Con Anima Vocal Group – St. Petersburg, Russia

con-anima5.jpgCon Anima is a small ensemble of operatic vocalists from St. Petersburg, Russia. Small in number, but by no means small in sound or passion. They performed recently at my church, Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church. I could not find reviews of them online so I wanted to let you know what they are like as you consider going to one of their concerts or having them perform at your church. (Short read: They are fantastic!)

I knew that they were from St. Petersburg, that they had all graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory and that they were Russian Orthodox. My guess was that this was going to be very heavy, intense music – very dark and compelling to Western US ears. And it was exactly that. Con Anima has a sound that takes you on a ride through the centuries, a timeless sound.


Visit their website at and you listen to a Con Anima Vocal Sample. Their sound is even more compelling when heard live. This is a group that I don’t think any recording will ever do it justice – It’s a visual and auditory combination that will lift your mind to new heights and inspire the depths of your sould.


For our performance we only used a mic for song introductions – no sound reinforcement is really needed for this group if you have a good acoustic environment. The bass vocalist alone has more vocal power than most entire church choirs. They are accustomed to filling opera stages with sound and when you get five of them toghther, well, It’s Big!


They gave a one hour concert with a combination of Russian sacred favorites, and also a mix of Russian “gospel” and classical music. The first half was a capella and the second half a refreshing mix of piano accompaniament, solos and duets.

Con Anima does well at presenting a faith-based concert that would be equally comfortable for any denomination to experience. The power of their delivery speaks for itself with obvious dedication to the spiritual drive behind their music.


If you like early music, chamber music, Russian music or music with conviction – you will love Con Anima. In all honesty, unless you were born under a rock you will absolutely love Con Anima.

1983 – Synthesizers in Church

poss-debruyn-askland-1983.jpgI was going through music selecting repertoire for a piano student and this picture fell out of a book. The picture is from 1983 (I was 17 years old). Pictured from left to right is Christopher Possanza (Synthesizer), Doug deBruyn (Upright Bass) and Conrad Askland (Harpsichord).

This photo was taken in the sanctuary of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Bellevue, WA – 1983. We were preparing to play a Purcell Trumpet Voluntary as special music for a Sunday church service. Chris and Doug were two of my best friends in High School. I haven’t spoken with Doug since High School and only once with Chris in the last 20 years via email.

The three of us took music theory classes together at Interlake High School. Doug and I played together in the jazz band and marching bands. We also attended music composition seminars and did all the fun crazy things that should be done in high school, most of which are not appropriate to blog publicly about (which means it was very, very fun.)

Chris Possanza was lead singer for the Seattle band “This Busy Monster”, and is also one of the founders of Barsuk Records in Seattle, WA. His label is best known for producing the Seattle band “Death Cab for Cutie”. I’m sure both of them have had many more adventures the past twenty years, but those are the only ones I know of.

Of course this picture has a story to it. Originally we had a trumpet player to play the Purcell piece for that Sunday’s service. A couple days before Sunday, the trumpet player cancelled out on us. If I remember right he had never been in a church before and the thought of playing in a sanctuary really freaked him out.

Some things never change, of course the performance of this piece was the entire world to me and had to happen. So I called my friend Chris who owned a Prophet V Synthesizer to play the trumpet part. Back in 1983 synthesizers were pretty rare, especially the Prophet V. It was kind of like having the first tv set in the neighborhood. We spent many hours at Chris’ house experimenting with sounds and wishing we had done what Walter Carlos had accomplished with Switched on Bach (ok, I’m dating myself now.)

So Chris played the trumpet parts on his Prophet V synth along with a real upright bass, and a real harpsichord (which I got to tune, that was very fun.) The piece was played well and embellishments were executed properly for the Baroque style.

It was not intentional, but it may be one of the earliest uses of the Prophet V synthesizer in a liturgical setting. If memory serves me correctly there were a few people that did not feel a synthesizer was appropriate in church under any conditions. But overall it was received well.

You can make fun of my pink shirt. You can make fun of the animal prints on my sweater. But we give you fair warning not to question the reverence of our synthesizer patches. We are armed with MIDI. We will win.

Con Anima Russian Choir


St.Petersburg, Russia – Con Anima is a vocal ensemble of Saint Petersburg. Visit the Con Anima Russian Choir website.

Read a review of a Con Anima Church Concert.

All singers in the group are graduates of Saint Petersburg Conservatory. Conservatory in Russia is a higher musical educational establishment. Term of training – 5 years. Conservatory diploma has the same rank as that of a university.

We build our repertoire of religious music, Russian chamber and opera music of the 19th and 20th century, including compositions by P.Tchaikovsky, S.Rakhmaninov, S.Taneev, N.Rimsky-Korsakov, P.Chesnokov and other.

Russian Choir Singing Psalm 103 – MP3

We try to arrange our concert programmes to deliver to audience the depth and spiritual wealth of Russian orthodox culture. We consider our activities as a part of ecumenical links among Christian confessions, thus besides its concerts Con Anima takes part in divine service in various Christian churches.


Anton Malakhovsky, baritone
Olga Dudchenko, mezzosoprano
Andrey Gavrin, tenor
Natalia Savchenko, soprano
Vladimir Feliauer, bass
Ekaterina Arhangelskaya, soprano


Kenneth DeJong – Organist and Composer

kenneth-dejong.jpg I have heard about Kenneth DeJong for many years and finally got to meet him at the Augsburg Fortress Music worskshop in Seattle, WA. An original wedding march he composed for organ was played by concert organist Douglas Cleveland (Music Director, Plymouth Congregational Church, Seattle, WA)

Mr. DeJong is music director for St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Bellevue, WA. This is the church I grew up in and was confirmed at. For many years as a young boy I sang and played at church services there, and they always let me practice in the sanctuary when I wanted. For a couple years that sanctuary felt like my second home. I never officially thanked St. Andrews for that – so here’s my official thank you.

