VOL 4, NO. 3, August, 2002

© 2002 Copyright of David E. Smith Publications
All Rights Reserved. Made in U.S.A.

Table of Contents
The Publishers' Space
The Lone Arranger
Pecussion Space
String Space
Brass Space
Meet Wayne Fritchie
New Web Site
Have Faith
Words To Ponder

Preach Christ Always
And As A Last Resort
Use Words.
St. Francis of Assisi

by David E. Smith

David E. Smith Publications, LLC, is pleased to announce that it became the exclusive distributor for River Song Productions and the Betsy Read Catalogs on July 1, 2002. The River Song catalog is largely written by Paul Edwards and features solos and ensembles for all instruments as well as items for larger ensembles. Special items include materials for the pianist and a book of modulation sequences for the arranger.

Two new string quartets have just been released: "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" (#169417, $10.50) and "There Is A Fountain" (#169416, $9.50), both with piano accompaniments and optional violin three for the viola parts. These pieces are in the level three range and are crafted by David R. Ledgerwood.

We continue to refine and add to our 106 page catalog which represents approximately 3500 sacred instrumental works.

Your favorite dealer will be glad to supply the music you need. Summer is a good time to stock up on music for upcoming performances.

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by Dana F. Everson

A Brief Review of TO THE WORLD, JOY, -Arranged by George E. Strombeck

It may be early to be thinking about Christmas music, but I would not want you to miss a great opportunity to get this brass ensemble selection into your pre-Christmas file. The instrumentation is 2 Trumpets, Horn, 2 Trombones, Baritone and Tuba. A 3rd Trumpet part is included as a substitute for the Horn if needed. There are Timpani and Organ parts included as optional additions.

This is a glorious, energetic, and creative piece of work. The introduction begins with a motivic idea from JOY TO THE WORLD, and returns several times throughout as a unifying element. It begins at mp and crescendos in pitch and dynamic level to the opening of the well-known tune. The full ensemble is involved in the introduction and the opening bars giving a confident and stable sense of joy. There is a continuing shifting of dynamics which match the words and spirit of the music. The melody is not confined only to the first trumpet, but is passed around among several players. Even the tuba has opportunity to present motivic ideas increasing the range of moods presented.

At approximately midpoint, Mr. Strombeck introduces a fugal section which mixes JOY TO THE WORLD with short "quotations" of HOW GREAT OUR JOY. It is a masterfully written section, yet not difficult to rehearse.

After the fugal section, he moves the key from concert Eb to concert C, and concludes with a Majestic section in which the conductor may invite the audience to sing along for a verse or two. All is brought to a focused finish with a short ending that keeps the energy moving right up to the last few chords.

Although Mr. Strombeck uses some colorful harmonies, and plenty of appropriate rhythmic drive throughout, one never loses the melodic line. There is an excellent balance of unity and variety; the sign of an experienced craftsman.

Of course this written description falls short of conveying the power and life of this music....perhaps you would like to listen to it and other David E. Smith Publications arrangements on the brass demo tape available from the publisher.

As you can sense, I am very impressed with this festive arrangement. I have used it with great joy and have found that players have been challenged and delighted by the result. Mr. Strombeck wrote this arrangement at a time when his father left this life to be with the Lord. It has ministered to me and many others by conveying the Joy of the Lord through the medium of the brass ensemble.

Dana Everson is on the faculty of Northland Bible College in Wisconsin. Prior to that he was an Assistant Professor of Music at Delta College in Saginaw, Michigan. He has over 125 published works.

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  • 2. Include Your Children When Baking Cookies
  • 3. Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
  • 4. Drunks Get Nine Months in Violin Case
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The cost for attending the Fasting and Prayer conference includes meals.

Miss Charlene Mason sang, "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands.

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

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by Billy Madison

Assigning Percussion Parts

Today's percussion literature requires members of the section to be ready to play many different percussion instruments. Regardless of whether the director or the percussion section leader makes the assignments (see Lines & Spaces, vol. 3, no. 3, August, 2001, “The Duties of a Percussion Section Leader”) care must be taken to insure the proper players are playing the correct parts. When assigning parts follow these four simple suggestions:

1. The person assigned to the part must have the ability to play the part. Take into consideration whether or not the individual will be able to perform the part well after proper individual and ensemble practice time.

2. Be sure that every player is challenged as much as the literature will allow and as much as his or her abilities will allow. Don't always give the easier parts to the same players and don't always give the harder parts to the same players. If a weaker player is never challenged he/she may never reach their potential. Spread the parts around as much as the player's abilities will allow.

