Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Hymn: The Morning After Jesus' Birth

Here is a hymn for this Christmas season. If you download the graphic, it should be large enough to reproduce well.

The morning after Jesus’ birth
no angels hovered near the earth;
the shepherds left to tend their sheep
and Bethlehem awoke from sleep.
The world was changed when Jesus came,
and yet, too much remains the same
as evil seems to keep its hold,
despite what prophet songs foretold.

We sing the angels’ song of peace
and wait for rage and war to cease.
And wait, with faith the world finds odd,
to greet the promised reign of God.
That reign is here, but upside-down,
for Jesus claimed no earthly crown
and shunned the use of hate and might
to turn the world from wrong to right.

At times that reign is hard to see,
and not where we would have it be.
It grows among the poor and weak
in places most refuse to seek.
As seeds take root in barren ground
so can the reign of God be found,
for Love has come and blossoms still
when we have faith and do God’s will.

LMD; suggested tune: YE BANKS AND BRAES
Adam M. L. Tice, December 7, 2016; ©GIA Publications, Inc.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Column in Reformed Worship

Reformed Worship has published a series of columns by Dr. David Music on hymn writers and composers. My work was featured in the December 2015 issue, which is now available online.  It is an insightful and detailed analysis.  Read it here:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New Sally Morris collection

Ok, I'm pretty biased because there are more than a few of my texts included... 25, to be exact...
But Sally Ann Morris' new tune collection is spectacular.
Her setting of Mary Louise Bringle's text "You Search Me and Know Me, O My God" alone is worth the cost of the book.
I love that Sally finds a "voice" for each writer she works with. (For my texts she leans towards jazz.) That means there is substantial stylistic variety in the collection. Some future musicologist should compare how she sets her various writers' work.
Many of the tunes for my work have been previously published in my last few collections; however, there are still several new discoveries to enjoy; newly written tunes for my older texts, and one text never before published.
Head over to GIA to order your copy.
See also Sally's previous two books: To Sing the Artists' Praise, and Giving Thanks in Prayer and Song.
Sally and I also collaborated on a recording: Walk in Peace.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Let Speeches Fall Silent--a hymn after the Orlando massacre

Permission is granted for free use of this hymn during October, 2017.

Here is a new text, along with two possible tunes. Click on the tune images for full-sized versions.  This hymn may be freely used through July 31, 2016.

Let speeches fall silent and platitudes cease
from hawkers of violence they brand as “peace.”
Let people who suffer find places to speak,
and holders of power give way to the weak.

Let teachers of hatred, suspicion, and fear,
and those who would kill for the views they hold dear,
be turned from their ways and disarmed of their wrath
to walk on a new, more compassionate path.

Forgive us the times we neglected to act;
forgive our excuses for courage we lacked.
God, teach us the wisdom that leads us to grace:
your image is found in our enemy’s face.

Adam M. L. Tice, June 15, 2016
©2016 GIA Publications, Inc.

Monday, May 2, 2016

In Tune Presentation

This is really long and full of all kinds of scratch-the-surface stuff squeezed into a TED-talks style format. It is a presentation I shared at Bethany Theological Seminary's In Tune conference in April. I was asked to introduce my work and to talk about being a hymn writer. (My presentation followed one from a "contemporary praise and worship" musician/pastor, and so much of what I said is about blurring genre lines and finding synthesis.)
If you only have time for one piece, jump to 49:35 for "The Mountain of God" with Sally Morris' awesome tune TO THE BRINK. I wish the recording picked up more of the congregation--they really rocked!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Writing the Church's Song--Save the dates!

The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada is hosting "Writing the Church's Song" in September.  The announcement is below. I'm thrilled to be working with Sally Morris and David Bailey to promote good craft in congregational song.

Save the Date!  We will offer a workshop retreat for poets and composers of all styles of congregational song in September, 2016.  Outstanding faculty will guide participants, providing insights from their own writing process and offering feedback.  There will be time for small group interaction and ample time for individuals to work on their own projects.  The workshop will be held at Richmond Hill, an ecumenical community in the heart of Richmond, Virginia. 

Full schedule and registration will be available online April 1

Space is limited so sign up early!!