I took advantage of access to their keyboard instruments and spent many hours playing the piano and organ in the sanctuary. For a while they even had a hand built harpsichord which I would tune by hand for Bach pieces. I also remember practicing jazz voicings on the church piano, and wondering if that was theologically sound. That was back in 1984 or so, church music has come a long way.

Kenneth is a composer, master organist, conductor and gifted vocalist One of his intriquing projects is singing with a male chorus consisting of all music conductors – it’s called Male Ensemble Northwest. I haven’t heard them yet, but he says it’s a great group – so it must be VERY good.

I have heard through the grapevine that Kenneth DeJong does very good work with congregational orchestras and ensembles. Hopefully I’ll meet up with him again to find out more info on that.

Kenneth DeJong – Organist and Music Director
St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church (Bellevue, WA)

Kenneth L. DeJong, Music Director and Principal Organist, has been at Saint Andrew’s since 1988. Following his undergraduate work and military service, he received a Master’s Degree in Conducting from the University of Washington. He taught for six years at Los Angeles Baptist College before returning to Seattle to pursue a doctorate degree. He has taught at Seattle Pacific University, Trinity Lutheran College, the University of Puget Sound, and the University of Washington.

He served as Music Director at Seattle’s First Presbyterian Church for six years, during which time he founded the Bellevue Chamber Chorus, which he conducted until 1998. He conducts the Lyric Arts Ensemble, sings in Male Ensemble Northwest, and is a frequent adjudicator and clinician. His Saint Andrew’s agenda includes worship hospitality and creativity, participation in vocal and instrumental ensembles by members of Saint Andrew’s, and creation of additional opportunities for growth and enjoyment of the arts in and around the Saint Andrew’s community. He is married to Kelley Mannon and they (with her son Brad) live in Issaquah.

Douglas Cleveland – Concert Organist


Douglas Cleveland is music director of Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle, WA. He was our guide for the 2007 Augsburg Fortress music seminar. Mr. Cleveland is a master concert organist and played very difficult pipe organ music with ease. We picked up quite a bit of choral and pipe organ music and are currently integrating it into our worship services at Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Cleveland was an excellent host for this event and made our reading through the music an enjoyable experience. As an added bonus I got to hear original organ music by Kenneth DeJong, currently music director of the church I was confirmed at as a boy – St. Andrews Lutheran Church, Bellevue, WA.

Buxtehude Organ Sample – .wma

Douglas Cleveland – Biography

dougcleveland.JPGDouglas Cleveland began his tenure as Director of Music at Plymouth Congregational Church, Seattle in September of 2004. At Plymouth he directs three choirs and oversees a fine arts series.

A native of Washington State, Mr. Cleveland began his organ studies with Jane Edge in Olympia and continued his study in high school with Edward A. Hansen at the University of Puget Sound’s Community Music School. In 1986 he entered the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester where he earned the Bachelor of Music degree in 1990. While at Eastman, he served as Director of Music at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection. As an undergraduate at Eastman, he won first prize in several organ competitions including The Westminster Choir College Graduate Competition, The Luther Place Memorial National Organ Competition in Washington, D.C., The Scarritt Undergraduate Competition in Nashville, Tennessee and the AGO Region VIII Competition in Seattle. He was also a finalist in the 1990 Grand Prix de Chartre, France and the Calgary International Organ Competition. Mr. Cleveland received the Master of Music degree in 1994 from Indiana University, Bloomington.

While at Indiana University, he served as assistant organist and choirmaster at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral in Indianapolis, where he frequently directed the famed choir of men and boys and began the volunteer choir program. He also won first prize in the American Guild of Organists National Young Artists Competition in Dallas and the Ft. Wayne National Organ Competition.

Since winning these prizes, he has performed in 48 of the United States, as well as such venues as Westminster Abbey, Notre-Dame Cathedral, The Cathedral of Berlin, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, The Moscow Conservatory, and the Minato Mirai Concert Hall in Yokohama, Japan. He has performed with several symphony orchestras including the National Symphony at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Mr. Cleveland served as Assistant Professor of Organ and Church Music at Northwestern University from 1999 to 2004. While on the faculty of Northwestern, he received the Searle Fellowship for teaching excellence. He served as a visiting faculty member at St. Olaf College in 1997. Mr. Cleveland has recorded three CD’s which have received critical acclaim in Fanfare, The American Record Guide, The Organists Review, The American Organist, The Diapason, the Association of Anglican Musicians and the Living Church Magazine.

Current as of September 2006

Pipe Organ at Plymouth Congregational Church
Seattle, WA


Douglas Cleveland CD Recording Covers



Ave Maria Song In Catholic Church Services

I have received many questions about the proper use of various Ave Maria songs during Catholic church services and weddings. Not being Catholic, I am an inappropriate resource to provide specific and accurate information. However, a reader today kindly submitted detailed musical and theological information that applies specifically to the Ave Maria lyrics in a Catholic setting.

