Patricia Mock’s music reflects a life-long love of worship and music. However, it was’t until a composer workshop in 2009 that Pat’s creativity took wing. Pouring her faith into her pen, Pat has seen phenomenal success with her lyrics and tuneful songs. Over 70 anthems are currently in print, and the list continues to grow. Primarily a song writer, Pat’s work has been arranged by some of the leading sacred music writers in the country. Brad Nix, Richard Nichols, James Koerts, Brian Buda, Faye Lopez, Douglas Nolan, Joseph Martin, and Charles McCartha, are among her collaborators. WorshipSongsOnline asked this emerging new writer to respond to our composer questionnaire. Her answers reveal a composer who truly takes joy in her work. At the end of the article make sure you click the links to “see and hear” some of Pat’s latest publications.
What was the music of your youth?
I remember as a child my excitement each month when my parents’ subscription to Columbia Record Club arrived…I loved the variety of music! Through the years I would steal away and listen to their collection of classical music along with my own favorite hit parade which included everyone and everything from Elvis, Broadway, movie sound tracks (South Pacific, Carousel), to Mario Lanza! I felt quite the connection as I sang along with Jerry Lee Lewis by simply changing the name from “Peggy Sue” to my nickname, “Patty Sue.” There was some great music during my youth, and just about everyone knew ALL the words to ALL the songs we heard on our radios and TV’s Saturday night “Hit Parade.” Having grown up in the church, hymns and Christian music were often wafting through our home!
What music do you listen to now?
I enjoy listening to choral music and find a particular joy in listening to anthems composed by those I know or know of. I am still very much drawn to classical music. Grieg, Saint-Saens, Schumann, and others seem to stir something within me, melancholy that I am! In listening to the Piano Guys Station with the soulful strings and pulsing movement of their genre, it seems to “move” me to the piano with a desire to create something moving as well.
Tell us about your faith journey, and how it influences your musical choices.
I grew up in the church and can remember from an early age “my heart for God,” but it was not until I was 30 years old that I invited a childhood friend over to console her during a difficult time in her life. I could not get over her joy in spite of going through such sad circumstances and realized I knew a lot about God, church, and one day going to heaven, but as wonderful as my life was…. something was missing. I found myself craving what she had, only to find it was a deeper walk and more personal relationship with Christ… here and now. The Holy Spirit had been more of an ecclesiastical garnish at the end of a prayer, but now I began to learn how I could take God at His Word, allow the Holy Spirit to live through me, and enable me to enjoy His eternal quality of life … not just later but now! The words in the Bible have come alive as The Word of Truth! Since then, my walk of faith has become everything to me in all areas of life. In my musical life, I see Him inspiring, enabling, directing, and connecting me to other people and paths. Faith in God and the truth of His Word are the foundation to everything I write.
In the ongoing process of writing I have found a good “footing” from I Corinthians 4:7 where Paul addresses the issue of boasting. The argument he makes is, why boast or take credit for that which has been given to you? In other words, how can I be prideful of what I simply have received? It keeps me grounded in times of productivity, but ALSO gives perspective to those times when my pen seems somewhat dry and my piano with unyielding melody. With this in mind, I find myself just waiting for what will be given.
Tell us about your background and how that inspired you to pursue music as a career?
My background is probably one of the more unusual aspects of my music. Yes, I have always loved music performed by others, but never would have envisioned myself as a musician, let alone a composer. Through the years I simply loved playing through the “highs and lows” of life on my piano with little to no training. The composers of the great classical music I attempted would have been greatly dismayed at my lack of understanding of note values, but possibly encouraged at how much joy I derived from those moments! As a teenager I took a few piano lessons and will never forget how the teacher looked at me one day and exclaimed, “You have a wonderful touch on the piano if you could just hit the notes!” … seriously! Years later at the Symposium I attended, I met someone who for a time had accompanied Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony. In the course of our conversation I learned she had taken piano from a teacher considered to be the best in Atlanta who, oddly enough, lived just “three doors up” from me while my sisters and I were taking lessons from a “teacher” who let us play piano, sing, and dance… go figure!?!
Fast forward to years later … as one of the primary caregivers for my mother for ten years as she suffered from Alzheimer’s, I realized that as I played hymns and other music familiar to her she would come to life! I started playing by ear and improvising and creating beautiful music in the process! As I discovered the joy of what seemed to be a “gift” and continued to play in her care facility, I asked others to pray whether this was just for me and mom or whether I should attempt to develop this new dimension to my life. It was literally the following week that I was asked to play a few hymns in a church service where they were desperate, I am sure. But, I had my answer and started piano lessons shortly thereafter. My teacher commented on my second lesson that I should be writing music. I joined Nashville Songwriters, attended several workshops, and then signed up for Pine Lake’s Composer Symposium with someone named Joseph Martin in 2009. I literally wandered in with my guitar and no experience or inclination toward choral music. Those who were present still smile at the thought of my first conference, and I smile back with gratitude for those who were kind to make me feel right at home. I have not missed a Composer’s Symposium since then and recommend it highly!
