Tom DeFrange – Founder
Raised in the Catholic tradition, I have served as a music educator and church director in over 20 different churches in and around the vicinity of Akron, Ohio since the age of 18. This year marks my 50th in music ministry. I have directed in Catholic, United Methodist, Lutheran, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ and Universalist Unitarian Churches working with traditional and contemporary ensembles. Over the years I have ministered to children, teens and adults in churches and Catholic schools, and whenever I found myself in need of a song to address a particular Scriptural or homiletic theme, I wrote one. This site represents the culmination of my life’s work as a church composer and along the contributions of the other composers that have and will be joining me on this site, I am working to create the world’s greatest repository of unpublished Christian music designed for church worship.
consist of Scriptural paraphrase, the summary of a given Scriptural message, or a reflection/interpretation of a given Scripture. The compositions that offer a reflective or contemporary interpretation on a Scriptural theme is something that is not as commonly found in collections of songs for worship. The role of drawing modern day parallels and applications of a given Scripture is usually assigned to the priest or minister in the pulpit. I have found, however, that using the music to this end can dramatically impact the presentation of a given theme within the context of the worship experience. Music can be more than ornamental. Beyond the role of its emotional appeal, it can also appeal to the intellect. For me the message matters and I strive, especially in my reflective songs, to provide some food for the thought.
Whenever possible I use gender inclusive language, even to the point of avoiding masculine pronouns when referring to God. I also try to use plural pronouns when the congregation is singing together. When sung by the assembly, “My Shepherd is the Lord” becomes “Our Shepherd is the Lord.” This reinforces a sense of solidarity among the congregants and stresses the communal aspect of worship.
My “Philosophy of Worship” favors an approach that acknowledges the culture of the worshipers. Consequently you will find vocabulary, figures of speech and references that reflect the every day world of the people who I am attempting to serve. Although it is an integral part of modern society, you will have to look far and wide in the church hymnals and worship folders to find the word “cell phone” appearing in the lyrics of a given song. (See Holy Spirit How You Guide Us). On Oct. 19th 2014, I introduced a song called “Wrestling With Angels.” The refrain begins with “And on my way to Walmart like shadows ’round the sun, an angel blocked my path with shades of night.” I’m going out on a limb here, but I’ll bet in the hundreds of thousands of church services occurring around the world on that given morning, there was not a single reference to Walmart. In fact there is nothing in the wordage of the average church hymnal that would not be understandable to a 14th century reader. Again, how do we remain culturally relevant by ignoring or even at times denigrating the cultural identity of our worshipers?
As I attempted to index my music by subject matter I turned to the content pages of a current Protestant hymnal to use as a template. I found that to cover the content of my songs, I needed to create categories well beyond the usual subjects traditionally addressed. It was the reflective songs that ventured beyond the domain of the typical Scriptural content that were the main culprits. In the context of how we think about God and our relation to Him, apparently the Spirit has led me in some different directions.
employ a rich melodic variety built on chord progressions that step beyond the boundary of the traditional. the need for musical conformity. I am partial to chromatic chord progressions as they are not as This framework allows for more melodic diversity. Any given song might have numerous chord feelings, and although they eventually return to their musical point of origin, it is not after some interesting diversion.
I frequently employ the use of rounds, especially for music that might be liturgically sung over multiple weeks. This allows the congregation to sing contrapuntally in two or three part harmony, after only having to learn a single melody.
My responsorial psalm settings,that I have used for Catholic liturgies over the years, have also worked well for Lutheran and Methodist Services. I often employ a continuous response sung by the congregation as the song leader sings the verses against it. This creates a unified presentation between the song leader and the congregants as they musically support each other’s contribution. Of course, I stagger the lyrics between the two parts so that we aren’t sacrificing the clarity of content to a musical convention. (See Our Shepherd Is the Lord). I do not write verbatim settings for Catholic Liturgies although, even paraphrased for meter and rhyme they are very close to the original text and certainly serve to support the ritual ambiance of the Mass. I leave to the liturgists the task of assessing how a given setting might best serve the needs of his or her congregation. Some use a more “contemporary” musical language than do others.
