colleague James Harris first sent me this text back in 2009. For whatever reason, it escaped my attention until January of 2012 when I rediscovered it and took a good look at it during a morning devotional time. This doesn’t often happen, but as I read through the words, they sort of sang themselves right off the page! I went over to the computer, sketched out a basic recording and lead sheet, and zipped them over to James (who promptly informed me that his brother wanted the recording as soon as it was available).

Well, Kendall, the long wait is over! Follow this link to download “A Broken Vessel.”

This is also the first song on the site that has a backing track available. Just look for the blue “CD” button with the song resources. Only the original recorded key is available at this time.

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Some of you may be interested to know that all of the recording basically happened in my home studio (which is a Wal-Mart folding table with an iMac and a Yamaha digital keyboard, tucked away in the corner of our all-purpose 2nd bedroom). This gets the geek in me all excited! The only instruments recorded on a live mic were voice, acoustic guitar, and shaker (which were also recorded at home). Currently, I’m using Logic Pro 9 as my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Logic’s built-in piano and guitar patches are very nice. For woodwinds and strings, I use Vienna Symphonic Library (Special [meaning basic] Edition), which in my opinion has the most realistic string patches available. I saved each of the recorded tracks as high-quality wav files, which were pieced together and mixed by Gary Emory at his studio, Brightwater Digital, in Greenville, SC.

If the song sounds familiar, you may remember it from the end credits of our short film.

Lord willing, this won’t be the only song recorded and released this year. Keep in touch, and thanks for your prayers and support!

A New Place to Call Home

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A re-directed journey

I just completed my sixth Sunday leading music at Colonial Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, VA. If you would have told me a year ago that I would be doing this today, I would probably have laughed (or perhaps backed away from you slowly, with a strange look in my eyes). A year ago, I was searching pretty desperately for the next step in my life. I was searching in every direction for that next step–except vocational ministry. Truly, the Lord works in mysterious ways! The nearly year-long journey through which He has led my wife and me, has left us utterly confident that we have followed our Lord here. And these have been six weeks of His continued affirmation to that fact.

A unified vision

I also never imagined a year ago that I was forging a bond with this ministry as I was making a short video over 400 miles away. The video we put together for Watchsong struck a deep chord with the leadership here and exposed a common goal between us: the desire to build unity through inter-generational worship. I am thrilled to be working with men and women who love Jesus, love His bride (the church), and are zealous for her joy!

A course for the future

I am constantly reminded of the need to give attention and care to inter-generational worship. Recently after a service, a dear lady told me, “Thank you for bringing back some of the old hymns. This new music is ‘okay’…but the old hymns are just so good!” I wonder if she knows how meaningful this new “okay” music is to me and many others in the congregation. And I wonder if the “new music lovers” understand how meaningful some of the old (dare I say “hokey”) music is to many others in the congregation. I have a responsibility to serve this particular local body as I make music choices every week–and what a wonderfully diverse body we are! This presents many challenges for building unity. And I am grateful to be on this course with many people who want to do so.

I am also grateful that Watchsong is now a part of this new journey. The goal of Watchsong has always been to serve the local church. Now, I can turn all of my attention to this goal. Everything I do and experience in my “day job” will help make Watchsong even more meaningful (and, I pray, somewhat helpful) to those who are thinking through similar issues.

A Year In Review…Lord Willing!

The Pre-Post

So, I started off yesterday with the goal of sending out a timely “year in review” post, and I finished off yesterday with the disappointment of not sending out a timely “year in review” post. Somewhere in between, the Lord had to deal with my idolatrous heart.

You see, I tend to look at people or companies that seem to be very productive and successful, and desperately want that for myself—so desperately, that I would sacrifice my relationships with God and others on the altar of productivity. That’s idolatry. And that’s what God in His mercy showed me yesterday when I didn’t get this post finished.

A few months ago, on New Year’s Eve, my wife and I were up north skiing as part of our anniversary weekend when she broke her wrist. Not only did this put a damper on some of our plans, but with the soreness of her fresh injury, I had to do just about everything for her. I was utterly shocked at the ugly rebellion and selfishness that rose up in me that first day or two. But as the Spirit helped me to submit my plans and desires to God’s, a real joy settled in. And even though January was one of my least productive months ever for some of my personal goals, it was one of the happiest in recent memory.

Now that my wife’s wrist is all healed up, it appears the cries of my old “productivity idol” are getting stronger again. But my productivity belongs to God, and He has the right to make any interruptions in my life that He wants to. My wife reminded me of something Jim Binney once said when he realized something about all the people that would interrupt his plans in the ministry: “These interruptions are my ministry!” God breaks in through various means to remind us that He and other people are more important than things or goals.

