Gospel Jazz Project

Recently in one of my bible readings, I had come across a verse which spoke to my heart…

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-20)

Since I’m woefully unskilled as a singer, I knew that this was something that I couldn’t do as an encouragement to others. But… I CAN share the melodies and music that rings in my heart as instrumental music which I have performed. To that end, I offer as a gift of encouragement to you the free downloads below of my recorded arrangements of some of my favorite old church hymns.

They are a collection of 5 songs which I started to work on earlier this year as part of my Gospel Jazz Project. There’s a 6th song, “His Amazing Grace”, which I included that is actually my own composition based on the theme of Amazing Grace. I had also done this as a video along with 2 other songs here which can be seen on the “Video” page on this website. All of these have been done to honor the Lord with what He so graciously enabled me to do.

You may download this on your computer, smartphone or other device. You can also save them to a CD if you like, but I suspect you’ll need to change the file format to make it playable on a CD player on a stereo at home or in the car. However you would use these downloads, I hope you enjoy them and that they would be an encouragement to you.

To download a file to your computer or device, click the download icon (see the picture) to the right of the title of each song. This will start the download or you’ll see a message asking you if you wish to download. Save it to a file that you’ll be able to locate afterward.

Gospel Jazz – Great is thy faithfullness

I finished doing this instrumental Jazz Gospel arrangement for acoustic guitar of my favorite hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfullness”.

This song has always had a special place in my heart. I remember when my kids were little and one weekend I had taken them with me to do food shopping and when I had gotten to the freezer section, I was hearing this hymn echoing in my head and my emotions started welling up right there in the grocery store. At the time, our young family was going through a financially tough time and it occurred to me at that moment how God was faithful to His promises to provide for us. Ever since then, when I hear this song in church or on the radio it always brings me back to that place and it still touches me every single time. “If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.” {2 Timothy 2:13}

“Because of the loving devotion of the LORD we are not consumed, for His mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:23)

“Great is Thy faithfulness” by Thomas Chisholm

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Gospel Jazz Project – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

I’ve always love this old gospel tune since I first heard it when I first gave my life to Jesus many years ago. It had to be one that I would work up as an instrumental gospel jazz song. I don’t remember all of the lyrics but the first stanza has stuck with me for years. It’s a wonderful reminder to not get weighed down by the stuff we deal with in this temporary world. Our life in Jesus is for eternity and is of more infinite worth than anything in this world.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
(by Helen H. Lemmel}

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

“Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:1-3)

The Gospel Hymn Project: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

When my kids were small (they’re grown adults now), our family attended a young church where I was involved with the music ministry. Occasionally, I’d work up a jazz arrangement of a favorite church hymn and play it as a solo guitar piece. It’s been years since I’ve played those jazzy hymns and I just recently decided to start doing them again. Those wonderful old hymns have encouraged many people, myself included, for years. The songs are simple enough that they lend themselves to be easily re-purposed into other musical genres.

This piece was a fun song to work on as I did it as an acoustic guitar piece along with a smooth jazz arrangement in the same recording. I did a couple of different versions of it. One I did on classical guitar (my favorite version) and the second one on acoustic steel string guitar. I did a video for that version on my video page here on this website.

My plan is to do a collection of Jazz hymns and I wanted to start with this particular song first because it is my own personal statement of commitment of faith to follow Jesus. This was a decision I made when I was a young man of 23, after seeing and hearing the Gospel lived out by a number of people I was encountering in my life. It was a point of surrender to God who had been pulling at my heart for a years prior. So after thinking back at the way my life was impacted and changed, I wanted to honor what God has done (and continues to do) for me and my family by starting on this Gospel Hymn Project.

The Amazing Story Behind This Song

The history of this song is an amazing story of bold faith and commitment in the face of persecution against people against Christians. I’ve included an inspiring video below that tells the story. But as a prelude to that, the following is the background of the hymn from Wikipedia:

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus is a Christian hymn that originated in Assam, India. According to P. Job, the lyrics are based on the last words of Nokseng, a Garo man, a tribe from Meghalaya which then was in Assam, who converted to Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of an American Baptist missionary. He is said to have recited verses from the twelfth chapter of the book of John as he and his family were killed.”

The lyrics…

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow,
Tho’ none go with me I still will follow,
Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

My cross I’ll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I’ll carry till I see Jesus,
My cross I’ll carry till I see Jesus;
No turning back, No turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me,
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Please Help: Persecution against Christians is growing at an astronomical rate globally. If you’re interested in learning more about it and what you can do to help, please check out Open Doors and the wonderful work that they are doing around the world. Please join me in supporting this vital ministry for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Triumphant Kingdom

Description: “Triumphant Kingdom” is a tune that I wrote and arranged in a jazz/rock fusion vein. I had recruited my friend, Italian multi-instrumentalist, Giorgio Finetti to play the violin part on this tune.

I was going after something that sounded epic in it’s mood. I was trying to capture, in a musical sense, the age old conflict between good and evil, God and the rebellion in Heaven against Him by fallen angels. The instrumentation was written to create the mood of elevated pride, arrogance, and a war-like chaotic aggression in the harmonic structure, horn arrangement and electric guitar solos versus the sense of holiness, righteousness, goodness and purity demonstrated by the strings/violin and the Spanish guitar work. The end of the piece ends with a Heavenly chord ringing out to demonstrate the Triumph of God and His Kingdom. The message is that good will ultimately triumph over evil. The ultimate victory was gained in the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ through which His blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins and those who come to faith in Christ have a new life through accepting Him and identifying with His resurrection.

Origin of the Song Concept

The past couple of years I’ve been reading through a series of books written as a a dramatic biblical saga by author and screenwriter Brian Godawa called “The Chronicles of the Nephilim” (8 books) and “The Chronicles of the Apocalypse” (4 books) depicting the unseen conflict and the war over the souls of humanity. The books read like “The Lord of the Rings” and would be a treat for anyone who likes that genre of literature. Godawa drew his inspiration from, a book by biblical scholar Dr. Michael Heiser. Heiser’s book is called “The Unseen Realm”, which I also read. I include some details below about the books.

Additional inspiration came from the scriptures for my song portraying this “cosmic chess match” between the 2 rival kingdoms, God and the fallen ones. The verses below paint the picture and are not the only ones but they are the key ones. If you read them like you’re reading a novel, you’ll see the picture develop:

Genesis 3:15
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

These were the words that God spoke over the deceiving Fallen One and Adam and Eve in the Garden. This foretold of the rivalry that would play out in history.

Genesis 6:2-5
“the sons of God (angelic beings) saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years”. The Nephilim (giants) were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them (hybrids). These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

Isaiah 14:12-14
How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the North. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

Ezekiel 28:13-17
You were in Eden, the garden of God. … I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. “You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. … and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground.

John 10:10
“The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 3:16 & 17
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

2 Corinthians 11:14
“Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”

Ephesians 6:12
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

1 John 5:4-5
“For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

1 John 5:19
“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”

Revelation 12:7-11
“Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”