It was freshman year of college, 2004, and I had written a piece of music for voice, piano, and cello. The inspiration behind this piece was the recent passing of a young family member. When looking for lyrics, the hymn text to Eternal Light Shine In My Heart fit perfectly.
by Alcuin and paraphrased by Christopher Idle
1 Eternal light, shine in my heart;
Eternal hope, lift up my eyes;
Eternal power, be my support;
Eternal wisdom, make me wise.
2 Eternal life, raise me from death;
Eternal brightness, help me see;
Eternal Spirit, give me breath;
Eternal Savior, come to me.
3 Until by Your most costly grace,
Invited by Your holy word,
At last I come before Your face
To know You, my eternal God.
Feel free to listen below. The musicians playing are some of my dearest friends, Allison Czer/soprano and Maggie Dale/cello. I also am on the recording as second soprano and pianist.
It has been exactly eight years and I thought it would be nice to change the version of Eternal Light I composed earlier strictly to a hymn. The Eternal Light text complements the Pentecost season and having the melody and text already chosen helps my challenge of completing this hymn in a few days!
As I was rewriting the harmonies below the hymn melody last night I kept on coming to the same problem that I often do when I’m writing church music – it’s too difficult for the average congregation to sing.
My use of dissonance, seventh chords, and the so called dreaded parallel 4ths and 5ths are in this hymn too. I tried changing them and replacing them with more typical chord progressions and common harmonies but the hymn then sounded – eh… not my own. I will be trying harder to adapt my style of composing to be approachable by a congregation and hopefully liked as well!
I’ll be working on getting this up on Sibelius, my notation software, and edit a bit more.