Thursday, May 21, 2009

St. Olaf Sunday - Part 1

As far as I know, I'm the only Ole at Bethany (though certainly not the only one in Cleveland, since Jayce Ogren with the Cleveland Orchestra was one of my classmates). This Sunday, though, we'll be celebrating the choral and musical influence of the St. Olaf Choir with our music.

Our opening hymn is ELW 377 "Alleluia! Jesus is Risen." The tune was composed by David Johnson, one time chair of the St. Olaf music department. (You might link the tune more directly with the text "Earth and All Stars," which is said to be a depiction of the whole campus and its activities in praise of God.)

Johnson was a prolific composer, and I often use his hymn arrangements as alternative harmonies. My accompaniment for the hymn "Son of God, Eternal Savior" will include a descant from one of his collections.

We'll also be singing "Beautiful Savior," which the St. Olaf Choir famously performs as its encore piece at Christmas Festival every year. Having sung in that event all four of my years, I never cease to be moved by the beauty of the hymn. Musically, it is a total contrast to the opening hymn - not showy and flashy musicianship, but a simple chorale and confident statement of faith. Textually, however, the hymns share much in common. Just one example is the way that nature is used as a metaphor to praise God.

I particularly appreciate the contrast between these two hymns of praise. Sometimes our praise is celebratory, youthful, and energetic. Sometimes our praise is quietly confident. But in both, we raise our voices together in beautiful music of faith.

No comments:

Post a Comment