Many of us in the Luther community wear multiple hats. Some students on campus associate me with the various classes I teach within the music curriculum (theory, ear training, music history), others think of me as a composer, and then there are those who don't know me at all but often see me walking around campus with my three-year-old son while my wife works in Preus Library. (My colleague Tony Guzman reminds me regularly that the time is not far in the future when I'll be known only as "Keegan's dad.") A smaller group of people in Decorah, however, knows me primarily as the organist at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. The collision of musical and social worlds is one of the great joys of teaching at Luther and living in Decorah.
Growing up in the Lutheran Church, I’ve been around wonderful liturgical music all my life. While much of my output as a composer may seem pretty far removed from sacred traditions (such as my recent sound installation project, Talking Trees), my love for the great Lutheran repertoire of chorales, hymns, and organ music has shaped my own creative work. This year, I decided to view the Advent season as an opportunity to explore some of the Gregorian chants associated with this part of the liturgical calendar.
For each of the four Sundays in Advent, I have composed a short organ meditation on a chant. The first meditation (available for download), is based on “Ad te levavi," a setting of the opening verses of Psalm 25:
To you, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.
My God, I put my trust in you;
Let me not be put to shame,
Nor let my enemies
triumph over me. (from the ELW translation)
You’ll first hear some of the chant played by itself, then an embellished duet, then a more grand chorale variation. Best wishes for a safe and joyous holiday season!
Brooke Joyce is associate professor of music and composer-in-residence at Luther College. Joyce's music has been described as "vividly pictorial" by the San Francisco Chronicle and "exceptionally gripping" by the Los Angeles Times. His works have been performed by soloists and ensembles around the world, including the Indianapolis Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, the Brentano Quartet and James Gilchrist.