You can read my original Ave Maria post on the background of Schubert’s Ave Maria, then follow up and Read the Ave Maria Catholic perspective by clicking here. The original post was specifically about Schubert’s original Ave Maria and the subsequent Latin lyrics that were transposed upon it for use in sacred settings. The follow up comments are about using any version of the Ave Maria in Catholic sacred settings.

Questions about Schubert’s Ave Maria for Wedding

This question about the Ave Maria by Franz Schubert is in reference to my previous Ave Maria Lyrics post.

Great post! Just the info I was looking for.

I am getting married in a Catholic ceremony in a few months, and my soon to be wife had the idea of me singing Ave Maria during the ceremony as she presents Mary with flowers. In my searching the intarwebs, I came across someone who posted that Ave Maria is rarely sung by tenors and practically never by baritones.

My questions are:

1. Is this really true?
2. Is it inappropriate for a male to sing Ave Maria due to the original context of the lyrics?
3. If it is, does it even matter these days because it is more widely known in it’s Latin incarnation?
4. Is it ok for me to actually do that? (by “that” I mean do the singing during the ceremony while my wife does her thing with Mary)

Thanks for any help you can throw my way. I’ll be subscribing to your RSS feeds!


Hi Tony,

Here are answers to your questions. I am Protestant, not Catholic, but I don’t think that should have much bearing on my answers since the piece was originally secular.

1. Is this really true?

Yes. The Ave Maria by Franz Schubert is most commonly sung by a female voice. But there is no reason it cannot be sung by a Baritone or Tenor. Common Baritone key for Ave Maria is A flat major. Most of the great tenors have recorded this piece at one time or another. When performing this piece with the Latin lyric text there is no definition of gender for the performer. Either female and male can sing the Latin text.

2. Is it inappropriate for a male to sing Ave Maria due to the original context of the lyrics?

If you are singing this song in a church setting, you should probably use the Latin lyrics. The Latin lyrics were added later for this purpose.

3. If it is, does it even matter these days because it is more widely known in it’s Latin incarnation?

See answer to #2. The original German lyrics makes it a secular piece, part of a song cycle. The Latin lyrics make it appropriate for use in a church service.

4. Is it ok for me to actually do that? (by “that” I mean do the singing during the ceremony while my wife does her thing with Mary)

Unless there is a Catholic-specific reason not to do this, then yes I would think it to be ok. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this piece. Although it’s commonly associated as a Catholic piece for obvious reasons, it’s performed just as much in Protestant and non-denominational settings and to my experience always welcomed with open arms.

So my vote, from a Luther-loving Protestant, is to do the piece. What a great thing to share during the wedding!

Lyrics – I Release and I Let Go

rickie-bb.jpg Lyrics for I Release and I Let Go as performed by Rickie BB (Rickie Byars – Beckwith) from AGAPE. Visit for more info or to purchase CD’s of her music.

When you see her perform live it is moving beyond words. Several years ago I attended her music workshops at AGAPE. She is on the forefront of incorporating chants for worship in a contemporary setting.

Rickie Byars-Beckwith, a prolific composer, singer, performer, and music director, is widely known as an intuitive channel of healing music. Her songs are a profound experience that open the heart, touch the soul, and lift the spirit.


There was a time in my life
I thought I had to do it all myself
And I didn’t know the grace of God was sufficient
And I didn’t know the love of God was at hand

But now I can say
If you are discouraged
Struggling just to make it through another day
You got to let it go, let it all go
And this is what you have to say

I release and I let go
I let the Spirit run my life
And my heart is open wide
Yes it’s only up to God

No more struggle, no more strife
With my faith I see the light
I am free in the Spirit
Yes it’s only up to God

Fernando Ortega

fernandoortega.jpgFernando Ortega is a contemporary Christian music artist. His current style incorporates his simple clear tenor voice, sparse piano stylings and light string trio. Visit to hear audio samples, bio info and photos.

A member of the worship team at my church told me about him. His music is incredibly beautiful. The first amazing impression of his current worship music is how simple it is. I have recorded several piano arrangements over the years that are almost note for the note the same as his, but that’s where I stopped. He continues to mix in his beautiful voice (also with very simple styling) in such a manner that is difficult to describe.

I’m humbled by the simplicity of his work and how it speaks to so many people. There is a kindness and openness in his lyrics, an honesty that is very refreshing and needed in contemporary Christian music. I started incorporating some elements of his style into our worship service and received good response to it.

My words will not do it justice. Visit his website and experience it for yourself.

Fernando Ortega is an adult contemporary singer-songwriter in contemporary Christian music. He is noted for his interpretations of traditional hymns and songs, such as “Give Me Jesus”, “Be Thou My Vision”, and many others, but also for writing clear and accessible songs, such as “This Good Day”.

Fernando Ortega Interview Excerpt from: What has been one of the most profound lessons you’ve learned over the last few years?

Ortega: It’s probably something that everybody in the world already knows or has realized. It has to do with prayer, namely the idea that quite often prayer does not change circumstances, but is really a way of recognizing the notion that God is with us. That ends up being the comfort, and to me that’s been a profound thing to learn. I’ve gotten a better sense that God is with me.

Free Christian Prayer Support

Augsburg Fortress 2007 Seattle Church Music Workshop

worship.gif Augsburg Fortress is hosting a Winter 2007 Music Clinic on Saturday, January 13 at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1217 6th Avenue, Seattle, WA led by choral director and organist Douglas Cleveland. Sign up for free registration at or visit the Augsburg Fortress music website.

