Jacob's Ladder (2012)
Shortly after moving to Mississippi, one of my colleagues at Mississippi College, organist Bob Knupp, planned to give a recital of organ music by composers he personally knew. Knowing that I am also an organist, he stopped by my office to see what music of mine he might be able to use. Much to my embarrassment, I didn't have much to show him! While I had written some functional organ music primarily for my own use at church, I didn't have anything along the lines of a concert piece for solo organ (he ended up playing a piece of mine for violin and organ with his wife). Lest I miss his interest in performing my music, he recounted this all in his recital program with the note "(Hint to Ben—write a solo organ piece.)"!
As it turned out, I wrote Jacob's Ladder for myself first, to use as a sort of 'test' piece. Exaltate in aeternum, for Bob, came shortly thereafter. I had a great deal of fun with this piece and couldn't wait to get working on another for someone I know has a great deal of talent. The first movement of Jacob's Ladder contrasts a stridently wandering melody with a solid, low hymn-like chorale. The hymn-like texture continues into the second movement with a soft melody that grows louder and louder until the rousing and rejoicing final movement, which harkens back to the themes from both of the first two movements.