Local church spreads awareness through hymns
By Amelia Chong
“It is a philosophy about how to make classical music,” said Jody Killingsworth, associate pastor for music and worship at ClearNote Church. “It’s really trying to recover the way that music was played in that time. (You) try to scrub back the dust, the layers of time, try to get back to the original thing. In the trying, I think there’s something beautiful that’s created.”
Killingsworth was trained in Baroque violin technique at the Jacobs School of Music; he currently plays guitar and performs lead vocals with the Good Shepherd Band, which is comprised mainly of chief musicians at ClearNote. The group’s affinity for the art form explains the Baroque-tinged, folk-infused, ambient rock Christmas carols that enveloped audience members during a performance Dec. 9.
Backed by adult and children’s choirs and an orchestra that included violins, trumpets and a saxophone, GSB led the crowd in song at the fifth annual Good Shepherd Band Christmas Sing-A-Long.
“We look forward to this all year long,” said Kelly Steimnetz, a ClearNote churchgoer and Ivy Tech math professor. “A lot of people who have moved away come back just for the show.”
During two hours, the audience listened and watched in wonder as the band played old favorites and presented original songs.
While bells chimed and electric guitarist David Pryor danced wildly during “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” members of the children’s choir belted out “Little Lamb” alongside solo guitarist and choral director Benjamin Gulick.
“We’re realizing that hymns are mostly in a language that is, unfortunately, dead — a lot of archaic words, complicated turns of phrase,” Killingsworth said. “So, we felt the need to start writing new songs that are equally good, bring hymns alive using more common words.”
ClearNote choral director Philip Moyer said the band tried to marry the text with the music.
“The text is very strong. What we have today — take, for example, ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ — ... you end up getting a Precious Moments kind of thing ... but it’s like, no, it’s about angels, and angels were feared.”
Moyer said people fell on their faces in front of angels, so the band aimed to match the excitement and the strength with the music.
“We’re always about the text, and not just playing, not just going along with it,” he said.
Moyer has taken time away from his doctoral program at the Jacobs School of Music to pursue his studies at the church’s pastoral college, but he said he and his bandmates aren’t performing for the fame.
“I love playing the violin, but I don’t miss it,” Killingsworth said. “It’s weird. I was always looking for something that was vital, that really mattered. I was looking for it, and I feel like I’ve found that in the church.”
Moyer said the band’s main goal is to help its church and others.
“We write music, and we want other churches to be able to use our music, like a resource,” he said.