Advent, by definition, is about waiting. Waiting for what could be. For a dream to be realized. Or for a breakthrough to come. Or even for relief from what is.
It’s fitting, then, that this recording took to so long to come to fruition, and was the reason itself I resumed my music career. Literally, there were delays in everything along the way – from my taking a long hiatus from music, thinking I may never create again, to the long, isolated writing process or even the amount of time it took to finally release it. Poetically, all of it speaks to the very definition of Advent – where our timing is rarely God’s. Even the melody from “The Prophet Speaks” was one I wrote in 1996. For some reason, I hid that melody away for a later date, until Sarah and I used it to write that song – nearly 20 years later.
As I look back, I see that such waiting is a prominent theme throughout my life’s journey. And the fact that I left music for so long, created the Advent record, shelved it, and then returned to my composition career even stronger and better is a testimony to who God is. Perhaps my story, a reflection of the bigger Advent story – infused and colored by the waiting – can provide hope to many people who wonder about their own sense of purpose in God’s greater narrative.
See, in November of 2011, I was tired of Christmas. I was tired of what the advertisers said I should buy, how I should feel, and what I should be doing with my time. When I looked around my city (I was living in downtown Chicago at the time) and country, I saw a lot of inequality, injustice, and many things that just weren’t fair. I couldn’t just pretend it was the most wonderful time of the year. My own personal faith felt at odds with the culture, the world, and many brothers and sisters from my Christian faith.
Awake the Dawn: The Story of Advent is a passion project that I began in the fall of 2011 and completed at the conclusion of 2013. The idea behind this project was to create an immersive and meaningful musical experience that would engage and guide people in a journey along the arc of the events, themes, and questions of the Advent story (Creation / Fall / Redemption / Re-Creation).
Our story begins with the fall of humanity, the very moment that shatters the beauty and love of this world and necessitates the eventual birth of Christ. By the time our story concludes, the final song becomes our own proclamation, echoing the words of the prophets – that someday God will again return and make all things right in our broken world.
The amount of pain, destruction, and corruption in our world overwhelms us. Regardless of our faith, economic or cultural differences, we cannot escape the world’s brokenness. Will things ever be made right? Will life’s injustices ever cease? Yes. We are in a season of advent. We await an arrival. We can find peace in our current circumstances knowing we wait for an awakening of the dawn.
In order to tell this story in a captivating way, I created a “supergroup” which combined a rock trio with a small Celtic ensemble and Middle Eastern ensemble. The band boasted the vocal talents of Sarah Van Der Ploeg (The Trials of Saint Patrick, Brother Francis) and Jon Klinepeter, as well as featured instrumentalists such as Ronnie Malley (Tony Award winning multi-instrumentalist on darbuk, riq, frame drum, harmonium), Kim Sopata Fleuchaus (Egyptian Ney Flute, penny whistle, flute), Michael Omartian (3 Time Grammy Award Winner, accordion and synthesizers), Rami Youseff (violin), and myself (electric and acoustic guitars, bouzouki, mandolin, oud) among many other wonderful musicians. The album was mixed by Grammy nominated engineer, Terry Christian.
The music of Awake the Dawn combines ancient hymns with original songs and places them in a musical style that is impossible to define. One music critic called the album a “genre-bender”, and that seems to be a fitting word.
“It is refreshing to hear music that is well thought out, beautifully produced, deep in reverence, void of cliché and performed by such excellent musicians and singers. This is an album that will live for many, many years. It seriously ministers to me and I highly recommend Awake The Dawn: The Story of Advent for a deep and uplifting experience.” Michael Omartian, 3 Time Grammy Award Winner, 17-time Grammy nominee
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Awake the Dawn: The Story of Advent
Track 01: In the Beginning (music by Jared DePasquale, lyrics by Jon Klinepeter)
Track 02: Out of the Deep (Melody by William Daman, 1579, text by Henry Baker, 1868)
THE HOPE OF RETURN
Track 03: O Come O Come Emmanuel
Track 04: The Prophet Speaks (Music and Lyrics by Jared DePasquale and Sarah Van der Ploeg)
Track 05: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (Music by W. Walker, 1835, text by Charles Wesley, 18th Century)
A HOLY GOD PROVIDES A HOLY SACRIFICE
Track 06: What Wonderous Love is This? (American Folk Hymn, music by W. Walker, 1835
Track 07: Of the Father’s Love Begotten (Plainsong chant, 13th Century, text by Aurelius Prudentius, 4th Century)
Track 08: Let All Mortal Flesh (French Melody, 17th Century, liturgy by Saint James, 5th Century)
THE PRINCE OF PEACE
Track 09: Be Still My Soul (Music by Jean Sibelius, text by Katharina von Schlegel, 18th Century)
THE KINGDOM COME
Track 10: Comfort, Comfort Now My People (Music by Louis Bourgeois 1551, text by Johannes Olearius, 1671, additional words and music by Jared DePasquale and Jon Klinepeter)