Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Greg Funderburk: Best-Selling Author, Lyricist, and Minister for Pastoral Care


Greg Funderburk  

The members of South Main Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, are fortunate to have a skilled author and lyricist as the Minister of Pastoral Care. Greg Funderburk has the knack of saying the appropriate things, in the appropriate ways, at the appropriate times. Hundreds of us have been comforted by his words during our most painful moments in life. As a result, some of us seek out Greg when we cannot find the "right word," and...he eventually finds it and expresses it with a clarity that we could only dream of conveying.

In addition to his lyrics, Greg Funderburk is now a best-selling author. His book The Mourning Wave recounts traumatic days in 1900 when the deadliest storm in America made landfall in Galveston, Texas. Another book by Greg, with an interesting perspective for our current lives is Let It Be Said We've Bourne It Well, a book about following God in the time of COVID-19 (we might be needing this for a while). It is available from Amazon. A new book entitled The Hurdles will be available in 2022. As you can see, Greg writes about navigating challenging times and assists us in finding ways to experience the presence of God in our difficulties.

Earlene Rentz Online Publications is fortunate to have Greg as a lyricist, and his creative, profound words continue to be worthy of our utmost consideration.

We often seek "home" in our journey of faith; a return to a moral center, a literal home, a return to normalcy, a return to comfort, peace, and that which we know to be who we really want to be. Greg's words send us into an acknowledgement of the darkness, then lead us into hope for the future. Click on the "Preview" to follow the score as you listen to the recording. SATB, Keyboard, and Cello

This text documents the literal journey of a "seeker" in search of a family of faith. As music draws the journeyman closer to a place of worship, they enter into fellowship with a congregation who welcomes them with open arms. The theme: "You are welcome here. You are not alone." SATB, with Baritone Solo and Cello

This meditative octavo in a reflective mood emphasizes the communication between an individual and the Almighty, as the listener is still and quiet. Written for SATB, Keyboard, and Cello.

Greg reflects on the challenge of being a graduate going out into the world during these days of uncertainty. Written for SATB Voices and Cello.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded to listen as we encounter the Almighty in our daily journey of faith. SATB

Greg Funderburk's lyrics, as set to music by Earlene Rentz, come from a creative place of kindness, insight, comfort, and hope. As we sing and read his words in these uncertain days, we can be confident that with a few "tweaks" along the journey, our faith is enough to withstand the uncertainty as it leads us with hope toward the future.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Be Thou My Vision - SSA Voicing (Chapelwood UMC Women's Choir)

I am once again enjoying conducting an ensemble of women at Chapelwood United Methodist Church here in Houston. The Women's Choir sang my arrangement of Be Thou My Vision a few weeks ago, and I was delighted with their performance. 

Because BTMV is a Celtic hymn, I wanted to use instruments that are familiar in the Celtic tradition. Most churches can find three or four instrumentalists in their own congregations who will enhance this arrangement. Most of the Celtic hymn arrangements I heard in my research incorporated the use of cello and piano (maybe harp), and all other combinations varied. For example, sometimes there were various groupings that might have included a dulcimer, guitar, mandolin, tin whistle, flute, harp, bagpipes, etc. 

The wide variety of appropriate instruments makes this arrangement very accessible to most music programs. My philosophy is this: Use whatever is available. There are enough instrumental parts written that you can make it work easily. If your instrumentalists are skilled enough to improvise, please allow them to do just that. This is the Celtic tradition.

For this performance at Chapelwood, we had a flute, mandolin, guitar, organ, piano, and cello. The choir joined the women for the last verse, even though the entire congregation may also have joined. 

There are a variety of ways to present Celtic music and most can be effective, given the preparedness of the players. Listen to this performance by the Chapelwood Women's Choir. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Best of Friends


Andy Meginniss

In my previous blog, I introduced you to Andy Meginniss, an inductee into the Alabama Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2011, and a member of the bluegrass group Three on a String (based in Birmingham, Alabama).

