Rodney's Glory

Here's an understated take on the traditional Irish tune, Rodney's Glory. You'll usually hear this performed to accompany traditional dancers, or perhaps played as an air, but I'm pleased to bring you the solo piano version. Enjoy.

 Click Here to Listen


I See the Light (from Tangled), Marry Me

Happy to announce the recent release of two new singles:

I See the Light (from Tangled): iTunes, CD Baby

Marry Me (my take on the song by Train): iTunes, CD Baby


Once Famliar Road

Hello again, piano fans. I posted an original song recently, and it's received some good comments. You can listen to it here:



O Sacred Head Now Wounded

Today's selection is a contemplative, solo piano rendition of the ancient hymn, O Sacred Head Now Wounded. It hearkens back to the earlier days of Piano by Joel, when my offerings were informal and minimally edited; more spontaneous, as if we were sitting around the piano together.

Here are the first few verses:

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Click Here to Listen.



I recently released the traditional folk song, Shenandoah. While there appears to be some dispute about the meaning of the lyrics, I think we can all agree that in conveys a sense of yearning, of longing. This is reminiscent of Hebrews 11:15-16:

If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

You can listen to it here.

Hit play, and read Hebrews 11.


Be Still My Soul (By Request)

Today's old hymn, requested by a listener via e-mail, is Be Still My Soul, to the 19th century tune composed by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957.) The original German lyrics were penned by Katharina von Schlegel (1813-1897), but here is a portion of the English translation by Jane Borthwick:

Be still, my soul, the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul, thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Enjoy the piece.

Also, I've recently released my latest CD, Hymn Journeys: Contemporary Piano Interpretations. You can preview and purchase it here: http://cdbaby.com/cd/joelrosenberger3, or on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?id=316886857&s=143441.

Click Here to Listen to Be Still My Soul.


Face to Face with Christ my Savior (Steinway Mix)

I'm a guy who likes power tools, and I recently started using state-of-the-art virtual piano software to improve the sound quality of the music I produce. For your listening pleasure, I remixed Face to Face with Christ My Savior, which now features the golden tones of the Steinway concert grand.

Of course, you're going to expect me to start podcasting again, now that I have a new toy to motivate me to record! Stay tuned, one of these days you may be hearing the clear sound of the Yamaha studio grand, or the extra octave on the bottom of the Bosendorfer.

Until next time!

Click Here to Listen


Still, Still, Still (brass ensemble)

Merry Christmas! I hope your holiday was all that you wanted it to be. My gift to you is a laid-back New Orleans brass rendition of the Austrian traditional carol, Still, Still, Still. This arrangement features the sweet sounds of the trumpet, saxaphones, tuba, bass trombone, and strings.

Click Here to Listen


Guest Performance: Della, The Unfolding

Greetings, piano fans!  It has been a while, but I think you'll enjoy today's piano piece.  I've introduced you to Della before.  When she's not accompanying the Cincinatti ballet, or sitting under Carmon Deleone in the Middletown Symphony Orchestra; she's composing, arranging, and performing her own original piano works.  I highly recommend her music, and I'm pleased that she's allowed me to make this mp3, The Unfolding, available to you, at the link below.  I'm not even going to try to describe it.  Just turn the lights down low, and listen.

If you would like to hear more, and/or purchase her new CD, {beautiful still}, just visit her home page at http://www.indieheaven.com/artist_main.php?id=54193.

Until next time!



Hello again, everyone! Yes, I'm still here, waiting for a new part to arrive, so I can do some recording. In the meantime, you'll want to pause your mp3-downloading for a few minutes, and listen to Della.

Della, based in the great state of Ohio, just released her new project, {beautiful still}. Since you're here, I'm guessing that you will really enjoy her powerful rendition of the old hymn, "Be Still My Soul." It's just the kind of piano music you like, complete with expressive harmonies, widely spaced improvisations, and notes that fade away into silence. To listen:

1. Go to Della's Indieheaven page, here: http://www.indieheaven.com/artist_main.php?id=54193
2. Find the green CD cover with a list of tracks next to it. Click "The Ceasing: {be still my soul}.
3. The song should begin playing.

I am so glad she recorded a Hymn! But I'm sure you'll also like the many other tracks she has available. The way the Indieheaven player currently works, just leave it alone and it will continue to play Della's piano music.

Click Here for Della's Indieheaven Page


Face to Face with Christ My Savior (By Request)

Here's a new one for you... a gentle improvisation on the old 1898 hymn melody from by Grant Tullar (1869-1950) with words by Carrie Breck (1855-1934.)

Face to face I shall behold Him
Far beyond the starry sky
Face to face in all His glory
I shall see Him by and by

Thanks for listening! And if you have a moment, please pray for continued creativity as I improvise and arrange music. Enjoy the piece.

Click Here to Listen/Download


Neil Patton

I met Neil Patton yesterday, virtually, the same way I meet most other musicians. He's a Christian pianist that has recorded some original works that I'm sure you'll enjoy:


I recommend four songs to get a fuller picture of the kind of music this guy makes:

  • Toccata
  • First Steps
  • Water of Life
  • Jig

If you're just surfing around the web for music, just launch the above link and hit the play button. If you like him, be sure to click the 5-star rating at the top of his page, then leave him a comment! Tell him Joel sent you.

