A Newborn Bloom: The Backstory

Illumine has developed an entirely new take on the German poem, Es ist ein Ros' Entsprungen. Our worship coordinator, Drew Sonnenberg, introduces the song in this post.

This song came into existence in a fairly roundabout way. Kent and I were discussing how the hymn “Behold a Branch is Growing” can be a little difficult to sing. It's a beautiful melody, but some of the rhythms just make things difficult for a congregation. We mentioned maybe someday writing a new melody for it.

A few weeks later, I was sitting in Bible Class paying very close attention to what Kent was saying when a melody popped into my head. I wrote it down on the spot, not wanting to lose it. The next day I fleshed it out a little bit and added the chord structure. It came to me fairly quickly, so I was worried that I was accidentally ripping off a song that I had forgotten I knew. I played the song for my wife, to see if she recognized it. She told me that it didn't sound like any melody she had heard, but it definitely sounded like a Johnny Cash song. So the song in its first incarnation was going to be a Carter/Cash duet by my wife and me. (Which you can look forward to hearing in a few weeks!)

Kent heard it and loved it, but decided he wanted to take a crack at re-translating the original German poem Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen, on which "Behold a Branch" is based. He found that the original poem had a lot of ideas and symbolism that he wanted to highlight in new and different ways (he will tell you more about that in a future blog post.)

Now we had a new melody, a new text, and we wanted to try it out. Luckily, Advent started shortly after we completed the song. The night of rehearsal, a friend of ours named Hannah was finishing up teaching a violin lesson at church and we asked if she wanted to stick around and play with us. She graciously obliged. As soon as she started playing, Kent and I looked at each other - we knew that this is what the song had been missing.

After all of this, we're pleased to present you with “A Newborn Bloom." We have a few items available for you now, with more to follow. First we have a lead sheet for those of you who want to play it with a band or just on a guitar. Second, we have a piano accompaniment for those of you who don't use a band or prefer solo piano accompaniment. The piano arrangement was written by our good friend Steven Springborn, an extremely talented pianist who teaches and directs the choir at Nebraska Lutheran High School. We would like to thank him again for his great work. Finally, we have an recording of our members here at Illumine performing the song (complete with Hannah on violin.) We are very happy with how it turned out and we hope you like it too.

You can purchase the song from it's page on our website.

-Drew Sonnenberg
Worship Coordinator - Illumine Church

Give Thanks to God on High - RELEASE POST

Click here to preview and purchase "Give Thanks to God on High" as performed by Illumine.

How many of you, without looking, know the words to the hymn Give Thanks to God on High? It sounds like it would be the fanfare of every Thanksgiving service ever, right? While it certainly works as a general thanksgiving hymn, it actually has a much narrower focus.

Through the four verses of this hymn, we thank God for 3 specific things:

1. The “saints of other days” who faithfully worked to spread the Gospel message
2. The privilege to be numbered among those saints as we continue to spread the good news of the Gospel.
3. God’s promise that the church will endure forever because he will send future saints to continue this work.

In short, we thank God for the Church.

Most of the time, when we think of "the church," we think of the buildings that we worship in.  We think of the Sunday morning services where we get to give praise to our God.  However, the word that Jesus used that is often translated as “church” is the Greek word “ecclesia”. This word does not refer to a building or a service, but instead to a gathering or a group of people. When it comes to Christianity, that's the invisible church of all believers. It is this group of people that we thank God for in this hymn. We thank God for the people in the past, present, and future who have faithfully, do faithfully, and will faithfully carry out his work.

(Speaking of which, I am especially thankful for the members of my local ecclesia who have helped with the recording of this song. Jill Howe, Jared Colon, Alex Reeder, Jill Sonnenberg, Gregg Prange Sr., Gregg Prange Jr., Cody Holderbecker, and Pastor Kent Reeder. Without their talents, none of this would have been possible.)

Our version of this hymn uses a new melody that we think gives some new life to a great old text. It begins simply, with an acoustic guitar and a single vocal and continually builds throughout the song. By the end, there's a horn part that evokes the feeling of New Orleans jazz as well as gang vocals where we all join in to single the chorus in exuberant three part harmony.

This is Illumine's first recording, ever! We certainly have some things we can do better as we learn. You'll notice little discrepancies. There are some pops and clipping. We are excited for the ways we'll improve in future recordings, and we are very proud of this one - and we hope you like it. We really think many of you will, and we pray that it helps you in your life of worship.