About Linda Bonney Olin

Linda is a farm wife and writer of Christian music, drama, devotions, mystery fiction--whatever the Holy Spirit assigns. Her current work-in-progress is a personal puppet ministry book.

Song Fest Grace Notes

Now Sings My Soul Song Fest Choir2018 opened on a high note, with a song fest celebrating the launch of my new collection of hymns and faith songs. Harpursville United Methodist Church in Harpursville, New York, hosted the event on January 20.

Featured singers Theresa Olin, Tony Villecco, Greg and Joanna Jenkins, Kristy Garlitz, Tom Blake, Sherry Ticknor, and Lida Bassler presented thirteen solos and duets drawn from Now Sings My Soul: New Songs for the Lord. The multi-church choir sang five hymns, and the audience joined in for seven more, all having new words set to such familiar tunes as “Sweet Hour of Prayer” and “To God Be the Glory.”

The music was wonderful, and so was the fellowship, with singers from ten churches representing at least five different denominations. What a great opportunity to find common ground in making music for the Lord!

An especially exciting moment for me (besides discovering that the new travel mug I’d filled with pineapple juice was not watertight) was Diva Daughter’s performance of “Only Then.” This is one of the dozen or so songs in the book for which I wrote the music as well as the words, with Theresa’s help in developing the accompaniment. I hope you’ll enjoy her expressive rendition as much as I do.

Only Then video

That video plus 20 more clips from our elderly camcorder are posted in a special Now Sings My Soul Song Fest playlist on my YouTube channel. The clips in the Song Fest playlist include introductory remarks and chatter, to give you a taste of the actual event.

Tony Villecco & Theresa Olin

Tony Villecco & Theresa Olin

I plan to edit some of the recordings for music-only listening, with lyrics displayed. Those versions will go on the regular Now Sings My Soul playlist on YouTube. Theresa & Tony’s incredible a cappella duet, “Love the Lord” (recorded at rehearsal), is already posted there.

Love the Lord video

I’m very grateful to the singers, the audience, and everyone who posted flyers, made desserts for the reception following the program, or contributed to the event in other ways. DJ Dave Smith generously loaned a mic stand for the choir. Special thanks to accompanist Lida Bassler, a living, breathing grace note if ever there was one! And of course I give thanks and praise to my Holy GhostWriter for a creative partnership that can’t be beat.

Blessings,
Linda

Song Fest playlist:

Now Sings My Soul playlist

Now Sings My Soul book info

Song Fest photos by Michelle Noyes, used by permission

 

Now Sings My Soul~Song Fest

Event poster for Now Sings My Soul Song Fest

Forget the bottle of champagne. We’re going to launch Now Sings My Soul: New Songs for the Lord with a musical celebration!

January 20, 2018 at 7:00 PM

Soloists Theresa Olin (aka Diva Daughter), Tony Villecco, Greg Jenkins, Kristy Garlitz, Tom Blake, and Sherry Ticknor, plus a choir representing multi-denominational congregations, will grace the Harpursville United Methodist Church’s lovely sanctuary with songs from the book. The audience will be invited to sing, too, with new words set to beloved hymn melodies like “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” “Trust and Obey,” “My Hope Is Built,” and “To God Be the Glory.”

This event truly embodies the last verse of the book’s theme song, “Now Sings My Soul a New Song”:

 My soul, O Lord, is deeply moved to share
good news of all your grace has done,
to join my voice with people everywhere,
the many praising you as one.
Now sings my soul a new song,
an invitation to congregation.
Now sings my soul a new song,
yes, a new song for the Lord!

Admission is free, and a dessert reception will follow the program. Books will be available for purchase and I’ll be available to sign them. All proceeds from book sales and free will donations will benefit the ministries of the church.

Harpursville UMC is the historic stone church next to the fire station, 3500 Route 79, Harpursville, New York 13787.

 

Now Sings My Soul: A New Song of Promises Kept

Cover of Now Sings My Soul: New Songs for the LordIf any single project could sum up my collaboration with my Holy GhostWriter, it would be Now Sings My Soul: New Songs for the Lord. Without our creative partnership, none of these songs would have been conceived, let alone brought into the world.

