CALL UPON THE LORD: Artist Feature - Betsy Lee Bailey

CALL UPON THE LORD: Artist Feature - Betsy Lee Bailey

Betsy Bailey is a lifelong musician whose music has blessed the lives of countless people around the world. She is a former member of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from BYU.

Betsy has taught private lessons in voice and piano, General Music and Chorus in both Elementary and Middle School, sung in or conducted many Church, School and Community choirs, and has taught Primary Music almost continuously for 37+ years. Her expertise is often sought as a clinician for Choral Conducting and Primary Music Training.

She is a multi-award winning composer and arranger. Her original octavos, hymn arrangements, sacred solos and duets for classical singers, and instrumental pieces are available through Jackman Music and SMP Press. Many of her songs and anthems have won awards in the Church Music Submissions. She is also a published author of 16 Children’s Theater Musicals and 9 children’s picture books.

She has been active as a director of Children’s Theater Musicals in schools and the community across the country. Each summer she directs a Summer Musical Theater Camp for children ages 5-12 in her own backyard.

Betsy resides now in Provo but has lived many years in various places around the country in Texas, Ohio, California, Colorado, Virginia and Maryland. She and her late husband Ellis are the parents of seven children and have 25 grandchildren.

A SPECIAL RELEASE: "Call Upon the Lord"

"Call Upon the Lord" was first published in The Praiseworthy Singer Vol. 15 and is now released as a stand alone vocal solo.

"Call upon the Lord", found in Psalm 18, reminds us of our constant reliance upon God. This sheet music for medium voice, C instrument, and piano includes a full score and a separate C instrument part.

Text: Psalm 18
Composer: Betsy Lee Bailey
Difficulty: Medium / Medium Hard
Scripture References: Psalm 18
CLICK HERE to see the entire Betsy Lee Bailey collection.


About Me

First of all, my mother said I was born singing. Music has always been a big part of my life. When I was in 3rd Grade, we had to write our goals for what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote that I wanted to be a singer. And I liked to play the piano, so I wanted to be a "pianoist." Also, "my teacher says I write nice poems, so I want to be a 'poemist.'" I also took dancing lessons, so, of course I wanted to be a ballerina. And then I added that I needed to be a wife and mother, but I didn't know how I would work all of this into my schedule. My teacher responded that maybe I should concentrate on just one of these areas. Well, little did she know, that I was able to work out putting all of these things into the schedule of my life. I found that by being a performer I could do the singing, dancing and acting. By being a Songwriter and Musical Director, I could do the rest. Being a wife and mother guaranteed that I would always have someone to sing to, write for, accompany, and dance through life with.

My musical training began in my family. My mother was a talented singer and pianist. She had her children singing on programs practically from the moment of birth. I really didn't have any formal music lessons in my youth. But because my mother taught piano and voice lessons, I second-handedly benefitted by listening to hundreds, maybe thousands, of lessons every year. My mother figured if I couldn't pick up musical training by "osmosis" then I was no daughter of hers. The difficulty was getting practice time on the piano. And to add insult to injury, when I would sit down at the piano to try to accompany myself to sing, my mother would hear me struggling and come in and say, "I play better than you." Then she would sit down at the keyboard and command, "You just sing." I don't know if she was practicing reverse psychology or what, but that just made me more determined to find secret times to practice whenever she was away.
Eventually, after getting my degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from BYU, and after getting married, I finally received my own piano! It became my beloved friend and confidant. We were great companions. My children cut their teeth literally all around the piano bench. My husband had to repair the delicate wood in the music holder many, many times because I tried to hold too many books against it at the same time and I pressed too hard when I wrote on the manuscript paper. With that piano as my muse, I felt confident that I could take all kinds of musical adventures. I've had many opportunities to sing professionally, conduct church, school, youth and community choirs, write and direct and accompany children's shows, high school Musicals and community theater, teach piano and voice lessons, teach general music, chorus and drama in both elementary and middle schools, and compose in many styles of music.

Although, I have had lead roles in Musical Theater, sung Opera, was the token girl singer in a rock band, sung for radio, recordings, and television with audiences worldwide, and recently retired after singing for 6 years with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, I have found my joy in writing Sacred Music. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the anchor of my soul. Writing sacred songs and choral arrangements has been a way for me to show my love for my Heavenly Father and the Savior.

May you also feel this joy as you look through, listen to, and perform these musical offerings.

----- Betsy Lee Bailey

Song Backstories
1. "On a Sacred Still and Silent Night" SSATB choral with violin. One grey, dreary December day I was sitting at the stoplight, waiting. Into my mind ran a little melody. To pass the time, I started developing that little melody, experimenting with what it would sound like in major. "No, maybe I like it better in minor." Soon it became a being unto itself and then the words came. I couldn't wait to get home to write it down. Three hours later, it "On a Sacred Still and Silent Night" was finished -- complete and beautifully poignant. Three days later it was sung by our college kids just home for the Christmas break.

