MARCH 22, 2020
David DeBoor Canfield
Le prophète du Seigneur
Denson Paul Pollard, solo bass trombone
Janette Fishell, organ,
John Tafoya, timpani/chimes
Indiana University Trombone Choir
Carl Lenthe, conductor
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I wrote Le prophéte du Seigneur (The Prophet of the Lord) between May 28th and June 9th of 2019 for several faculty members of the Jacobs School of Music and the student trombone choir, conducted by Carl Lenthe. I got the idea of writing a work for multiple trombones with organ from a couple of Lenthe’s students when they stated in a roundtable discussion about my Concerto after Mendelssohn how much they liked that combination.
As I began thinking about the piece, I decided to try to bring a little bit of biblical orthodoxy into the very secular academic environment of Indiana University, and so the idea of having my work depict an unspecified Israelite prophet from the Old Testament era became very attractive to me. As it evolved, the work came to represent my attempt to portray musically a portion of Scripture, II Chronicles 36:15-16, “The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion upon his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of the God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy.” The dramatic possibilities of such a musical portrait seemed obvious to me, and as a result, the work was given to me very quickly.
Le prophète contains five sections, played without pause. I titled everything in French, since the piece has a French sound to my ears.
I “La mise en service” (The Commissioning) is full of both mystery and majesty, since I was looking into a matter on which Scripture is silent (“The secret things belong to the Lord… ” Deut. 29:29).
II “La proclamation” (The Proclamation) is a bold march-like movement with some dissonance. The latter represents the fact that the prophet’s message was frequently condemnatory, calling God’s often disobedient people to repentance and faith. The movement’s bold character reminds the listener that the prophetic office was not for the timid and unassuming man, but for one who would stand firm
in the face of resistance to God’s message.
III “Le rejet” (The Rejection) is the most dissonant of the work as it represents the all-too-often rejection of the message being proclaimed. The music takes on an unmistakably mocking tone, the most so of almost any work I’ve written, and the mocking character increases at the end of this section.
IV “La fidélité” (The Faithfulness) depicts the prophet’s stability and fidelity to God, these character traits suggested through tonal lines in the soloist, choir, and organ which are spun out over a constant pedal C in the organ and/or timpani. A strong climactic point in this movement is meant to evoke the power in abiding faith of the man of God, and his resolve to execute conscientiously his duties as
long as his Commander gives him breath.
V “Le martyre” (The Martyrdom) depicts the ultimate rejection by the people, no longer content with mocking God’s spokesman (and God himself), by violently ending his servant’s life. The piece moves to a powerful climax portraying this martyrdom, immediately followed by a very tonal passage based on Luther’s Ein feste Burg chorale, a brief section meant to depict the soul of the prophet entering the eternal presence of his King. A brief and sad epilog reminds the listener of the Scriptural lament that the people “did not know the time of [their] visitation.” (Luke 19:44)
STATEMENT OF FAITH:
I was, by God’s mercy, born into a Christian home, and first professed Christ at the age of 10 in the Baptist church that my family was attending at the time. Whether this profession was attended by a true possession of faith, only God knows, as I (while not outwardly and overtly rebellious) did not demonstrate much fruit in keeping with repentance through my teens and twenties. At best, I think I would be described as quite lukewarm in my faith.
Nevertheless, God was gracious to me, and in my later twenties, I began to truly seek to serve the savior whose name I bore, and eventually helped to found a Presbyterian Church in America congregation in Bloomington, Indiana, where I had settled after completion of my graduate studies there. Now an elder at Church of the Good Shepherd (part of ClearNote Fellowship, a body of evangelical Reformed congregations), I have been called to minister in the Kingdom of God through teaching biblical theology and Church history at ClearNote Pastors College and also through a mentoring program to assist young men who are struggling with various sexual addictions (especially including Internet pornography). The Lord has blessed this endeavor, and I have now begun to teach other men to mentor in the same area, using the program that I have developed.
I seek to glorify God in my music, and of course, not only in those pieces with obvious Christian connotations. Perhaps my most significant composition of music for overt service to the Church is The Spirit-Tempered Hymnal, a series of 24 hymns in every major and minor key (on my own texts), akin to Bach in his Well-Tempered Clavier. Nevertheless, my composition of music I consider a very minor part of my service to God, considering the way that I now see Him using me in my teaching and mentoring activities. Both of the latter I see as my response to St. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (II Tim 2:2-3). I uphold and teach the Bible as the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God inscripturated, mirroring in many ways the Word of God Incarnate, “who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant…” (Phil. 2:6-7) I never cease to be amazed at the profound truths of God found in His Word, both inscripturated and incarnate!
The music of David DeBoor Canfield has been performed in more than 30 countries on five continents, and has been performed by some of the world’s most accomplished soloists and ensembles. Canfield was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1950, and received his early training from his musician father, John Canfield. Graduating from Covenant College in 1972, he undertook graduate studies in composition at Indiana University, where he studied primarily with John Eaton, and was awarded the MM and DM degrees in 1977 and 1983 respectively. Canfield’s music has won numerous accolades including first place in the Jill Sackler Composition Contest and the Dean’s Prize from Indiana University, and was featured in a three-day festival given by faculty and students of the University of Central Oklahoma in 2001. His music is published by Jeanné, Inc., TRN, and Evensong, and is recorded on the Albany, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, Crystal, Enharmonic, Jeanné Digital Recordings, MSR, Recherché, Toccata Classics, and US Navy Band, labels. As a servant of Jesus Christ, however, he considers all of the above in light of Philippians 3:8. Canfield also teaches biblical theology and Church history at Clearnote Pastors College in Bloomington, Indiana, where he serves as an elder in his church.