Composer, lyricist, librettist, singer, clinician, entrepreneur? How does one best describe John Parker, one of sacred music’s leading publishing personalities? Perhaps “Minister Through Music” best describes this versatile musician. John’s craftsmanship and commitment to excellence is evident in all of his endeavors. His ministerial heart beats strong in every effort, reflecting a devotion to sharing his faith through music. We asked John to answer our “composer questions” and his answers give us a glimpse into his creative process.
What was the music of your youth?
I was in choir both in school and in church, so I had an early immersion into good choral music and in pop music. I enjoyed the music of my parents, namely tunes from 1955 – 1965. I was also interested and involved in musical theatre.
Tell us about your background and how that inspired you to pursue music as a career?
It was my intention to pursue student ministry until a church I was serving parted ways with the music director. Since I was studying music in college at the time, I agreed to help out over the summer. When it came time to go back to student ministry, I was counseled to pursue church music. That was in 1986. I have served the local church in music ministry since then.
What music do you listen to now?
My musical tastes are pretty eclectic; I enjoy classical, pop, and some R&B. I especially enjoy the music and creativity of Brian Wilson.
Tell us about your faith journey and how it influences your musical choices.
I grew up attending church from as far back as I can remember, but at age 13 my faith became my own and I became a follower of Christ. Most of my ‘musical choices’ are related to lyric writing. My faith is a giant motivator for sacred lyrics I write, through sermons I hear, personal times of study, or connecting with the faith journey of other Christ-followers.
Name three things about yourself that would surprise people.
- It may surprise people to know that I am a coin-collector. Specifically pennies. My grandfather got me into this at a very early age.
- It may surprise people to know that I once set off a firecracker indoors, much to the shock of my sister’s 8-year-old birthday guests.
- It may surprise people to know I am a pretty competitive person. Whether it’s a board game, ping pong, or anything else, I love to compete….and sometimes I even win. 😊
What projects are currently on your horizon?
I am currently working on a collection of new hymn lyrics. I hate to admit it, but I’ve been working on this one for several years. Hopefully, 2018 will see it completed.
When are you most creative?
Early in the morning. I am not one who can create with lots of sounds and activities going on around me. I am easily distracted and depend on silence to really fine-tune a project. I am an early riser, and typically get my best work done before noon.
What’s your sacred space?
i’m not sure I understand this question, but if you’re asking if there’s a physical place I go to be creative, I would have to say, ‘no.’ I think maybe my sacred space is mobile. I love creating in nature and on the move.
Which composers/arrangers inspire you?
My favorite sacred composer/arrangers are:
Joseph Martin (I know it seems cliché, but I’m not lying), Mark Hayes, and Robert Sterling
My favorite educational composers are John Rutter, Mack Wilberg, C.V. Stanford, and Laura Farnell.
What do you do when you’re not composing?
Well, I am a full-time church musician, so probably something related to that. I also have several business interests in the publishing industry that capture my time.
Where do you see church music going in the future? Are there trends you think are important in the current culture of sanctuary music?
I believe we are slowly heading to an all-digital choral world. The days of filling large rooms with physical copies of music may be ending. Should be interesting to watch.
As for music of the sanctuary, I see a continuing trend toward works that are new, yet are cast in an old form.
What is your #1 tip for aspiring writers?
Connect with other writers. It’s about community. It’s about the journey. Be accessible. Be respectful. Be flexible.