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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Albums 15: Change Our Hearts (2000, OCP)

Change Our Hearts Track listing

Change Our Hearts
Servant Song
Come to Us
Up from the Earth
Faithful Family
Thy Kingdom Come
Bread of Life
Yours Today
Glory to God (from Missa America)
As We Remember
We Will Serve the Lord
Do Not Fear to Hope

By 2000, a number of my songs from the NALR years had been introduced into the missalettes of OCP, which had purchased the assets of NALR in the early 1990s. As I wrote in my posting about Safety Harbor, we had parted ways with NALR after Lost and Found, and begun publishing and recording through GIA. At the same time, with a lot of new music suddenly part of their repertoire, OCP needed to streamline their assets, and my recordings from 1984-87 were scheduled to go out of print.

This kind of thing happens, but we came up with a strategy to keep those songs available to new listeners as well as to create what we thought of as definitive recordings for musicians who like to hear what the songwriters had in mind as they committed the song to paper. OCP let us record the anthologized songs from those earlier recordings onto a new CD, making entirely new recordings and adjusting the arrangements after a decade and a half of usage. The psalms from those recordings that had been anthologized, along with newly anthologized settings, were released as volume 2 of Cries of the Spirit. 

Change Our Hearts was recorded and mixed at Gary Daigle's new home studio in Gonzales, LA, "The Eagle's Nest" (d'aigle, get it?), with some of the tracks overdubbed in Barrington at Norwest Studios. Tren Alford, who had graced many of the Dameans' recordings with her playing, did the flute parts, and Gary's friends in his hometown supplied the rhythm tracks and choir parts, anchored by his childhood friend, drummer Randy Carpenter. In Barrington, too, we used our new friends Kari Lee (trumpet) and the Chicago Musical Connection for strings, with Breda King for a couple of songs, all really good musicians we had worked with in the years since our move.

Rather than write about each song again, I'll batch them by the albums on which they first appeared, and refer you back to those album postings with links. If you haven't noticed, by the way, I've tagged my album posts and "SongStories" posts so that you can use the sorting button on the upper right to see just those posts if you'd like to peruse them.

On the recording You Alone, there originally appeared these songs: "Change Our Hearts," "Thy Kingdom Come," and "Yours Today."
On the recording Do Not Fear To Hope, there originally appeared the title song, as well as "We Will Serve the Lord," "Come to Us," the Glory to God from Missa America, and "Faithful Family."
On the recording Mystery, there originally appeared "Servant Song," "As We Remember," "Up from the Earth," and "Bread of Life."

For me, the highlights of this recording are Gary's NOLA shuffle styling on the song "Thy Kingdom Come," featuring the sweet groove of Fred Forney's brass line. Terry's vocals shine as always, but are never better than on the new versions of the title song and "Do Not Fear to Hope." I'm still the biggest fan of my song called "Servant Song," and wish it had made it more into the repertoire. It continues to shine in concert usage. I'm sure it will be revealed to me in the next life what went wrong with it! The COH version includes orchestral parts I'd written in the intervening years since Mystery that I believe add to the piece's impact.

I'm working on the rewrite of Missa America, and hope to submit it this year, maybe with a different name. I liked the name at the the time, but now it seems a little presumptuous. The songs for gathering, communion, and closing that we're part of that suite were peace and justice oriented, marginally political, including a new melody for the text "God of the Ages (God of Our Fathers)", the national hymn. I was going for a mixed bag of American-style music asked on blues riffs and simple polyrhythms (here, variations on 7/8 time) that might be evocative for US congregations. Aside from the communion song "Seek after Peace" and the Glory, though, the music was never recorded, so never was well-distributed. In rewriting the mass, I am currently thinking of leaving the Glory out, or starting from scratch if I must. I feel that music directors don't really need the Glory to match the musical flavor of the Eucharistic prayer, and the amount of effort it takes to teach and learn a song of the Glory's length means they are reluctant to try new ones anyway. So I'll try to get away with it.

That's about it on Change Our Hearts, which is a really nice listening experience. Give it a listen, if it's not already on your library!