Don't forget to come back here when you're done to download more piano hymn mp3s!


Fresh Piano in the Top 100 on the ReverbNation.com Folk Chart

I noticed it this morning... your Fresh Pianist is in the top 100 on the ReverbNation.com folk chart, out of over 4000 artists. Since these things tend to be fleeting, I wanted to share it and enjoy it while I can:

The ReverbNation.com charts are based on the "relative value of [the artist's] aggregate fan relationships at any given point in time." So in one sense, it's a measure of how great my listeners are, and I appreciate your support since 2005. You can continue to help by listening and sharing the music.

ReverbNation is not a Christian site. They provide management and promotional tools to all kinds of bands, playing all kinds of music. Admittedly, yes, moving up a chart feels good, kind of like winning at a game of Scrabble. But it's also nice to see quiet, instrumental piano hymns up there, shining like a lighthouse. Score one for sleepy music. At least while it lasts.

You can see my ReverbNation.com profile here:

I'll end this post the same way I end my e-mails. All glory to God, -Joel


"Hope" by Leo Loredo

Yes, I know I specialize in introspective piano music, and don't usually recommend CCM. But I heard an upbeat, uplifting song by the independent Christian vocalist Leo Loredo today, so if you happen to be surfing for new music as you're reading this, I recommend that you head over to his page for a listen:


Click on the song, Hope. It's based on Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. If you like it, head to the charts, choose "Contemporary," and give it 5 stars:


Of course, when you're done, you're welcome to come back here and download more mp3s.


A Piano Haiku

Eighty-eight keys wait
Black and white poised for action
The fingers descend.


For the Beauty of the Earth (By Request)

A young listener (more and more people are "young") and piano music aficionado requested that I play For the Beauty of the Earth, the old hymn with music by conrad Kocher (1786-1872) and words by Fol­li­ot S. Pier­point (1835-1917.) An appropriate tune for springtime, as I'm waiting for my front lawn to grow.

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies

Lord of all to Thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise

Click Here to Listen


Be Thou My Vision (Solo Piano with Cello) a.k.a. Slane

Some of you who have been with Piano by Joel since the beginning will recall that I've previously recorded Be Thou My Vision, to the tune of the old Irish folk tune, Slane. But since I am always trying to improve the quality, musicality, and expressiveness of my work, I wanted to bring you something new. (Fresh?) This version features the solo piano, of course, giving the arrangement a contemporary feel; but I think you'll also find that the playing style, and the accompanying cello, lend a certain ancient quality to the piece.

Here are the lyrics, translated into English by Eleanor Hull around the turn of the century:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art

High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

Until next time.

Click Here to Listen


The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended

Today's piece is the Clement Scholefield (1839-1904) melody, The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended. The melody is beautiful, and the lyrics (below), powerful.

A listener once requested this song, which I had not heard before, to my recollection. So I listened and learned. It's beautiful. The rendition you're about to hear (link below) begins with the choir, smoothly transitions to the piano, cello, and other strings, followed by a clarinet solo, then a majestic finish. This arrangement doesn't do the song justice, but I like to think of it as a step in that direction.

Here are the great lyrics, penned by John Ellerton (1826-1893.) Make sure you read all the way to the fourth stanza to get the full effect of the epic nature of this song.

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.

We thank Thee that Thy church, unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.

As o’er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.

The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away:

Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.

Click Here to Listen


Angels in the Snow

Happy New Year! This original composition used to be titled Kids in the Leaves, but seeing that it's winter here in the northern hemisphere, I changed it to Angels in the Snow. As you listen, I think you'll find that either title is appropriate.

I'm currently working on an arrangement of The Day Thou Givest, Lord, Has Ended. I hope to have it ready soon, for your listening pleasure. In the meantime, enjoy Angels.

Click Here to Listen


BBN Airplay

A little bird told me that I Wonder as I Wander from Snow and Ivory: Piano Portraits for Christmas was heard on said little bird's local radio station in the BBN network, which provides Christian radio programming worldwide. It's always nice for an artist when a song gets airplay! If you'd like to hear BBN, the easiest way is to navigate to http://www.bbnradio.org/ and listen online. And Merry Christmas! I'll also mention that... hey... what's that in the chimney?...


O Come Emmanuel (Orchestral Mix)

First of all, let me wish a Merry Christmas and a warm season's greetings to everyone. Now, on to my Christmas gift for you.

This arrangement of O Come Emmanuel is more sophisticated than my usual offerings, with both symphonic and atmospheric qualities influenced by some of the great film score composers. This rendition features ancient instruments such as the filimbi, duduk, oud, cornu, kantele, ram's horn (suggestive of the shofar), and percussion, as well as a modern string section, choir and solo cello. There's a lot of variety, and things keep changing musically as the piece moves forward. For you gearheads, I mixed my music with Ableton Live 6 (it's not just for hip-hop and electronica anymore!) coupled with GigaStudio.

Download and Enjoy! Merry Christmas.

Click Here to Listen


Silent Night (Bamboo Flute Mix)

If you're new here, most of my postings really are piano arrangements, believe it or not. But since I've been experimenting with new sounds lately, some of the results are bound to spill over into my podcast.