As I indicated, Andy's group (and several other groups Andy has joined during his long career in music) sings Best of Friends as their closing number. With the assistance of my high school choral director, Dr. Bill Caldwell, I was introduced to Andy and the song. My first thought was..."What a wonderful way to leave a concert, with the audience knowing "presence" was appreciated." Such a great thing! It seems to be a perfect song for these days of singing with our friends.

As I listened to the words, I thought about all of us in choral music...students, choral directors, choir members in churches, choral professionals, retired choral professionals, those who play instruments in ensembles, those who sing in small ensembles, those who perform professionally on the stage, and those who write for "all of the above." 

Best of Friends speaks for all of us who love making music with our friends (as Willie would say). Willie Nelson has been the voice of wisdom for decades, and I think we finally "got" that song in 2020, as everyone was "chomping at the bit" to get on the road again. We had to wait, and it was the most incredible exercise in patience I've experienced in a while...wait on the vaccine...wait to sing again...wait for normalcy.

If nothing else came out of 2020, it was an immense appreciation for our friends...our unaccessible friends (for many months). It was an emotional time for some. Singing is the aural representation of pure joy, and without it, life becomes quite empty and we lose our way (just like the St. Francis reference). 

Since we have this amazing gift at this moment (we won't take singing for granted again!), let's use it to celebrate our friends!!

Best of Friends is available in Unison2-Part3-Part MixedSSATBTTB, and TBB.

When you visit Earlene Rentz Online Publications, you will find an audio example of Andy singing Best of Friends at the bottom of each page. There is also an electronic choral example provided as well. In addition, Andy has created an MP3 accompaniment with guitar, bass, drums, and piano (free).

The focus of the song refers to the love of friendship, knowing that we remain in the hearts of those with whom we enjoy music, whether in their presence or not.

"We know even best of friends must sometimes be apart, and we'll always keep your memory in our heart."

Enjoy making music with your friends!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Welcome, Andy Meginniss!


Andy Meginniss

Andy Meginniss was inducted into the Alabama Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2011. His expertise in bluegrass music is highly regarded throughout the nation, and he continues to perform today. 

From 1972 to 1985, Andy Meginniss played string bass, guitar, and sang lead and harmony vocals as part of the bluegrass group Three on a String. During his tenure, the band traveled extensively and recorded four albums; playing festivals, clubs, and concerts. 

In 1985, Andy joined with Claire Lynch, Larry Lynch, and Herb Trotman in the Front Porch String Band. This collaboration lasted eight years, and culminated in the critically acclaimed album Lines and Traces in 1991.

At the same time, he partnered with a couple of old friends, Stan Putnam and Dan Lakeman, in the acoustic trio Rosewood. This group recorded one self titled album, and they continue to play together today. 

Also, during this period, he teamed with his brother and two others in the musical Cotton Patch Gospel,  performing for 25 years in various venues.

Cotton Patch Gospel

In 1993, he became the guitar player and lead vocalist for The Herb Trotman Band, a bluegrass ensemble that performed steadily until 2012. 

He rejoined Three on a String in 2012, and this group celebrated its 50th anniversary in August, 2021.

Andy is married with two grown children, and lives with his wife in Homewood, Alabama.

Earlene Rentz Online Publications welcomes Andy Meginniss, and is proud to offer many choral voicings of Three on a String's concert closer Best of Friends in Unison2-PartSSA, 3-Part MixedTB, TTB, and TBB. The past 20 months have shown us all that friends and family are the most priceless treasures in our lives. Choral directors can use this soulful rendition as a standard song in saying, "Farewell" to students, audiences, and loved ones. In fact, it is a unifying song for bus rides, at the end of tough competitions, concert closers, and any time we need to be reminded of the value of friends.

You never know where Andy and Three on a String will show up to play a concert. It might be in a small or large venue...and it might even be in a concert hall with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra

Earlene Rentz Online Publications is proud to be associated with Andy, knowing that you will love their concert closing title Best of Friends, written by Andy Meginniss.

