The Dark

This piece came to me after several agonizing months doing nothing with music.

I understand the concept of the tortured artist, because I’ve lived it. The constant struggle for acceptance and success takes it’s toll when living your dream always feels just barely out of reach. I once heard a quote that got me thinking about this, and it was in the spirit of this idea that I got out my equipment, dusted it off, and composed this music.

“You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you.” —Harold B. Lee

He’s right, of course. But sometimes the appearing light doesn’t come immediately. Sometimes it doesn’t even come a short or even long time later. Sometimes we need to walk in the darkness for a long time before the light appears.

It is at those times we become truly acquainted with the dark. It’s not the dark of evil, but the dark of everything unknown. It’s the dark of living and working and striving day after day to find your place—to know your purpose—basically walking out into the darkness, and continuing to walk, and walk, and walk. Yet the light does not come. You continue because your heart says to do so, yet the light doesn’t come. You pray, you seek, you work, and you walk, and yet the light doesn’t come.

Some become bitter. Others panic. But the truly courageous hold to the journey, not because they can see, but because it’s right. And because they continue to walk, they gain something far greater than light. They gain faith—real, lasting, unquenchable faith. To those that hold to this perilous journey, no darkness can stop them. Even as they stumble, they make it through. And they find and help others along the way. They lift, and they lead, and they strengthen, and they build that faith in others.

In essence, they become a light to others, even while their own vision is obscured. But they’re not the blind leading the blind. They have vision beyond what light can offer.

Don’t fear the dark. It is there to make light out of you.

Away in a Manger Piano Solo


Away in a MangerGet the Sheet Music

It’s remarkable to me that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Great I Am, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and saved the Hebrew slaves from Pharaoh, sending plagues and seas on the pursuing armies, was born in the humblest circumstance—like the poorest of the poor, with straw laid out in a troff for His cradle. This little child, born anonymously in the most obscure circumstances during the busiest holiday celebrated by the children of Israel, was, in fact, the very God and Redeemer of Israel.

I wanted to catch that in the music, just a little. In what might be considered the chorus version of this piece, where primary children would normally sing, “Asleep, asleep, the Savior in a stall,” I changed things up a bit to match an original melody I used in my arrangement of the hymn, Redeemer of Israel, as if to say, “This tiny child, asleep in the stall, is the very Redeemer of Israel.”

Love at Home

Love at HomePresident David O. McKay said, “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”

(quoted from Theodore Hesburgh, Reader’s Digest, Jan. 1963, 25; in Richard Evans’ Quote Book [1971], 11).

“Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”

-Bible Dictionary, “Temple”

“Arthur Gordon shared this story in a national magazine:”

“When I was around thirteen and my brother ten, Father had promised to take us to the circus. But at lunchtime there was a phone call; some urgent business required his attention downtown. We braced ourselves for disappointment. Then we heard him say [into the phone], ‘No, I won’t be down. It’ll have to wait.’

“When he came back to the table, Mother smiled. ‘The circus keeps coming back, you know.’

“ ‘I know,’ said Father. ‘But childhood doesn’t.’ ”

—Arthur Gordon, A Touch of Wonder (1974), 77–78

I would love to have a shirt that says, “Sorry, I can’t come. My kids are growing up that day, and I don’t want to miss it.”

A happy, loving home life involves living each day to the fullest. This is an account related by Thomas S. Monson:

“Elder Monte J. Brough, formerly of the Seventy, tells of a summer at his childhood home in Randolph, Utah, when he and his younger brother, Max, decided to build a tree house in a large tree in the backyard. They made plans for the most wonderful creation of their lives. They gathered building materials from all over the neighborhood and carried them up to a part of the tree where two branches provided an ideal location for the house. It was difficult, and they were anxious to complete their work. The vision of the finished tree house provided tremendous motivation for them to complete the project.

“They worked all summer, and finally in the fall just before school began, their house was completed. Elder Brough said he will never forget the feelings of joy and satisfaction which were theirs when they finally were able to enjoy the fruit of their work. They sat in the tree house, looked around for a few minutes, climbed down from the tree—and never returned. The completed project, as wonderful as it was, could not hold their interest for even one day. In other words, the process of planning, gathering, building, and working—not the completed project—provided the enduring satisfaction and pleasure they had experienced.

“Let us relish life as we live it and, as did Elder Brough and his brother, Max, find joy in the journey.”

Thomas S. Monson, “Treasure of Eternal Value,” Liahona, Apr 2008, 2–7

The sheet music for this piece is available on my website.

Sweet Hour of Prayer

Sweet Hour of PrayerGod hears your prayers—every one of them. Just because you don’t always feel it doesn’t mean He’s not listening. He’s always listening. 

Usually the struggle comes with recognizing His answers. Sometimes He answers with thoughts or ideas, sometimes through dreams or direct communication. Occasionally He uses coincidences, and often He uses other people. But if you persist, the answers will come. Sometimes it may take an entire “hour of prayer,” but the hour will be sweet, and if you receive an answer, it’s worth it.

If you don’t have faith in your ability to hear and recognize answers to prayer, at least have faith in God’s ability to reach you anyway.

The sheet music for this piece is available at my website.

Daily Improv: Day 1

Daily Improv: 16 Jan 2011

Okay, so my Christmas album release came and went, Christmas came and went, New Years came and went, and my busy self hasn’t done much with music since the album release – didn’t even blog. So, on a whim, I’m resolving to do one simple improv a day for a month. That means I’m going to sit down at the piano, start the recorder, and play something that’s hopefully never been played before. Then I’ll post the recording on my blog. On Sundays, I’ll do hymn/primary song arrangement improvs.

Anywho, here’s the first, it’s a simple improv arrangement of Beautiful Savior. Not to be confused with my published arrangement of the same song.