The Highland Park campus of Christ Church, 1713 Green Bay Road, will be the setting for a homegrown CD release party on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
"Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs" is a musical collaboration between Devon Pogue, associate pastor of worship and arts, and church member Carl Chomko, who recently returned to his home in Vernon Hills after seven months in Uganda serving as an intern with Amagara Bible Institute of Discipleship and Evangelism, or ABIDE, a global mission partner with the church.
The CD was created to "bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary," Pogue said. "We have members who were raised singing from a hymnal and we have others that are much more accustomed to a more contemporary approach to church music. To have songs that resonate with the older generations done in a way that is familiar and fresh to younger generations I think is a great way to unite the church community and integrate and honor tradition in the church."
The CD includes what Pogue calls re-tuned hymns, which are reworkings of historical texts.
"In some cases you have a text from the 1700s that is really rich in theology, but it hasn't been sung in years because the tune has not been passed along through the generations," Pogue said. "New melodies bring these texts to life (and make the hymn) more palatable in today's context."
On hymns whose text and tune have "withstood the test of time," he said, "we've revoiced them using alternative instrumentation and writing an original chorus to break up the phrasing of the hymn with something new and something that ties the theme of the entire hymn into a chorus."
Campus Pastor Nathan LeMahieu views the CD in a larger context of the church's mission and its place in Highland Park.
"The musical vision of Devin and Carl as seen in this CD project has been a particularly good match for our church," he said. "They marry historic Christian hymnody with new sounds in the same way our congregation has sought to be firmly rooted in the past while remaining focused on communicating with our contemporary culture. Highland Park has traditionally placed a high value on the visual and performing arts, and as a church, we seek to make our own contribution to what is valued in this community."
Pogue, 27, met Chomko, 24 in high school, but their musical collaboration did not begin until they were both in college, Pogue at Indiana University and Chomko at Trinity International University. "This was when we both really began to write music," Pogue said. "We would collaborate and lend a critical ear to each other's music."
"It just seemed natural to finally record a whole record together," Chomko said. "We have grown very much together musically and this seemed like a fun task to do as friends and with the way we now mesh in playing music, it seemed to come all too easily to us."
When asked which songs on the CD have the most resonance for them, Chomko suggested "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" for two original stanzas Chomko wrote with Pogue. "(The song) speaks of the present of being left in this period of waiting for Jesus' return," he said. "(The words) 'Come to us again, King Jesus. Make your work in us complete' accurately portrays the new tension we're in of anticipating the Second Advent."
Pogue cited a selection based on Psalm 91.
"At the time that we wrote it, I was not aware of the fact that this was my grandpa's favorite psalm," Pogue said. "He was one of my biggest role models, and when he passed away a few years ago, Psalm 91 was read at his memorial service. It begins, 'Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" I cannot read or sing without thinking about my grandpa, and how his life really reflected the truth of those words."
To purchase a digital version of "Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs," go to livetheupwardcall.bandcamp.com. CDs will be available for purchase at the concert.
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