Admittedly, the labor pains got pretty intense at times.

  • More than a hundred of my hymns and faith songs were selected and polished. And polished some more.
  • The interior layout was designed for an 8.5″ x 11″ print book: fonts, sizes, pagination, headers, footers, sections, title pages, art, etc.
  • Lyrics were laid out in stanza format on individual pages, along with suggested themes and scripture references for every song—a monster task in itself.
    Many thanks to my posse of Bible-loving helpers who contributed scripture suggestions, especially Lisa Kesinger DeVinney, Ann Marin Frizzell, Vi Gommer, and Angela Davis.
  • The musical settings were tweaked and formatted as book pages in a consistent style, with headers and footers and mirror margins.
    (Many thanks to the developers and community of MuseScore, the free, open source music notation program I use to engrave scores.)

Score of Now Sings My Soul a New Song (Click on the image to download the PDF score. Click here to listen to my arrangement of the tune. If the mp3 doesn’t load fast enough on your device, try the midi file on the Now Sings My Soul~Audio page.)

  • Songs were sequenced so that closely related songs would be displayed on facing text pages and two-page scores would be displayed on facing pages to eliminate mid-song page turns. Every time songs were reshuffled, the scores had to be renumbered and margins adjusted for odd/even page location.
  • Five indexes were designed and formatted and built. Multiple times.
    (I may write a separate blog post to share my hard-won experience with other writers who want to know how to add a scripture index to a Word manuscript.)
  • All the pages were fine-tuned for consistent layout, printed to PDF files, assembled into a single interior PDF file, and submitted to CreateSpace (the printer for my indie books) for trial processing. Multiple times.
    (How to convert music scores to PDF for CreateSpace without either your music notation or yourself going buggy may be the subject of another what-I-learned-the-hard-way post.)
  • The book cover was designed, tweaked, sized, given a bar code with the book’s ISBN and price embedded, and submitted as a PDF file to CreateSpace for trial processing. Also multiple times.
    Many thanks to Nel Bernard of Centrepole Art Glass Studio, who graciously gave permission to modify a photo of his beautiful Tree of Life stained glass window in Bradbury Chapel, Canton, Maine (below) for my cover image. Thanks also to Steve at Bookow.com, who creates price-embedded barcodes for book covers at no charge for indie authors like me.

Nel Bernard's Tree of Life window

  • The interior and cover were modified for a Musicians Edition, which omits the text-only lyrics section.
  • The interior, cover, and indexes were completely revamped for a 5.5″ x 8.5″ Readers Edition, which contains the lyrics section but no scores.

Readers Edition page with lyrics and suggested themes and Bible verses for Now Sings My Soul a New Song(Click on the image to download a PDF of this page from the Readers Edition.)

  • The Readers Edition was reformatted from scratch for a Kindle ebook version.
  • Book files for all the editions and versions were submitted for review, and tweaked, and resubmitted some more, until I was satisfied that I had done the best I could.
  • More than 250 audio files were generated in MuseScore and linked to the book’s audio page here on Faith Songs.

And that’s on top of writing all those hymn texts and song lyrics (plus a few of the tunes) in the first place!

Finally, the gestation period was over.

After some two years of work on the project, a sample of the paper-and-ink book was delivered. All the travails, all the months of anxious anticipation were eclipsed by excitement and a sense of accomplishment when I held my pride and joy in my hands. Three editions—triplets!

Yes, more work lies ahead. But it was a moment of sheer grace to see the tangible proof: Once again, the Lord has kept his promises.

I hope the same joy and grace will fill everyone who joins me in singing new songs for the Lord.

Blessings,
Linda

______________

Book details

Now Sings My Soul: New Songs for the Lord

Buy on Amazon:
Full Edition
Musicians Edition
Readers Edition (paperback)
Readers Edition (Kindle)

 

Meditations on Calvary~Book Launch

 

In 2016, Harpursville United Methodist Church and Nineveh Presbyterian Church hosted my new Lenten devotional series based on the old spiritual “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.” Each weekly session explored the experiences of people who were present when Jesus Christ was arrested and executed, plus a few who were conspicuously absent. Those scriptures, songs, and meditations touched hearts. So I resolved to bring the series to a wider audience in book form.