Andy Meginniss, Bluegrass Hall of Fame, 2011

Saturday, September 11, 2021


This. This was the day it all changed. Life changed in ways not one of us could imagine at the time. We actually felt less secure. We felt more suspicious. We felt anger, but didn't know where to channel any of it. We....grieved, and didn't really know anyone (in some cases) associated with the events. Some of us would realize only later that close friends were affected. The worst part was that we didn't know what to do about it. So much was beyond our control, and we couldn't make sense out of the things we were seeing. Later, we couldn't make much sense out of the things we could see, hear, and touch. It was awful.

One thing was certain: We quickly let it be known to the world that we were proud to call this country our home. Others are welcome, and this country would never be empty of souls resolute in standing for goodness. We were unified. Most of us were inspired to work our way through the misunderstanding as we journeyed toward understanding, slowly piecing it all together.

I am not saying the USA is beyond fault. You know as well as I that flaws are present, but for once, we were unified. It didn't take much to hear "Yes! I'll help!" or "Yes! I'll be there!" We wanted to assist our brothers and sisters in any way possible. We became different people overnight.

I had only been married a few months. We received a call from my husband's daughter who told us that America was under attack. I know my face must have been totally blank. It had never occurred to me in a million years that we would be under attack. I don't know exactly why that would be the case. I had studied Pearl Harbor, and knew of vulnerabilities. 

One thing I remember about that day is that eventually people started saying "stuff." Stuff that helped no one, and caused more division. Many had an opinion on what God was doing. Well....I did not agree, as God had told me nothing (we speak regularly), and furthermore...when it comes to speaking for the Almighty, I just think we need to be careful. It's like my late friend the Rev. Dr. John Claypool said, "God's other name is 'Surprise!'" Just because we think we know God's heart and mind does not provide assurance that "the Mystery" has totally revealed Himself/Herself. Be watchful. Be vigilant. You might be surprised.

One thing I do know: In the midst of horrible situations, there are good decisions to be made. First, in the consideration of "what to do," I learned to "look around" my world. My husband was a pastor of a large Houston church, and after we had watched in stunned silence for a while, he said, "I need to get to church to take care of things" (he was writing a sermon at home). What? You're leaving me? Yes....he left me. That's what leaders do. They lead. He was a leader in all things related to his church. So....he made sure to be among his staff, where he addressed church programming that was in-session for international residents, and he made calls to his local colleagues from different faith traditions (rabbis....priests....he didn't know anyone at local mosques), to offer support in case of "who knows what might happen?" types of things. I learned to take a look around and see if there might be anything I could do in my world that would let people know of my care. In addition, we realized that not everyone loved us. To realize the extent to which some would go to exercise injury and death to unknown souls was jarring, to say the least. Day-to-day became governed by a whole new set of rules and regulations that are "the norm" to this day.

Another bit of wisdom: Sometimes it is good just to be quiet and listen, before establishing a strategy of consequential action. It is important to "get it right." Rather than move too quickly and force the "clean up" policy into action, we really need to "get it right," from the beginning. Pain is pain. Maya is right. People will never forget how we make them feel. Consequences are far-reaching at times.

As I watched the memorials today, I was once again reminded that the grief of loss is never something you "get over." No....not even a little bit. Time will help us begin to move on, but that loss is forever, indelibly etched in our memory, hearts, lives, thoughts, and conversations. Somehow, we learn to manage our broken lives. We never forget. All of the events of our lives are simply...our lives. As long as we're living, these events are part of the fabric of our lives, woven together to create us as the individuals we have and forever. I have found that when we remember, we heal. It helps to know that others have not forgotten. Today is the day of comforting words and music for all those who experienced loss on that horrible day.

Today, I am honored to know that my arrangement of Amazing Grace is being sung by the National Chorale and the Soldiers' Chorus, accompanied by the United States Army Field Band during the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial in New Jersey (Statue of Liberty). I know we need an abundant measure of "grace" during grief. It gets us through the day. It makes the day more manageable. Though an indirect way to offer comfort, I hope these families will accept my gift to them on this day of memory and reflection.

And so...we move forward. Our world has changed, though at times we might relish a dose of the unification we felt back in 2001. May we always treasure the lives and heroism of those souls who perished 20 years ago. May we be resolved to make a positive difference in the world they tragically departed, as we journey through this life.

