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Profs pen songs of hope in remembrance of 9/11

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–As the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, two New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary music professors have penned songs that remind America it can only find hope and safety in Jesus Christ.

“This is a nation that has no safety in and of itself,” said Michael Sharp, associate professor of music. “We can only have shelter in the Lord. It’s the only place we truly have shelter.”

Sharp and Gary Hallquist, assistant professor of worship ministries, each have written a choral anthem for the anniversary of 9/11, and while both point to the hope America has in God, they are somewhat different in their subject matter.

Hallquist’s “In Times Like These” reads like a list of current newspaper headlines, recounting the events of 9/11 itself, but also focusing on the war between Israel and Palestine, the rising and tumbling of the stock market and the scandals surrounding corporations such as Enron and WorldCom.

“I wanted the verses to read like a newspaper,” said Hallquist, who also said he wanted to show the “shock and disbelief” associated with the events of the last year.

Hallquist said he himself experienced a feeling of emptiness from the events of 9/11, knowing that “more than 1,000 lives had just been snuffed out.”

“The emotions that get stirred up like that often end up in songs,” he added.

The song doesn’t end as simply a morbid recounting of events, however. Hallquist’s chorus resounds: “In times like these we need Jesus/ In the darkest hour/ His light shines true.”

“Beyond the cross is the resurrection,” Hallquist said. “That’s where our hope is. This is a song of hope. That’s what people need today.”

The hope has been evident in the songs sales. Upon his interview, the song had already sold some 2,000 copies and had only been out a week.

Sharp, meanwhile, composed a reflective anthem, “The Shelter of the Lord,” based on Psalm 91:1, which, almost providentially, was a verse Sharp had been meditating on when the terrorists struck. The Psalm reads, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

This anthem became even more meaningful to Sharp, who only recently went through an ordeal of his own, battling a tumor that had attached to a nerve in his body, which put him out of classes for a month. Though the ordeal was a difficult one, Sharp said God sustained him as he meditated on the verse.

“There is terror all around us,” Sharp said. “We can’t walk in fear. That’s exactly what Satan wants. America needs to remember this.”

Hallquist’s “In Times Like These” is available through Carl Fisher Music, and Sharp’s “The Shelter of the Lord” is available through Belwyn-Mills Publishing Corporation.

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