It’s finally here!

Were You There When They Crucified Our Lord? Meditations on Calvary is now live on Amazon, in both Kindle and paperback editions. Companion resources for readers, presenters, and musicians are ready for free download here on Faith Songs, too.

Were You There book coverBook details
Music resources
Study resources

 

 

 

 

Blessings,
Linda
(Post edited 11/6/17)

 

Faith Songs for Eye and Ear on YouTube

Title page of YouTube video for O Lord Whose Touch Once Made Me Whole by Linda Bonney OlinMy Holy GhostWriter is no slouch when it comes to using technology for music and ministry. I’m a little slower on the uptake. But I did manage to learn the basics of creating and uploading YouTube videos. Now you will be able to sample some of the hymns and faith songs I’ve written since Songs for the Lord came out five years ago.

I’m delighted to feature Theresa Olin, aka Diva Daughter, singing while my lyrics are displayed onscreen. Her voice is a treat. She sings first soprano with the Houston Symphony Chorus, for which she has served as section leader, and with smaller choral groups, including Houston Camerata. (Diva Daughter is the slim brunette in the middle of the back row in Houston Camerata’s group picture.)

We had time to record only a few songs during Theresa’s Christmas visit. But I hope to travel to Texas, with digital voice recorder in hand, when time and my husband’s health allow. (Bill is still recuperating from injuries he suffered in a farm accident last September; that’s why I haven’t had time to post here in the past several months.)

Meanwhile, I have another sacrificial lamb almost ready to throw on the altar. Er … that is to say, I have another highly talented singer who has volunteered to record some vocals for my mini-videos. So more samples of my work will be coming along soon.

If you’d like to be notified when I upload a new video on YouTube, please subscribe to the Linda Bonney Olin channel. Signing up is simple, and it’s free, of course. I don’t “monetize” my videos, so you won’t be plagued by ads when you try to hear my songs.

I appreciate “likes” and comments and shares on YouTube—on Facebook and Twitter, too. Your responses help bring my work to the attention of other listeners. Thank you!

Link to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/lindabonneyolin

Links to the individual songs I’ve uploaded so far:

I hope you enjoy them all. Please leave your two cents’ worth in a comment. I need all the encouragement I can get. ♥

O Lord, Whose Touch Once Made Me Whole is one of three songs I wrote for Mary Magdalene’s monologue, Mary Magdalene, Transformed. Don’t forget to check out Transformed: 5 Resurrection Dramas and my other Bible study and drama books for the Lent/Easter season: Giving It Up for Lent and The Sacrifice Support Group. Ash Wednesday is right around the corner!

Blessings,
Linda

 

Angels on Earth? I Wonder…

“You’re an angel!”

Usually those words mean, “You’re an extremely kind, helpful person.”

Person as in human being, not a supernatural entity. Someone who shows up just when we need a helping hand. Sent by God, perhaps, but human nonetheless.

The Bible suggests that a fair number of people could have exclaimed, “You’re an angel!” and meant those words literally. Angels showed up in dreams and in broad daylight, to help and warn and encourage. Of course, those encounters happened thousands of years ago.

Are they still happening? Well, why not here? Why not now?

I wonder …

(If the YouTube title and controls get in your way while the video is playing, move your cursor away from the image and they should disappear.)

Don’t forget to read the scripture verses referenced on each page of “I Wonder, Do Angels Still March.” You can look up passages online and choose from a number of different translations at BibleGateway.com.

There are more angel visitations recorded in the Bible besides these. But six verses were plenty for one song!

For the Christmas season, “I Wonder, Do Angels Still Sing” looks at angel appearances that surrounded the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s set to the same tune (ST CLEMENT by Clement Scholefield).

I hope you enjoy these mini music videos. My Holy GhostWriter keeps pushing me to learn new ways to share our work. Today, it was Moviemaker and YouTube. What’s next?