This rendition of Silent Night, featuring the solo bamboo flute, is suitable for an evening on a Judean hillside, or at home with the lights out. Sit back and let it take you somewhere far away.

Till next time.

Click here to listen


Be Thou My Vision (MacDonald Family Mix)

If you need a break from holiday music for a few minutes, I hope you'll listen to this rendition of Be Thou My Vision from the new MacDonald Family Singers CD, Power in the Blood. It's an honor when others perform my arrangements, and Carol MacDonald does a phenomenal job on the vocals. You'll find the original arrangement and score in this post from 2005. Also, Kim and Judy Smith performed their unique take in this 2006 post.

Try to catch the MacDonald Family Singers in concert sometime. These guys travel the U.S. in their tour bus, performing their special brand of Christ-centered music, and giving away thousands of CDs. They also offer plenty of free music downloads on their web site at http://www.macdonaldfamilysingers.com.

Enjoy the piece! Again, it features Carol on the flute and vocals, and Laurie at the piano. Ahh, the piano.

Click Here to Listen


Ancient Sunrise, a really short duduk experiment

This very short piece (30 seconds) features an electronically sampled Armenian duduk, which has a haunting sound with an almost human quality. I was playing around with the sound and some techniques one day, and I liked the result, so here it is for you to enjoy (or not...)

I think this is my first podcast episode with no recorded piano, whatsoever. Don't worry, I'm not giving up on the ivories, just exploring (always exploring) new ways to interpret old hymns.

Click Here to Listen


Score: God Be With You Till We Meet Again

Back in March, the DaVinci Academy from Colorado Springs, Colorado performed a vocal rendition of my piano arrangement of God Be With You Till We Meet Again in Washington, D.C. Today, I'm pleased to offer you the piano score to that arrangement. If you'd like to hear the original recording, check out this post.

Click Here to Download Score (or right-click and choose "save as.")

There's Power in the Blood

Today's piece is the old late 1800's camp meeting tune, There's Power in the Blood, by Lewis E. Jones (1865-1936.) I was sitting at the keyboard one day, playing with some melodic ideas, and what resulted is this delicate arrangement. I hope you enjoy it.

Click Here to Listen


Just a Closer Walk with Thee, Rainy Day Jazz Version

If you've been with me a while, you may have guessed my dirty little secret... You will usually hear me play solo, since I keep my own time. Or at least some semblance thereof. Today I'd like to treat you to something fun I put together, a light jazz rendition of Just a Closer Walk with Thee, along the lines of Norah Jones meets Ray Charles. Along with the piano, you'll hear the rotary organ (I really like that sound), and the world premier of "jazz guitar solo by Joel." Yes, folks, the guitar is the real thing, not some electronic facsimile. And I've been wanting to record it for a while.

I hope you enjoy "Joel Rosenberger and His Orchestra..."

Click Here to Listen

Also be sure to check out my Christmas CD, newly on iTunes. This CD includes a lot of music you haven't heard on the podcast. Thanks!


Snow and Ivory is on iTunes!

I was hoping that Snow and Ivory: Solo Piano Portraits for Christmas would make it to iTunes before Christmas, and it looks like it has! If you have iTunes installed, you can take a look at the CD by clicking this link:


As always, thank you for listening.


This is My Father's World (Terra Beata)

Hello everyone! It's been a while. I hope those of you in the northern hemisphere enjoyed your summer. If you'd like to hear a new recording, I've got one for you.

You may have sung this poem by Maltbie Babcock (1858-1901) set to the traditional tune that was originally adapted by by Franklin Sheppard (1852-1930.) This is my rendition of the melody, Terra Beata. Enjoy the music.

Click Here to Listen


Just a Closer Walk with Thee

Greetings! I was improvising this morning on the old traditional gospel favorite, Just a Closer Walk with Thee, and I thought you might enjoy hearing it. When I think of this piece, I think of New Orleans jazz, so I was being a bit playful at the keys. Happy listening!

Click Here to Listen



Greetings to all piano fans, and a happy Memorial Day to my American listeners.

Today's piano rendition of the haunting bugle call, Taps, is dedicated to all those who have served in the past and present, and their families. There are no official lyrics, but here are the words to one of the traditional verses:

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

This reminds me of the scripture:

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

James 4:8

Thank you for your service to your country.

Click Here to Listen


Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Hello, friends and neighbors, both old and new. To those of you who celebrate Easter at this time of year, happy Easter! He is risen indeed!

This old spiritual probably needs no introduction. I invite you to take some time out today to listen to this delicate piano rendition of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Click Here to Listen


Piano by Joel Goes To Washington - Sunday, March 25

The DaVinci Academy from Colorado Springs, CO will be using the Fresh Hymns arrangement of God Be With You Till We Meet Again in their March 25th performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Congratulations to this group for winning the 2006 Creative Ticket National School of Distinction. You can catch them live online on Sunday, March 25, at 6 PM Eastern at the Kennedy Center Site:

The arrangement was originally featured in February 2006. If you haven't heard it yet, click here to listen.


Snow and Ivory is on CD Baby

Just in time for Christmas! Well, maybe a little early...

You can check out Snow and Ivory: Solo Piano Portraits for Christmas here:


I actually released this CD in December, but this is the first time it has been available online. If you click that link, you'll find a photo and description of the CD, as well as an extended preview of each track. I think you'll find that this project is more professionally done than my first CD, Fresh Hymns.

