Deanna Witkowski | Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns

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Jazz: Piano Jazz Spiritual: Hymns Moods: Instrumental
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Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns

by Deanna Witkowski

14 jazz arrangements of standard hymn tunes as performed by the acclaimed Deanna Witkowski Trio.
Genre: Jazz: Piano Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Cwm Rhondda (Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah)
2:59 $0.99
2. Hyfrydol (Love Divine, All Loves Excelling)
3:14 $0.99
3. There Is a Balm in Gilead
4:21 $0.99
4. Lasst uns Erfreuen (All Creatures of Our God and King)
3:02 $0.99
5. Nicaea (Holy, Holy, Holy)
1:55 $0.99
6. Woodworth (Just as I Am)
3:49 $0.99
7. St. Elizabeth (Fairest Lord Jesus)
4:34 $0.99
8. Kings of Orient (We Three Kings)
3:45 $0.99
9. Beach Spring
3:14 $0.99
10. Foundation (How Firm a Foundation)
2:50 $0.99
11. Hymn to Joy (Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee)
2:36 $0.99
12. Lord, I Want to Be a Christian
6:07 $0.99
13. Holy Manna
2:28 $0.99
14. Abbot’s Leigh
3:21 $0.99
15. St. Elizabeth (Fairest Lord Jesus) [Bonus Track]
5:23 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Witkowski's playing is consistently thrilling." -All Music

"Those of us who have heard Deanna in church, home, club, or auditorium, have found new reasons to improvise praise for such fresh sounds." -Martin E. Marty, theologian

Deanna Witkowski, piano
Daniel Foose, bass
Scott Latzky, drums

Corresponding sheet music is available at
From the liner notes (by Deanna Witkowski):

Why call a recording “Makes the Heart to Sing” when there are no vocals on this album?

Why arrange hymn tunes? And what is a hymn anyway?

Why do most of the tracks have two titles?
In June of 1996, I arranged hymns for the first time. I’d been attending LaSalle Street Church, a lively, downtown Chicago parish, for about two years. While I’d played jazz on and off at LaSalle- mainly originals or Thelonious Monk tunes for the prelude or postlude- I’d never put together an entire “jazz service.” I was given the hymns for the day (I didn’t get to choose them!) and created new arrangements for my trio to play with the congregation singing out of their well-worn hymnals.

The motivation to create this service- which included not only jazz hymns, but new pieces for the choir and my trio- had its impetus in the very first Sunday service I’d experienced at LaSalle as a visitor. A guest Dixieland jazz group was leading the service music that day. While it was clear that the congregation was enjoying the music, the main thing I noticed was that, except for tunes such as “When the Saints Go Marching In,” no one was singing.

That Sunday lit a fire in me that continues to drive my mission: to create fresh, soulful music for congregations to sing with jazz musicians leading the way.

And what large body of tunes is common repertoire for churches- a “folk music” to arrange in unexpected new ways? Hymns.
Bringing something new to bear on an old chestnut, be it a Cole Porter tune (“Just One of Those Things,” on my 2003 recording, Wide Open Window), or a tune from the Sacred Harp tradition (track 13, “Holy Manna”), is part and parcel of my identity as an arranger. Even when I’m creating an instrumental arrangement, if there are standard words that go with the tune, those words remain uppermost in my awareness as I compose. Text influences my choice of tempo, the harmonies I use, an added bar to allow a phrase to breathe.

Ten of the fourteen arrangements on this album were created with text running through my brain. I grew up singing most of these tunes- each of which has its own title (i.e., Lasst uns Erfreuen- from a 1623 German Jesuit hymnal)- with a specific text (“All Creatures of Our God and King,” based on a 13th century text by St. Francis of Assisi). There are other texts that are often sung with Lasst- but because I wrote this arrangement for an actual liturgy where a congregation was singing “All Creatures,” I’ve listed the “first line title” in parentheses.
I believe that music- with or without words- has the power to “make the heart to sing.” Yet when music is paired with text- whether that text is silently playing in our heads as we hear these arrangements, or we’re singing these tunes with specific words in a specific community- a lethal power ensues, a power that, as an anonymous author once wrote in her hymn text, “Fairest Lord Jesus,” “...makes the woeful heart to sing.” May this music cause hearts to sing and spirits to rejoice.

Read about the history of each of the hymn tunes on Makes the Heart to Sing at




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