I wonder …

Please drop a comment to share your thoughts and experiences about angels among us. And let me know what you think of the YouTube video presentations.

Blessings,
Linda

 

Facing Deployment? You’re Not Alone

Lord, Though I Travel Afar, prayer hymn by Linda Bonney Olin

The Lord’s arms stretch wide enough to hold you close—you and the dear ones you had to leave behind—no matter how many miles or months separate you.

You have no family or friends eagerly waiting to welcome you home from deployment? Remember, you and the Lord are always a family of two. Everywhere you go, the Lord is there.

Psalms 139:1–12.

Please share the picture on social media and give a copy of “Lord, Though I Travel Afar” to someone you know who is away from home on military duty or missionary assignment. Let’s send our love and prayer support to all the men and women who are making such a sacrifice to help secure freedom from oppression around the world.

Blessings,
Linda

P.S. As you may have guessed, “Lord, Though I Travel Afar” is a prayer set to music. The tune I chose is ITALIAN HYMN.  MIDI      MP3

I hope you enjoy singing it as well as praying the words, especially the distinctive four-note phrase that boldly proclaims the third line of each stanza. That’s my favorite part!

Lord, Though I Travel Afar

Lord, though I travel afar,
where I go, you already are.
I’m not alone!
In every strange new place,
upheld by faith and grace,
I shall find strength to face
any unknown.

Lord, as I sail stormy seas,
your presence sets my soul at ease.
I can be brave
with my all-knowing guide
always close by my side,
till I have safe arrived
through wind and wave.

Lord of the turbulent heights,
your pow’r and love surround my flights.
With you I soar
high above everything,
as on an eagle’s wing!
Filled with your peace, I sing,
fearful no more.

Lord, when you call me to roam,
leaving my dearest ones at home,
I trust your care.
You will watch over them:
love, comfort, and defend
till I come home again.
You will be there.

—Linda Bonney Olin
© 2016 Linda Bonney Olin

 

Store Up and Serve Up God’s Bounty

Photo of scripture verses stored in a canning jar

A special greeting to The Upper Room readers who are visiting Faith Songs for the first time. Welcome!

They read the Book of God’s Teachings clearly and explained the meaning so that the people could understand what was read.
—Nehemiah 8:8, GW

I’m delighted to have a meditation, “Store Up God’s Word,” published today (May 21, 2016) in The Upper Room, which is my church’s daily devotional guide. It has numerous editions translated for a worldwide audience. It’s also the resource I favor for my personal devotion time.

Don’t subscribe to The Upper Room? No problem. They post the daily devos online. Check out the related pictures on Link2Life and my guest post on the blog, too. Please leave a comment, if you’re so inclined. I’d love to know what your favorite scripture verses and hymns are. If you look closely at the photo above, you might spot a few of my favorites peeking out of the canning jar.

(After May 21, my devo will be archived on the Upper Room website. You can still find it, by entering my name in the Search box. You’ll need to sign in before you can post a comment or read the whole of an archived devo, but signing up is a free formality.)

Off the shelf and onto my plate

“No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house.”
—Matthew 5:15, GNT

In my guest blog post, I mentioned that the Lord has assigned me to serve up the encouragement, guidance, and challenge I’ve stored up from his Word. Lots of people are hungry for it, that’s for sure. So, my Holy GhostWriter has kept me busy, cooking up Bible studies, Bible-based dramas, and new hymns.

Right now, I’m working on two book projects:

  • Were You There When They Crucified My Lord will be an informal Bible study inspired by the traditional spiritual of that name. Each session will focus on different individuals or groups who were present at the events surrounding Jesus Christ’s crucifixion—or conspicuous by their absence. New songs (a mix of group, solo, and duet) will help explore the spotlight characters’ experiences.
  • My second book of hymns and faith songs will offer sheet music and a scripture index for 60-80 of the new texts (AKA lyrics) I’ve written in the past several years. Most will be congregational hymns, all set to existing tunes. I’m also considering adding a section of “specials”: pieces that are better suited to a soloist or an SATB ensemble.

