I began working on Mine Arm is Lengthened Out in early 2002. This was just over a year after my brother and his wife were killed in an automobile accident and, as a result, we took their five children into our family. By this time, both my wife and I were physically and emotionally drained and we both needed some kind of outlet. I turned to composing, which I had been able to do very little of in the previous few years. I decided that I wanted to do a more advanced piece, something that would be suitable enough for a choir such as the Brigham Young University Singers. I didn’t really know if I would be able to come up with something that Dr. Staheli, the director of the BYU Singers, would consider using, but I really wanted to try.
The accident and all that followed had also caused me to take a good look at my life and my relationship with God. I found that there were too many times that I “would not” as some of the words to the piece warn. I found a number of scriptures that expressed my thoughts and desires to change and I arranged them into the text for the piece. By the end of March, the piece was really beginning to take shape. I was trying to get it done in time to show it to Dr. Staheli before the end of the school year, which I was able to do.
When I showed him the piece, he said that it was good, but he pointed out a couple of spots that were a bit weak. I went right to work to resolve those issues. In the process, I completely reworked the “Incline your ear” section and the ending. I then took it back for Dr. Staheli to hear and near the end of that meeting, he told me something like this: “You have taken a very good piece and turned it into an outstanding piece.” The BYU Singers debuted Mine Arm is Lengthened Out on November 15, 2002 and performed it again at a Temple Square Concert Series concert in Februrary 2003, and again at the De Jong concert hall at BYU in April of 2003.
The choir had a tremendous experience with the music and the audiences really seemed to like the piece as well. I received several comments from members of the choir thanking me for the piece and for how it had affected them. I had a similar experience with a few of the choir members when I was able to travel to Rexburg, ID to hear it performed by the Collegiate Singers of Brigham Young University Idaho on February 20, 2010.
This piece was included on the BYU Singers’ CD, “My Redeemer Lives” released in 2004. Here is an excerpt.
Mine Arm is Lengthened Out, words compiled by Lane Johnson from scriptures in 1 & 2 Nephi, Luke, and Isaiah
Mine arm is lengthened out all the day long And yet, they will deny me (2 Nephi 28:32) Yet, they will not come unto me and partake. (1 Nephi 8:18)
How oft would I have gathered you As a hen gathereth her brood? How oft would I have gathered you together But ye would not! (Luke 13:24)
Incline your ear and come unto me: Hear and your soul shall live. (Isaiah 55:3)
I shall lengthen out mine arm from day to day And I will be merciful to those that come unto me. (2 Nephi 28:32) Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of mine hands. (Isaiah 49:16)