Composer:   Kyle Pederson
Arranger:   NA
Publisher:   Walton Music
Edition:   WW1813
Voicing:   SAB


Sheila Shusterich
Duluth Ordean East Middle School, Retired
R&R Chair Middle Level & Jr High

This well-crafted composition will challenge middle school choirs. Since it is somewhat difficult, it could be selected as a Middle School Honor Choir Festival piece, or a high school choir octavo. Kyle Pederson provides the following insight into his work:

“I remember singing, Give Me Oil in My Lamp way back in preschool…and really the only context in which I had ever heard this song performed was in a youth choir or around a church campfire. I wanted to re-imagine this iconic melody and breathe some new life into it, that it might resonate with older and more experienced choirs (and give their accompanists something fun to sink their teeth into).

The most frequent attribution of this tune is as an old Quaker hymn. I have also quoted a bit of the melody of the well-known spiritual, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and it weaves its way throughout the arrangement as a counter melody.

The text of the piece is an invitation to joy and peace–inviting them into our own lives and extending them into the lives of others. The metaphor in the piece (oil in a lamp) is one that’s been around for at least a couple thousand years. In short, without oil, an oil lamp can’t light. Singers are invited to consider, ‘What is the oil that fuels you? Are you fueling up with joy, hope, compassion, peace, and love?…or are you fueling up with judgement and hate that will extinguish your light?’ In Christian thought, the ‘oil’ is typically thought to be the Holy Spirit…so the invitation to put oil in our lamps can take on a spiritual dimension. There are several passages in both Old and New Testament where this metaphor of oil/lamps is explored. But the metaphor also works outside of faith-based circles and needn’t be/seem exclusionary, since almost all cultures used oil lamps at one time or another.”