Isaac Wardell has given us permission to include the new Bifrost tune, Psalm 126, on this year's annual chapel CD. I'm incredibly thankful since Bifrost won't be able to release the song themselves until next Fall. The agreement is to release our live version of the song on 'hard' disc only and not for download on the internet. CDs will be available for sale on Monday, March 12 right before Spring Break. Internet downloads will take a bit longer.
The circumstance of how we learned Psalm 126 makes a good story: Isaac called me the week before arriving at Calvin's Worship Symposium and said they were free on Friday...would I be free for breakfast or would I be interested in having them join us for chapel? I quickly put together a small choir, vibes, upright bass, fiddle to complement the Bifrost players. It was a setup very similar to what we did with Welcome Wagon last year. I had asked Isaac if we could do a standard hymn (we decided on Come Thou Fount) and if he could teach us a new song. It wasn't until Thursday, the day before chapel that Isaac was able to send me an mp3 of a demo of the song. I listened to it. Thought, nice song, but it was just two vocalists and a guitar. I had no idea how it would be arranged with this somewhat large ensemble. Rehearsal started at 7am Friday morning as always. Introductions were made and Isaac quickly pulled together the arrangement. It was exciting that the song went so well for the service itself. It is even more exciting that the live take was solid. And its more exciting that its such a great song that many people have asked about it since.
Over a dozen emails...what was that Psalm song? Where can I find it online? Who wrote it?
In the past few years I've found myself picking songs I might never have considered four or five years ago. On one hand we have pushed into some more aggressive contemporary expressions (Philip Rice's Hallelujah and Your Love Never Fails last year, Furious and Search My Heart this year). As I stretch to understand more about the intensity of those kinds of songs, I find that we become more free to also push in other directions: adding the Gospel Choir to our regular worship, drawing upon the hymns even more intentionally, looking forward to our Monday contemplative "Be" chapels, and then there are these songs from the Welcome Wagon and now Bifrost. The area I want to continue to grow more in is global or non-western songs, but overall there is much joy in stretching the boundaries of the sound of our worship. I can't do this on my own. I'm not a good enough musician. It's people and friends and students who stretch us. Thanks again Isaac.
Another little crazy anecdote: we are focusing on the Psalter this semester in chapel and using it as an occasion to enter into the "school of prayer." So having a song written directly from the Psalms given to us with such little planning on my part...this is a sign of the Spirit's work. Then that morning in our staff prayer, Isaac joined us. We've been using Shane Claiborne's Common Prayer book and the reading for that morning was Psalm 126 too.
I'm looking forward to the CD release. Paul Chamness is finishing up the mixes as I write this and they sound better than ever. Matt Odmark will master the disc this week polishing the record up even further. Chris Cox has put together another smart, well-crafted CD design that includes some more images of Dimnent chapel.
With nine new recruits at the beginning of the year spread out between two bands, I didn't know what to expect from this year's recording. I had thought we might only attempt an EP, roughly 5 or six songs. Surprisingly, the disc will have 10 tracks if you include the doxology. I'll let the track list remain a surprise.
Online sales of the CD will be available through CD Baby, iTunes and hopecollegeworship.bandcamp.com