December 1-23, 2015 Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are collaborating with talented Minnesota musicians to present a Streaming Christmas Concert. Stephen Buttell,Richard Schletty, Azar Dagher and Ruby Nordby generously join together to offer a festive package of listening joy.
Later December please return for additional inspired hymns for the Feast of the Incarnation and the Epiphany. Expect to be moved by all of these meaningful compositions.
Our Sisters pray a Novena for the Feast of Christmas beginning December 16 remembering your intentions as we say these words:
“O blessed eyes that saw Him come at last, The Promised One
O happy arms that held enfolded fast, The Eternal Son
O heart that stored the memories of that night, so sweet, so stern-
Teach me to ponder Bethlehem aright, to look and learn.” (Stained Glass Window Franciscan Sisters’ St. Francis Chapel, Manitowoc, WI)
Contributing Minnesota Musicians
All Through the Night by Michael Loonan
Michael Loonan is a performing musician, songwriter and producer, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. He has played with and led a contemporary music group at Nativity of our Lord church for over 20 years. Michael has released a spiritual CD with his brother (The Day Has Come, 1997) as well as Season of Grace (2005), which can also be heard as a special Holiday Channel on Pandora. Michael’s church group (Spiritu) has released two CDs, Spiritu and Good News and are currently working on a new holiday release for winter, 2016.
Comment about All Through the Night
This was the first song I recorded for Season of Grace, initially laying down only my piano track. I wanted to create some new ‘musical passages,’ taking this beautiful song into un-explored places, then returning safely to the original melody. After listening to the playback, I realized how much violin would add to this and all songs on the album. I simulated the violin parts on my keyboard and then had Brigid McCarthy come over awhile later. She overdubbed most of my keyboard parts w/real (beautiful) violin and added some lines of her own. All songs on Season of Grace were recorded, mixed and mastered at my home studio (on a Roland digital 16-track recorder). I hope this song and others on Season of Grace bring you to a place of peace and calm during the holiday seasons.
Review of Season of Grace
“This is an exceptional instrumental album. Its 15 tracks cover a broad range of well-known ancient carols and classical bits, including some personal favorites. The tone is low-key, but retains a lyrical intensity throughout. A Season of Grace would provide a beautiful backdrop for any festive gathering–or for that quiet evening wrapping gifts. Everything works very, very well on this album.”
Carol Swanson (www.christmasreviews)
More info about Michael can be found at www.michaelloonan.com
More info about Michael’s contemporary church group can be found at www.spiritumusic.com
Star of Mystery by Richard Schletty and Azar Dagher
Richard Schletty is a performing songwriter who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. He is an experienced cantor, songleader and choral singer, singing at Masses, funerals, weddings and pro-life prayer services at two local parishes: St. Mary and St. Matthew.
As a board member of the Minnesota Association of Songwriters and a member of the Catholic Association of Music, he is striving to improve the form and content of his songwriting and the resonance of his solo public performances of Folk-Rock and Praise music. Richard is owner and admin of TopCatholicSongs.com.
Richard has done many internet collaborations via email, music sharing web sites and FTP file transfer. His favored programs for digital recording, sequencing and mixing are Apple Logic and Steinberg Cubase.
O Star of Mystery | A Colorful Christmas
Comment on Star of Mystery
Azar Dagher wrote the words and melody for “O Star of Mystery.” It has roots in the Greek Catholic Melkite tradition and uses the Arabic pentatonic scale. Azar commented ““Star of Mystery is meant to be mysterious and pondering: Three Kings from the East. The lyrics address the star but viscerally evoke the Mother of Jesus.”
My role in the song was vocals and virtual instrumentation. I also did a slight tweaking of Azar’s lyrics. The “star of mystery” represents not just a guide to the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem but Mary, the Mother of God. – Richard Schletty
It’s Christmas by Stephen Buttell
“It’s Christmas” was written with the intention of composing one of the next traditional holiday songs. Someday, I hoped that it would be picked up by a major religious publisher so it could be more widely heard, but…for the time being it is just a song that I am proud to pass on to my family. I believe that God sometimes gives us writers gifts of music and words, to spread a message, and to touch people’s lives with a song. It’s my hope, that when you listen, you are reminded of God’s most beautiful gift ever. Merry Christmas!
Good King Wenceslas by Ruby Nordby