The opening note of a single hand bell begins a musical meditation on the profound beauty, wonder and holiness infused in this world by 'the Creator of the starry height.' Here is a soundtrack for standing still featuring modern Celtic/Classically-infused music full of rich and subtle chants, instrumentals and improvisations woven together to create a backdrop for solitude and contemplation.
Jeff Johnson: Piano, keys, percussion & vocal
Janet Chvatal: Vocal
Brian Dunning: Flute, whistles & accordion
Jozef Lupták: Cello
Gwen Franz: Viola
Tim Ellis: Guitars
Phil Baker: Bass
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
- Psalm 139:5 - 6
Shortly after completing the music for this recording, I had the good fortune to return to Rocamadour, France - one of Europe's greatest medieval pilgrimage sites. During one of the days of my visit, I arrived early in the morning and stood alone in the small square into which each of the small chapels and churches face. I was thinking about what it means to 'stand still.'
As I entered the open doorway of one of the churches, a swallow flew out just missing the top of my head. I turned and watched her circle around the square and had to duck as she darted back through the door into the church where she looped around again. Her figure-eight flight back and forth through the door and over my head between the sanctuary and the square continued for a good five minutes until finally she took rest on a perch back inside the building. I had stood still the entire time, only moving my head as I followed the swallow's flight. It was a moment of true wonder for me.
A week before I stood on Holy Island, Lindisfarne and watched the afternoon tide rise to cover the pilgrim path and road which connects the island to the mainland. I was struck with the poignancy of being so isolated from the mainland until the tide subsided again. Something beyond my control had limited my options and I was given the opportunity to 'stand still' and consider. For some reason I thought of a moment years before when a diagnosis of cancer for a dear friend had completely changed the options of our lives.
In these modern times, it is difficult to stand still with so many gadgets and distractions to keep us moving. Yet, all of this moving about ultimately poses a great peril to our hearts, minds and souls. Somehow, we must find the grace to stand still. For eventually we will have to cope with the rising tides that life and death will bring us.
Like the rich metaphors found in David's Psalm 139, these songs are offered to help one pause and consider that which is worth considering. We were created to be more than what we've become. And whether it's the unexpected medical diagnosis or the flight of a swallow which stops us in our tracks, we will stand still. And in that moment, we will have the chance to know God and worship Him and truly know ourselves.
– Jeff Johnson
Music Reviews –
Faithfully flying high the flag of Celtic-infused worship and contemplative music, Jeff Johnson is more than a standard bearer; he's a spirit mover. Johnson's keyboard-based compositions and spot-on collaborative arrangements lend him an immediately identifiable sound - and one that never is short on mystery or joy or inspiration.
Here Johnson once again captures profundity in melody and lyrics, conveying the desperate need (whether our bodies, hearts, minds, and souls are nudging us or not) to stand still in the midst of life's myriad distractions.
While there are only six tracks on the album, it spans more than 42 minutes - and offers much substance through the speakers. Employing the powers of his longtime collaborator, Brian Dunning (flute, whistles, accordion), as well as other musicians on cello, viola, and electric guitar and bass, Johnson sticks to theological cornerstones of Christianity for song themes. As such, each track has two titles'a creative moniker as well as a spiritually infused descriptor (e.g., "Standing Still / Abide With Me," "Glory / Remember," "Alleluia / Behold the Lamb of God").
. . .Standing Still will transport you (and others) to places of quiet knowing.
– Dave Urbanski / Youthworker Journal
"A soundtrack for standing still" is how composer/musician Jeff Johnson describes this recording. Perfect for mindful meditation, prayer, or ritual, this collection of Christian prayers and chants arranged as never before. It is beautiful, deeply moving, creative, and holy. Janet Chvatal's voice soars on the medley "Kyrie/I Call to You." The second part is an original song by Johnson, on which he also sings.
There are adaptations of 6th and 19th century hymns, contemporary compositions, and an especially prayerful arrangement of "Our Father," which opens with a cello improvisation by Jozef Lupták. With six pieces in total, this is not lengthy CD, but it's an important one.
– Anne Williams / NAR
released August 7, 2007
Produced and engineered by Jeff Johnson
Recorded and mixed at The Ark / Camano Island, WA
Additional location recording at:
Hinterland Record / Halblech, Germany
Engineered by Tobias Meggle
The Kung Fu Bakery Annex / Portland, OR
Bakeman Studios / Portland, OR
Church bells via Ark Mobile / France
Additional sounds by Spectrasonics
With gratitude to Susie for your profound love, encouragement and faith; to Brian, Janet, Jozef, Gwen, Tim & Phil for your music and friendship; and to Dad for your support and encouragement over the years.
Thanks also to St. Aidan Episcopal Church for the use of the hand bells and the many friends of Selah there.
For the Pasmans – beauty, eh?
"Standing Still" is also available on iTunes and Amazon.
ArkMusic recording artist, composer, producer, and Selah worship leader has released numerous solo recordings along with
collaborations with Irish flutist, Brian Dunning inspired by Stephen Lawhead's novels and guitarist, Phil Keaggy. View Jeff's complete discography here: www.selahservice.com/2015/05/jeff-johnsons-arkmusic-discography/...more
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
forgive us our sins as we forgive.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power,
Thine is the glory now forever