3. Try not to assign the same instrument to the same person for every composition to be played. This will facilitate everyone in the section having the opportunity to develop their abilities as a complete percussionist instead of just as a snare drummer or a timpanist, etc. This does not usually apply to a marching band, but even there the players could occasionally switch parts to play pep tunes in the stands. By allowing everyone to develop his or her skills on various instruments the section as a whole will become a better percussion section.

4. If at all possible make sure that every person in the section is assigned a part. This may require doubling of some parts, but it is much more desirable than having members of the section sitting around doing nothing. There are obviously times when doubling of parts may not be appropriate, but if it doesn't interfere with the quality of the performance it should always be done especially in an educational setting. I have always been amazed to hear percussion students complain about not getting to play because there weren't enough parts for them. Music students do not learn nearly as much by watching others play their instruments as they do by playing themselves.

Without a doubt there will be times when you want a certain player to play a specific part because of his or her special talents on that instrument. However, by taking the time to consider the needs of each individual in the percussion section everyone will have the opportunity to develop her/his skills to maximum ability which will allow the section to be able to best play the literature assigned to it.

Billy Madison has taught instrumental music in the Arkansas Public Schools for fifteen years. He studied composition with Jared Spears and Tom O'Conner. Madison has played percussion with the Northeast Arkansas Symphony since 1978.

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by David Eudaly (Guest Writer)

The Christian Should be a Humble Person-The Christian Should be a Confident Person-Conclusion.

3. Rely on the Assurance of God's Provision
“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God” (II Corinthians 3:4, 5). You can read all kinds of books on how to build up your self-confidence or how to overcome an inferiority complex. Almost every one of those courses will tell you that “you must believe in yourself.” But that's not true. If you put your confidence in yourself alone, that confidence will invariably be shaken, because no matter how talented you are, you are going to make mistakes. If you can't distinguish between your worth and your performance, that will be devastating to you. No matter how confident you become, there will be things you cannot control. You might have a heart attack, or you may discover your mate is unfaithful, or you might fail to be admitted to the medical school where you applied. No matter how confident you are, as you get older your talents begin to wane-you can't see as well, you don't remember as quickly and your reflexes slow down. But we can be confident as Christians because our confidence is not in ourselves but in God.

Do you know what the middle verse in the Bible is? Psalm 118:9-”It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Don't place your confidence in people; trust in the Lord. God's promises never fail. His resources never run out. His memory never fades. His Word is always reliable. That's the reason Jesus said, “God cares for the grass of the fields and the birds of the air, and He will take care of you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow.” Paul told the Colossian Christians he thanked God “who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” (Colossians 1:12). That word qualified is the verb form of the same word he used in II Corinthians 3:5-competent. “God has made you competent,” he says. He has “strengthened (you) with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11).

That's the secret! “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). I love that plaque which reads, “Lord help me remember that there's nothing going to happen to me today that You and I can't handle together.”

A pilot persuaded his mother-in-law to go up in the plane with him. It was the first time she had ever flown. He said that he tried to point out his house and the church building below, but she could barely look down. Her favorite part of the flight was alighting from the plane once it had landed and stopped moving. She was a nervous wreck and said. “I never did put my whole weight down on the seat.”

Most of us go through life all tensed up; we never do put our whole weight in God's hands. We think we've got everything under control, or if we don't, we're going to work at getting it under control. But God is the one who is really controlling everything, so we can relax. “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22). It's a wonderful day when one realizes, “I'm not in control. I'm not competent. But the Lord is, and He's the one who has everything under control. So I'll put my whole weight down on Him, and I'll quit being afraid.”

4. Relax in the Freedom of the New Covenant.
“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (II Corinthians 3:6). We are not going to be confident Christians if we don't understand the important distinction between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, people could earn God's favor by living a good life. If someone kept the Ten Commandments, God would bless and save him. But the problem was, nobody could keep the rules. Nobody ever completely objected, so nobody was ever confident of his salvation.

But in the New Testament, there's a whole new way of righteousness. Jesus Christ came and died on the cross. He knew you were incompetent. He knew you had sinned, but He took the burden of your sin on Himself, died on the cross, and now, through Him, you can be saved.. “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2: 8,9.)