As you can imagine, formatting that many scores, laying out pages, and creating scripture indexes for a hymn book is a massive undertaking. I couldn’t persevere through these tedious and hair-tearing tasks without my posse of prayer warriors. ♥ Please join them, holding me and my work in your prayers.

And if you’d like to be notified by email when my upcoming books are released or one of my hymns is published in another hymnal (I’m thinking positive here!) or other news happens, please use my contact form to request that.

Six years to simmer

Woe  to those who say, “Let him make haste,
    let him speed his work that we may see it;
let the plan of the Holy One of Israel hasten to fulfillment,
    that we may know it!”
—Isaiah 5:19–21, NRSV

Short meditations are a wonderful way to share the riches of God’s Word, but writing them requires plenty of perseverance, too. Getting my first piece onto a page in The Upper Room has been a long-term effort—six years, to be exact!

The Upper Room magazine pageMy first submissions were handed back to me faster than an order of soda and fries. Then a few survived a little longer in the evaluation process. Then one made it all the way to the final round (yay!) before being axed (boo!).

I reworked the rejects and sent the new and improved versions to other devotional publications. Most of them found a home at Judson Press’s daily devo magazine The Secret Place (“Never Out of Sight” is coming up on June 17 in the Summer 2016 issue) and Penned from the Heart. Meanwhile, I kept honing my writing skills and submitting new work to The Upper Room.

Finally, good news arrived: “Store Up God’s Word” was accepted for publication.

 

Grab your spatula—er, pen

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
—Isaiah 52:7, NIV

Want to try your hand at serving up devotions to the world? Scope out the writers guidelines at The Upper Room and other devotional magazines that appeal to you. You often can find them by Googling the magazine title or its publisher’s name plus “writers guidelines” or “submission guidelines” in quotes. If you can attend a writers conference where a devotions editor is holding a workshop, jump at the chance. A representative of The Upper Room I met at Montrose Christian Writers Conference offered extremely helpful presentations and individual critiques.

The beauty of serving up our stored-up scriptures, in whatever form the Lord assigns you, is that the supply remaining in storage never diminishes! All the verses we open and share are still ready to use when our own need arises, perfectly preserved and just as fresh as the day God inspired them. Thank you, Lord!

Bon appétit!
Linda

 

New Footprints on Your Life

My Footprints on Your Life (for KELVINGROVE) by Linda Bonney Olin

This week marked the first anniversary of my dad’s reunion with his wife, elder daughter, and other cherished family in heaven. My friend Carol lost her mother this week too. So I decided to give photographer Edgaras Melsiskis’s lovely seagull another flight, this time carrying the updated words to “My Footprints on Your Life.”

Just as footprints on a sandy beach are constantly wiped away by the tide and replaced by fresh imprints, song lyrics can be renewed with new musical settings. “My Footprints on Your Life” was first published with an original melody in Songs for the Lord. I’ve recently adapted it for the tune DIVINE MYSTERIES and my personal favorite, KELVINGROVE. You can hear both settings on the Audio page, but here’s a handy link to listen to KELVINGROVE while you read the lyrics. (My audio is melody-only, because John Bell‘s lovely harmonization is copyrighted.)

My Footprints on Your Life

May my footprints on your heart be deep but gently laid
and remembrance of my presence never fully fade.
May your heart be ever warmed
by the bond of love we formed
and be comforted by sacred memories we made.

May my footprints on your mind inspire and challenge you
to search earnestly for what is just and what is true.
As you meet life’s twists and turns,
may the echo of my words
help you find the righteous way and guide you safely through.

May my footprints on your soul lead you to realms divine
like a treasure map to heaven I have left behind
in the hope one day you’ll be
with our Father God and me,
living joyfully again, together for all time.

Look inside yourself and see
marks that bind, yet set you free,
after I have said goodbye: my footprints on your life.

The footprints left behind by our loved ones aren’t washed away by the next big wave. If we’re fortunate, their marks, along with those of the Lord Jesus, will comfort us, inspire us, and ultimately lead us to our own reunion in the “realms divine.”

Blessings to you who mourn,
Linda