To Him Who Made the Great Lights

Program Notes:

Writing To Him Who Made the Great Lights was a wonderful experience. As an oboist, I was happy to compose for my native instrument. I was especially excited that the piece would be written for Amanda Withrow, who commissioned the work, and her duet partner, Felicity Jinnings. I had seen them work together seamlessly and perform exceptionally while we were all studying at BGSU, and I could not have asked for a better duo.

During the early planning stages, Amanda asked if the piece could include the melody from the hymn, “My Hope is Built On Nothing Less.” I felt inspired by this request, and the hymn became a roadmap for my composition, influencing nearly all of the pitches and intervals throughout. The soprano and alto lines of the hymn served as the main influence for the piece’s melodic content, altered by embellishments and development throughout the progression of the work.

Once the piece was finally complete, I had one momentous job left to do: name it. I asked Amanda if she had any ideas, and after a couple days, she was inspired. She felt particularly drawn to the beginning of Psalm 136:7: “To Him who made the great lights…” She told me, “I believe that my purpose is to share the Gospel through music, and I would really love to intentionally do that through this piece,” adding later that her confirmation verse is Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (NIV)

Special thank you to Amanda for her endless patience and flexibility during the composition process. Special thank you to Dorothy and Duwayne Hansen, for their support and generosity.