Someone illustrated salvation in terms of swimming from Oregon to Hawaii. Some can swim very well; some can hardly swim at all. It's evident that all are going to drown at some point. However, a cruise ship comes by and the captain says, “Get on board. I'm going to give you all a free trip to Hawaii.” Everyone who got on board could relax and enjoy the trip-for free! Those who were most reluctant to accept the offer were the best swimmers, who wished to display their superiority.

Jesus comes and says, “You can't make it. You can't do it on your own. You are all sinful. But, I'll pay the price. I'll give you a free trip to Heaven if you'll just humble yourself and get on board.” The most reluctant to respond are the good moral people-it's difficult for them to realize or even admit they have sinned. They believe they can make the trip on their own merits.

Their confidence is ill-conceived-no matter how good, how moral the individual, she/he is never good enough. Even the good deeds have improper motives. It is a wonderful day when one begin to understand that Christ has asked you aboard His ship of salvation. He has paid the price and you can relax.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was built between 1933 and 1937. During the first half of the construction, over a dozen men fell off the superstructure, falling as far as 700 feet to their death. Construction was halted, and a safety net costing several hundred thousand dollars, was put under the bridge to catch anyone else who might fall. During the last half of construction, six people fell, but their lives were spared. Quite interestingly, during the last half of construction, the work proceeded 25% more quickly and efficiently. Knowing the net was there didn't make the workers careless, it made them more confident and more efficient.

As a Christian, you have a net below you call God's Grace. When you stumble and fall, that net catches you, forgives you and re-establishes you. When you realize that the net of Grace exists, it doesn't make you careless, but rather more confident and self assured. It results in a happier and more joyful Christian life. “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10: 19, 22, 23).

It's a wonderful day when we can say, “My sins are forgiven. My place in eternity is assured. My present is empowered. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”

David Eudaly is a building contractor and lay minister who resides in Bloomington, Indiana, with his wife Linda.. They have three adult children.

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by Jay-Martin


Basic String Instrument Maintenance for the Church and School Director Part 1 - Pegs, Strings, Tuners, Chin-rests, and Endpins

Any competent musician can perform general maintenance of string instruments. Taking a few minutes to properly care for instruments, bows, and cases saves time, money, and frustration. For the next several issues of Lines and Spaces we will deal with common, readily repaired string instrument ailments that do not require extensive surgery or a medical degree.

If pegs are difficult to turn the string should be removed from the peg and the peg removed from the pegbox. Apply peg compound to the two areas of the peg that contact the cheek (wall) of the pegbox. If you do not have peg com-pound substitute pencil lead (graphite is the lubricant). If pegs are slipping apply peg paste (a different compound) or chalk. Pegs that continue to stick or slip should be replaced by a professional.

Special pegs are installed on some violins, violas, and cellos. These pegs have fine tuning mechanisms built into them making them easy for young students to use. These special pegs are sold under several brand names, the most popular of which is Scherl & Roth's Caspari peg. This peg can be adjusted for tuning tension with a small, flat-blade screwdriver.

When a Caspari peg spins freely in the pegbox even after tightening the adjustment screw, it is time for a 15-minute repair. Remove the string and unscrew the mechanism in the peg. Remove the screw and two peg pieces. In the peg hole is a small washer. Gently tap it out (from inside the pegbox-it is tapered) with a small leather hammer and a piece of same-size dowel rod. Put a small amount of Elmer's white glue around the outside of the washer and replace it in the pegbox. Wait approximately 10-15 minutes for the glue to dry completely then reassemble the peg. Replace the string and retune.

Strings should be wound in a straight line directly from the peg (machines on a double bass) over the nut at the top of the fingerboard, over the bridge, and to the tailpiece that holds the strings taut at the bottom of the instrument. String wear can be greatly reduced by making sure the string is as straight as possible coming from the peg. The string winding should move from the peg hole towards the thumb pad of each peg. In some instruments the peg box is so small that it may be necessary to snip off an inch or more of the string winding, or overlap the winding on the peg. Secure approximately a quarter inch of string winding extending through the peg hole by overlapping it once. After anchoring one end of the string at the peg use your thumb and first finger to gently move down the string to remove any kinks or curls before securing the string at the tailpiece. Change strings one at a time to keep pressure on the top plate of the instrument. The pressure of the remaining three strings helps hold the bridge and the soundpost in place. If the soundpost drops it should be reset by a professional. When changing strings lubricate the grooves at the nut with pencil lead (graphite) and the grooves on the bridge with Ivory soap to help keep strings from fraying and unraveling at those points.

