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)

 

Split-ting Words Without Getting a Split-ting Headache

Sheet musicEver notice all the hyphens in your hymnal? I pity the guy who had the job of putting them there!

When song lyrics contain words of more than one syllable, the divisions between syllables are marked with hyphens in the score. This allows each syllable to be individually aligned with its musical note.

Some syllables are sung across a series of notes. The score will generally use a curved line called a slur to mark the range of notes assigned to a particular syllable. It may display multiple hyphens for an extended syllable.

The clip of sheet music pictured above shows the hyphenated syllables Glo-ri-a, ex-cel-sis, and De-o in the classic Christmas carol “Angels We Have Heard on High.” Look at all the hyphens following Glo! That single three-letter syllable is spread over sixteen separate notes. Keep an oxygen tank handy when the congregation belts that one out!

Where Do the Hyphens Go?

But Gloria-induced hyperventilation is not the source of the headache I mentioned in my post title. My split-ting headache comes from trying to figure out exactly where to divide words when I type lyrics into a music notation program.

I vaguely remember a few of Sister Mary Adele’s rules from fifth grade grammar:

  • End a long-vowel syllable with the vowel.
  • End a short-vowel syllable with a consonant.
  • Split words between two consecutive consonants, unless they form a diphthong. (Wait a minute, diphthongs combine vowels. What do you call a consonant combination? A gerund? No … I’m getting too old to keep that stuff straight.)

But Sister Mary Adele’s rules don’t always give the right answer. Even words I thought were obvious turned out to be split differently in my hymnal. Where would you place the hyphens in the common word everyone, for example? I didn’t even guess the number of syllables correctly.

What’s a lyricist to do? Use only words of one syllable? Not likely. Insert hyphens wherever they look right to me, and hope no one else knows better? Tempting, but not the most quality-conscious approach.

How to Divide and Conquer Multi-Syllable Words

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is my hard-copy reference for word spelling, definition, and syllabication. A quicker solution: I keep a browser window open to Dictionary.com while I work on lyrics. When I need to check a word, I type or copy/paste it into the search box and hit Enter. Voila! Dictionary.com displays the word and its derivative forms in hyphenated syllables.

Even if you don’t write music, knowing where to find a word’s correct syllabication might come in handy someday. If you lay out the interior pages of a print-on-demand book in Microsoft Word, for example, you might want to override Word’s hyphenation to tweak a line here or there. Splitting a long word differently (Con-gregation instead of Congre-gation, for example) can improve the appearance of a printed page or break a line of dialogue at a more reader-friendly place in a script.

By the way, give yourself a pat on the back if you split everyone into three syllables like this: eve-ry-one. Sorry, Sister Mary Adele!  🙂

Edit January 10, 2016:
Entering hymn lyrics into a digital score by copying and pasting from Microsoft Word is a lot quicker than typing the words directly into the score. To do that, I first have to separate the syllables with a space or a hyphen (depending on the music notation program). Inserting all those spaces/hyphens individually gets pretty time-consuming.

But I recently was tipped off to Lyric Hyphenator, a free online utility from Juicio Brennan. Just paste your text into the on-screen box and click a button to have it hyphenated automatically. If your notation program uses spaces instead of hyphens to separate syllables, you can then use Word’s Find/Replace All function to replace all the hyphens with spaces.

Caveats: Lyric Hyphenator works with standard English words only. You should eyeball the results for accuracy; as always, use a dictionary to check the syllabication of any questionable words or proper names.

 

Writing Songs for the Lord

Yearning for the Gift of Music

Photo of a monarch butterfly on pink weed blossoms

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
– Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

How does a person who can barely tell a quarter note from a Quarter Pounder write a book full of original hymns and faith songs?

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