Sacred Sounds

Arrangements for Piano

Throughout our culture’s musical history, composers have used music (i.e., notes, rhythms, harmonies, etc.) to symbolize something that is non-musical, such as the literal meaning of a word, or an idea, or a picture. When the music reflects words, the symbolism is often referred to as “word painting.” For example, the word “heaven” might be expressed with an ascending melody. Another type of musical symbolism is called “tone painting,” where the music expresses a literary or visual idea. Tone painting was used frequently by the nineteenth century composer, Richard Strauss, who wrote entire symphonic pieces that told a story or expressed an idea. J.S. Bach was also known to have used musical symbolism in many of his compositions. One of his most famous is the “cross motive,” where a musical figure outlines the shape of the cross.

The arrangements of Sacred Sounds also use musical symbolism to express the meaning of the words from the hymn or chorus, or the idea behind the entire song. Some of the specific symbolism that occurs is explained below, yet, there is no intention to express symbolic meaning in every sound. These arrangements are first and foremost music. Any symbolism is always secondary to the inherent musical requirements of the arrangement.

The hymn tunes are also exploited for their musical possibilities much the way one would study a verse of Scripture to discover the many nuances of its meaning. For example, fragments of a melody are frequently used in a motivic fashion instead of the whole melody, for the sake of emphasizing that portion of the melody. Consequently, these arrangements are meant for listening more so than singing along. You are invited to listen, discover and be inspired by the many ways a familiar tune can flower into an expressive musical passage.

They’ll Know We Are Christians

Behold What Manner of Love

I Will Sing of the Mercies

Softly and Tenderly



The Joy of the Shepherds


Crown Him with Many Crowns

O For a Thousand Tongues

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow

Choral Compositions and Arrangements

Psalm 98

We’ve a Story to Tell

Just As I Am