You can also see all of my CDs (all two of them) by clicking the link below.


Londonderry Air (Danny Boy)

Here it is, Londonderry Air, a.k.a. Danny Boy. Enjoy it with a hot, steaming plate of corned beef and cabbage.

Click Here to Listen


Meditation, from Thais

Hello again, piano fans! I'd like to add some classic works and folk tunes to the mix, starting today with the famous violin classic, the Meditiation, from Thais, by Jules Massenet (1842-1912.) Of course, it's my own arrangement and interpretation, meaning that it's a piano rendition. If I were playing the violin, you'd be running for the hills.

St. Patrick's day is coming up, so be on the lookout for Londonberry Air, more commonly known as Danny Boy.

click here to listen


A Mighty Fortress is Our God (Sola Scriptura Theme)

Happy New Year, everybody! You've probably heard my rendition of A Mighty Fortress is Our God (here is the post), but I do have another version (the "Director's Cut") of this old hymn that, as of Jan. 1, is the opening theme for the Sola Scriptura radio program on 93.9 KPDQ in Portland Oregon. If you'd like to hear the program, check out the Sola Scriptura archives, or listen live to KPDQ at 7:25 PM central on weekdays (the program airs from 7:30 - 8:00 PM.)

Click Here to Listen


The First Noel (from the Christmas CD)

I know I have some French listeners... Noel is French, right? I'm curious on this holiday why so many of our great Christmas carols come from France... O Holy Night, The Sleep of the Baby Jesus, and so on. But I won't ramble. Merry Christmas!

Click Here to Listen


O Come Emmanuel (from the new CD)

Hello again, everyone! I hope this holiday season is everything you want it to be. Over the month of December, I'll be featuring a few of the tracks from my new Christmas CD, Snow and Ivory (soon to be available on CD Baby.)

Today's selection is a bit different, since I wanted to accentuate the mystery of O Come Emmanuel, which in and of itself is almost chant-like. The reverberations of the ambient piano echo through time, providing the opportunity to contemplate those prophets who spoke of this One who would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah of a virgin, and would be called "Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."

Click here to listen


Wayfaring Stranger (By Request)

Good evening everybody. I'm in the studio tonight, and I'd like to offer up a rough draft of Wayfaring Stranger, which you may recognize as the old Negro spiritual. This recording features some of my new studio equipment and software, so you may hear a difference in the tone and quality of the sound. I hope you like it, but let me hear your feedback either way!

I've been reading Randy Alcorn's book, Money, Possessions, and Eternity (more info), which carries a much weightier, thought-provoking, perspective-changing message than indicated by the title. If you want to live in view of eternity, this book is a great place to start. I'm cognizant of the fact that none of these things that I'm surrounded by, including this instrument next to me, are going with me to the next world (but I hope for an instrument that cannot pass away!) Although I can't take my gear with me, I hope to use my music to bless you guys, so that there will either by some eternal value in what I do. At the very least, I can look forward to meeting many of you in your heavenly homes (Luke 16:9.)

I hope you'll meditate on the scripture below as you listen to Wayfaring Stranger. To those of you who also believe in Jesus Christ, remember that everything we "own" on earth is merely a rental!

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Hebrews 11:8-10

Click Here to Listen to Wayfaring Stranger (mp3)


Guest Performance: Be Thou My Vision

Kim and Judy Smith are a husband and wife team of artists that enjoy performing their own unique rendition (featuring the mandolin!) of my arrangement of Be Thou My Vision. They were kind enough to send me a recording, as well as grant permission for me to post it here on Piano by Joel. A big thank you to them for being willing to share their music in this way!

You can find the original post, with a recording of the original piano rendition, here.

You can find the score to Be Thou My Vision here.

Click Here to Listen


Piano by Joel Hits the 500 Subscriber Mark!

I'm really excited about this, guys. This has been a long-range goal for, well, a long time. (I guess that's why it's called a long range goal!) A big thanks to each of you who have requested music, subscribed via iTunes or other software, wrote e-mail, bought my CD, performed my arrangements, sent me CDs and mp3s of your performances and derivative works, or otherwise downloaded and enjoyed the music. I appreciate that you take the time to listen to my musical scribblings and rough drafts. I hope you'll all look me up in heaven one of these days... I look forward to playing for each of you in your eternal dwellings!

I hope you'll check back in a few days... a couple listeners sent me a copy of their performance of my arrangement of Be Thou My Vision, and I'd like you all to hear it. Until then, thanks again!


Hello and Goodbye to Ads

Ok, you may have noticed that I did a quick experiment with ads. If so, I'm sorry if you found them annoying... so did I. It was difficult to completely control what kind of ads were displayed, plus, why would I want you to click them and go somewhere else when there's plenty of music to be enjoyed here?

Anyway, I noticed a few things on PBJ that I need to clean up, so I might do some housecleaning. Thanks for putting up with my various antics.

Thanks for listening,



My Bio

Hello, piano fans. Someone asked a good question... who is this Joel guy, anyway? If you've been looking around the blog, you know I write software by day and music by... well, whenever I can get some peace and quiet down in my studio (which doubles as a homeschool classroom.) But if you'd like the story, I posted my bio on the IndieHeaven site:


I also have an actual picture up there, complete with the obligatory serious-musician-look. But you guys know me better than that.