Strings should be changed regularly: two or three times a year for violin and viola, once a year for cello, and once every two years for double bass. Strings go false whether in use or not. False strings do not produce the correct overtone series. As a result players find it progressively more difficult to finger pitches in tune. If an instrument is not going to be used for more than a month the strings should be lowered one-half step in pitch to relieve some of the pressure on the bridge.

Fine tuners
Violins, violas, and cellos are often equipped with one or more fine tuners built into or added onto the tailpiece. Fine tuners assist players in bringing strings to pitch without using the pegs. The machines used to tune double basses are geared to work like fine tuners. No additional tuners are needed for basses.

Occasionally the collar that fastens a tuner onto the tailpiece needs to be tightened. The collar should be tightened with fingers rather than a pair of pliers to avoid damaging the instrument top or cracking the tailpiece from overtightening.

Violins and violas need seasonal adjustments to chinrests. As the wood in the instrument contracts slightly in dry surroundings the chinrest will start to wobble and twist off. In humid surroundings the chinrest can become too tight, acting as a clamp that pinches the tone of the instrument. A small, inexpensive tool can be purchased to insert into the post holes on each chinrest spindle to tighten or loosen the chinrest. A heavy-duty paperclip may be used in an emergency. Tighten or loosen one spindle for a couple of turns then tighten or loosen the opposite spindle. The spindles work in tandem. Do not attempt to tighten or loosen one spindle completely without a comparable number of turns on the other spindle. The need for this quick fix occurs so frequently that many string teachers and orchestra directors carry a chinrest tightener on their key ring for convenience.

Cellos and basses have extendable rods, endpins that regularly need attention. A bent endpin will not push back up into the instrument or pull down without a great deal of force. The solution is to pull the endpin down with pliers (use leather to protect the rod from scratches) and gently straighten the rod by bending it back into a straight position. It is helpful to have someone else hold the instrument.

Endpins lose their points over time. It is not difficult to sharpen them. Pull the endpin out and use a metal file to bring the tip back to a point.

If an un-notched endpin is slipping, pull it out as far as it will go and use a metal file to score small notches at half-inch intervals. The endpin screw can then be aligned with the notches to prevent slipping.

Endpin screws occasionally break off in the endpin assembly. If you have a spare screw then it is worth using a drill to remove the broken piece. Sometimes it is possible to unscrew the broken piece by gently tapping it with a small hammer against a screwdriver or scratch awl. If there is no spare screw then the whole assembly has to be replaced, a job for a string repair technician.

Jay-Martin Pinner is Head of the String Department at Bob Jones University. He also supervises the University's String Repair Shop, which maintains a large collection of school-owned string instruments. For five years he was the string repair technician at a music store contracting for string repairs in area public schools. He has taken additional studies at the University of New Hampshire with Hans Nebel.

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by Phil Norris

Tips on Finding the Right Trumpet

Several times each year I'm asked by parents to recommend a trumpet for their son or daughter, and I'm happy to make some suggestions. In this column, I won't talk about specific brands or models, but I do want to talk about specific things to check when appraising or trying out a trumpet. These ideas would apply to any brass instrument as well.

I must mention before commencing that the quality of the mouthpiece used can have a significant influence on the outcome of testing an instrument. I won't cover aspects of mouthpiece selection at this time. I'll simply say that the trumpet mouthpiece should be comfortable to the player, should produce a clear ringing tone to the player's ear, should play well in all registers, and should produce reasonably good intonation. Sometimes it's difficult to tell if the way an instrument plays is due to the mouthpiece or the instrument, or to how well the two work together. It's a complex subject with no simple answers.

First, and most broadly, it's generally better to consider established manufacturers with a long history of quality products than off-brand or unmarked makes. That “no-name” instrument may be all right, but its quality is suspect until actually played.

It's also true that a major brand name does not necessarily guarantee good quality either. There can be “lemons” in brands that are usually reliable.

Next, the amount of money you want to spend is a factor. The saying, “You get what you pay for,” is usually true. For a beginner instrument, you can expect to pay (brand new) up to around $400; for an intermediate or step-up model, up to $800; for a professional quality horn, anywhere from $1200 and up. These prices take into account a reasonable discount you can get from some dealers.

A good discount should be around 30-40% off full retail price. There's no reason to pay full retail from a local music dealer when normal discounts are available. Keep in mind, too, that one company's professional instrument may be equivalent to another's intermediate model.