May their souls rest in peace, as we become the world's peacemakers.

Monday, July 26, 2021

TCDA - A Family Reunion

I'm back from a very emotional "high" for me and many other music educators in Texas and around the nation. The Texas Choral Directors Association convention was the first professional convention I've attended since February of 2020. We were in "lock-down" three weeks after my return from TMEA in 2020, and we have been longing to gather again for months.

Wanetta Hill graciously agreed to help me with our booth during TCDA, and I believe she knows everybody in Texas!! It was wonderful to see everyone enjoying themselves during this very special time of reunion. Everyone was thrilled with the prospect of going back to their school and church choirs, yet no one really knows what to expect when they return. The "virus" seems to determine everyone's ability to plan, and the "one day at a time" mentality seems to be the only choice. One thing is for certain, no matter what situation unfolds, we have the "best of the best" out there in the choral classrooms, doing their best for their students. 

Here are some highlights from my time spent with fellow choral music educators, writers, and directors:

Wanetta Hill, Earlene Rentz, Victor Johnson, René Brain

It was wonderful to have friends stop by the booth to chat for a few minutes. In the photo above, from left, are Wanetta Hill (one of my wonderful, delightful lyricists), me, Victor Johnson (composer extraordinaire and choral editor with Choristers Guild....and one of the nicest guys in the entire world), and René Brain (fabulous pianist/accompanist and all-'round delight). I love these special folks, because we are all for the other person's success. For some reason, competitiveness seems to be present among many, and you can trust this, too: There are just as many of us who are totally supportive of each other, delighting in each other's success. We all have our strengths, and no one composer/teacher/conductor creates music exactly like another person. We all have our purposes and our uniqueness in this business.

Earlene Rentz and Cherry Tadlock-Garasi

Cherry Tadlock-Garasi holds a very special place in my heart as the person who saw possibilities in a piece I wrote in 2000. She was my choral editor with Warner Brothers Publications for many years, and she is now in Belton, Texas, where her husband Michael Garasi is in charge of the instrumental program at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor. I am so excited for Cherry and Michael (and all of Texas), and I know their future at UMHB is bright with promise. Cherry was responsible for the publication of my most successful piece to date (over 200,000 copies sold) entitled Sleigh Bells. Cherry conducted that piece in clinic after clinic, and she believed in it! All these many years later, it continues to sell-away! I will never wane in my gratitude for Cherry. She is amazing!

Wanetta Hill, me, Bryce Gage

Family reunion! Bryce Gage stopped by the booth to visit and look at our music! He shared "the latest" of his fabulous choral program at Marble Falls High School, and he purchased some music. He took advantage of one of Earlene Rentz Online Publications' unique features. He found a piece of music he liked, but it was not in TBB. No problem! It is almost completed as of today. He also needed it a step lower than I wrote it for TTB...again...No problem! Done! Our online publishing process makes it easy for choral directors to find a piece that will work for their choir. It is truly something I love doing, so Bryce will have his arrangement within a day or so....AND....he will have Rehearsal Preparation Sheets for everything he purchased. His SSA choir will sing "Die Lotosblume," by Robert Shumann, and his TBB choir will sing a custom-made arrangement of "Personent Hodie." It all works!

Wanetta, me, René Brain, and Debbie Talley

Just to be perfectly clear with ourselves about our happiness at TCDA, we observed "Happy Hour" with two other wonderful women. René Brain and Debbie Talley invited us to spend some time with them before dinner one afternoon, and I am reminded that some people are fun, fun, fun, and they are a magnet for other fun people. It was so great to catch up, and have a glimpse into their lives over the past 16 months. We found out we are strong women, and we do whatever we need to do to live our lives with integrity in the classroom and beyond. We laughed until we hurt physically, and others joined us occasionally to laugh along. May we always remember to laugh!