Do I have more music coming? You bet. I've got another single in the works, and I'll post it here when I get the bugs worked out. Thanks for listening!



Well, I've been wanting to do this for some time, but I finally took the plunge. This week, I joined IndieHeaven, an online community of Christian independent artists. At this site, you can check out my artist page, including my bio (yes, I have an actual bio now, after some gentle prompting from a listener) and other info. You can take a look here (just click the Artist Bio tab to read the entire bio):


My CDs will be available there soon, but I just got a fresh supply in at this site:



Nearer My God to Thee - Plus a CD Release

Hi again, everyone. Sorry it's been so long, but I'm back in the studio again! A listener requested the old Lowell Mason (1792-1872) hymn, Nearer, My God, to Thee, so I'm more than happy to oblige. Turn the lights down low, then click the link below to listen.

I'm also pleased to announce that, in response to listener requests, I released a CD to the public last week! Fresh Hymns is now available online. I cleaned up the noise on a number of the tracks, put together some neat cover art, and signed each copy. You can preview each track (2 minute previews!), read the bio, view the cover art, and/or purchase the CD by clicking here. If you like the music, you can also write a review on this page (which I highly encourage!)

I will continue to make quality music freely available online even as I work on my Christmas CD, which should be available by November.

Thanks for listening, and enjoy Nearer, My God, to Thee.

Click Here to Listen


Score: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

I completed a reasonable transcription of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, from the recording that you'll find in this post, or under the Piano by Joel podcast on iTunes. My copyist skills are inadequate to the task of fully communicating my musical intentions, so if you're interested in performing this work, you may want to start by following along as you listen to the mp3, to get a feel for the music.

If you perform Jesu, please drop me a line sometime. I'd like to here how it goes.

Click Here to Download Score

Note: you'll need to install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.


God Be With You Till We Meet Again

Hi everyone. Today's piano piece is an improvisation on the old hymn, God Be With You Till We Meet Again, by William Tomer (1833-1896) and with words by Jeremiah Rankin (1828-1904.)

PBJ topped 300 subscribers this week! I can't thank you all enough for listening. Please keep those comments, e-mails, reviews, and votes coming too. I have really enjoyed hearing from you. Listener e-mails make my day. Also, feel free to add yourself to our map along with the other listeners around the world, if you haven't yet.

It's been a few weeks since my last post, but please don't think I haven't been busy in the studio. I've got a few classical pieces in the works that I hope to present to you in the not-so-distant future, and I've been trying to get the cello out regularly. I also owe someone a copy of the Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring score (to be posted on this blog soon), which I need to finish up. All of you have inspired me to pursue music with a new passion, for which I thank you.

Enjoy the piece.

Click Here to Listen


Panis Angelicus

Today I'm pleased to present to you the world premier (I've been wanting to say that) of my piano arrangement of Panis Angelicus, the classic work by César Franck (1822-1890.) I suppose that various lyrics have been penned to this melody, but the original words are in Latin. The title is taken from the first line, and the lyrics are thought provoking. Here's an attempted translation of the first verse:

Panis Angelicus fit panis hominum
Bread of angels, made the bread of man

Dat panis coelicus figuris terminum
The heavenly bread given a bounded form

O res mirabilis
Oh wonderful thing

Manducat Dominum
Eating the Lord

Pauper, pauper, servus et humilis
Poor, poor, a servant and humble

In John 6:48-58 (below), Christ invites us to dinner... with him as the main course. Dining on his flesh and blood provides far more nutritional value than eating our vegetables, as "he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." This passage reminds me of the eucharist (or communion), where we take of the bread and wine (or grape juice, as the case may be.) The belief as to whether the bread and wine are literally or metaphorically Christ's blood and body, or somewhere in between, vary by denomination. But 1 Corinthians 11:24 provides a stern reminder of the solemnity of this sacrament, as "whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." This is serious business. If the bread and cup are but symbolic, they are a powerful symbol indeed.

I invite you to meditate on the scriptures below as you listen to Panis Angelicus.

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John 6:48-58 (KJV)

I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

1 Corinthians 11:24-29 (KJV)

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

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By Request: Faith of Our Fathers

A brief note to iTunes subscribers... be sure to check the site (http://www.freshpiano.com) from time to time. iTunes only shows blog postings with audio attachments, but I also post non-audio entries.

Today's hymn, in response to a listener request, is a delicate improvisation on Faith of Our Fathers. Henri Hemy (1818-1888) was kind enough to leave us this fine music, and Frederick Faber (1814-1863) penned the original lyrics.

Faith of our fathers, living still
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word
Faith of our fathers, holy faith
We will be true to thee till death

Some of these hymns have been around a long time, and no doubt have changed countless lives. But the Faith has been around much longer, breaking down the barriers which once separated us from God and each other, and giving us the power to become eternal sons and daughters of God through Christ. I hope you'll contemplate the ancient faith as you listen today.

This song is the musical equivalent of a rough draft, but I like it, so I thought the PBJ community would like to hear it as well.