I've also heard of good deals from internet sales sites, but unless you can negotiate with the seller to have a trial period, you're stuck with whatever you buy. In these cases there is usually little or no return option.

Generally, the instrument should be tested by the person who will play it, and someone with good judgment about good sound should listen.

One critical piece of understanding is that the instrument sounds differently to the player than to others listening. What may sound good to the player will usually not sound as good to a listener. It's better to trust the ear of someone observing than the person playing.

If the player is inexperienced, it's a good idea to have a professional/teacher try it out as well.

The ideal in this case is that the teacher would try out the instrument along with the student. But the teacher must keep in mind that what works for him/her may not work for the student and vice versa.

For a hands-on and visual inspection, check out these things:

Are there any dents on the body or valve section?

Do the valves move quickly and smoothly without any bouncing on the return (up) stroke? If the valve bounces on the return, the springs are too weak and either need to be stretched or replaced.

Do all the slides work smoothly? The 3rd-valve slide should move very freely. Low C# and D must be tuned using this slide, so insist that this slide works very freely.

Remove all the slides and see how clean the interior is.

Check each of the valves for alignment in the down position. Press the valve firmly down and look in the valve ports to see if there is perfect vertical AND rotational (sideways) alignment (you will need a flashlight for doing this). Vertical misalignment is easy to fix, but rotational misalignment may or may not be repairable.

With the valve slides removed, blow through each valve, plug the slide out of which the air flows, then blow as hard as you can and listen for leakage of air. Do this with each of the valves. Valves that are overly worn or that are not fitted well will have more leakage. A small amount is all right, but considerable leakage is not good.

Here are some primary playing issues to test:

1. Tone-as mentioned before, the sound will not be the same to the player as to the listener. What I've discovered is that the clearer, brighter, and buzzier the tone (particularly in the low and middle registers), the better the sound is to the listener. For instance, if you play three horns, the best of the three is the one that sounds clearest to the player. Is the tone fairly consistent from low to high registers?

2. Lyricism-does the instrument play a smooth, flowing line easily? Notice the change between notes, the legato or connection from note to note both stepwise and with larger interval skips.

3. Intonation-does the instrument play well in-tune? Check the fourth-line D. This note is naturally flat, but if it's unusually flat, this is NOT the instrument to choose. Check high G (at the top of the staff). This note is usually sharp. If it's unusually high in pitch and you can't bring the pitch down, look for something else! Top space E can also be flat, particularly in C trumpets. If this note requires a 1-2 fingering, it should not be chosen; this E should play in fairly good pitch with the open fingering.

4. Lip Slurs-how well do the partials “lock in” (this means, how definitely do the notes in a lip slur shift from one to the next)? Is there a high level of flexibility in bending a note or are the partials more rigid? You want an instrument that when you slur from one note to the next, the partials seem to “pop” out, as if the notes drop cleanly into a “slot.” Also, is the intonation of the notes in a lip slur good, on each valve combination? Can you easily do rapid slurs between adjacent partials? Can you easily do straight ascending and descending arpeggio slurs?

5. Articulation-how cleanly and responsively does the instrument play short notes, legato notes, and multiple tonguing in all registers? Check rapid repeated notes as well as scales and arpeggios, single and multiple tongued.

6. High Register-how freely does the instrument play notes above the staff? How in-tune are upper register notes (too sharp, too flat)?

Do not settle for an instrument that is unsatisfactory in some major aspect. If you find something that does not play as well as you expect, keep trying others. This is a little bit like a marriage, and you want to have good compatibility with an instrument into which you invest money and more importantly, considerable time.

The goal in selecting an instrument is to minimize the challenges of playing in order to have maximum freedom to meet the challenges of communicating a message through music to an audience.

Phil Norris is an Associate Professor of Music at Northwestern College, St. Paul, Minnesota, where he teaches trumpet and is an active performer. On July 4th he presented a clinic at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in Manchester, England.

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Another one of the DESPUB arrangers is Wayne Fritchie, who was raised in the small resort town of Wildwood in southern New Jersey. His early musical training consisted of playing clarinet and saxophone in school and community bands.

He studied several years in the Philadelphia area with such teachers as Anthony Gigliotti and Mike Guerra. Mr. Guerra prepared him for the Juilliard school in NY, where he attended and graduated in 1970, majoring in clarinet performance.

Other education includes a Master of Music degree from Colorado State University and a Doctor of Education degree from Pensacola Christian College.