Augsburg Fortress is the Publishing House of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Workshop runs from 8:30am to 3pm and includes two choral sessions, a pipe organ workshop and Musikgarten presentation for reaching younger children with music in a church setting. A music store will be on location with the latest liturgical and sacred choral arrangements from Augsburg Fortress.

Douglas Cleveland is acclaimed as one of America’s finest concert organists and currently maintains a full recital calendar while serving as Music Director at Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle, Washington. He holds degrees from The Eastman School of Music, as well as Indiana University, and served as Assistant Professor of Organ and Church Music at Northwestern University.

Pie Jesu by Andrew Lloyd Webber

memlingjudgmentcentre.jpgMy notes on Pie Jesu by Andrew Lloyd Webber in preparation for performance. Diction, blending, historical backdrop and my interpretation of blending pipe organ, piano, choir and soloists for performing this piece reverently in a worship setting.

Pie Jesu is a motet that is a part of some composers’ musical settings of the Requiem Mass

The words combine paraphrases of the final verse of the thirteenth-century poem Dies Irae and the seventh-century Agnus Dei:
Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem. Dona eis requiem sempiternam.
(“O sweet Lord Jesus, grant them rest; grant them everlasting rest.”)

The Pie Jesu by Andrew Lloyd Webber I am preparing is scored for soprano soloist, boy soprano soloist, SATB choir and organ. For organ stops we are using flute and string registers with a full, flutey pedal. Not completely liking solo organ, and not completely liking the arrangement on piano I have added an improvised accompaniament to the organ in the French Impressionistic style of Erik Satie. (Ala “Gymnopedies”). I have also wanted triangle but was vetoed by my choir, who felt a triangle was a little schmaltzy (we just finished our Advent season and perhaps used the Triangle one too many times!)

To me the boy soprano is the crucial player in this arrangement. I have worked with our boy soprano soloist on keeping an even dark pronunciation, to project through the sanctuary ran the piece a good 20 times with the soprano so he could get used to keeping his notes solid while standing next to a seasoned soprano vocalist. The choir is blended with a light airy sound to match the organ. The end result is a deep breathy pad sound of organ and choir, strong high treble duet sequences with the soprano and boy soprano duet, and I have added my piano interpretation to add movement to the organ pads and to add nuance between vocal passages.

During soloist passages I prefer to let the soloists take the reign of the phrase tempo, I lock things back down at the entrance of the choir. I like this piece slow, slower than Andante. Around 40bpm (Yes, forty beats ber minute). Sub-dividing the eight notes is important to keep the groove flowing, and my additional piano part added sixteenth notes in parts to help the movement not seem so much like a dirge.

Pronunciation: I don’t know how accurate it is, but I don’t care for a hard “g” in Agnus Dei; I prefer a Spanish “n” as in “onion”. It also brings me great pain to here “Dei” pronounced “Day-ee”, since we are not singing Old MacDonald had a farm. Prefer to here “deh-ee”, a “deh” as in “debt” or “death”. So final pronuncation is “Ah-nyoos Deh-ee”. Same approach to “Pie”, I try to avoid “pee-ay”; that “ay” sound is so ugly in the English language. Try for more of “Pee-yeh” with a dark treatment to “yeh”. Stay dark when singing Latin. To me that’s a major key to choir blending. Just one voice reaching for those midwestern “ays” can ruin the blend, so be a taskmaster in this area.

The end result? I am proud to say I am having trouble getting my choir to come in on their entrances because they get so lost in the beauty of the sound. I hold no grudge, this piece is THAT beautiful. A friend played me the Pie Jesu version with Sarah Brightman (I’m told that was the version I heard) and although her voice is second to none, the arrangement had such a large swell with rising strings and cybmal crash in the middle that I was jarred back to the reality that I was listening to a piece by a theater composer. I don’t think this piece needs the added drama. Particularly if performed in a worship setting I feel that an understated performance will have a powerful effect on your congregation.

I have been told the lyrics are a prayer of rest for those fallen in war. I don’t know how accurate that is, but the lyrics ARE from the Dies Irae. This is a poem of the end of times spiritual warfare, so to call it a song for soldiers is not stretching too far. I like the idea that this song is for eternal rest to those who have fallen in battle and I think the performance notes written here will do that concept an optimum of justice.

Complete Dies Irae Poem on Wikipedia


(Click for full resolution)

Those familiar with musical settings of the Requiem Mass—such as those by Mozart or Verdi—will be aware of the important place of the Dies Iræ in the liturgy. Nevertheless it fell foul of the preferences of the “Consilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy”—the Vatican body charged with implementing (and indeed drafting) the reforms to the Catholic Liturgy ordered by the Second Vatican Council. The architect of these reforms, Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, explains the mind of the members of the Consilium:

[T]hey got rid of texts that smacked of a negative spirituality inherited from the Middle Ages. Thus they removed such familiar and even beloved texts as the Libera me, Domine, the Dies Iræ, and others that overemphasized judgment, fear, and despair. These they replaced with texts urging Christian hope and giving more effective expression to faith in the resurrection
The Day of Judgement from the centre panel of the Memling Triptych in Gdańsk.
(Click for full resolution)


The Pie Jesu from the Requiem by Lloyd Webber was originally performed by Sarah Brightman, who has performed it many times throughout her career; and has rerecorded the track for her Classics album in 2001. Charlotte Church has also recorded it on her best-selling debut album, Voice of an Angel. The Andrew Lloyd Webber version has also now been performed by Angelis, a group of young choir children.

Cantabile Choir with David Cross

cantabile.jpgMount Vernon, WA – The Cantabile Choir conducted by David Cross kicks off its inaugural season with a performance on December 1st, 2006 at First Christian Reformed Church.