PBJ topped 250 subscribers recently! I can't thank all of you enough for listening, nor can I tell you enough how much I enjoy having you out there. If there is any way I can increase your musical enjoyment, please e-mail me. Also, I love to hear stories about how listeners are using my work in church, in their own media projects, etc. If you are putting my songs to work, please drop me a line.

Enjoy Faith of Our Fathers.

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From the Studio

Hi all. I've been working on an arrangement of Faith of Our Fathers, so I'm writing this from the studio, to the tune of my latest improvisation. I like what I'm hearing so far, but I think it needs a bit more refining. When I arrange, I usually improvise on a song several times, during which I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the work. After a few times through, I start getting to know the song, and new possibilities begin to emerge. It's probably very much like meditation, only with music rather than scripture. Both allow someone to see things that they haven't seen before.

Well, the recording continues to play in the background. This version has it's rough spots, as does your pianist, I suppose, but it still has character. I'll consider releasing it. I just need to remind myself that this blog has never been about finished products.

Good night.


Holy, Holy, Holy

Hi everyone, I am pleased to bring you the first piano rendition of the new year. This is an improvisation on the Holy, Holy, Holy, which I suspect many of you have sung either as a hymn or as a contemporary praise chorus. This tune is actually an old hymn, with music by John Dykes (1823-1876) and words by Reginald Heber (1783-1826.)

This particular arrangement is contemplative, and as with many of my works, I attempt to create a simple yet beautiful piece by varying the harmony and melodic lines.

Perhaps you would like to reflect on the lyrics of this hymn as the piano plays in the background. The words can probably be found in just about any hymnal, or elsewhere online. Powerful descriptions of God, with "cherubim and seraphim falling down before" him, make me think that a Person this unique and wonderful in the universe deserves far more of my attention, and a larger place in my life.

Thank you for listening, and enjoy the piece.

Holy, holy, holy
Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee
Holy, holy, holy
merciful and mighty
God in three Persons
blessèd Trinity

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Back in the Studio

Guess what, I just found out that Holy, Holy, Holy is in the public domain. I was under the impression that it was a contemporary melody! It turns out that the tune dates to 1861. I'm currently working on a new arrangement of it. I'll start out like I usually do, by improvising on the melody. Then I keep what I like and discard the rest, and presto! You have a fresh hymn arrangement.

Have you voted for Piano by Joel this month on Podcast Alley? Remember, you can vote once each month! Thank you to each one of you that take the time to read the blog, vote, leave comments, e-mail stories, etc. I really enjoy connecting with each one of you.


Happy New Year

Hello again, piano fans. I took some time off for the holidays, but I'm ready to have a seat at the piano once again, and provide you with more original arrangements and improvisations. Get an iPod for Christmas? Feel free to visit the index (link below) and fill it up with some piano tunes. You can also subscribe to the Piano by Joel podcast from iTunes.

Be sure to check back in a few days for a new hymn arrangement!


Extreme Feedback Part II

Hello again, piano fans. I hope this season is all that you want it to be.

If you've been here a while, you've noticed that my tracks have some rough edges. This is because it takes me a while to polish an arrangement, as well as the recording of that arrangement, to a high shine. My real aim is to create music that connects with people, share musical ideas, and obtain feedback from listeners, not to create studio-quality work. Think of this blog as you would any other blog, except the purpose is to express musical ideas, rather than verbal ones.

A while ago I asked for some structured feedback, that is, to rate a song on a scale of 1-10, then tell me what it would take to make it a 10. This time, I need to hear from you on another subject. You see, I'm not quite sure how to classify my music, and I'm pretty sure that I'm not an original, as much as I would like to think so. So, whom do I sound like? Does my playing remind you of anyone else, or of a particular style? Please drop me a line (see "Contact Joel," below) or leave a comment (at the bottom of this post on http://joelcast.blogspot.com.)

Thanks, and Merry Christmas!


All Through the Night (Ar Hyd y Nos)

As we progress through this month of December (and a snowy one at that,) It's my pleasure to continue with this series of holiday piano music. Today's selection may be known to some of you as All through the Night, or to others by its traditional Welsh title, Ar Hyd y Nos. Here are the traditional English lyrics:

Sleep my child and peace attend thee, allthrough the night
Guardian angels God will send thee, all through the night
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping
I my loving vigil keeping, all through the night.

I would love to hear the Welsh lyrics sung correctly sometime. Here they are, but I have no idea how to pronounce it, let along sing it:

Holl amrantau'r sêr ddywedant, ar hyd y nos
Dyma'r ffordd i fro gogoniant, ar hyd y nos
Golau arall yw tywyllwch
I arddangos gwir brydferthwch
Teulu'r nefoedd mewn tawelwch, ar hyd y nos.

Perhaps someone who knows the Welsh version could record it and send me a link sometime.

I'm not certain why this song is associated with the holidays. The lyrics, "I my loving vigil keeping, all through the night," communicates to the sleepy child that the loving parent is ever present and very near. Likewise, Christmas is the time when we pause to contemplate Emmanuel, the presence of God himself in a human baby. Like the parent, loving vigil keeping, he is never far from any one of us.

I hope that you will feel the Father's presence as you navigate the path set before you this holiday season. Merry Christmas.

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Have you checked out our map yet?

iTunes listeners: Maybe you'd like to be the first to review this podcast in iTunes. Or the second. Or the third... you get the idea.


