SACRED MUSIC by Brenda A.  McGee

SACRED MUSIC

Piano Study Series, Vol. 1
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A debut collection of spiritual piano music for children.

McGee, a composer and pianist, shares the purpose of this book of hymns and African-American spirituals in a short introduction: “I pray for a release of God’s love through these songs for the children, the teachers who teach these songs to their students, to the parents of the children, and to all who hear these sacred songs.” Her message is clear in her choice of songs that she arranged for this collection, all written by other musicians, such as “Count Your Blessings” by Edwin O. Excell with lyrics by Johnson Oatman Jr. (“When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings name them one by one”) and “Lord I’m Coming Home” by William J. Kirkpatrick (“I’ve wandered far away from God. Now I’m coming home”). The book, aimed at 5- to 8-year-old students, includes simple pieces, played one hand at a time, with mostly fixed hand placement and at least one fingering indicator per measure. In addition, there are no large leaps between keys, and most intervals are either steps or skips. In McGee’s arrangement of the Christmas carol “Angels We Have Heard on High,” for instance, she deftly moves a G up an octave to accommodate the fixed hand position. She also gives helpful instruction in her “Teachers Notes” at the book’s beginning. McGee’s talent shines through in her easy arrangements of traditional hymns, such as “I’ve Got Peace like a River,” in which the entire song is played between the same six notes on the treble clef. Unfortunately, the lyrics to many songs here, such as “There is a Fountain” by William Cowper (“There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains”) and “Nothing but the Blood” by Robert Lowry (“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus….Oh precious is the flow that makes me white as snow”) feature imagery that may be too scary for children.

A collection of successfully arranged religious piano music that could have featured a little less blood.

Pub Date: Aug. 8th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4908-4704-7
Page count: 62pp
Publisher: Westbow Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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