Denice Rippentrop - Composer of Sacred Choral Music



Composing innovative, high-quality sacred and secular choral music is the core of my professional and personal life. I use my writing to bring modern choral music to audiences in a highly creative yet accessible manner. My works have been performed and broadcasted in this country and abroad. Beautiful Star was published internationally by Plymouth Music Company in 1991. Since founding Beautiful Star Publishing, Inc. in 1992, my compositions have been receiving significant national performances by churches, high school choirs, college choirs, children’s choirs and community choruses.

Awards (Partial)


Denice was honored by "The American Prize in Composition - Semi-finalist - Chorus-Professional Division"

2014 The Sea Trilogy and Other Sacred Songs

2016 - The Lamb Slain

2017 - If - Semi-Finalist - Vocal Chamber Professional Division

Denice was honored Second Place Winner by the International Competition for Sacred Music Composer -

Liturgical Category for her composition - People, Ponder the Cross - 2013


Take Wings and Soar  "recorded live by The First Readings Project, J. David Moore, Conductor"  Minneapolis, MN

Music On The Wall

April 12, 2018

From the Pen of Composer Denice Rippentrop
It was in the late 1970s that I first trusted in God’s divine Son, Jesus the Christ, as my Lord and Savior for the forgiveness of my sins. I believed in the death of Christ on the cross to pay for my sins, the resurrection of Christ to provide life everlasting, and Christ’s gift of salvation, which can only be received by faith, apart from works or merit on my part. My life changed miraculously!
A few years later I heard a poem by Amy Carmichael for the first time. It was called “No Scar?” and I heard it on a radio program. Amy’s words moved deep into my soul as a picture came to my mind. I saw the scars on my Savior’s hands, feet, and side—and it tore into me. To think that He has these scars and I have none. I was so taken by this scene in my mind I could hardly breathe.
At that point, I searched endlessly for every poem and book by Amy Carmichael. I was so moved by the deep meaning of her words—written in a style unique only to her—as well as her display of vocabulary and the images portrayed in her words. Her utter devotion to Jesus Christ came through in her every word. She loved beyond herself. She never took her eyes off the cross of Jesus Christ and His eternal, unending love.
In 1987 I was at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota working on my master’s degree. My synthesis was composing music to eleven Amy Carmichael poems, ending in a concert of these works. The concert was given at Incarnation Lutheran Church in Shoreview, Minnesota under the direction of Bonnie Doole. My daughter Tammy gave a reading on the life of Amy Carmichael. I still can hear her presenting this reading. She gave an outstanding presentation.
After that concert I continued to write sacred and secular choral works. Much of my writing has been impacted by one of my composition professors, Dr. Jody Rockmaker.  Throughout the years I have received many honors and commissions and have given numerous performances of my music.
Then, nineteen years after the concert in 1987, music appeared on my bedroom wall as I was lying in my bed before dawn. At first, I thought I was dreaming. There were several pages, and the first three pages had three music staves showing a solo voice and piano. The music appeared two more mornings; but this time, Amy Carmichael’s name was written in the top left-hand corner and my name was written in the top right-hand corner. I asked God to show the music again if this was from Him. And, my Holy Father did. I knew I had to write it down.
The Holy Spirit led me to Amy Carmichael’s book If. One by one, the fifteen Amy Carmichael statements that I was to write music to were shown to me.
“If at the Moment,” the first song on my CD If (What Do I Know of Calvary’s Love?), is the music I saw on the wall the first morning. The text says:
If the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and in the power of Him who works in us to will and to do, keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary Love.
As Amy Carmichael said of her book If, “[These statements] are not meant to be read one after the other. Perhaps only one “If” here and there may have the needed word.” As you listen to the CD, I ask that you give each song the time it needs to reach the depths of your soul, as Amy so desired.
Vanessa Libbey, the vocalist on the CD, is a classically trained soprano. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Luther College and resides in New York City.


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The Music of Denice Rippentrop

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“For our Music of Passion concert to begin Holy Week, your The Atonement was paired

with a requiem. Learning and preparing your piece was a marvelous experience for the

choir; hearing it was an equally powerful time for the audience.”

William H. Mathis, Minister of Music and Fine Arts, Hennepin Avenue

Methodist Church, Minneapolis, MN

“Denice is a composer who writes passionate, heartfelt, compositions, usually

with a religious theme. Her texts come from scripture, but she also sets her own

poetry and thoughts. Denice know how to use the chorus to great effect. Her

voicings are rich, and the use of harmony compelling.”

Dr. Jody Rockmaker, Arizona State University, Herberger Institute for Design

and the Arts, Dr. Jody Rockmaker, Assciate Professor of Music, Composition and

Theory, Phoenix, AZ

“The Desert Trilogy is a wonderful exploration of text and sounds in expressing

ultimately – hope. The Sonoran Desert Choral was very pleased with the Trilogy –

as was our audience – enjoy the colors of Light and Hope.”

Jeff Harris, Conductor, The Sonoran Desert Chorale, Phoenix, AZ

“You have some really lovely gestures in The Sacred Seed. And the text is

so compellingly beautiful….”