Me, Wanetta Hill, Mary Jane Self Phillips, and Tammy Benton

Life is a celebration, and no celebration at TCDA is complete without food! We enjoyed our dinner at the historic Pearl Brewery in San Antonio. It is the neatest area that has been artistically created by someone who thought friendships, food, and being together were winning combinations...RIGHT! We had the best time, and the food was outrageously delicious. Such a great choice, Wanetta! Along with Wanetta and me, a former student/amazing choral director (Tammy Benton) and Mary Jane Self Phillips (choral director) joined us for the incredible evening.

Happy Birthday, Wanetta!!

No special evening is complete without celebrating someone's birthday! Wanetta was the special person of the moment. It is so great to have Wanetta with us at TCDA, because it is always close to the time of her birthday. We celebrate...and celebrate...and celebrate! Birthday moments with friends are special, and to share good times with those around us who mean so much to us gives us opportunities to continue the celebration of life for all of us.

At the close of TCDA this year, my thought was "This has been really good." Everyone was delighted to be "out and about," and we were all thrilled to be smiling at each other in total delight of being somewhere. There are so many unknowns, but we know that we are among friends when we are together encouraging, supporting, and loving each other through it all. we will deal with whatever lies ahead. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Repertoire List (Pandemic to Present)

Looking forward to fall! We sing again! I was able to be very productive during the "pandemic era." Yes, I know we aren't "there" yet, but I choose to live in hope. You will find below a Repertoire List (Pandemic to Present). I am grateful that the process of writing music has allowed me to keep a healthy mental focus during the past 16 months. Without music, we all might have suffered more, huh? I am grateful for the art of music; it lifts me up when things are really tough. You will find my personal emotions "on the page" in many of these octavos. To purchase:

Benedictus (from Schubert's Mass in G) - SSAASSA
Cell Phone Ringtone - 3-Part Mixed, 2-Part, Unison
Credo (from Schubert's Mass in G) - SSAA, TTB, SSA, TTB, 3-Part Mixed
Die Lotosblume - SSASSAA
The Gift to Sing - SATB, SSA, 2-Part, Unison, 3-Part Mixed, TTBB, TTB, TB
Keep A-Goin' - SSA, 2-Part, Unison, 3-Part Mixed, SAB
Misty Covered Mountains - 2-Part (with Wanetta Hill)
My Heart's in the Highlands - SATB
O Great Spirit ("Lakota Prayer") - SSAA
O Honey, Fare Thee Well - SATB, SSA, 2-Part, Unison, 3-Part Mixed
The Old Churchyard - SSA, 3-Part Mixed, SAB
Personent Hodie - TTB
The Rocky Road to Dublin - TTBB, TBB, TTB, TB
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening - 3-Part Mixed, 2-Part, Unison, SSA
Trees - Unison, 2-Part, SSA
Velvet Shoes - 3-Part Mixed, SSA, 2-Part, Unison, SAB
We Shall Walk in Peace - SATB
We're Singing Again - 3-Part Mixed, 2-Part, Unison

Benedictus (from Schubert's Mass in G) - SSAA, SSA
Come Home - SATB
Credo (from Schubert's Mass in G) - SSAA, TTB, SSA, TTB, 3-Part Mixed
The Gift to Sing - SATB, SSA, 2-Part, Unison, 3-Part Mixed, TTBB, TTB, TB
God of Mercy, Lead Us Home - SATB (with Greg Funderburk)
Meditation in Stillness - SATB (with Greg Funderburk)
The Ninety and NineSATB (Optional A Cappella)
O God, I Will Listen - SATB (with Greg Funderburk)
O Great Spirit ("Lakota Prayer") - SSAA
The Old Churchyard - SSA, 3-Part Mixed, SAB
Personent Hodie - TTB
A Prayer for the Graduate - SATB (with Greg Funderburk)            
Resurrection Morn - SATB
The Shepherd's Psalm - SABSATB
Sometimes a Light Surprises - SATB
We Shall Walk in Peace - SATB

Hopefully, there will be several octavos in this list that you can use with your choral group. I will also add new pieces as they are completed. If you need voicings other than those listed here, please send me an email via the "Contact" button on my website, and I'll get it to you.