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the path back is the path forward


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picky. [k.s. friday]

christmas composing

this is at least the 30th christmas.  the 30th one that i was responsible for making sure that other people – in various congregations through the years – feeeeel it.  the 30th one where i have chosen music to reflect the season, the love, the light…and to be certain that it was all accessible to the people listening, to be certain it touched them, to be certain it made them think and celebrate, to be certain it spoke to their faith.

i am pretty picky.  i don’t like kitschy.  i don’t like trite endings.  i don’t like certain chord progressions.  i don’t like when songs, in an inane effort to be interesting, modulate up in key (the kind of modulation where you expect bubbles to be released into the air).   i don’t like certain kinds of lyrics or songs that are preachy.  i don’t like songs that imply elitism in any way, including any kind of religious denominational dominance.

i have reviewed a zillion cantatas through the years.  (a cantata for a church is a combination of narrative and song, telling a story, embracing a theme, usually anywhere from 30-60 minutes in length.  the more traditional cantatas are oftentimes stunningly beautiful but are difficult for volunteer choirs to sing and, frankly, for congregations to sit through.)  many more recent cantatas are like buying a record album…many of the songs are really good but there’s always one or two that are throwaways.  i have revised every cantata i have ever purchased for a choir.  ask any choir director and she/he will tell you that they are revising and improvising on the fly.  if they aren’t, well, i just don’t even know what to say about that.

one year, in particular, back in the late 90’s, i was particularly displeased with the cantata samples i had been sent.  so i sat down one night and started writing my own.  it was the beginning of november and, because we published the actual faxes that went back and forth between me and my producer, you can see that i composed all hours of the day and night and he arranged all hours of the day and night.  i had the choir working on drafts that were printed out in the wee hours of the morning, as we continued arranging and re-arranging.  the pieces pretty much dropped out of the universe to my hands and i loved conducting this cantata THE LIGHT IS HERE! that year and a few more times through the years since, honing the narration and revisiting the language in an attempt to keep it contemporary.  after all, surprisingly, the late 90’s were two decades ago now.

a few nights ago at band practice we were running through the pieces i had selected for this year’s special music schmear (my word instead of ‘cantata’ which is sorely outdated and makes people stay away.)  one song, though well-intended, was just plain wrong.  so i pulled it out.

the next day i reached for paper and a pencil and wrote a new song for that slot.  it’s a solo so at least the choir and the ukulele band don’t have to learn it at this late date (although they are used to having to go-with-the-flow).

in my position as a minister of music, it’s not my job to just play any old thing or direct any old piece, dis-regarding how it speaks to the listener, ignoring whether it is accessible, whether its message is relevant or timely, whether it invites someone in.  instead, it’s my job – as i see it – to open listeners’ minds and hearts, to wrap them in music and lyric that resonates, that challenges, that reassures.

someday i will no longer be a minister of music.  i will sit on a mountaintop or at the edge of a lake or on a riverbed and i will listen to the sounds of this beautiful earth in celebration of every season.  i will not be responsible for making sure others feeeeel it.  i will just sit quietly, all the music i could ever need surrounding me.

in the meanwhile, i will be picky.  it’s a curse.  and i guess a blessing, as they say.  picky.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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“i forgive you.” [merely-a-thought monday]

i forgive you

frank made sure to bring us the dvd.  our favorite of the hallmark christmas movies, a season for miracles was scheduled for tv viewing at a time we were not available.   and he knows.  frank knows how much we love this movie during this season.  we, i have to admit, spend just a little bit of time watching hallmark christmas movies, despite their obvious indulgence to happy-endings-aficionados.  a season for miracles is such a story, but there are these lovely lines spoken by patty duke toward the end, that inevitable-anticipated-yet-yearned-for end.  she wisely advises one of the stars of the movie, giving him something to consider,  “i forgive you.  there’s a lot of power in those three words.  they can change the world.”

yesterday i sang these lyrics, “all these pieces broken and scattered, in mercy gathered, mended and whole.  empty handed but not forsaken.  i’ve been set free, i’ve been set free.” (broken vessels – j. houston, j. myrin)

in true cliche, i would, indeed, say we are all broken by pieces we need to forgive, things for which we need forgiveness.  we carry these burdens like heavy luggage, dragging them day by day, place to place.  nary a moment goes by without our minds summoning up a reason to be dismayed or disgusted with someone, disappointed in ourselves.  we are not free.

