Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Come, Let Us Prepare The Way

I had hoped to have this up a month ago but between scheduling challenges with the guys and the fact that this is my first real attempt at home recording here we are, just in time for Advent. There was a lot of trial and error in the process of getting this recorded and I could keep working on it for a lot longer but I'm leaving it alone for now. I certainly have a lot to learn.
Last year my parish was between music directors and I volunteered to help fill the gap until they hired a replacement, so for a while I was selecting and directing music for one of our Sunday morning Masses. As we approached advent I was having trouble finding songs that fit my style and had a strong advent theme. (Feel free in the comments to let me know of all the great songs I'm missing out on) So I went with the simplest solution, I wrote one.
Since advent is only four Sundays I wanted to be sure that it would be very accessible. This song can be used as a call and response in the verses, allowing the congregation to join in easily even having never heard it before. And of course as it becomes a little more familiar they can sing it all.
For any guitarists out there who may want to play this, a quick note on the guitar chords. I wrote this in E with some very simple open chords up and down the neck. I always love the sound of big open chords. However if you're the type that just isn't comfortable going up the neck this can easily be done capo two in D.
I hope you enjoy it, leave me a comment and let me know what you think. If you end up using it for your congregation I would especially love to hear about it.

BTW, if you tried unsuccessfully to comment before I've changed the settings so that you should be able to comment without setting up an account.You can open the drop down menu and select "name/URL" and just enter your name.
Blessed Advent

Download the guitar/vocal sheet music here.

Download the piano accompaniment here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Early Demo

In 2002 we recorded a demo cd as a five piece band. This recording features Tim Gassaway on Bass, John Grassadonia on keyboards, Oscar Loya on lead guitar, Dave Velasco on drums and myself on guitar and vocals.Click on the play button to listen or on the download button to have a download link emailed to you.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Live at The Threshing Floor

This one is mostly for those who were there.
This was recorded live at an event called The Threshing Floor, a gathering of passionate worship and Eucharistic adoration that we played at once a month for several years. This particular evening was during the stations of the cross that we did each Lent.
It's the power trio of Tim, Rufino and I playing. One thing I love is that this is when my wife Diane was singing with us.
It's over a half an hour long and I left in the responses and the scripture readings.
The sound is from a VHS camcorder set up in the choir loft and the production value is what you would expect.
The band gets sloppy in places.
You can here the microphone being turned on and off.
Definitely a rough recording all around...

But I still love it. When I listen, I'm there again.
The beauty, the power, the grace that flowed during our many evenings together.
I miss those evenings...

Jesus You're Everything
God Of Mercy
Clothe Me In White
(c) 2005  Michael Bokulich

Holy Is The Lord
Kelly Green
(c) 1982 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing

Christ Child's Lullabye

In You O Lord, Psalm 131

In You O Lord
Psalm 131
(c) 2000 Michael Bokulich

When I started playing for our parish's Life Teen Mass 19 years ago (!!) it was common practice for the psalm of the day to be replaced by a song. That didn't sit well with me. I really didn't like simply replacing one of the day's readings from scripture. At the same time I wasn't about to use the other option of the time, the psalm setting in our missalette. Not my style. So I started to arrange psalm settings. Over the  years leading music at this Mass and others I composed a psalm setting for most Sundays. I'm guessing that I composed about 150 different Psalm settings.  I'm always coming across things like this in old piles of music. Hmmm, I wonder what this sounded like...

Of course some were much better than others. I would usually have the psalm written for our weekly rehearsal, but not always. It was not unheard of for me and the band to be in the church a couple of hours before Mass cranking something out. I remember one particular Sunday getting up to lead the psalm and drawing a total blank. I turned to whoever was singing with me at the time (probably Nina) and asked, "How does this go?" We then proceeded to stand there going back and forth until we managed to work it out while the congregation and dear patient Fr. Patrick looked on with amusement.
Then there was the psalm with the rap verses. Believe it or not it was actually pretty good. Fr. Patrick was there for that one as well and complimented me on it afterward, saying that he couldn't usually stand rap but enjoyed the psalm. High praise indeed!
Out of all of these psalm settings I've kept only a few. I always felt that there was something beautiful about "living music", music that was composed, used in worship and then surrendered to God and forgotten. (I also wasn't really that organized...) But a few have stuck around. This is one.
I've sung this psalm hundreds of times. I've used it during times of worship at large conferences and in various living rooms. I've sang it at our parish with our choir singing four part harmony (thanks Dan). I sang it at my wife's grandfather's funeral and, at my Mom's request, I sang it at her's. Truly bittersweet moments.
I love this psalm. It's the shortest of the psalms. So sweet, so simple.
When I lead worship I often have my eyes closed. But when I get to the last verse of this psalm I force myself to look out to the congregation. I see their eyes, I see God's people, I feel His love for them, and I feel so vulnerable as I sing to them,
O Israel...
O Israel hope in the Lord
O my people let us hope in the Lord, forever

Click here to download a PDF.