Category Archives: Embers

Reach for the Sky

This song was written in the first year that we came to New Zealand but took longer to finally get recorded! It captured some of my feelings around leaving ‘old familiar places, faces’ and the fact that ‘now we’re worlds apart, learning to trust our hearts’.  However, we all have life to live, dreams to follow and new roads to head down. After all, today’s the day to reach for the sky!

It is our usual crowd playing along: Ian and Simon on guitar and Simon playing bass.


Breathe (Julie’s Song)

This song was written a few years ago but is dedicated to a beautiful friend of mine. Her and I talk a lot about ‘breathing’. I love our deep and meaningful conversations that we manage to have in the business and demands of our teaching jobs. In the mish-mash of our lives we sometimes crowd out the very things that give us life and hope and give our lives a sense of well-being. As a result, we end up living our lives in a smaller manner than that for which we were designed. “Breathing” can take many forms: it can be in quiet moments, celebratory happenings, family gatherings, artistic expressions, being truly who you are.

Life is too short to live small. Besides that, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the most expressive, creative, free, extravagant, generous beings that I know. As I relate more and more to them I want to live like they do. I hope this song encourages you to breathe.

There are two versions of this song – a studio version and a live version with Embers.

Lazy Day

“…..I get the comforting sense it will, just really be You and me, me and You, just us two, free to shoot the breeze and say our say….on this lazy day”. I wrote this song expressing the way I would like to spend my time conversing with God, surrounded by His creation and exclusive one on one time. It does mean putting aside time to do this, and to be honest, in this day and age it remains a constant struggle to quiet the thoughts in my head and the business of my life and not only say what I think and feel, but to let Him have His say as well!

I am still on my mission of learning to ‘breathe’. This word seems to keep appearing in my songs in various forms e.g. waiting, standing still, breathing, breathe. I am much better at doing and need to rest more in being.

This is a live version of this song which we played at Nivara Lounge (a bar lounge in town) in Hamilton together with Ian, Simon and Cheryl who make up Embers. We did a bunch of originals and other songs by other artists e.g. Sting, Crowded House, Seal, etc whom we love to sing as they capture something of the rumour of worship and life.


Creator God Meditation

This song is part of the 3 songs that we recorded almost by accident a couple of weeks ago. We had just worshipped to Hope is Rising. Simon reminded us that we do really need to take time to “breathe”. We hung around on the Am7 theme. I played a bit and added in a bit. Then another section came to us an Fmaj7 G Am7 part and variations of that. Tanya took over the lead. You will hear Simon and I “conversing” and echoing each other’s cry for those who have gone before (Anzac Day was just before this) not only in life, but also in the passing down of knowledge about life and how God moves.

We find this kind of music is lovely for those who like to take a moment either in the day, or often for us, it seems to be in the middle of the night. One of the great moments in this song was when both Cheryl and Tanya both “breathed” during the song – just one of those moments…

For tech details see “Hope is Rising”

Be My Place of Safety

Simon here: This is the final song that we recorded almost by accident a couple of weeks ago. I wrote it some time back in 1999. Once we got the music out everyone joined in.  The song is about God being our refuge, our strength, our rest, our hope… our everything. The song was revived after I was prayed for around “safety”. Safety is a place I call home

For tech details see “Hope is Rising”. I think you may hear Ian singing here too. Tanya didn’t have music so she sang and played shaker.

Hope is Rising

We popped around to visit Simon and Cheryl and gave them some encouraging news. Simon was playing a ditty on the guitar and he had a few words. We sang together and the rest of us put in some contributions. By the time we had drunk some tea we had the song.

This recording happened somewhat by accident. A couple of weeks ago we got together to sing worship together at our house. We plugged in really just so that we could hear ourselves. I decided to push record and we ended up singing three songs. This one, then “Creator God Meditation” and finally “Place of Safety”. Those songs have their own Posts on this website.

The tech details for those interested. We are recording through a Tascam US – 16×08 device. Simon is playing a half size Samick directly in, Ian plays his Godin electric (LGXT) through a Vox tonelab SE, Cheryl and Tanya both play Keys through Logic on Electric Piano and Piano respectively. I play some Cahon with a bass pedal. Simon, Cheryl and Tanya all sing. The song starts strangely because Simon started singing and we didn’t have music etc, so the first part of the song was rather sketchy. As you can probably tell, no overdubs were done….