Let it be known the Skagit Valley has a new crown jewel for vocal music. Cantabile and David Cross have joined forces to appease the most demanding chamber music fans.

The singers were excellent, especially for their first concert. Hmmmm….. that statement doesn’t do it justice. I was able to get lost in the beauty of their sound; my eyes transfixed to a higher beauty. THEN I discovered this was their first concert. WOW.

The vocals were blended well by David Cross, especially between the altos and sopranos. I would take a guess the group has spent a fair amount of tiime on pronunciation, because with only a couple exceptions the pronunciation was even and balanced throughout the entire group.

cantabile-david-cross.jpgDavid Cross has a powerful presence which captivates me. He has a very sturdy classical air, yet I always think at any moment he is going to do something wild and crazy, ala Monty Python or PDQ Bach. Maybe that’s more of a reflection of my sense of humor. If David Cross picks some PDQ Bach music for a concert, then I will consider that I have won the bet. His imagination and insight into music selection alone gives hint of future creativity we can expect to see from Cantabile under his capable hand.

The choice of music was excellent and kept our interest during the performance. David Cross explained that the flow of music was to herald in the beginning of advent in a more traditional way, then gently lead into Christmas songs and lighter faire.

One piece in particular that was spellbinding was Cantabile’s treatment of “Lux Aurumque” by Eric Whitacre. ( Real Audio link for Lux Aurumque. I have never heard chord patterns delivered in quite that fashion before, it was like an entire new musical language was being presented. It’s overtones were so mysterious; the changes so mystic. This may have been a performance that will never be repeated in strength of beauty and tone. At first the overtones that crept in were so thick, I half wondered if it was intentional. In finding out more about the piece, it was indeed the intentional craftsmanship of David Cross, a master of detail. You can listen to the Real Audio link of the piece, but I tell you that life is unfulfilled until you have heard it performed well live. More Info about Eric Whitacre.
I am partial to chamber music. For chamber music fans it would appear that Cantabile will be the premiere vocal group in Skagit Valley. I applaude David’s foresight to start a group like this. Cantabile is one of those groups that makes life all the more richer for all of us.


Gloria in D, RV 589
Antonio Vivaldi

Hodie Christus Natus Est
Mark Hayes

What Sweeter Music
Robert Herrick and Michael Fink

The Blessed Son of God from “This Day”
Ralph Vaughan Williams

Some Children See Him
Wilhla Hutson and Alfred Burt
Arr. by Jay Rouse

Coventry Carol
Arr. Darmon Meader

All On a Starry Night
Paul Williams and Joseph Graham

Ziua Ninge
Vasile Alecsandri and George Dime

Lux Aurumque
Edward Esch and Whitacre/Edward Esch

Sleigh Bells
Arr. Earlene Rentz

Merry Christmas Mozart
Arr. Jay Althouse

Bidi Bom
David Eddleman

Go Where I Send Thee
Arr. Paul Caldwell/Sean Ivory

David Cross – Cantabile Conductor


Lynne Rheinhardt – Co-Founder of Cantabile

Karen Rentko – Accompanist


Leah Fringer
Ludia Randall
Lynne Rheinhardt
Debra Rupert
Lois Vander Meulen

Lu Anne Hargis
Dani Keller
Ginny Ramey
Judy Sjerven
Anne Will

Dave Browning
Tom Ochiai
Robert Slabodnik
Paul Trautman

Don Cross
Kevin Maas
Gary Ramey
Dan Rupert

Norwegian Christmas Song – Jeg Er Sa Glad

Jeg Er Saa glad was composed in 1859 by Peder Knudsen with lyrics by Marie Wexelsen. For me it is the pinnacle of Norwegian Christmas songs both because of it’s popularity and simplicity.

I remember very well as a young child in Seattle attending the Sons of Norway Sumnerslaget Christmas celebration. Hundreds of salty Norwegians would sing this song in chorus. What a beautiful sound that I quite took for granted.

Lyrics in English and Norwegian Posted Below
Jeg Er Sa Glad -Sheet Music.pdf
Jeg-er-sa-glad.mp3 – Melody Sample
This song is performed well by choirs from both St. Olaf and Pacific Lutheran University. You will find CD’s easily online if interested.
Imagine my utter shock to see these lyrics posted on a website under the general classification of “Scandinavian”. You should know that although us Norwegians are quiet, boring and stale – we are fiercely proud of our heritage. Do not count the Vikings out as they may emerge again for global domination. Norskes do not consider “Swedish” and “Danish” as a complete trilogy of our heritage as many assume. We are our own people – thick headed, muleish and the bravest of the brave.

You should also know that although Ballard, WA (largely Norwegian population) is a suburb of Seattle, very few Norskes will admit this fact. Norskes refer to Seattle as a suburb of Ballard.

Jeg Er Sa Glad is usually written in 3/4 or 6/8 time, but has a gentle lilt that suggests 6/8. Think of falling snow, gently swishing your skis down the slope side to side – and you will have the correct feel for this traditional Norwegian Christmas song.


Jeg er så glad hver julekveld,
for da ble Jesus født,
da lyste stjernen som en sol,
og engler sang så søtt.

Det lille barn i Betlehem,
han var en konge stor
som kom fra himlens høye slott
ned til vår arme jord.

Nå bor han høyt i himmerik,
han er Guds egen Sønn,
men husker alltis på de små
og hører deres bønn.

