Trumpet trio sheet music for At the Riverside is available at:
At the Riverside
Ever since my divorce (in 2004), I’ve been spending some of my composition time writing what I call “peace songs”. These started off as simple songs I would play myself, for the purpose of bringing peace into my life. I guess, now that I’m looking back at it, it was not the song that brought the peace, but the other way around. Now that I’m sitting here thinking about it, I think what was happening was that I was digging deep into my spirit, looking for that “peace beyond all understanding”. It was a way for me to express that very deep peace that we have access to as Christians.
The first of these was a very, very simple melody that I called “Jesus, Bring Me Peace”. For years it was just a melody I played when I needed that peace back in my life. Later, Jesus, Bring Me Peace became a brass quintet composition.
I never stopped composing these peace songs. In a way, they have spilled over into a lot of my other writing and in that regard, they have changed my composition style. I still compose some technical pieces, but I am always looking for peace in all of them, even the most dissonant of my compositions are efforts to express that peace beyond all understanding.
At the Riverside is one of these peace songs. Look at the score and there is hardly anything to see. Simple rhythms… very basic harmonies… very predictable phrases…
And yet, it sooths the soul to listen to it.
Playing it is a different story. Ha ha….
The piece is so slow and the long notes can really wear you out. It is still a peace song though.
How can a piece that requires so much strength and self control and stamina still be a peace song?
To answer that question, I have another question for you, how can a Christian have “peace beyond all understanding” in the middle of a divorce?
Life is tough! Sometimes it feels like, right when you are about to recover from one trauma, the next one clobbers you again before you have a chance to get off the floor. When waves of these episodes assault you for years on end, it doesn’t make any sense that someone could find “peace beyond all understanding” in the midst of that.
But that’s what we have access to as Christians.
So yes, a piece that is difficult to play can still be a peace song. They aren’t typically like that, but this is a lot more realistic as a peace song than most of the easy ones, BECAUSE it is difficult to play.
When I wrote At the Riverside, I was thinking about the beauty of genuine river baptisms. I have seen them in movies. And a couple years ago Pearl and I saw a big baptism at a beach in Free Port, TX. There a few things I can think of that are more beautiful to behold than that.
Being baptized inside a church building is not the same. I’m not saying it is bad or anything like that. I’m not against church building baptisms. What I’m saying is that they are not as beautiful to see.
Does that make me old fashioned?
I don’t think so. It’s not about that.
My favorite niece, Rebecca, was recently baptized like that…in a real body of water. They sent us pictures. I don’t know how to express it other than to say that seeing that kind of baptism, out in God’s creation, and seeing someone you care about giving their lives to Christ that way, words just can’t express how beautiful that is.
THAT’S what I tried capture in At the Riverside.
We do have a trumpet play-along video for At the Riverside. It is part of our You Play First Chair series of play-along videos. You can get to it by clicking the button: