John Hartley
Pop Bradford, United Kingdom stluke-eccleshill.org.uk
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Christian hymns and songs by John Hartley. John has written a range of hymns, including some Christian lyrics to secular tunes (Match of the Day, Scooby Doo, ...), some songs for solo or small group, some children's songs, some items for 4-part choir, and some hymns for congregations to sing. Some of them get played live at St Luke's Church, Eccleshill where John is the minister, and you're very welcome to turn up and join in! You can find sheet music and midi-files of many of his songs by clicking here, and the songs on this SoundClick site are really only a very small selection of his output. Style? Musically, John is basically a classically-trained pianist who thinks in four-part harmonies and mostly writes for choirs and congregations. He likes lyrics with a strong rhythm and rhyme, and melodies which are singable. How John got started John's songwriting first hit the media with a number called "How great is God the Lord Almighty" to the tune of "Match of the Day" (the UK soccer TV programme) in 2002. It was featured on TV news in the UK, and after that success he wrote a few other items: almost all of them 'parodies' (i.e. Christian words set to popular secular tunes), and he began to wonder if this was something he should do more seriously. In 2004 his wife challenged him that if he was serious he should join a critique group: so he found Christian Songwriting Organisation on the net. In February 2005 he took part in a lyric-writing challenge, and felt the need to write tunes to some song-lyrics which would just have remained poems without tunes. The rest is history: he's just passed the 100 mark on writing songs. It's only fair to say that behind this story lies a long period of preparation. John was hopeless at poetry at school, but eventually he learned that poetry consists in trying to say things in rhythmical and rhyming ways without worrying if it sounds daft - in fact, the dafter the better when you're getting started. He has spent many years of ministry trying to write bible passages into dramas, so that children can perform them and bring them to life. And he learned the piano and classical four-part harmony when he was at school. All these things come together in songwriting. Perhaps most of all he's part of CSO, a lively group where people give and receive critiques on each others' songs. Why songs, and what's their purpose? Many of John's songs are attempts to put parts of the bible into music: to make them memorable, to allow their meaning to sink in, to turn them into praise, or to explain what they're about in some way. Some of them are rewritings of traditional 'canticles' in meter so that they can be sung, and some of them are more to do with turning stories into songs. John sees songs as an extension of what sermons and dramas do in church services. They allow us see parts of the bible's teaching in a new light. They may scratch where we itch in places that other media don't scratch. They may allow us to respond when other presentations leave us cold. Technicalities? Well, that's where it falls down a bit on a site like SoundClick! The music is written on NoteWorthy Composer (a computer program), exported as a midi-file, converted to a wave file, and then John records himself singing over the top of it on his home computer. Then it gets mixed, reduced to an MP3, and posted up here. Questions about improving the quality have not really been answered yet!! What next? John has no plans to give up his day-job! His Christian songs are at the service of the church, to be used where appropriate to try to bring people closer to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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