Jeg er så glad hver julekveld,
da synger vi hans pris:
da åpner han for alle små
sitt søte paradis.

Da tenner moder alle lys,
så ingen krok er mørk;
hun sier stjernen lyste så
i hele verdens ørk.

Hun sier at den lyser enn
og slukkes aldri ut,
og hvis den skinner på min vei,
da kommer jeg til Gud.

Jeg holder av vår julekveld
og av den herre Krist
og at han elsker meg igjen,
det vet jeg ganske visst.


1. I am so glad each Christmas Eve,
The night of Jesus’ birth!
Then like the sun the Star shone forth,1
And angels sang on earth.

2. The little Child in Bethlehem,
He was a King indeed!
For He came down from heaven above
To help a world in need.

3. He dwells again in heaven’s realm,
The Son of God today;
And still He loves His little ones
And hears them when they pray.

4. I am so glad on Christmas Eve!
His praises then I sing;
He opens then for every child
The palace of the King.2

5. When mother trims the Christmas tree
Which fills the room with light,
She tells me of the wondrous Star
That made the dark world bright.

6. She says the Star is shining still,
And never will grow dim;
And if it shines upon my way,
It leads me up to Him.

7. And so I love each Christmas Eve
And I love Jesus, too;
And that He loves me every day
I know so well is true.

Words: “Jeg Er Saa Glad Hver Julekveld,” Marie Wexelsen, 1859; translated from Norwegian to English by Peter Andrew Sveeggen (1881-1959). Wexelsen (1832-1911) published three children’s books, among them Ketil, en Julegave for De Smaa (“Ketil, a Christmas Gift for Little Ones”), where this Christmas carol introduced a longer story. At that time she entitled it “The Child’s Christmas Carol.”

Music: “Jeg Er Saa glad” (“Christmas Eve”), Peder Knudsen (1819-1863), 1859

Ave Verum Corpus – W.A. Mozart

mozart_1.jpgAve Verum Corpus by W.A. Mozart – MP3 Sample, Free Sheet Music Download and History. Motet in D, “Ave verum Corpus” (K. 618) – Composed in June 1791 by W.A. Mozart. He would die on December 5, 1791.

1 – Sheet Music Download for Mozart’s AVE VERUM CORPUS

2 – MP3 Audio File of AVE VERUM CORPUS

3 – MP3 of William Byrd’s AVE VERUM CORPUS

While working on this post I have listened to Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus about a dozen times. I have heard this piece hundreds of times in my life, and each time it becomes a little more beautiful to me. It is my absolute most favorite piece ever written. If I could only listen to one musical work for the rest of my life, this would be it (and I would have few complaints about that!).

Enjoy the free sheet music download of Ave Verum Corpus. It also includes the middle two bar interlude which to my ears is correct (some editions only have a bass continuo line).

I sang this piece as a boy soprano with the Northwest Boychoir in Seattle, WA. This Sunday I am leading our church choir in Ave Verum Corpus for our service. At our rehearsal tonight (somewhere in the Bible it must be written that church choir rehearsals have to be on Wednesday nights!) the choir was so absolutely beautiful in their final run through I was nearly brought to tears. I would not let them sing anything after that – why? There is nowhere to go after hearing Ave Verum Corpus sung well. It is THAT powerful.

At a glance I can see the theory of the piece easy enough – but when coupled with a reverence for the text; I know of no piece more powerful than this. To say “his side was pierced and out flowed blood and water” in one line, and a few paces later to say “to give us a foretaste of death”, or more properly “to give us an examination of the death experience” – AND THEN to know that WA Mozart wrote this piece within six months of his own death. Let this settle on you for a bit.

When all things are stripped away and we are at our core, we have the beauty of our relationships and the base denial and unbelief of our own eventual death. Which of us can truly accept and admit our own pending death? Not in passing, but to absorb that thought. I actually think it is beyond the scope of our imagination. But we have a composer like WA Mozart who can create a piece so powerful and solemn that we are humbled to our knees to accept the fact – and perhaps to bend our thoughts to the sublime mystery of Christ’s crucifixion.

Working with our choir has given me a rebirthed passion for this piece. In rehearsal we are able to think about the slow passing of each line of text, and how we want to express each syllable, word and phrase. It is how I think a sculpture must feel – slowly chipping away til the art takes form.

And as our church choir works on each minute detail to make this piece our best, as countless choirs have also done on this piece for two centuries; I start to smile as I realize this is our worship, the musician’s time to worship, the way we relate to the mystery of the Trinity and our mortal coil – our worship takes place between the notes as we practice and work. It is delicate as a flower.

mozart_2.jpgAve verum corpus is a short Eucharistic hymn dating from the 14th century and attributed to Pope Innocent VI (d. 1362), which has been set to music by various composers. During the Middle Ages it was sung at the elevation of the host during the consecration. It was also used frequently during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The hymn’s title means “Hail, true body”, and is based on a poem deriving from a 14th-century manuscript from the Abbey of Reichenau, Lake Constance. The poem is a meditation on the Catholic belief in Jesus’s Real Presence in the sacrament of the Eucharist, and ties it to Catholic ideas on the redemptive meaning of suffering in the life of all believers.

mozart_3.jpgIn April of 1791, Leopold Hofmann, who was Kapellmeister at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, fell gravely ill. Mozart, who had never been an avid composer of sacred music, nonetheless saw an opportunity to enhance his income, and maneuvered to succeed Hofmann. Towards this end, he turned his attentions again to sacred music, culminating ultimately with his Requiem. (As it happens, Hofmann survived Mozart, and died in 1793.)

