Praying that Catholics would understand and act on "the inseparable bond" between love of God…
Music that glorifies God is the soundtrack of familial love
There is an honorary fifth member of our family these days. He is in his mid-50s, Dutch, with longish blond hair and fingers for days. His name, depending on the continent or the circumstance, is Jan Mulder, Ian Mulder or John Miller. And my family is obsessed.
Mulder is a pianist, conductor, composer and arranger who has been active in Europe and North America for 25 years. Born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on March 3, 1963, Mulder composed, arranged and conducted secular music for two decades after graduating from conservatory school in 1994. In 2013, he made the shift toward the sacred with the album “Love Divine,” on which he both played piano and conducted the London Symphony Orchestra. That album is filled with old hymns such as “Abide with Me,” “More Love to Thee,” “It Is Well Within My Soul,” “O Love Divine,” “Amazing Grace” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
Since then, he has produced a Christmas album and five more “Love Divine” albums. In a 2014 interview with The Biblical Recorder, Mulder, who is Baptist, spoke about the reasons behind this shift in focus.
“Last year I decided to focus more exclusively on composing and arranging instrumental Christian music, because there are not enough people working in that area on a professional level,” he said. “God gave me a musical talent, and I would like to serve him by using that talent for creating Christian-based music. I simply pray, ‘Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of thy love.'”
So why the obsession in my family? My husband began playing Mulder’s music during the day with the kids when our daughter, Anne, now 6 months old, would get fussy. In the early days, this was frequently. “Turn on ‘Celtic Sunrise,'” our 2-year-old, Joseph, now instructs anyone who will listen anytime Anne begins to cry. “She wants ‘Celtic Sunrise.'” And when the gentle notes of “Celtic Sunrise” begin, she is immediately quiet. In recent days, on long road trips that accommodate a nursing mother’s professional obligations, Mulder’s music has been our car’s theme music, bringing peace and calm and, yes, even helping to close drooping eyes.
Joseph’s preferred song is “You’re the One,” which begins and ends with a guitar riff that he loves. But if you ask him at night what he wants to listen to, he almost always says, “Holy God.” (“Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” is on “Love Divine VI,” just released this past October.) My husband has an affinity for “Heartbeat,” (“It never gets old!”) also on “Love Divine VI.” My favorite is Mulder’s arrangement of “In Christ Alone,” on “Love Divine IV.” But each is beautiful in its own way — perhaps because it’s so evident that each piece of music is meant to honor God.
“It’s not about me and what I can do, but it’s about praising God,” Mulder said. “Actually, every minute that we live we have to think about [God’s greatness] and give him the glory.”
In another 2014 interview with the Christian Post, Mulder spoke about how is he trying to use his talents as a musician to serve the Lord — and perhaps even to reach those who have forgotten about him.
“God uses his children to create things that are a huge blessing to thousands of other believers,” he said. “My talent is very limited, but with God’s help I can compose amazing music. I found out that even people who never go to a church, never pray or read the Bible love [“Love Divine”], because they still can remember the beautiful hymn melodies such as ‘Abide With Me’ and many others that they heard when they were very young.”
For Christmas, Joseph already has requested that we order the Jan Mulder-in-concert DVD. That one is guaranteed to make it beneath the tree.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.