Jamie and his Christmas Composition
Is there a song or piece of music that has connected you to God?
I definitely believe there are; last year I learnt how to read neunes (mediaeval notation) so I could learn how to sing the traditional masses in their original forms after being inspired by Frank Martin’s “Mass for two choirs”. I find this piece so beautiful and its serenity is perfect for reflection in prayer and I find it connects me to God. In a more modern context, I’ve especially felt connectedness through the song “Goodness of God” that we often sing in Worship. I especially love the line: “All my life you have been so, so good”.
What was your process creating this Christmas composition?
Recently in choir, we started singing a newly commissioned piece: “In’Shal-Om” by Sam Weiss. It’s a prayer for peace, harmony, respect and compassion written in Hebrew, Arabic, Latin and Sanskrit, using their respective doxologies. On the thought of the first Christmas, I started thinking of the Jewish prayer for peace sung in “In’Shal-Om” and I found that Jesus was the answer to that prayer. I decided that this was how I should start, a question, with the rest of the piece a response. I decided to use two carols that prophesy Jesus and what he would do: We Three Kings and O Come Emmanuel. It made sense in my head to have the people ask “grant peace upon us and upon all [your] nation” and then to have God reply “rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel” and the kings to bring gifts predicting that Jesus would be king and die to save his people. You also hear parts of “God rest, ye merry Gentlemen” played on flute for continuity and to remind us that Jesus is our saviour.
How does your faith shape your music and/or how does music shape your faith?
I think that a huge part of my journey with faith and music actually comes from singing Christmas carols. Every year, Christmas comes around and we sing again the same songs about Jesus and the glory of God, and it can seem like a sort of a mundane thing: just something to check off the year, but it is always a reminder to me that everything I do, even the music that I sing and write is glorifying God. Likewise, singing and playing worship in church has been a huge part of my musical life and education, and is still one of my favourite things to do.
Lyrics for the prayer:
Shema yisrael adoshem echad
Oseh Shalom bimromav hu ya’aseh
Shalom aleinu ve’al kol yisrael v’imru:
Hear O Israel, God is One.
May He who makes peace in His high
Places grant peace upon us and upon all his nation Israel, and let us say: Amen