Formal studies in composition were done at the University of Minnesota, studying with Eric Stokes and Lloyd Ultan. While in Minnesota he was a member of the Minnesota Composer's Forum having a number of works performed on Forum concerts and recitals.

Fritchie has been active for many years as a teacher. He was Professor of Woodwind Instruments, Theory, and Orchestration at Bethel College, St. Paul, MN; Band Director at Arlington Baptist School, Baltimore, Maryland, and currently is Professor of Woodwind Instruments, Orchestration, Counterpoint, and Music Education at Pensacola Christian College, Pensacola, Florida.

He has pieces published for various combinations of instruments with David E. Smith Publications; Seesaw Music Corporation, NY; TAP Music Sales; and McKoy's Horn Library of Minneapolis, MN.

Professor Fritchie sees his teaching experiences as important in developing his music writing skills. His arrangements have been largely practical, functional pieces to be played by students or to be used during worship services.

Dr. Fritchie expresses his philosophy of music writing as follows: Music writing is a creative labor of love. Learn all you can about music theory. Listen to and analyze as much music as possible. Then, seek to use your skills as J. S. Bach said so well "to the glory of God."

"A procedure that has worked well for me whether composing or arranging is to put the music together first, not being too concerned with the final instrumentation. When I have something that sounds good, is interesting and challenging, makes sense as a piece of music, and most of all expresses something valuable musically, then I arrange it for whatever competent resources (musicians) are at hand. The music might even also be arranged for another combination in another place."

Dr. Fritchie is married and the father of four children several of whom are fine musicians. His hobbies are boat building, having built three small sailboats, and sailing in the coastal waters of Florida and Alabama.

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David E. Smith Publications, LLC, in an effort to increase our patrons' awareness of available sacred instrumental music, is expanding its visibility by developing a new site-www.churchmusic.biz.

The purpose of this site is to make available the many different product lines and publishers in one place.

With such diversity of materials and such a great number of distribution points, it is hoped that the consumer will find all his/her needs met by consulting one central location.

At this point there are several links for information access and, given time, many others will be added. Stay tuned and check out churchmusic.biz often....(link to churchmusic.biz...)

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A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though whales are very large mammals their throats are very small.

The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. The teacher reitterated that a whale could not swallow a human-it was impossible.

The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah." The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?"

The little girl replied, "Then you ask him."

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by Chuck Swindoll

Last May the church choir where Dr. Swindoll is pastor presented the Brahms Requiem. Pastor Swindoll was quite over-whelmed by the performance. The next morning he wrote the director a note of thanks and then went on to include some thoughts concerning today's religious scene throughout America.

“Depth has given way to superficiality. Seeker-friendly has become the all-pervasive guideline to follow, not deeply worshipful, not Bible-centered, not even God-honoring. Fearful of being labeled "old fashioned" or "irrelevant," the twenty-first century church bought into a strange and dangerous trade-off.

“The exposition of the sacred text has been replaced with shallow programming designed to tickle ears with feel-good, dumbed-down ideas. The arts have taken an equally damaging hit, becoming all-but-forgotten relics of yesteryear, leaving congregations bereft of any historical link to the richness of our spiritual heritage. Frankly, the house of God has eroded into an entertainment center, light years removed from its original purpose as a place of truth-telling, character-building instruction mixed with and balanced by heart-touching, in-depth worship. The tragedy of it all must grieve the heart of its Founder.

“I realize that I'm 'writing to the choir', but I simply had to say these things once again, if for no other reason than to affirm we're moving in the right direction. May we not lose our way, not soon, not ever!

“Thankfully, the dream a few of us had when forming this church is emerging. Words fail to describe my delight. Without any sense of fleshly pride and with no desire to suggest that 'we, alone, are the only ones doing it right'.

“I simply wish to state that I believe our Lord smiled on what took place at church last evening. A nineteenth-century composer touched all our lives so deeply, it was as if he were sitting beside us in this twenty-first century house of worship. The entire event proved again that great masterworks are timeless and therefore essential if we hope to survive a culture that has forgotten its roots and therefore lost its way.”

Printed with permission. Dr. Swindoll is President of Southwest Baptist Seminary and Pastor of Stonebriar Community Church, Dallas TX, whose pulpit includes over 1700 radio stations in the U.S. and abroad.

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Preach Christ Always
And As A Last Resort
Use Words.
St. Francis of Assisi

Order Newsletter

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