The experience of writing this song is one I will treasure forever. It was a surely
a Gift of Song directly from Heaven.

2. "Call Upon the Lord" - vocal solo with flute. I seem to get most of my good ideas for songs while in the car. One clear, starlit night (rather unusual in Maryland), I was waiting in the parking lot of the Church for my daughters to return from an activity. The sky was so beautiful and I started allowing a melody to develop in my mind. As it developed, the words came as I thought of some verses from Isaiah which said, "Call upon the Lord, He is thy strength, He is thy rock, thy fortress." I decided against using the advice of some to put the lyric into modern lingo. I preferred using the original Biblical text as much as possible.

[The C instrument obligato may be played by flute, violin, or even an oboe.]

3. "Forget Me Not, O Lord" SATB choral. It was such a thrilling experience to create this song. I was asked to take the words from then President Uchtdorf's talk (newly delivered at the Women's Broadcast in September 2011) and create a piece to be included in the birthday gift basket from the Tabernacle Choir in November (just a few weeks away). When the song was finished, we gathered some 27 singers from the choir to record it. I felt that the song needed three verses. The first, sung by the sopranos, would be from the perspective of the tiny flower. The second, sung by the altos, would be from the perspective of a woman. And the third, sung by the men, would be from the perspective of our loving Heavenly Father. At the end, all of the individual parts would be sung together. The wonderful singers from the MoTab were so skilled at sight-singing and blending! We spent just a few minutes learning the song, and then recorded it. Oh, that every choir I directed had such beautiful and talented singers!

President Uchtdorf was so pleased when he heard it on the CD that he asked me and my husband to come visit with him so that he could thank me in person. He hoped that the song would be sung throughout the Church for many years to come. That message was so very special to him. I hoped so, too.

Like the little flower, you think you are alone,
So lost and insignificant and slight.
Our Father knows your needs, each child is loved and known.
His precious children are the source of His delight.
You are known.
You are loved.
Though you at times may feel so small,
He'll ease your pains.
He'll dry your tears
And give you power to fill the measure of your being.

4. "My Baptism Covenant" children's song. My sister had been after me to write a new baptism song for years. She recently challenged me to get busy and make good with this project. Since she obviously had particular ideas, I asked her to get me started with words and concepts for the song. We were out to lunch with friends and she immediately whipped out her phone, wrote out a few lines and emailed them to me. Five minutes! That is all it took her to come up with these words:

I made my first covenant today
I choose to live the Savior's way
My heavenly brother I will serve
His blessings I will try to deserve
The Holy Ghost is my constant guide
I will feel his warmth daily by my side
I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ
I love my Savior Jesus Christ

She had been in charge of Stake Baptisms for children for many years. She had often thought that we needed a song about keeping the baptism covenant. So, using these concepts as a starting point, I went home and wrote her a new song.

5. "Love at Home" SSA with 2 flutes. I have often felt that this hymn as sung in most congregations turns into a funeral dirge. Though the message of the song is powerful and uplifting, perhaps people sing it slow because they know that love isn't always felt at home. I can relate to that. Once my Mother was rehearsing us children to sing for a special musical number at Church. We were not cooperating and were bickering and complaining and worse, singing out of tune! Of course, the song we were working on was "Love at Home." At that moment there was anything but love in our home. At the peak of our squabbling, out came my Father ready to give us the "what for" when my darling little 3-year-old sister coyly said to him, "It's all right, Daddy, we like you mean." We were ready for him to make some sort of angry threat, when instead we could see steam escaping through his ears as his temper fizzled. At that moment we all laughed and determined to
do better. We found that we really did have love in our home.

When I imagined this rendition for a Stake Women's Chorus, I hoped we could imbue the song with new life and freshness and a new tempo. The vocal parts have a lot of contrapuntal action, and the double flute obligato keeps the momentum going. This is completely opposite of a funeral dirge! Hope you can keep up!

6. "From Homes of Saints Glad Songs Arise" SATB. This energetic arrangement switches meters often from 4/4 to 7/8 to give the music a gladsome lilt. Any choir familiar with Malcolm Archer's upbeat setting of "Rejoice the Lord is King" will enjoy singing this rhythmically infused version of "From Homes of Saints Glad Songs Arise." I have added a third verse to enhance the message of this wonderful hymn. Although it is marked to be performed energetically, the words should be phrased smoothly and reverently, building to the climax in verse 3. The piano accompaniment should be played with a light, lyrical touch, like a Madrigal.

Verse 3: "We seek God's blessing on our homes
To strengthen family ties;
To lift us to the highest goal,
That great eternal prize.
When hearts are bound in covenant,
And graced with righteousness,
We'll live together eternally
And find true happiness.
Then sing, O Saints, in hymns of praise,
Sing praise to God on high!"