The Post

A year ago [yesterday], Watchsong.com was relaunched with a new facelift and some grand goals! While I am slightly disappointed that I didn’t reach several (okay…frankly, most) of those grand goals, I am thankful to the Lord (now, considering the Pre-Post) for what He allowed me and my friends and fellow-creatives to accomplish.

Added several new songs to the site

This, after all, is the purpose of Watchsong: to share with God’s people the songs that God gives to us. I am grateful for the wonderful people with whom I’ve been able to collaborate, and I’m just as pleased to share some great songs that others have written.

Started Watchsong Blog

You’re looking at it. Thanks for stopping by! As the Lord allows, we’ll bring you interesting, relevant, or just plain fun content. Consider signing up by email or RSS feed!

Made a movie

This short film was originally a creative way to state Watchsong’s mission, but I’ve heard many stories about how this has helped people in their thinking about music, worship, and creating new things for God’s glory. The Lord had bigger plans for it, and I couldn’t be more pleased! It also kind of helped me get a job…but that’s a story for another post…. I’m so grateful to Shane McMullin for making this happen. He has recently experienced some much-deserved recognition for his work!

Made more friends

Thanks again to those who have joined Watchsong’s Facebook page! “Like” us there, and stay informed about everything new at Watchsong. You can also follow us on Twitter. Just look for our handle: @WatchsongMusic.

The Post-Post

So, what will this year bring? Well, I have some goals (several recorded songs, several new choral octavos, several new hymns, to name a few), but I’m going to let God interrupt those if He wants to. May His name be praised and His will be done!

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’–yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance” (James 4:13-16). “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

What’s New at Watchsong

Here are a few things we’ve been up to recently!

New worship song posted: The Light of Your Life

My good friends Ben Fetterolf and James Harris have agreed to let me share their song with you here on Watchsong. It contrasts the light of God with the darkness that we were in before He rescued us. Take a look and listen on the Music page.

New demo recordings

I’ve updated the demo recordings for See the Christ and I Will Make My Boast in Jesus. They are both live recordings from a small worship gathering with friends. I hope these will give a better idea of how the songs work in “real life.” I’ve also added an audio preview of the Galkin Team’s recording of Shout Out for Joy (Psalm 66).

Watchsong store now open

For four years now, I’ve been offering the recordings of O God, My Joy and Chosen as His Children for free, which I was happy to do even though I paid to have them professionally recorded and mastered. Well, I’m afraid the 4-year sale has finally come to an end.

These are the first two purchase items at Watchsong, and that means there now is a way to purchase them! Clicking on the “headphones” button for these songs (back at the Music page) will automatically take you to a product page where you can add them to a shopping cart and head for the checkout. It’s easy as pie and completely safe with PayPal‘s trusted checkout service. For a detailed guide to purchasing and other helpful info, just click on the link “How do I purchase and download music?” under the navigation tabs whenever you’re on the Music page.

If you have already downloaded the mp3 recordings of O God, My Joy and Chosen as His Children, they are yours to enjoy! I humbly ask, however, that you direct others to purchase them from Watchsong.com in the future rather than making copies of yours. Your support will help keep more top-quality products coming!

For the more nerdy among us…

The mp3s you purchase from Watchsong.com are encoded at industry standard levels and embedded with all the information they need to look great on your media player (like iTunes)! For more specs, click here.

What Is Watchsong? [Video]

Why should Christian artists and musicians continue to create new content? What motivates them to create? Why do Christians need new music? Why do you need Watchsong?

I wanted to find a creative way to share the vision and mission of my website, Watchsong.com, as well as encourage Christian artists that they are vitally important. That’s where this short film comes in.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some more in-depth commentary about the film and some of the themes it presents. But first, I need to give credit to several people who made this film possible.

The “MVP award” goes to my friend Shane McMullin at NINTH HOUR Productions for bringing this project to life with such amazing skill and creativity and for the hours and hours he spent shooting, cutting, and editing this film. He also had to put up with me and all the crazy ideas I had, most of which he magically made happen.

Special thanks to: Christian Mülhauser (chrigu.org), who graciously let me use a few short clips from his stunning film Madeira; Doug Young (dougyoungstudios.com), my good friend, who let us shoot in his very unique studio space; and Fred Coleman, my pastor, mentor, and friend, who helped me think through the historical data and has always encouraged me in my writing.

Thanks also to: my friends, James Harris, Brian Pinner, Chris Barney, and Ben Fetterolf, who proofread my script and were very encouraging in this project; Ken Beale, who lent us his skill and expertise for an entire day in the mid-July heat working cameras and lighting for a Snickers bar and a verbal IOU; and my wife Heather, who also braved the heat to assist us and made sure you couldn’t tell how hot it was when you watch the film.

The end credits song is A Broken Vessel from Watchsong Music. You can find a lead sheet, lyrics, and an mp3 demo on the Music page. A full recording will be available soon on Watchsong.com.