For Protestant worship, where the psalms are usually only spoken, I employ a hymn format that includes the entire text as prescribed in the Revised Common Lectionary. (See “How to Use this Site” for a more detailed explanation of how this music might be successfully incorporated into a worship service.) Certainly singing the psalms verses saying or chanting them brings the ancient text to life and placing them in the framework of a modern day musical language gives them an air of relevance as we consider their message in our time and place in history.
On this site you will find user-friendly choral and solo compositions that sound more complex than they actually are. The result is that the amateur ensemble sounds professional without requiring the higher level skills of the more trained musicians. Expect the unexpected as Scriptural messages are framed in a wide variety of musical styles reflecting the musical languages of modern day culture and cultures past.
One final point: I have and continue to work in a wide range of Christian venues. According to The Dictionary of Christianity in America there are currently over 25,000 different versions of Christianity all working out of the same book. There is a reason for this. Different kinds of people define their truth in different ways. Some rely on a respected authority such as the Bible or their church hierarchy. Some use the report of reason to guide them in their quest. Others base their religious experience on the message of their feelings. Subjectively all of these approaches serve a purpose according to what best speaks to the individual practitioner. What “rings true” for one person may not ring true for someone else. In the end, our like-mindedness is less important than is our like-heartedness.
To find visual and audio renderings for the following composers
please click on the title.
Robert and Deborah Carothers – Guest Composers
The Carothers have been playing music professionally together for over 40 years. In the 1980’s and 1990’s while active in their church they wrote many “Contemporary Christian” songs and released two albums; Crystal River in 1991 and Glimpse of the Future in 2000. They are currently performing full time as the duo act “Silver Creek” which books over 100 dates a year in secular venues throughout Florida and Ohio. CD’s of their work are available at email@example.com
Songs by Robert and Deborah
Fran Coast – Guest Composer
Songs by Fran
Tim DeFrange – Guest Composer
Tim DeFrange, Tom’s brother, was born on August 3, 1948 in Akron, OH, the second son of the late Nick and Elender DeFrange. His brother Mark who was killed in Viet Nam in 1969 predeceased Mr. DeFrange. Mr. DeFrange attended parochial schools at St. Patrick, Kent, Hoban HS, Akron, and St. Gregory Seminary, Cincinnati, before obtaining teacher certification and a Master’s Degree in Education from Kent State University in 1970 and 1975.
Immediately following his graduation, Mr. DeFrange taught at St. Patrick School in Kent and then served 27 years in the Aurora Schools teaching English and library skills in the elementary and middle schools. During his service in Aurora, he married Linda Eichler and for five years they sang together in We the People and then performed for ten years with their children in Alice in Blunderland, a peace play Tim co-wrote with his brother Tom.
During the years 1983 through 1997, Mr. DeFrange and his wife Linda served as a presenting team couple for Worldwide Marriage Encounter. In this capacity the DeFranges served on more than two dozen Marriage Encounter Weekends throughout the state assisting hundreds of couples in healing and rekindling romance in their marriages. In January 1998 Mr. DeFrange was ordained a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Youngstown, serving at St. Patrick Church, Kent. At the request of his bishop, since 1997, Mr. DeFrange has ministered to inmates at the Portage County Justice Center and juveniles at the Portage Geauga Juvenile Detention Facility in Ravenna. Mr. DeFrange gathered a team of laypersons and clergy to assist in Friday night Catholic Word and Communion Services that continue to this day in both institutions.
From 2003 to 2013, Mr. DeFrange served as Campus Media Specialist at Our Lady of the Elms in Akron, OH. During his second teaching career, he received the OELMA/SIRS librarian award for his defense of Academic Freedom. He served on the INFOhio Electronic Resources Committee from 1997-2004 and in 2006 served as a librarian partner in the development of the recently acclaimed online school research product called SchoolRooms.
In recent years, Tim’s guitar playing has enhanced his ministry to the children at Our Lady of the Elms Elementary School and the residents of the corrections institutions in Portage County. He passed on his love of genealogy to each fifth grade class at Our Lady of the Elms by he assisting them in writing and publishing their family histories. As a retired educator, Mr. DeFrange continues to write songs and psalm settings (verbatim) for the school children’s Masses at St. Patrick. He rehearses these with the young singers and then accompanies them as they sing during Mass.
