The Composer

Murray Wylie is the eldest son of a Brisbane minister, Alexander McQuisten Wylie, and Jean Wylie, and he grew up in a household where music and the Christian faith were central to family life.

His father was appointed by his peers in the mid-1970s to oversee his denomination, as the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland, at a time of difficulty during which each member of that denomination, and each congregation was required to make a choice whether or not to leave their familiar teachings and participate in a movement towards unity within a future "super-denomination", that was to become the Uniting Church of Australia in 1977. Alexander Wylie travelled extensively during this period, explaining both sides to his "flock". It is therefore not surprising that at an early age young Murray came to appreciate the power of music to express the Christian message.

Inspired by works like "St. Matthew Passion", he began writing music at an early age, with his first original musical at the age of fifteen.

Murray went on to study piano, flute and harp at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, and after a period of time as a high school music speciallist, he entered full-time youth work and music directorship with the renewal church, Brisbane Christian Fellowship.

He has spent the last twenty years or so working in the field of Christian music, leading several choirs, the groups "Sonrise" and "McCrystal Wylie Trio", directing concert and outreach ministry, as well as travelling and teaching on worship.

Together with his wife, Kate, he has written and produced nine albums of original music, including the musical "Fortune's Child", based on Kate's own life story. This accumulated song writing experience, together with the desire to convey the reality of the Christian faith through music, led in due course to the composition of this oratorio.

Hints of the forthcoming work had appeared beforehand in the form of isolated pieces. Then in a three week period in February 1987, the basic themes, solos and choral pieces of "'The Jerusalem Passion" were composed, and presented as an Easter celebration by his church's own musicians and singers.

Within just ten weeks of composition, the oratorio was further polished and then performed in its rudimentary form by a choir of forty-two and a very small orchestra in a suburban high school hall, and it received an overwhelming response from the audience.

He spent the next nine months or so in writing additional orchestration, rearranging sections of the work, and writing additional vocal harmonies, which involved the training of twenty-five copyists to manual draft all of the scores for every instrument, each soloist, and choir - this being before the availability of personal computers of sufficient power and capacity.

The work was then presented on two consecutive nights in the brand-new Concert Hall of the "Performing Arts Centre" built for the "Australian Bicentennial Expo" of 1988 on the South Bank site of the Brisbane River, where previously had existed harbour wharves and the Standard Gauge railway terminal (from Sydney).

The work received standing ovations from the Brisbane audience, both nights being performed to packed houses, and it then went on tour to the other mainland capitals of Australia where it was similarly received. Two further such tours took place over the next three years, and final changes were made to the score during the interval between the second and third seasons.

Aged thirty-three at the time (1987), Murray Wylie wrote the work during an unique period of personal inspiration, and out of the personal conviction that the passion of Christ means more than His suffering in Jersualem. The passion or desire of Christ was then, and still is, for the unity of His people as one body, as His bride, as one city - called in the scriptures, the New Jerusalem.

Murray has become known as a prolific writer of worship music used in a number of churches around Australia and overseas, leading on from his association with the Gospel of Christ.

Many of his compositions have been recorded for general release; some nine albums have been produced over a number of years. Only the more recent ones are still available.

He teaches extensively, both as a Minister of the Word, and also as a specialist in the areas of worship and worship music, and has co-authored the book "Unto Perfection" where the apostle’s instruction to early Christians "... let us, then, go on unto perfection..." is examined in context of the rest of scripture and of mortal living.

Murray's Personal Testimony

At the age of fifteen, I remember being greatly impressed by a performance of "St. Matthew's Passion", and overawed by the impact that music could make upon our lives. From that time I felt a great desire to serve the Lord in music, and had a vision to see its life-changing power used for His purpose. My first attempt at an original musical followed a year or so later.

A much deeper Christian experience was to follow, and then several years of Conservatorium music study made it possible to develop a broiad range of musical abilities. As I became aware of the Lord's call to serve His body in music, a choir was formed, and some experience in a couple of Christian groups provided the context for writing gospel songs and choruses of worship. With my wife (Kate) and the group "Sonrise" we made three recordings before writing and recording the musical "Fortune's Child" which was performed in 1979.

The burden which was always nearest my heart was to declare in music the hope and vision of the church in these last days. At the beginning of my Christian experience, the Lord quickened to me an understanding of Zion, or the heavenly Jerusalem. I realised that our chief purpose as singers and musicians, was to minister to the Lord and to His people, who are the heavenly city of Zion or Jerusalem. I also experienced the Lord's annointing in the ability to play music "in the spirit", and to lead the congregation in spiritual worship. Consequently, it has been my burden for those who are called to function in music in the Body of Christ, that they take up this challenge above all other musical pursuits.

I believe that at this time, the Lord is "calling all musicians to Zion"; i.e. to leave the many commercial and religious musical pursuits which are offering, and to serve the body of Christ in song and music.

Only the unified body of Christ, with every member functioning effectively, will make any impact upon the world.

Christ and His body are to be one in heart and mind and endeavour in these last days of time. It is the function of those who are musicians and singers in His house, to carry this message of unity and to gather up God's people in worship, so that His power may be revealed in the earth.

"The Jerusalem Passion" describes the desire of Christ for this unity of His body. His passion for the New Jerusalem is to become our passion. In February of 1987, the Holy Spirit brought to me a moving revelation of this passion, and inspired me to write this oratorio.

I thank you for sharing in this musical expression, which is dedicated to those everywhere whose desire is for the gathering of God's people into one city, the New Jerusalem.

Created 17th September 1998
Edited 15th August 2003