• David Winkler

In the past few years, I've had the privilege of putting together several orchestra-led, thematically-based worship concerts. I call these “worship concerts,’’ because rather than just a traditional concert, they are designed to be an interactive worship experience.

These programs are centered around a particular theme, with all of the titles relating in some way to the theme. Besides the usual instrumental specials, there are vocal solos, choir, and/or congregational singing, all tied together with narration, including lots of scripture. Multimedia elements are sometimes included, such as video testimonies from the orchestra members, or videos created to accompany the instrumental numbers.

An example of this type of program is one which was titled “God's Amazing Grace.’’ What a rich theme, and of course, there are many songs and hymns about God's grace which could be included.

For the conclusion of the concert, I wrote a special arrangement of Amazing Grace. It began with a viola solo. Then the orchestra sang the first verse of the song. A worship team sang the second and third verses, and then the congregation was invited to join in for the final, triumphal ‘‘When we've been there ten thousand years ...’’

I recently revised this arrangement for publication. It's really a multi-use piece which may be done by orchestra only, choir and/or congregation only, or other combinations, subject to the creativity of the user. A special feature of the arrangement is that the opening section is set in the key of E-flat, so it could be done featuring traditional Highland bagpipes! Here is a link to this piece on our website. Scroll down the page to find the listing. I hope it is something you will enjoy listening to, and something you can use in your ministry.

  • David Winkler

What a challenge this past year has been for those of us involved in church music ministry! For most of us, our larger choral and instrumental groups have been shut down. But a silver lining to this dark cloud is that it has given the opportunity to develop smaller ensembles. These types of groups can rehearse and perform in a more physically distanced environment, and also have the advantage of being more mobile when used in ministry outreach situations.

Our website features four categories of music for instrumental ensembles:

"Celtic Hymns" — arrangements for a group consisting of strings, woodwinds, and light rhythm section Brass ensembles and jazz combo Woodwind, string, and percussion ensembles Mixed ensemble formats

Also, I've done a number of instrumental accompaniments to choral anthems, scored for smaller ensemble groupings. Here's a list which includes those titles.

Finally, we just released a new arrangement for orchestra, based on the great hymn, "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty." This is the fifth title in our "Modern Worship Orchestra Series."

  • David Winkler

Last month, despite my efforts to be very careful, I contracted the dreaded Coronavirus. At first I thought I just had a bad cold, but a few days later, I tested positive, and ended up spending four days in the hospital. Thankfully, I was spared from some of the really bad effects of the virus. My wife, Cathi, also got COVID, though her case was not as severe. We thank God for His mercy, and for the many friends who prayed for us.

James Chapter 1 tells us to "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." I have to admit, when I was lying alone in a hospital room, looking at the ceiling and struggling just to take a breath, that was not my first thought. My prayer was more, "Lord, here I am. If you want me to live and continue to serve You, I know you can carry me through this." The scripture that kept coming to my mind was "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." God uses affliction of various types to burn away the pride, presumption, ingratitude, lack of care towards others, and general self-centeredness that is so prominent in our hearts. Therefore, we can say with the Psalmist that "it is good for me that I was afflicted" (Psalm 119:71). We have to be broken of our self-will and our self-righteousness in order to be made more like Christ. This I believe is an important part of discipleship and the Spirit's work in our hearts. But praise God that He also restores us and gives us His peace and the assurance of His love for us (see Romans 5:1-5).

I am learning patience as my road to recovery hasn't been as fast as I'd like. I am learning sympathy towards others as I realize that all over the world, millions of people are suffering way, way more than I have, either from COVID, or from some other difficulty. I am learning surrender as I say, "Lord, here I am - do with me as You will."

How has God been working in your life lately? What has He been teaching you?

NEW ORCHESTRA PIECE! Check out my new arrangement of “We Have Heard the Joyful Sound (Jesus Saves).” It’s a fun, jazzy version of a great old hymn. It's scored for full orchestra, but could be performed with just two flutes, two trumpets, and rhythm.