Dcn. Tim DeFrange
Liturgical Ministry Volunteer
Our Lady of the Elms School
1375 West Exchange St | Akron, OH 44313
Songs by Tim
Marilyn DeFrange – Guest Composer
Marilyn DeFrange, originally from Kent Ohio, has been singing and writing music since childhood. Her music can best be described as a semi-acoustic eclectic mix with a rhythm and blues influence. Sister of Tim and Tom, Marilyn learned to sing and play the guitar by ear. A natural talent, she began developing her songwriting skills at the age of ten. A prolific writer with a large catalog of music, she continues to connect to her audience with accessible themes and stories. She has recorded and or performed with Denis DeFrange, Rod Reisman, Fred Tribuzzo, (Baby Sirloin) Will Siegel, Paul Kemp, David Raitt, Spencer Brewer, David Hayes, Bonnie Raitt, Alex DeGrassi and Paul McCandless. Her voice and songwriting skills can be locally found on many of her peers’ CD’s in Northern California. She has produced four CD’s: Someone to Hold, Future, Something Good and most recently, Ocean of Emotion.
Marilyn has recently formed a new music production company with the goal of marketing her music for other artists and to be licensed for movies and television. If you would like to be alerted of upcoming performances and CD releases, join the mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arlett White – Guest Composer
I am a wife and mother of five, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of one. My name is Minister Arlett White. When I was a little girl, my mother and father (who were from Georgia and North Carolina) would have hoedowns in our living room. My grandmother would come over and dance. She would do what I now call, “The Holy Ghost Three Step”. My three brothers and sister and I would follow behind her. My father played the guitar and my mother played drums and piano. She taught my brother, Albert Burgess Jr., how to play the piano at the age of four. He played for the church we attended at that time. As young children, my mother placed us in every activity available. So from elementary to high school, we were in all the after school activities, sports, band, plays, and orchestra (I played the violin). I even remember taking Bongo classes one summer. When I was in high school, my brother taught me how to play the bass clarinet so I could participate in the summer band program. I sang in all the school choirs from elementary on. I also directed a Gospel choir while my brother played the piano in high school.
As an adult, I sang with The House of the Lord (THOTL) Kingdom Choir, and THOTL/ WWTIC (Women Walking Together in Christ) choir, directed by Pastor Celeste Hicks who allowed me to glean as much from her as I needed. She was very helpful and taught me many things that I didn’t know. I also sang with The Gospel Meets Symphony Choir, The Exalting Him Gospel Choir and other community choirs. However, it wasn’t until I started singing with Carolyn and Company Gospel Community Choir that my life changed. The Late Carolyn Hawkins-Hooks, founder and director, asked everyone to choose a song to lead. Up to this point, I had never lead a choir or sang by myself. I had this little wee voice. She used to stand in the back of the church where we practiced and say, “Arlett, I can’t h-e-e-e-e-e-a-r you!” Needles to say, I was terrified to stand out front and sing. Then, to top it all off, I never knew when I was going to have to lead my song until we would arrive at the church or event. That was because she wanted to wait and see who was going to show up. Then she would come to me and say, “Arlett, we are going to sing your song tonight.” I would instantly panic! I remember running into the restroom and crying out to God, “Please help me!!! I can’t sing this by myself!!!” To my amazement, God would show up every time! I could always feel His presence in awesome ways. (I’ll have to tell you about them some time.) Another cool thing about Carolyn is that it never mattered whether we had musicians or not, we would still sing. I believe that gave me an extra special edge. Because now I am able to sing with or without music, anywhere, anytime – I even hum while I eat! :0) Later, I joined The Exalting Him Gospel Choir under the direction of Joe and Barb Salak, Jr. They would further stretch me by giving me what I thought were the most challenging songs on the planet to sing. Yet, they were always very encouraging. I still sing with them today. I am presently in ministry at The House Of The Lord in Akron, OH. Our founder and Senior Pastor is Doctor F. Josephus Johnson II and First Lady, Pastor Cathy Johnson.
I felt the call of God not to just minister in song, but to also write music. I spent five years producing and participating in three to five concerts a year under the name of “Arlett White and Friends” (to cover all the people who would be ministering with me at that specific time.)
It gives me great pleasure to present you with my music, Gospel with a unique flair: Songs to lift your spirit and refresh your soul. (Go to CDBaby.com to acquire a copy of my CD “Manna from Heaven”)
songs by Arlett