Friday, May 31, 2013

I began writing Sacred Hymn Arrangements for piano solo shortly after my mission, around 1975 or 1976.  The first one I wrote was A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.  It wasn't really great, but it was a start.  I made changes to this piece several times over the intervening years, and finally came up with the version that is included in Volume 1.

Generally, I have three motivators to writing new arrangements: 1-when asked to play a musical number in church, 2-when asked to play for a funeral, or 3-sometimes just because I feel like writing one.

I self-published my first volume in the 1980s using Atari Notator as my notation software and an Atari 1040 ST computer.  Atari Notator was a great program.  I still think it's better than Finale which I now use, although Finale makes the music look much nicer on the printed page. 

I printed a second edition of this book in 2005 and sold several copies on eBay.  The third edition was printed in 2012 using CreateSpace and so is now available on  I love CreateSpace.  It's an amazing platform where one can self-publish for free and make a decent profit on sales.  By 2012, when I printed this first volume for the third time, I already had enough music to publish two more volumes.  So volumes two and three came out in quick succession.  Then for Christmas 2012, I put a Christmas volume of hymn arrangements on Amazon, making a total of four volumes of hymn arrangements available at the present time. 

I previously mentioned profits on sales.  Interestingly, my first published book was a book of easy hymn duets entitled "Fancy Fingers."  It was published by Jackman Music.  Amazingly, this book sold 2000 copies and then Jerry Jackman decided to focus on choral music, so he quit publishing it.  But the crazy thing was, the book sold in stores for $5.95 and I only received five cents of that as my royalty.  In retrospect, I think now that this was similar to robbery.  On CreateSpace, I am paid a bit more than five cents per sale.

A few pieces have some interesting history.  In 2011, I submitted a medley of three hymns: Abide With Me / Nearer, My God, To Thee / I Need Thee Every Hour to the Music Contest of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   To my delight it won Award of Distinction, which is the top honor in the instrumental category.  This is the first piece in Hymn Arrangements Volume 2.  Amazingly, I was also awarded an Award of Merit in the choral anthem category, which is like a 2nd place award. These pieces were performed in February 2012 at the Church Music Festival in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Also in 2011, Merianne Manwaring Gates who is a descendant of George Manwaring, asked me to write an arrangement of "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" in the style of Chopin.  George Manwaring wrote the text to this hymn.  So I wrote an arrangement loosely based on one of Chopin's Nocturnes.  I think it is a very nice arrangement.  This piece is included in Volume 3. - Sacred Hymn Arrangements

Sacred Hymn Arrangements: Piano Solos Volume 1

Sacred Hymn Arrangements: Piano Solos Volume 2

Sacred Hymn Arrangements: Piano Solos Volume 3

Sacred Hymn Arrangements: Christmas (Volume 4)