UTR: We noticed that this album is dedicated to your grandmother, Lila Hindmarsh. Can you tell us about her influence on you?
Elise: My grandmother (who passed away in 2020) was a faithful follower of Jesus and an accomplished piano accompanist. Music was both her expression and practice of joy. When I would visit her in Michigan, she would be singing in the morning “Good Morning” from Singing in the Rain or “Tea for Two” in her Snow White soprano voice. If she wasn’t singing, she’d be whistling show tunes around the house with a high bird-like tremolo. Music was the fabric of our family’s life, and it passed from her to my dad, to me, and I’d like to think to my son. He’s only five, but he can sing “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles with the best of them. I also witnessed my grandmother build community through music. She was the long-time accompanist of the local Jewish community choir, and taught piano to all the neighborhood kids (and some adults). Music wasn’t just for music’s sake – it was for the common good. This heavily shaped my understanding of art’s purpose, especially after becoming a Christian as a teenager.
UTR: For this EP, and the entire project, you have taken prayers written in 1549 and set them to folk music. What is the reason for this?
Elise: The original Book of Common Prayer was compiled in 1549 by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury during the Protestant Reformation. He took the eight daily services of the medieval prayer tradition and combined them into the morning (matins) and evening (evensong) prayers. The book was also written in English, as opposed to Latin, as a way to make the prayer accessible to the English people in their common language. The prayers of this album are actually adapted from The Book of Common Prayer (2019). This is the version that I have used in my prayer life. There was a practical aspect to this, as well. First, I kept forgetting my prayerbook at home when I’d leave for work! Second, once I had a son, he could not sit still while reading the prayers, but loved to sing! So, by adding distinct music to the different elements of each prayer office, my family has slowly memorized the words, and we are able to sing the prayers wherever we are.