Two New Advent Pieces for Choir and Congregation
By Diana Sanchez-Bushong
Sally Ahner has a B.A. in Music from Salem College (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), where she studied piano and organ, and an M.A. in music theory from the Eastman School of Music. She taught music for nearly thirty years, serving on the faculties of Westminster Choir College (Princeton, New Jersey), Belmont University (Nashville, Tennessee), Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music (Nashville), and Austin Peay State University (Clarksville, Tennessee). In addition to teaching and performing classical music, she studied theology at the Vanderbilt Divinity School and worked as an intern in worship at the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church. The Communion service music she wrote more than thirty years ago is still sung at West End United Methodist Church in Nashville.
In 1998, a life-changing experience sent her in a much different direction from her previous musical career. She trained in Healing Touch© and finished a three-year program in Auric Healing at The Estuary in Nashville. She also trained as a teacher of the Alexander Technique at the Alexander Alliance in Philadelphia and is certified by the Alexander Technique International to teach this work, which she has done at Vanderbilt and Austin Peay, as well as in workshops and private lessons. She maintains a studio at the former Convent of St. Bernard in Hillsboro Village in Nashville, where she teaches the Alexander Technique, practices the healing arts, and guides people to become who they really are. Click here to learn more about Ahner.
The context for the musical selections (from Sally Ahner):
1. “Comfort, O Comfort” - This piece was composed during the pandemic, when it often seemed that God was far away. Echoing the words to the prophet Isaiah (40: 1), this short introit or response reminds us that God is still speaking to us through prophetic voices. Written for treble voices and handbells, aside from the obvious choice of Advent, it could be used anytime the congregation needs reminding that God is offering comfort, not judgment, and that we have not been abandoned.
2. “The Word Became Flesh” - One of my favorite biblical passages is the prologue to the Gospel of John. One of the central tenets of our faith comes from that passage (John 1:14), where we are assured that the eternal, pre-existing Word has become flesh and has dwelt among us in the person of Jesus the Christ. I wanted to emphasize that this is a mystery, and that the Word dwells within and among us . . . both.