Rediscovering Michael Card

This holiday season I have been rediscovering Michael Card, a talented musician and Bible scholar. I first gained an appreciation of his music in college, finding his music and message compelling:

It's a question you can't answer
An answer you cannot express
That the gentle man of sorrows
Is the source of happiness
You'll never solve the mystery
Of this magnetic man
For you must believe to understand

His lyrics reveal the degree of insight he gains as he interacts with the Word of God. Many of his songs indicate that he has spent time meditating on scripture and gaining a deeper level of understanding (which, of course, can lead to more questions.)

If you're looking for something beautiful and contemplative in your selection of Christmas music, I would recommend The Promise album. If you're interested, many of his songs, going way back, are on iTunes. If you'd like to see what he's about, here's a couple recommendations:

  • Immanuel (There's another great version of this song on The Final Word)
  • Joseph's Song
  • The Promise
  • We will Find Him

Michael does have a podcast, featuring episodes nearly an hour long. You might also enjoy reading his column, which is brief, yet insightful. I read The Word Comes to the Shepherds this evening to my small group at our Christmas party. Like my last post, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, it would go well with a glowing Christmas tree and a cozy fire.

I'll leave you with a brief clip of the lyrics to Immanuel. I hope you get the chance to enjoy listening to some of Michael Card's work over the holidays.

Our God is with us
And if God is with us
Who could be against us
Our God is with us Immanuel


Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

Season's greetings, everyone. Today I'd like to continue my series of Christmas music with Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, by J.S. Bach (1685-1750). There is no shortage of arrangements of this holiday classic (you'll see 150 on iTunes!), both choral and instrumental. This one is 100% piano, and attempts to capture the simple beauty that lies at the core of the Piano by Joel style. This piece goes well with a cozy fire, a warm mug of your favorite beverage, or a snowy view from your window.

See you next time.

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Away in a Manger

Seeing it's that time of year, I'll be releasing Christmas music throughout the month of December.

This is an original rendition of the Christmas favorite, Away in a Manger, with music by James Murray (1841-1905). You already know the lyics:

Away in a manger no crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head
The stars in the sky look down where he lay
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay

I wanted to create a soundtrack feel to this piece. Picture the scene in your mind as the piece begins near the manger, with a simple lullabye, followed by a hymn of contemplation. From there, the camera moves through the streets of Bethlehem and into the Judean hills, where we find shepherds watching their flocks. The angelic message arrives, stirring the pastoral band to action. The piece swells with more awe and wonder as the shepherds visit the manger, then proceed to announce the good news to the world.

I enjoyed recording this, and I hope you enjoy listening to it. Merry Christmas.

P.S. Remember to add yourself to our map!

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Blogging and the Stock Market

Like the stock market, the subscriber count (the number of people who receive automatic updates via iTunes, BlogLines, iPodder, My Yahoo, MSN, etc.) rises and falls. Recently, the PBJ count peaked at just over 200 subscribers (thanks, everyone !) You can see the current number of subscribers by viewing the green "feedburner" chiclet to the right. This number will vary widely, depending on how many readers receive updates on a given day. For example, on weekends, a lot of people turn off their computers, so the number of subscribers drops.

If you like Piano by Joel, you can help spread the word in a few ways:

  • Add a link to your site or blog. On the web, the major indicator of the relevance of a blog is the number of sites linking to it. If you'd like, feel free to use the Piano by Joel button or the Headline Animator. For a fun example of this, check out this blog's listing in BlogShares, a site where blog "shares" are "traded" like stocks. The number of incoming links contributes to that blog's value!
  • Vote for Piano by Joel (and/or write comments) each month on Podcast Alley. This site seems to have become the de-facto podcast rating site. Just a few people voting in a month can cause a blog to skyrocket in the rankings. For example, just three November votes raised this podcast to #821 out of more than 10,000 podcasts!
  • Subscribe to this blog. The number of subscribers is another important indicator of blog/podcast relevance. Check out the Feedburner Top 40 at PodNova as an example.

Thanks for checking in today! I appreciate the time each of you spend to read, listen, and participate. Time to go play the piano...


The Fresh Hymns CD Cover

Well, piano fans, there are now enough hymn tracks on this blog (see the index) for a CD. Perhaps you've already burned a few for your friends and neighbors (plus they make great stocking stuffers.) Now I ask you, what's a CD without cover art? Well, ok, it's still a CD, but I thought I'd make a cover available anyway. Here's what it looks like, and you can download it via the link below. Enjoy! And don't forget to pass out a few CDs over the holidays. If you do, just write the Piano by Joel URL on the CD, so each recipient can stop by the site for updates. Remember, you can make as many non-commercial copies as you'd like.

Original image (c) 2002 Jeremy Rosenberger, used with permission.

Click here to get the full-sized CD cover


The Tag Cloud - A Different Way to Browse

For a different approach to browsing this blog, try the tag cloud, which presents the keywords from this site in a unique way. You can check it out the Piano by Joel cloud here:


Have fun playing around with it!


Piano by Joel: The Map

When I was a kid, I thought the missionary map at church was pretty cool. Prayer cards were displayed along the sides, with yarn connecting the card to a pushpin somewhere on the map. I remember making one of my own as a kid.