Hope is Rising

This song is hopefully the new start of song writing in Hamilton, New Zealand. Simon had an idea and Tanya and Ian added some lyrical ideas. We wanted to keep it really un-religious and so, accessible to everyone. Simon laid down a very quick version  – playing a Baby Taylor guitar. The version is so quick that I missed the very start…. Perhaps there will be another more detailed version at some stage. We hope to try the song out at River Vineyard tomorrow.

At the bottom of the chord chart is the voicing of the guitar chords. Listen and hopefully you can hear the variations between related chords. Also, at the very bottom is a line that may replace the very New Zealand line about Whānau (extended family) and Haere Mai (welcome). Feel free to use lyrics for that line that work in your context.

Jesus Alone

Jesus Alone Chord Chart (pdf) Jesus Alone Chord Chart (Word doc)

This song was written as I thought about Jesus’ death and resurrection and His claims that if you had seen Him you had seen the Father. Further to this is the opening of John’s gospel – ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life and the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

I wanted it to be vaguely hymn-like yet also contemporary at the same time, thus the four verses with the bridge. I have come to like this song the more I sing it. The fact that both Ian and Andrew play on it has made it even more special for me. I am also grateful to Simon (playing bass and doing BGV’s) and Cheryl (doing BGV’s). We first played it in worship at a Passover dinner that we hosted at our house this year. We have included the chord chart so you can use it in your own churches or home groups if you so wish. I would be most honoured if you did. If the song works well for you, please let me know. It works just fine with an acoustic guitar or piano or both together.

Techie notes from Ian: the solo acoustic is Ian’s solid body Godin, strumming is on Larrivée acoustic, Andrew’s electric tracks from the bridge onwards are on a Fender Telecaster Deluxe ’72 reissue, the distortion is through a Hughes and Kettner header unit directly DI’ed and a Mesa Boogie cab miked. The clean delay sound is a Logic Pro sound. Simon’s bass is directly in through a Logic bass “amp”.


Late Night Musings

I wrote this piece of music after hearing a student at school play a jazz piece. I thought, if they can write a jazz type piece, could I? It was not as simple as I thought, however, I have grown up with plenty of jazzy music being played at home, so it is not like I had no idea, it was just that I had not tried to write in that particular style. I find that as a teacher, I am often challenged by what my students do. I feel that if I expect my students to do something creatively then surely I should expect the same thing of myself. I need to remember what it feels like to try something from scratch, to be out of my comfort zone and try something new, no matter the results.

I think God sometimes asks us to step outside our comfort zone. It is not so much to make us feel inadequate, as to show us that He is there and anoints us for the task at hand because we cannot afford to rely on ourselves, but have to fully rely on Him. More often than not in those situations, I come out marveling at the wonder of how God leads us and we are able to look back and go, “My gosh, how was I possibly able to do that?” God is so gracious in so many ways.

In this version (we may put up a studio version at some point – as you can see, we are into two or sometimes more versions of a particular song or piece of music), Ian is playing elex guitar and I am on keys. We played this at an Arts weekend at the theatre in town and was the first time this piece had been played in public. This was a result of deciding to play our original stuff we feel God has given us to sing or play. We were mixing our own sound on stage and at the beginning I am just checking with the front of house sound guys if we have the mix right.

Faith like a Child (Faith, hope and love) – at the Variety Bash

This song was written some time back, but I never had the chance to do it with more than just Ian and I. When we had the opportunity to do it at the Variety Bash on the Taupo Domain, we decided to throw in some original songs with the covers we were doing. So….finally a chance to do it with another guitarist, Simon, playing lead guitar and Ian doing the acoustic. Cheryl normally plays piano on this song, but was taking a break and Brooke had not yet learned the bass, but we are slowly getting there. BTW – Simon didn’t have any music so Ian was shouting the chords to him during the solo. Okay, so it is a bit rough, and you can hear the kids screaming in the background for the Variety Bash, but this is what was captured on the day. We were grateful for the invite from the Taupo District Council to play at this event. We had a blast and were well looked after.

The song says it all really – still learning to have faith like a child……

Note from Ian: Simon is playing his blue Samick semi-acoustic through his Line 6 RD 300 and Ian is playing his 25 year old Guild with effects compliments of Logic (yes, we all played through Logic live while it also recorded us!) Tanya is singing through a Shure SM58 – one day we might get something a bit more flash.