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Remember Laudate Mennonite Ensemble, the 16-member a cappella choir I sang with this summer? Our new CD, “My Spirit Sings”, was just released!! In this post I’ll be telling you about Laudate, sharing a list of the songs on the new CD and including tidbits about them, as well as giving a CD away, so keep scrolling! If you want to order some of these amazing CDs (Christmas gifts!!), click here.
Did you miss the post full of pictures from our Laudate tour this summer? Click here to check it out!
Yes, I did order 17 CDs. 😛 Spoiler alert: Christmas gifts. And blog giveaway material.
“What exactly is Laudate?” you might be asking. Here’s the official mission statement:
“Laudate Mennonite Ensemble is a group of vocalists who enjoy singing and using the gift of music to bring honor and glory to God. Their goal is to use their talents of music as a ministry to draw others to the Creator of music and singing.”
Laudate was founded by Cliff Stoltzfus in 2006 and has produced 4 recordings during the 10 years since then: “Walk On, My Children”, “Wondrous Love”, “Light”, and now “My Spirit Sings”. LME is an a cappella choir formed of 12-16 Anabaptist singers, and Dr. Ken Nafziger of Harrisonburg, VA, (long-time instructor at EMU) has directed each recording.
- 1 Come Away to the Skies
- 2 Cantate Domino – This was definitely one of the most fun pieces to sing!
- 3 Locus Iste (see a video here) – “This place was made by God” – that bass at the very end! ((shivers))
- 4 Miserere Mei, Deus – “Have mercy upon me, oh God.” – The Miserere is a Latin setting of Psalm 51, the chapter that David wrote after the prophet Nathan confronted him about his sin with Bathsheba. The music to the Miserere (by Allegri) was held secret by the Vatican and was only allowed to be performed at select services in the Sistine Chapel. Legend has it that the 14-year-old Mozart heard it performed and wrote it all down by memory, thereby unleashing this treasure to the general public. It was definitely one of my favorite pieces to sing. The music fits the powerful Scripture text perfectly.
- 5 Light of a Clear Blue Morning – Yes, a choral setting of a Dolly Parton song. It works. Dolly wrote this song after coming through an abusive relationship and finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Dr. Nafziger, our director, always paired this song with the following due to their similar stories of hope in the midst of pain:
- 6 Precious Lord, Take My Hand – Lloyd Kauffman’s arrangement of Thomas Dorsey’s well-known work. Dorsey wrote this song after losing his wife in childbirth – and losing the newborn child two days later.
- 7 Keep Your Hand on the Plow – This song is a lively spiritual with a strong encouragement to keep on in the Christian life. “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
- 8 For Me to Live Is Christ
- 9 Indodana – This song is so moving. It is a lament – a lament of Mary and the other women after the death of Jesus. Translated, it says, “The Lord has taken His Son Who lived amongst us. The Son of the Lord God was crucified. Hololo (an expression of lament) Father Jehovah.”
- 10 Hosanna – Ask anyone in the group and they’ll probably tell you that this was the group’s overall favorite song to sing. It’s so simple, but so powerful. And the tenors have a gorgeous note in the chorus that makes me grin every time I hear it.
- 11 The Lord’s Prayer
- 12 Nearer, My God, to Thee (see a video here) – This one was always hard to sing because there was barely space to take a breath anywhere, but it might be my favorite song on the CD.
- 13 Saints Bound for Heaven – I loved singing Soprano 2, but one of my favorite notes in the program was the G5 at the end of this song because all the sopranos got to sing it. This song was just plain fun.
- 14 Steal Away – I always slightly dreaded singing this song because it took so much air and I literally got a side ache singing it once or twice, but I love listening to it now that it’s finished. David’s solos sound amazing, and I love the way Kristin’s solo is “discovered” out of the beautiful chord near the end of the piece. Listen to it and you’ll see what I mean.
- 15 Angel Band – Angel Band and Unclouded Day were always crowd favorites at our programs – and with good reason. They were some of the most fun to sing, and they carry such a beautiful picture of Heaven.
- 16 Unclouded Day (see a video here) – The video linked there was taken after we had finished recording, “just for fun.” I think they actually used that take on the CD, though, which is funny because I sang it completely from memory (I had run to give my camera to our producer to video us and didn’t have time to get my music out.) and lost my spot once. 😛
As you can see, we sang a wide variety of songs! I liked to tell people that we sang everything from Dolly Parton to the Miserere. 😛 You can find all the song lyrics and their translations, where applicable, in the booklet in the CD cover.
P.S. – the cover art is beautifully done and poorly represented in these pictures
Laudate has been in existence for ten years, but the singer roster changes for each recording – not because veterans aren’t invited back but because people’s lives have a habit of changing a lot over the course of a few years and a 2-week tour and the advance prep that comes with it takes a high level of commitment (especially difficult when a lot of the singers are in the stage of getting married and starting families). The 2016 Laudate group only included 3 veteran members, so we had to find our sound in a relatively short amount of time.
This year’s singers…
If you’re more of an mp3 person, all three of Laudate’s previously-released recordings are on iTunes, and “My Spirit Sings” will be released there December 21st! It’s currently available for preorder on iTunes, so you could go ahead and grab your copy so you don’t forget.
While you’re there, make sure you check out “Light”, Laudate’s last CD. It has a Christmas theme, but it’s non-Christmasy enough that you can easily listen to it all year round. Does that make sense? If you want to hear a sample of what can be found on “Light”, check out the first three videos uploaded to Laudate’s YouTube channel.
All entries must be made through the Rafflecopter box below. All countries can enter, and if a non-USA resident wins, I’ll just send him or her a gift card to iTunes to purchase the CD there when it makes its iTunes debut December 21st. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to respond.
Want to purchase a CD or two or three for Christmas gifts? Click here! “My Spirit Sings” will be making its debut on iTunes December 21st, but the three previously-released Laudate CDs are already there for purchase! I highly recommend that you check out “Light”, the last Laudate CD; it contains an eclectic mix of Christmas-themed songs.
(P.S. – CD wholesale pricing is available! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.)
If you purchase CDs, please come back and tell me which songs are your favorites!