December 18, 2016    20161120-house-of-bread

The annual Christmas song written with my cousin Michael F. Moody (you can Google him) is ready to send as an attachment to this e-mail. This is as good a time as any to recount my dealings with this cousin, son of Dr. Milo C Moody and his wife Virginia Finlinson of Spanish Fork, Utah. I hardly knew Michael because we were the California Moodys and had few chances to interact with Utah Moodys.


Michael and I attended BYU at the same time. Paths drew away, then crossed when we lived in Simi Valley, California at the time when Michael was earning his PhD in music. Later, we moved to Utah and so did Michael to be Chair of the Church Music Department, especially entrusted with the publication of a new hymnal. This hymnal was published in 1984. Through knowing Michael I learned that hymn texts were being solicited, so I sent in eight texts of which two were chosen, “Let the Holy Spirit Guide,” the product of much revision and committee oversight as well as advice from Michael. The other, “With Songs of Praise” was accepted about as it was written and sent to Texas for a fine composer, Newell Kay Brown (Think, “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission”) to set to music.


Through the years I received each Christmas time a copy of the annual Christmas song Michael wrote with Mabel Jones Gabbot. When she died, he thrilled me by offering to set my texts to music to continue the annual tradition. He is a wonderful musician to write for. He prefers soft, sweet songs, but I tend to write muscular texts that have sorely tried him. Yet he produces the music that makes the words seem much better than they are. And being challenged is not such a bad thing for a composer who loves pure beauty and lyricism, yet came up with the stirring music to “This Is the Christ” by Faust and Pinbro.


He sets texts for many other people, and each is exquisite. I have written texts for a few other musicians as well. But Michael is my cousin. The Moody family members are examples to me and I love them, especially those I have had a chance to know as friends.


These Christmas songs are as well written as we can make them. Some are better than others. My personal favorite differs from Michael’s. Mine is “Seven Alleluias” from about 2012. This annual effort is a homemade Christmas gift like a batch or cookies or some refrigerator jam, but using different materials and talents.


Have a joyous, inspiring Christmas. I pray for you to find love and peace in the New Year. PMA