7. "Have I Done Any Good in the World Today" SAB (with Violin). One Sunday, the Conductor asked for testimonies from members of the congregation about how the hymns affected their lives. After the testimony, the featured hymn was sung. I was struck by the story of the new member who was introduced to the hymn, "Have I Done Any Good in the World Today." He said that in the Church, the members really lived by that motto and practiced doing good daily. So, of course I had to write this arrangement right away. I actually wrote it for SATB Mixed Chorus, and then adapted it for women's voices (SSAA), but the publisher had asked for an arrangement for SAB Chorus.

The jaunty violin obligato below was added to give the piece added lilt. I think of how a fiddler among the pioneers played to lift their spirits and help make their work a pleasure.

8. "Go Forth in the Service of God" SATB. As the time approached when we expected the return of our first missionary son, I happened to read a quote from the prophet Gordon B. Hinckley. He said of missionary work, "For this is the joy of which angels sang when they sang at the birth of God's Son." This quote and others of Pres. Hinckley's words became the basis of the text for this powerful missionary anthem.

Note: There are a few errors in the published version that I'd like to point out.

1. At measure 41 (E) the Alto voices begin with the Soprano voices joining at measure 42.
2. At measure 55 (G) the dynamic is marked Lightly. Actually, the voices and piano there sing fervently as before, but at measure 59 the piano has a jaunty motive that should be played lightly through measure 63 when the crescendo begins.
3. Be sure to recruit a few good high soprano voices to sing pages 9 through to the ending.
4. The Rubato marking at measure 86 actually should happen at measure 90 through to the fermata.
5. The Ending (measures 92-95) should be sung with power and majesty and slowing to the end.

9. "Mary Had a Pretty Little Baby" SA. Long ago my mother had me and my sisters sing this little piece when we were children. She never really knew its origin. I loved the song so much, that my young self made this little arrangement and took it in to my junior high choir teacher. She was impressed enough with my effort that she allowed us girls of the choir to sing it on a concert that year. On this recording, my youngest daughter Cami (at age 12) sings the vocals.

12. "O Tidings of Comfort and Joy" SSATB. Sacred Christmas Carol Medley including the French carol "Sing We Now of Christmas" and the Old English carol "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen."

About the Song - I wanted a song to convey the feeling of haste that the shepherds felt when they rushed to see the holy babe that first Christmas night. I have always loved the old English Carol "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" but had no use for the opening line. This merging of two carols, using only the most pertinent lyrics, creates an entirely new piece. Upon request by a Choral Society wanting to perform this piece with their orchestra, I also created orchestration.

13. "We Are Daughters of a Loving Heavenly Father" SSAA. When the Relief Society Declaration was first printed in the Church News, I happened to be meeting with my publisher. He tore out the page, handed to me and challenged me to write a choral piece using this as text. I got started immediately during the plane ride from Utah to Maryland.

14. "Faith Hymn Montage" SATB. Medley of "Faith" (Text by Beatice Goff Jackson, Music by Michael F. Moody), "Be Thou Humble" (Text and Music by Grietje Terberg Rowling) and "Lord, I Would Follow Thee" (Text by Susan Evans McCloud, Music by K. Newell Dayley)

About the Song - This is a flexible arrangement, good for a Family Choir. On occasion, I would include the families of my choir members to sing for a "season." This medley of hymns includes a familiar Primary song "Faith." We featured the children's voices alone on the opening phrases and brought the choir in at letter C. We featured the children alone again on melody (altos could sing as well) at letter G. The choir sang from letter H on to the end. Those children who could sing parts were encouraged to sing with the choir. I always look for ways to develop future singers!

15. "We Are His Hands" SA. A friend of mine mentioned that Pres. Uchtdorf's "You Are His Hands" talk from the April 2010 General Conference would make a wonderful song for Relief Society sisters. So, I studied the talk and tried to pull out actual phrases from his talk, just changing "you" to "we" are His hands in doing His work.

The recording was created when I was invited to share this song with Pres. Uchtdorf himself. He was very pleased with the song and hoped it could be shared with the Sisters throughout the Church. Some friends volunteer their voices and we created this recording. These were accomplished singers, so I was able to have them sing in 4 parts. The published version, however, is for 2 parts.

16. "The Nativity Song" SATB with Soloists. This arrangement of Patricia Kelsey Graham's beloved Primary Song was originally written for my family to perform at the Festival of Lights Christmas Concert Series at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitor's Center. We love to sing in parts and take turns singing solo.

This is a very versatile arrangement for SATB Choir with soloists, duets, trios, and
even children. It is perfect to use when creating a live Nativity Scene at your Christmas event.

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