Howard Helvey, Composer, Arranger, Pianist, Cincinnati, OH

 "It was indeed a convicting and heart moving experience to read the story behind Earth Turns Inside Out.  Earth Turns Inside Out has to be one of the most unique and powerful pieces of music that I have even been privileged to hear.  The Theology behind it and the fervent prayer that went into the words truly produced a one of a kind presentation.  Thank you for allowing your gifts to impact my life." 

Jim Lake BRE MAac DD  Pastor/Counselor/Author

“Denice Rippentrop’s music unfailing works from the spirit outward – beginning

with the soul and singing through the words.”

Libby Larsen, Grammy Winning Composer


Earth Turns Inside Out - The Story

Mr. Bob Wills, choral director of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, St. Paul,

MN and the choir were selected to perform on June 21, 1998, at the Basilica of St. Peter’s. Vatican

City, Italy. I had the privilege to work with Mr. Wills and his choir when I was selected in 1995-96

Earth Turns Inside Out - The Story

The Story

Mr. Bob Wills, choral director of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church, St. Paul,

MN and the choir were selected to perform on June 21, 1998, at the Basilica of St. Peter’s. Vatican

City, Italy. I had the privilege to work with Mr. Wills and his choir when I was selected in 1995-96

Composer-In-Residency Program for the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church as

well as Wooddale Church and Hennepin United Methodist Church, Minneapolis, MN. This residency

was through the American Composers Forum made possible by the Bremer Foundation.

Late in the spring of 1997, Mr. Wills asked me to write a composition for his choir. The composition

would be premiered on their concert in Rome. Mr. Wills gave me no guidelines to follow which as a

writer of text and music, I was most grateful because I would have freedom in creating this piece.

THE WORK…….I always start with my text. If the text is right, the music will follow. Daily in my

prayers, I pray about my text and music that God is glorified, souls come to know Jesus Christ as

their Lord and Savior and others are strengthen in their love and work for Christ. I try as hard as I

can to have these three components in my text.

I begin to write and nothing comes……..then……the thought of sin, the wickedness,

destructive horrifying sin in our lives that keeps us away from Jesus Christ penetrates my mind and

soul. How can I display the horror of sin in my text? What words can I use to say what our sins laid

upon Christ on the cross? How can my words make Christ’s pain felt in our souls? What words

portray the shedding of Christ’s blood? How was I to bring joy, the joy Christ feels when a soul

comes to His Saving Cross?


Earth Turns Inside Out,

Piercing the Lamb’s hands, side and feet.

It is in these wounds

The Blood of Christ


© 1997 Denice Rippentrop

THE MUSIC……..How could I “create” sin? I choose the tritone. In the early church, the triton

symbolized the devil and sin. In the Catholic Church, a composer using the tritone would be killed.

The tritone is heard “tearing” the earth apart. It is not until the word “Lamb” is sung that there is any

type of relief from this disturbing and penetrating sound of sin. “Lamb” is on a C major chord. The

music takes off in its vengeance again as “piercing” is repeated many times. Then the beauty of

Christ and His work begins to be heard. “It is in these wounds” the choir sings passionate this

phrase weaving in and out of the vocal parts. “The blood of Christ sings” takes on the character of

suffering in the use of dissonant sounds and then the melodic and soothing sounds are heard as the

joy of Christ is heard musically. The piece ends in twelve parts symbolizing the Twelve Apostles.

THE DIVINE……When I started to write the text and the phrase “Earth Turns Inside Out” comes into

creation, Rome was experiencing an earthquake. When Mr. Wills went to Rome to meet with the

Vatican officials to discuss the performance, the Vatican asked Mr. Wills to consider another place

for the performance besides the Basicila of St. Peter’s. In Mr. Wills’ mind, he thought the Basicila

was the only place for their performance. When the Vatican officials took him to the other place and

Mr. Wills walked into this absolutely beautiful sanctuary, he decides this was the place for

performance. It was not until after he makes this decision, he finds out the name of the place which

was The Church of the Twelve Apostles. Mr. Wills informed the Vatican officials about Earth Turns

Inside Out ending in twelve parts symbolizing the Twelve Apostles. The Priest blest the piece. The

Apostles Philip and James tombs are in this church.

Two other facts about the Church of the Twelve Apostles are – The funeral of Michelangelo was held

in this church and The Church of the Twelve Apostles is the third oldest church in the world.

THE PERFORMANCE…….On June 21, 1998, the performance of Earth Turns Inside Out took

place. The performance by Mr. Will and the Chorus was a spiritual and moving experience. My

husband and I were able to go to Rome and we were able to take in these wonderful moments.

MY PATH………….I am a composer who is creating my own path. I sincerely hope you find Earth

Turns Inside Out an innovative choral composition. It is a piece that is on its way standing the test of

time. Earth Turns Inside Out was included in the Music and Worship Reading Session at the 1999

National ACDA Choral Convention in Chicago.

The Music

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8270 N. Hayden Rd

Unit 2047

Scottsdale, AZ 85258

Denice Rippentrop

(612) 207-8477