is it pollyanna-ish to believe that the world would be changed if forgiveness were paramount?  is it an irrational, unreachable panacea for all the divisiveness and turmoil?  is there just too much purity – too much hallmark – in those words, in that kind of peace-seeking?

if you could, who would share the third seat in a room with you and forgiveness?  with whom would you seek forgiveness from?  who would you forgive?

is it better to be mended and empty-handed than holding-on-tightly-burdened with sharp, broken pieces that pierce your heart?  where is your free?

it is a season for miracles.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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amazing grace. [k.s. friday]

amazinggraceonearthintsongbox copy

the woods along the trails by the des plaines river have been burned.  the fires, intentionally lit to restore native life to the forest floor, to burn out the invasive species that have harmed the vegetation.  already, post-burn, we can see green amid the blackened mulch.  already, there is newness of life.  the toxic has been deliberately remediated and goodness will prevail.  it will take some time, but it will eventually tip the balance and the woods will be better for it.

this is simple.  it is all around us.  the necessity for an intentional burn.  we wake up to a new day, a new sun, a new chance.  in this time of re-birth and restoration, we are amazingly gifted.  with grace.

i cannot help but think of the world despairingly coming together to lift up notre dame as it was on fire.  not at all intentional, not necessary, absolutely devastating to that beautiful and majestic cathedral, yet somehow it brings together a global community of people who recognize its importance, its value, its history, its soul.  and it will prevail.  in a divisive world, grace.

less is often more.  it is in that spirit i recorded this track of amazing grace

download ALWAYS WITH US VOLUME 2 on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

to view or purchase this stunning painting please click on this link or on the painting below

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AMAZING GRACE from ALWAYS WITH US VOL 2 ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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this season. [k.s. friday]

this season song box.jpg

“…a chance to really mean something to someone…” (judy noerr, cherry hill guest experience officer.)  every year in westminster, colorado (one of my favorite states) “roughly 800 naturally bearded santas” -who work for the cherry hill program of santas (people representing the real santa!) placed in retail centers around the country- have an opportunity to attend the training session that convenes annually.  i read about this in aarp magazine last year and saved the article; it was touching…an article about such a positive impact on others.

there were three santa secrets shared and, although they went into more relevant santa-detail, they are worth repeating here:  1.  keep up your appearance.  2. keep egos in check.  3. speak another language.  ahhhh.  staying healthy and aware, remaining grounded and compassionate, making an effort to embrace others not-like-you.  amazingly simple.   these are simple-santa lessons.  worthy of our taking notice.

it is this season….a season of hope, of joy, of miracles.  a season of simplicity and compassion, of giving and generosity, a season of really meaning something to someone, a season of  love.

may this season bring you all the gifts the universe has to offer you.  with great love.

 

to purchase THIS SEASON on the ABUNDANCE SALE click here

to download THIS SEASON or JOY or THE LIGHTS – all CHRISTMAS ALBUMS click here

read DAVID’S thoughts on THIS SEASON

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THIS SEASON ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood


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hope. [k.s. friday]

hope song box copy

hope.  there aren’t many words like this…describing that which you can actually-viscerally-feel in your body.  it makes you breathe differently.  it makes your heart beat faster.  it makes your knees weak and your ability to wait strong.  it makes you weep with anticipation and holds you close with others who are also hoping.

wishing you a season of hope, a season of expectation, a season of joy, a season of peace.

 

this season jacketTHE ABUNDANCE SALE:  there is an abundance of THIS SEASON – A CHRISTMAS ALBUM CDs in stock.  i would rather have these solo piano albums playing in homes and cars and keeping people company than in the boxes of inventory.  so…..the first 100 people who order this album will receive it for $5 plus tax and shipping.  at this time of generous gift-giving, you may order as many as you wish at this price through December 17.

AND

THE ABUNDANCE SALE:  i am also offering the solo piano album ALWAYS WITH US VOLUME 1 – HYMNS OF FAITHAWU v1 jacket copy at this same price.  in this case, the first 300 CDs ordered will be $5 plus tax and shipping.  this album is meditative and reassuring, traditional hymns played solo piano, an hour of reflection.  at this time of generous gift-giving, you may order as many as you wish at this price through December 17.

www.kerrisherwood.com

christmas albums

download THE LIGHTS, JOY or THIS SEASON on iTUNES

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

HOPE from THIS SEASON – A CHRISTMAS ALBUM ©️ 2005 kerri sherwood