I love music. I spend hours each day listening to music. This also means that I am always looking for new good music. This is one reason I love modern music tools – iTunes Store, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, and many other sites – they help me discover and love new music. While I appreciate music from most genres, I particularly enjoy classical (including modern classical music, meaning movie soundtracks), religious, acoustic (e.g., folk, bluegrass), and alternative/indie music.
Some sacred music that I’ve been enjoying is by Mark Geslison and Geoff Groberg. You can visit their website here. I just discovered their music within the past month on Spotify, a free (ad-supported) music service that started in Europe but is now available in the U.S. Three of Mark Geslison and Geoff Groberg’s albums are available on Spotify. You can also stream their music on their website (where there are links with purchase options on CDBaby and iTunes). Both Geslison and Groberg live in Utah (both are afilliated with BYU).
I’ve greatly enjoyed all their albums that I’ve listened to so far. Their arrangements of hymns are peaceful but not boring – that’s a difficult balance to achieve. While each arrangement is interesting, none comes across as flashy. That’s an approach to arranging that I appreciate with sacred music because it is easy to over-arrange hymns, making them something less than they were meant to be – songs to glorify God. While that can be done with flashy and showy music (e.g., many of Bach’s or Handel’s sacred works), there is something to be said for keeping hymn arrangements worshipful. Their music is perfect to turn on Sunday morning to help remind of the purpose of the Sabbath day. It’s also great to turn on whenever else you need a boost of calm (I’ve turned it on at work as background music too).
Most of the arrangements are played using piano, guitar, mandolin, banjo, dulcimer, bass, fiddle, or flute (or a combination of those instruments). A few have vocals.
My favorite album of theirs is Emma’s Hymns, a collection of some of the hymns Emma Smith included in the original 1835 hymnbook for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of the melodies are slightly different than how we sing them today (in such cases, they provide both melodies). On this album, my favorite song is Emma’s Lullaby (that link will play the song but please visit their site and purchase their music if you enjoy it and are able to afford it; I am not being paid to promote their work, nor have I been given their music – my site is non-commercial – I believe in supporting musicians, particularly LDS musicians, who make good music that I enjoy. This encourages them to make more beautiful music).
Kudos to Mark Geslison and Geoff Groberg for wonderfully arranging the hymns of the church.