Schedule Overview
Monday, Sept 26:  check in after 4 pm and join the community for prayer and dinner
Tuesday Sept 27 through Thursday Sept 29:  meet together for the workshop
Friday Sept 30:  check out after breakfast and depart for home

Adam M. L. Tice                   David M. Bailey                   Sally Ann Morris

Monday, February 1, 2016

Contemplating Craft and Psalms

I had a delightful time at the Calvin Symposium on Worship. It was an international, intercultural, and interdenominational feast. The music was exhilarating and sometimes challenging--and often a bit loud!
I was privileged to be a resource for a songwriter's retreat along with Greg Scheer and Sandra McCracken.

When I saw the stack of submissions from retreat participants, I knew that this would be a learning experience for me. All but a handful of the songs were written in a decidedly "contemporary" idiom. (I use quotation marks because everything, when it is written, is by definition "contemporary." I'm using the term here to describe what's often known as "Contemporary Christian Music," or CCM--typically guitar-driven songs, often with through-composed, non-strophic lyrics.) What would I, as a writer of hymn texts, contribute to the conversation? Greg and Sandra are far more knowledgeable about that world, and I loved hearing their wisdom at work.
Sandra, and half of Greg

I elected to highlight the work I've done with composers like Sally Morris and Ben Brody to blur genre lines. I attempt to bring the toolbox of hymnody to the styles of CCM. Ben and Sally (and many other composers) craft accessible melodies in ranges and rhythms that congregations can sing together with a variety of accompaniments.

As we offered feedback to retreat participants, I suggested ways that texts and lyrics could be structured to enhance their congregational use. That, I think, is a gift of the hymnological tool box. (An interesting digression--a Japanese participant pointed out to me later that his language has an entirely different set of tools. But the disciplined use of structure carries across cultural lines.)

An interesting thought occurred to me later--I wonder if the Psalmists sat in similar workshops, honing their craft. Is that how the Sons of Korah worked? Robert Alter's The Art of Biblical Poetry describes the careful structures of the Psalms. Craft like that must be learned, just as I learned how to write by studying the works of masters, attending workshops, and being mentored. I picture an apprentice Psalmist bringing her work to a teacher and receiving feedback. "Can you tighten this parallelism?" "You could really bring more emphasis to this phrase if you tweak the sprung rhythm a bit." "You know what would work wonderfully here?  Put in a Selah!"

At any rate, all of this encourages me to keep learning, and to keep refining my own craft. I'm grateful for the opportunity that the retreat gave me to examine more carefully the structures of CCM and dream about how they might inform and shape my own writing.

Friday, January 22, 2016

More on the Calvin Symposium

I'm excited to head up to Grand Rapids next week!  Here are a few more details on what I'll be doing.
On Thursday Sandra McCraken and I will lead a retreat for hymn/text/tune/song writers/composers, moderated by Greg Scheer. I'm excited to explore our varied approaches to our crafts. (By the way, I'm pondering an upcoming post on Stephen Sondheim's Finishing the Hat and Look, I Made A Hat as instruction books for good hymn writing.)
Thursday and Friday at 4:15 one of the vesper service options is
The Good News for the Hurting: A Service of Scripture and Song 
Michael Burkhardt, the Choral Scholars, and Zebulon Highben, featuring texts by Adam Tice
 The conference program describes it this way: "Led by choir and organ, this service of scripture and song surrounds a few Isaiah texts, bringing good news for a hurting world." Beyond that, I haven't heard anything about what is planned--I can't wait to see what they've included. And you can find out with me, even if you won't be in Grand Rapids--the Thursday service will live-stream at 4:15:
On Friday and Saturday afternoons, I'll present workshops on newer congregational song drawn from Isaiah. Passages from Isaiah play a prominent role in the lectionary for both the upcoming Lent and Advent seasons. We'll sing a number of selections related to those passages.
On Sunday morning I'll be at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church for a hymn festival featuring my texts. Our title is "The Promise of Peace."
Sunday evening there's yet another hymn festival to attend, this one sponsored by The Hymn Society.
Will I see you in Grand Rapids? You can follow all the goings-on here: