As We Forgive Our Debtors (2nd Edition)

Eric Barnhart

A recollection of hymns for solo piano

The four-year anniversary release of the album. Album notes:

As We Forgive Our Debtors: A Recollection of Hymns for Solo Piano is a project release that I've been planning to make for over a decade. From the time I began my first position as a music director for a church in 1998 to present, I have frequently performed improvised solo piano arrangements of hymns for churches and Christian events. Over the course of the years, I have received the occasional request from someone for an album made exclusively of these solo performances. I have always liked the idea but, for reasons that have changed with each passing season, had never found it the right time. Then, a few months ago, I began to feel prompted to finally pursue recording the project. Several things lined up in a matter of a few weeks to make it possible, and on a bright and windy Saturday afternoon of April 16, 2011, I sat down in the studio and recorded the songs which were to make up ...Debtors.

In pre-production for the studio session, I decided I wanted to go in with most of the songs already chosen. I made a list of ten hymns the previous Thursday that carried special significance to me. The overall selection process took probably 30 seconds at most; they were easy choices for me. Once I finished recording that Saturday evening, I had decided that one song didn't quite fit with the others and pared the track total down to nine.

The arrangement for each song on ...Debtors is fully improvised. I decided which hymn I wanted to play, hit the record button, and tried to let the music take me where it wanted to go. There was no preconceived structure to guide me, only certain images in my head and heart of how that particular hymn has accompanied me during my sojourn in this world en route to the next.

In his book The Healing Path, Dan Allender comments about recollection:

Memory is the key to faith. The dilemma is that as I remember the moments where God has redeemed me, I am also left with the many moments he has chosen, apparently, to abandon me or – even more painful to admit – betray me. Many will say, “God never abandons and certainly never betrays.” True. But then why are those sentiments a consistent complaint of the faithful who follow God (see Psalm 13, 39, 44, 88)? ...We suffer when we remember. And as we suffer, we doubt. It is doubt that sends us on a search to comprehend God. And it is that search that leads us not so much to God as much as it brings God to find us. Do we find God? Indeed, but only because he finds us first. And it is in the wonder of being found that we enter a place of rest and stability that gives us not only faith, but a sense of our identity and calling.

The last two years have been particularly painful ones for me and, admittedly, full of moments that have tested my faith. As I was buffeted by the maelstrom of events that unfolded, I was able to quell the private storm within me only when I allowed myself to use arguably the greatest power God gives his children: forgiveness. As I type these notes on Good Friday, I am reminded of the greatest example of its use in the words “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This is love.

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