Celebration (Variations for Organ) was commissioned in honor of the 20th anniversary of J. Patrick Murphy as Director of Music Ministry at First Presbyterian Church, Greensboro, North Carolina. First performed by Mr. Murphy at First Presbyterian on 11 May 2003, Celebration was composed during the late autumn of 2002 and completed on 7 January 2003 and is inspired by the scripture”…thanksgiving, and the voice of melody” (Isaiah 51:3).
Though variations traditionally begin with a statement of the theme, the original theme on which Celebration is based does not appear until near the end of the piece. The variations are not sectional but, instead, are ongoing. A transposed Lydian mode (C D E F-sharp G A B C) serves as the primary melodic and harmonic basis of the piece. F-sharp is an especially significant pitch in the composition due to its distinctive character as the raised fourth scale degree in the transposed Lydian mode.