Thanks to a friend of mine, I just discovered Frappr, and can experience the pushpin map anew. This site brings different groups of people together and places them on a world map. That means you can see how far your graduating class or knitting circle has spread around the world, send a shout out to everyone, post a picture, etc. I created a few maps this evening, one of which is a map of Piano by Joel listeners:


As of now, I'm the only listener on the map (good thing I enjoy my own company!) If you'd like to view the map or even put yourself on it, be my guest! Just click on the link above. I look forward to taking this little world tour with you.


The Piano by Joel button

Ok, for all those who would like a more subtle link to PBJ (that's Piano by Joel, rather than the popular legume sandwich), Have I got the graphic for you. Here is the Piano by Joel chiclet:

Just use this as your link image when linking to PBJ. If you like something a little more noticeable than this bad boy, there's always the headline animator.

Thanks for helping to get the word out.

Totally Extreme Feedback

Whether you are a regular listener, or are just dropping by, I'd like to ask you to do something for me. I am always trying to improve my offerings, and the following excercise would really help me out:

1. Think of the last track you listened to. How does it rate on a scale of 1 to 10?
2. What would I need to change in order to make it a 10?

I'd appreciate it if you would e-mail me (see my profile for contact info) or leave a comment on this or another post (if you are using a blog reader, you can visit my website to leave comments on individual posts.) Just hearing from a few people would provide me with some valuable feedback.



A Mighty Fortress is Our God

Today's arrangement is the hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, by Martin Luther. The lyrics are powerful:

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing
our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevaling
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe
his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate
on earth is not his equal.
Read more lyrics

Thanks again for your comments. I hope that Piano by Joel motivates, inspires, and teaches listeners/readers to express themselves musically. If this blog/podcast has helped you, or if there is some musical resource lacking on the internet that Piano by Joel could possibly fill, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Easier listening with the new built-in player

While some listeners like to download tracks and play them in their media player of choice, others would rather listen online. The new player at the bottom of this page lets you do exactly that! You'll notice that the player includes a retractable playlist and title display, as well as control buttons.

This fine player was created by Jeroen Wijering, who has been kind enough to make it available free of charge to non-commercial sites under the Creative Commons license. For more info about Creative Commons, check out the banner at the bottom of the Piano by Joel home page.

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The Headline Animator

If anyone is interested in linking to Piano by Joel (and I know you are), might I suggest the headline animator:

Piano by Joel - the Latest Songs

Pretty cool, right? Here's the HTML to add it to your site:

A big thank you to everyone who has linked to Piano by Joel already. I appreciate you helping to spread the word.

Finally, if you have a blog and/or podcast, you can get your own headline animator at feedburner.com.

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Blest Be the Tie that Binds

One of our church traditions, especially when one of our church family is moving on to parts unknown, is to join hands in a circle and sing Blest Be the Tie that Binds. This song, commonly sung to an old melody by Hans Nageli (1773-1836) speaks of the bond shared by those who have placed their faith in Christ:

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
(John Fawcett, 1740-1817)

These lyics remind me of Christ's prayer in John 17:

Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

My goal in today's piece, a duet for piano and flute, was to suggest the "fellowship of kindred minds" by the intertwining of the two instruments. As usual, it's a work in progress, a communication of a musical idea that hasn't completely reached fruition. Piano by Joel, after all, is a place for musical ideas, not completed, polished works. But I still think you might enjoy it. I may post a piano-only version of this song in the near future as well.

Click here to listen.

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Copyright Info for The Old Rugged Cross

My research shows that The Old Rugged Cross is copyrighted. The rights are owned by WORD Music, LLC, which does not grant permission to post their music on the web in any form. Check out the Music Services site for more information.

Don't worry, though. This just means that you'll need to wait for the CD. :)

Since Piano by Joel aims to remain above board, I will work on another piece.

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In the Works

Hello again, piano fans. My piano was on loan this week (it's portable, in case you're having visions of someone pushing a baby grand down main street), so I didn't record anything this weekend. I've been working on a string quartet score for Oh Worship the King (for the fun of it), and last night I was improvising on The Old Rugged Cross. Since this hymn was requested some time ago, it may be featured this week on Piano by Joel, so stay tuned.

As always, thank you for listening. You guys inspire me to be a better musician. Have a great week, and listen to some great music!

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Creating a Podcast

I always enjoy reading listener e-mail. Of course, I'm also interested in hearing listener podcasts as well, and tonight I received a question about how to set one up.

I started a writeup on the subject, but then decided that this article at FeedBurner.com does a much better job than I would. The idea is to 1) create an mp3, 2) upload it to a hosting service, 3) post a link to a blog, and 4) use FeedBurner to create a feed that podcast distributors (like iTunes) understand.

Check it out. If anyone starts a podcast, please let me know! Of course, even if you've recorded an mp3 or other audio file, I'd still like to hear it.

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In the Hands

Can't get enough piano music? Of course not! As much as I hate to say it, Piano by Joel cannot fill all of your piano listening needs, even with a new mp3 every week and musical scores starting to roll out.

That's why you need to check out Paul Cantell's blog and podcast, In the Hands. (also on iTunes, if you so desire.) Paul is an experienced pianist who offers up a tasty combination of classical pieces and original works. I think you'll enjoy both his music and his informed commentary.

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