Composer Jacob B. Weber began his musical journey as a piano student in first grade. He later studied church music and organ at Bethany Lutheran College and completed the master of church music degree at Concordia University Wisconsin. He was the kantor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church and School in Dearborn, Michigan, where he planned worship, played organ, led ensembles, and taught music at the K–8 school. Now, Jacob is the associate editor of music/worship at Concordia Publishing House. Jacob has published more than thirty works with CPH Music, including four new pieces this year. Get to know him by reading our interview with him below.
Your Mosaics series began publication in 2013 with the Christmas edition. This year, we got the sixth volume, Lent Mosaics. Tell us about this collection and why you’ve chosen to continue it.
Before starting the series, I knew I wanted to design an adaptable collection—that is, a single setting for each hymn that could serve as a prelude, voluntary, or postlude, depending on registration choices. Since most of the settings are given only one registration suggestion, organists should feel free to adjust them when needed, according to their circumstances. Overall, much of the collection takes on an eighteenth-century approach, not only because I love that period, but also because I believe the overall tone of that time fits the seriousness of Lent very well.
What was your creative process for Three Pieces for Festive Occasions, Set 2?
When I started writing the pieces, the themes usually came unexpectedly, and they unavoidably became earworms to me. With that being the case, I scribbled them down on paper so my mind could rest. On returning to them after some time, my initial themes triggered additional musical ideas and contrasting material that allowed me to extend the pieces. Overall, these came together like pieces of a puzzle—sometimes it took a while to find the right piece and sometimes it didn’t; but that’s the challenge and joy of composing.
Tell our readers the story behind your new choral piece “Lord, Open Now My Heart to Hear.”
This was written for the Mary Martha Singers, a women’s chorus at my alma mater, Bethany Lutheran College. It was originally written for a Reformation hymn festival I was invited to lead. Before writing it, I knew I wanted to emphasize the opening phrases, “Lord, open now my heart to hear, and through Your Word to me draw near,” as this was set to be the first hymn of the festival. So I decided to begin the anthem a cappella and in an imitative style. From there, I gradually built the accompaniment into the piece—first with short interludes between stanzas, then on the final stanza.
What about “The Lord into His Father’s Hands”? Did you have a certain group of singers in mind when you wrote that piece?
In this hymn, we confess the triumph of Christ on the cross and the victory won through his death. To encourage its use, I designed this anthem to be flexible—two-part equal for children’s choirs or SA choirs, and two-part mixed for adult choirs with organ accompaniment. As far as the creative process for this anthem, the text was the inspiration for the decisions made in the music. I approached the piece as if I was going to accompany it as a congregational hymn, and then made the necessary adjustments along the way.
You plan worship at your church. What advice do you have for organists and music directors as they select music for worship?
Utilize the lectionary, doing all you can to support the readings and the hymnody for the day. Spend time planning liturgical repertoire; have a choir or soloist sing the propers and utilize special choral settings of the canticles found throughout the liturgy, like the Magnificat, Benedictus, and Nunc Dimittis. Build yourself a repertoire of these canticles that you can bring your choir back to each year for liturgical variety. And don’t forget the hymns! Highlight the Hymn of the Day with an extended introduction, a choral or soloist stanza, or the addition of an obbligato instrument.
Each week, we as church musicians have the serious responsibility of preaching the Gospel through our music and the leadership of that music. Give yourself and your musicians plenty of time for preparation and remember to make prayerful decisions as you serve the Lord in your vocation as a church musician.
Browse all of Jacob’s pieces and find music to use at your church.
Updated August 2018.