Mozart set the Eucharistic hymn Ave verum corpus in June 1791. This setting was dedicated to his friend, Anton Stoll, who was chorus master of the parish church in Baden, and it was first performed in Baden at the Feast of Corpus Christi.

It is possible that Mozart set this hymn, mindful of the Imperial ban on elaborate concerted music, or it is possible that he was working with the limitations of Stoll’s choir. One way or another, his setting is remarkable for its compact simplicity. There are a mere forty-six bars of music, with orchestral writing that serves to provide introduction, transition, and ending, and double the choral parts. The choral setting is simplicity itself, with the choir mostly singing the same text at the same time. This direct approach would suited a reform-minded Austria where textual clarity and brevity were all-important in church music.

Mozart’s setting is far from pedestrian or undistinguished. (It actually isn’t even complete; the text below includes the last two verses, which Mozart omitted from his setting.) There is an unusual modulation from D major to F major at the text, “whose side was pierced, whence flowed water and blood,”, and the simplicity is the sort that Artur Schnabel famously described as too simple for children and too difficult for adults (after all, simple music like this exposes any lapses of rhythm, intonation, or ensemble). And the music seems to encompass a universe of feeling in forty-six short bars.

Ave Verum Corpus – W.A. Mozart
Latin Text and English Translation
Ave / verum / Corpus, natum / de / Maria / Virgine:
Hail / true / Body / born / of / Mary / Virgin,

Vere / passum, / immolatum / in / cruce / pro / homine:
truly / suffered / was sacrificed / on / cross / for / mankind

Cujus / latus / perforatum, / unda / fluxit / et / sanguine:
Whose / side / was pierced / from where or water / flowed / and / blood

Esto / nobis / praegustatum / in / mortis / examine.
Be / for us / foretaste / in / of death / testing


Hail, true Body, born of the Virgin Mary,
who has truly suffered, and was sacrificed on the cross for mankind,
whose side was pierced, whence flowed water and blood,
Be for us a foretaste of heaven, during our final trial.


Latin and English are very different languages. Latin has fewer words which are often longer, due to the varied endings. Because the part that the word plays depends on its ending rather than its position in the sentence, word order is flexible. The poetry of Latin derives from the position and the rhythm of the words. For example, “Stabat mater dolorosa” and “Mater dolorosa stabat” both mean “the sorrowful mother was standing”, but the former emphases the standing because that word comes first. In English there is a greater choice of words but their order is fixed within the sentence, and the poetry derives more from the choice and rhyme of words.

Latin anthems are printed with an alternative English translation below the Latin words, with the same number of syllables and often in rhyming couplets. Unfortunately the English words cannot correspond exactly to their equivalent in Latin. When composers set Latin texts to music they emphasize crucial words or phrases, by repeating them, having suspensions, changing the harmony, or other musical devices. When sung in English, these devices often emphasize the wrong words and so the musical sense is lost. Moreover, because of trying to shoehorn the Latin into foursquare rhyming couplets, the effect in English often borders on doggerel. At St Peter’s, when the choir sings the anthem in Latin we have tended to print this English verse in the service sheet rather than the Latin text.

Church Service Music Copyright License Information

Disclaimer: Research for yourself the legal aspects of what’s posted here. This is for general church copyright license information and copyright law changes.


  • Performing music in regularly scheduled church worship services is exempt from copyright fees and licenses. Note: This does NOT include recordings or printing, only performance during regularly scheduled worship service.
  • Printing Lyrics in Service Bulletins – Get a account
  • BMI License – No need for worship services, regular service exempt.
  • Recording Music CD’s or Church Services –
  • Presbyterian Church USA Copyright Information Page

    Music performed in church services is exempt from copyright license and royalties. In other words, you can perform what you want during church services. This only applies to the regularly scheduled church service and does not apply to any special concerts, presentations or ticketed events.

    From – For churches, the majority of questions involve copying music from hymnals or sheet music and taping services for shut-ins. The Religious Services Exemption contained in the U.S. copyright law exempts from copyright infringement performance of nondramatic literary or musical works or of dramatico-musical works of a religious nature, in the course of services at a place of worship or other religious assembly. This exemption does not extend to copying the music or to audio or video taping of the performance.


    You need permission to print song lyrics in your bulletin or to project them on a screen. provides clearance for a large catalog of Christian praise music. They only provide clearance for printing lyrics in bulletings or screen projection of lyrics. They do NOT cover selling recorded copies of the church service. Current fees for congregations up to 250 attendance is under $300 per year. I use this service at my church. Their website is setup well with easy access to lyrics, audio samples and sheet music you can transpose to different keys and print online. They cover mainly contemporary worship music but also have lyrics to many traditional gospel and hymn type songs. I highly recommend CCLI for any music director performing contemporary Christian worship music in their service.


    The Church Copyright Administration at is a new partnership with BMI. They charge a monthly or yearly administration fee (starting at $100 per month) to administer rights for podcasts and CD recordings. They have a tiered membership plan depending on your podcast and recording activity. My understanding is the yearly fee only covers administration. From your online member panel you fill in the songs you want to record or podcast, then CCA will find out the copyright and license payment info for you and bill accordingly. This was launched in October 2006 and time will tell how successful this partnership with BMI is. Currently at there is no classification for a church license. Their referral is to the CCA site listed above. My understanding is that CCA only covers recordings because according to copyright law there is no BMI fees needed for regular church services (regular scheduled worship services are excluded from copyright payments, ie: free to perform).