I was blessed to meet the late J. Paul Williams that year and hear of how he had felt a call to music ministry as a teen and his personal journey in finally realizing that dream. For me, it became the reverse in realizing it was not too late to pursue something that had been a part of me all my life. I left that place still somewhat overwhelmed, but with the courage and motivation, inspired to pursue the new path God had provided for me. By the way, I am so grateful Shawnee Press chose to publish a hymn with words by Charles Orr, arranged by Bobbi Heastings, and music written by me which expresses beautifully that period of my life, “THE BITTER WITH THE SWEET” which is dedicated to my mother, so precious and dear.
What composers/arrangers inspire you?
One of the things I discovered at the beginning of this journey based on the good advice of Joe Martin was that my strengths and gifts lie primarily in composing melody and writing text, and that it would be wise to find arrangers to collaborate with. I am so totally inspired as I hand the “bones” of my work to those I collaborate with and watch my compositions spring to life with the beautiful settings they provide. Joe Martin and Brad Nix arranged my first two anthems. At a later point, I approached someone I met at a reading session, complimented his arrangement, and inquired as to whether he arranged for others. Rick Nichols and I began meeting on a regular basis as I drove from Atlanta to Greenville where he took me “underwing,” and there on his piano bench somehow my life and music were transformed. In teaming with Faye Lopez, I have found such inspiration both in what I continue to learn from her, but also in our work and friendship. I AM INSPIRED BY THE INVESTMENT THAT HAS BEEN MADE IN ME WHICH HAS INSTILLED IN ME THE DESIRE TO INVEST IN OTHERS AS WELL.
Where do you find other sources of inspiration or encouragement?
I would say in the person of my husband, Dennis, who has loved, served, and encouraged me since we were teenagers! He has always believed in my gifts and abilities when I have not.
What projects are currently on your horizon?
I am honored to be working with Jackie Whitaker, the worship leader at our church, Genesis Bible Church, as she features my music this Fall and Christmas.
She will also be using YOU CAN COUNT ON GOD, my unpublished children’s music on the promises of God as VBS music and curriculum for preschoolers ages 3-5 this summer both to teach children and as an outreach to parents.
Another project is the result of an accident I suffered last December when I slipped in a puddle and broke my back. Although it resulted in seven months of suffering and being homebound, it has turned out to be one of the best and most productive years of my life . While recovering I began recording insights into some of what I felt the Lord was teaching me through the experience. I shared these with fellow composer Vicki Bedford as she was recovering from surgery, and she returned them with edits suggesting I had written a book! Really!! I am currently in the process of pursuing publication of “Petals of Wisdom,” a little book of inspiration that I hope to see published this year.
Name three things about yourself that would surprise people.
- Prior to this chapter of my life, for ten years I owned a clothing business and designed very unique clothing, some of which was made from vintage bedspreads and draperies! I travelled from Atlanta, to Washington D.C area, and once to Colorado, as a part of the arts and craft show circuit. It involved sewing, setting up tents, and selling … “Cottage Industry 101. ” It was hard work, but helped get the kids through college!
- Speaking of cloth, I helped my husband through college and law school. After practicing law for 13 years, he became a “man of the cloth” and I became ….a pastor’s wife! We have been privileged to serve a small church in a suburb of Atlanta now for 21 years.
- I am known to my six grandchildren and all the children in our church as “PatPat” and seem to be famous for my tea parties, tea cups, and lovely hats which we put to use!
When are you most creative?
I am most creative when I do not have time limits, so I have to impose some discipline late at night. I find great joy when an idea unexpectedly springs to life from reading, perhaps a conversation, or even in the middle of a Sunday sermon, for which I must confess, the bulletin becomes my writing pad. Several of my anthems have come from my husband’s sermons!
What is your sacred space?
I wish I had a cozy corner, but actually those “sacred spaces” are created wherever I am still enough to sense God’s presence, and especially as I am quietly communing through His Word.
What do you do when you are not composing?
Basically, I think about composing and where the next inspiration might come from!!!
What is your #1Tip for aspiring writers?
Be fearless!!! If you love to write…. Write! Identify your gifts and take every opportunity to develop them!