Sunday, October 20, 2013

Blessings of Service & Two New Hymns!

The links to the scores of the two new hymns are at the bottom, please check them out!

I recently attended a meet-and-greet event for graduate students in the Herberger Institute at ASU. I met architects, musicians, dancers, artists, industrial designers, and people whose degree descriptions I didn't understand at all. They were from China and Louisiana, D.C and Sudan, Iran and California. I've got to be honest, it was an exhilarating and welcome change of pace from BYU, where the odds of meeting somebody from a diverse background are much lower.

At the same time, I had a sweet reminder of what a wonderful thing it is be an alumnus of two BYUs. I was coming home from another graduate orientation event and received a call from my neighbor, a member of the church who we've befriended. He asked if I was available right away to help a sister move out. I went right over. This sort of thing isn't uncommon in the church; a handful of members came to help us move in to our new place in Arizona, especially helping with my baby grand. This was one of those particularly difficult moves where the person was moving under trying circumstances and with very limited time. We had nearly finished up and most of the help had left when the sister said that she was just going to throw away all the food in the pantry and freezer and that if we wanted it we could have it. Having lived off our food storage for most of August, bringing all that food home to my wife was an emotional experience. I told my dad about it and he reminded me that when I graduated in 2009 from BYU-Idaho that university president Kim B. Clark had exhorted us to always be the first to volunteer to serve and that we would see the blessings. I guess I had just never seen that promise fulfilled quite so literally and abundantly!

Not that Mormons have a monopoly on lending a helping hand! I had parked my car in a metered spot the other day to bring up several boxes of books and papers to my new office (unbelievably excited about that!) and ran into two of my new peers, fellow composers starting their doctorates at ASU. They both rushed to help me and get everything in just one more load. I hope they see the blessings too. And maybe I was still just seeing blessings from helping with that move the other week.
Now there are two offices in the world that say Robert Wahlquist on the door!
I recently got the latest edition of Hymns Today in the mail, it marks the second time I've been published and the second time in Hymns Today. They chose my hymn 'A Sacred Pause' for the summer edition. Earlier this year "It Is Finished" was placed in the Easter issue. Its an honor to see my music and name alongside some of those I respect most in LDS music, including but not limited to former teachers of mine like Daniel Kerr from BYU-Idaho or Neil Thornock and Christian Asplund from BYU.

Maybe it was seeing this little piece of success coming in the mail, but this fall has turned out to be a prolific time for my sacred compositions. Besides two new hymns, which I present here, I'm also working on an original choral setting of 'Savior, Redeemer of My Soul'. This is a text by Orson F. Whitney, an early LDS apostle-poet whose text I've set once before in my hymn 'A Stranger Star.'

So, I give you: 'Pause the Day', a hymn about taking a moment out of the day to pray, and 'Come to the Tree', about the symbol of the Tree of Life as found in the scriptures. I wrote Pause the Day as sort of an ear-worm, the sort of thing you might think of at any moment in the day. Come to the Tree is definitely in the vein of some of my more harmonically and doctrinally dense hymns such as 'It is Finished' or 'A Stranger Star'. Both quite different but meaningful in their own ways! Click the images below for full sized music.

Stay tuned for news of the free Sacred section on my website, coming soon!

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