    Portions of a work may be copied if used in the course of teaching or instruction. There is no set number of seconds or lines that is designated as a definitive “fair use”. It is a matter the courts would decide, not the US Copyright Office, as to whether a piece was used as a small part of a greater whole for the purpose of education. Visit the US Copyright Fair Use page. Practicial church application of this would be using a small audio sample, portion of lyrics or photo in the course of a larger educational presentation.

  • BMI and CCA Partnership
  • Church Music Publishers Association
  • United States Copyright Office
  • Augsburg Fortress Copyrights and Permissions
  • Motion Picture Licensing Corporation
  • Ave Maria by JS Bach

    1760-08-wdheq-if-300.jpgI received a note saying someone was desperately trying to find history of the JS Bach “Ave Maria” and was not finding anything online.

    Bach never wrote the Ave Maria. Aha! It was Gounod that took a prelude by JS Bach, and then put a melody on top with lyrics to the Ave Maria.

    JS Bach was an unwitting partner in the collaboration. Charles Gounod was a French composer who lived from 1818-1883. Read the Wikipedia Page on Charles Gounod. So google “Gounod Ave Maria” and you’ll find it readily available from most sheet music suppliers.
    Here’s a bit of the music to refresh your memory:


    Photo of composer Charles Gonoud


    Musical settings of the Ave Maria

    The Ave Maria has been set to music numerous times. Among the most famous settings is the version by Charles Gounod (1859), adding melody and words to Johann Sebastian Bach’s first prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier. Antonín Dvořák’s version was composed in 1877. Another setting of Ave Maria was written by Giuseppe Verdi for his 1887 opera Otello. Russian composer César Cui, who was raised Roman Catholic, set the text at least three times: as the “Ave Maria,” op. 34, for 1 or 2 women’s voices with piano or harmonium (1886), and as part of two of his operas: Le Flibustier (premiered 1894) and Mateo Falcone (1907).

    This text was also very often set by composers in the Renaissance, including Jacques Arcadelt, Josquin Desprez, Orlando di Lasso, and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Before the Council of Trent there were actually different versions of the text, so the earlier composers in the period sometimes set different versions than the ones shown above. Josquin, for example, himself set more than one version of the Ave Maria. Here is an example of a text set by Josquin which begins with the first six words above, but continues with a poem in rhymed couplets:

    The Beatles are God-hating Communist devils?

    beatles-ed-sullivan.jpgHere is info directly from the Faithful Word Baptist website. Has anyone seen the movie Footloose lately?

    The website says the Beatles are God-hating Communist devils, and it would really be best if we only sang songs in church which are 50 years old or more. That way, we know what’s tried and true.

    As I’m thinking about it, wouldn’t it be most beneficial to only stick with ideas that are 50 years old or more? Yes, I think so. This way we’ll know what to think ahead of time, why reinvent the wheel? Umm….unless you live in a time period where the wheel hasn’t been invented within the last 50 years….then you couldn’t reinvent the wheel because it wouldn’t be invented because you could only use ideas from the last 50 years…….mmmm… I’m getting confused here. I guess I’m thinking too much again.

    And only use the King James Version bible, that’s on the website too.

    I notice the congregation is 10 months old. Does the 50 year rule only apply to music?
    A quote from the website:
    “Rock n roll music was pioneered by ungodly sinners like Little Richard, a sodomite filthy animal, and Ray Charles, a heroin addict. of rock n roll music is ungodly.”

    I am going to give this serious thought before I commit to burning my audio collection. Will some one loan me a wheelbarrow and a can of gasoline?

    So where do I stand on music and theology? Short answer: lyric content and the perception of the listener are deciding factors.

    We all fall short in our Christian faith. It would not interest me to seperate other people’s sins into categories for judgement. If a style of music is deemed inappropriate by a congregation, then that music style is not appropriate FOR THAT CONGREGATION; this does not make a statement on the inherent qualities of the music. Music does not inherently have a quality, it’s our perception of it that creates the quality. My guideline is: are the lyrics about God, for God or to God; and I would add one more: does the music spiritually feed the congregation or strenghten their walk in Christ.

    But I am always open to adjusting my opinion when I have new information to work with. I can’t imagine I would ever say that I have fully defined the nature of the arts in worship. The arts are not static, it must breathe and move – and the same I think with our Christian faith.

    From the Faithful Word Baptist website:

    If music without drums, syncopation, or a rock beat is acceptable music, then “Yesterday”by the Beatles would be suitable for a Christian. This song has no drums, syncopation, or rock n roll beat – so what’s wrong with it? It doesn’t talk about drugs, illicit behavior, or violence – so what’s wrong with it? What’s wrong with it is the source. It was written by God-hating communist devils. Rock n roll music was pioneered by ungodly sinners like Little Richard, a sodomite filthy animal, and Ray Charles, a heroin addict. of rock n roll music is ungodly.

    Three Ways to Avoid the Wrong Music

    3) Primarily sings songs which are 50 years or older. Worldly music goes in and out of style; but the classic hymns are never out of style. The Christian Contemporary music and southern gospel music of today will not be sung 50 years from now. It will be old hat; but here we are hundreds of years later still singing “Amazing Grace”, “There is a Fountain”, “Come Thou Fount”, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” These are songs that have stood the test of time and which God has blessed for decades. New music is not wrong, but must be very carefully examined for the source and the quality. If we were to sing 9 out of 10 songs 50 years or older, the tenth new song should not sound out of place.