What an organist learned

Lynette Tedlund, a.k.a. the commenter on this blog known as  ”Booklover,” wrote a piece for her local newspaper on the topic “My First Job.”  Her first job, along with her sisters, was organist for her church.  Here is what she learned from that experience:

Aside from forming in us an idea of what truly beautiful sacred music and hymnody is, the Lutheran liturgy that we played and participated in formed the very fiber of the women that we became.

One will never think too highly of oneself when one has repeated weekly, “I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto Thee all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended Thee.”

Regular singing and playing of “Beautiful Saviour, King of Creation” undoubtedly prevented each of us from looking to a mere mortal man to be the perfect Prince Charming husband or, heaven forbid, to a future political figure to be a savior.

The weekly congregational reciting of the creed: “We believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth” built in us a firm belief that there is truth and that it can be held in community.

“For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever, Amen,” the weekly chanting of the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, led us to know, in the very core of our being, that there was more to reality than our daily temporal existence.

The “Te Deum Laudamus,” which begins, “We praise Thee, O God; we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord. All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting,” helped us to look outside of our own own provincial sphere.

As we played and sang, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me,” we instinctively knew that we would never fall prey to the false theology that we had now arrived and needed no further Help from above.

All of these truths I still know today.

via Spirit of job refreshes soul.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Stephen

    I love the liturgy.

    When I was far from the church one beautiful Sunday morning I sat outside of the large house where I lived with a bunch of other rock musicians and sang “Create in me a clean heart” from the old red hymnal. It was early and everyone else was sleeping off hangovers. I woke them all up, and later they all made fun of me for a long time after that. The music came out of nowhere, but maybe that is not quite right. I think it was kind of like this:

    Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with cries too deep for words.”

    The liturgy has worked for me like this almost daily in my life. For me it is a sign that God is faithful when I am not, keeping me in his promise spoken at my baptism, drawing me to him. It is what we mean when we say we are called by the Holy Spirit and enlightened by his gifts. The liturgy – the singing of scripture – is such a gift.

    Thanks Booklover!

  • Stephen

    I love the liturgy.

    When I was far from the church one beautiful Sunday morning I sat outside of the large house where I lived with a bunch of other rock musicians and sang “Create in me a clean heart” from the old red hymnal. It was early and everyone else was sleeping off hangovers. I woke them all up, and later they all made fun of me for a long time after that. The music came out of nowhere, but maybe that is not quite right. I think it was kind of like this:

    Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with cries too deep for words.”

    The liturgy has worked for me like this almost daily in my life. For me it is a sign that God is faithful when I am not, keeping me in his promise spoken at my baptism, drawing me to him. It is what we mean when we say we are called by the Holy Spirit and enlightened by his gifts. The liturgy – the singing of scripture – is such a gift.

    Thanks Booklover!

  • SKPeterson

    This past Spring or early Summer, my wife and I were sitting outside on a beautiful Saturday morning enjoying coffee and the sights, when we were serenaded with the same song by our son – he was singing in the shower. I’d often wondered if any of it was sinking in. It was.

  • SKPeterson

    This past Spring or early Summer, my wife and I were sitting outside on a beautiful Saturday morning enjoying coffee and the sights, when we were serenaded with the same song by our son – he was singing in the shower. I’d often wondered if any of it was sinking in. It was.

  • Steve Billingsley

    What a wonderful article. I am not a Lutheran but in my mind the theology expressed in the wonderful heritage of music written by Lutherans through the centuries is some of the best theology that has ever been written in any form.

  • Steve Billingsley

    What a wonderful article. I am not a Lutheran but in my mind the theology expressed in the wonderful heritage of music written by Lutherans through the centuries is some of the best theology that has ever been written in any form.

  • saddler

    Booklover,

    I’ve had precisely the same experience growing up in the Lutheran tradition. It wasn’t until I was quite a bit older until I realized how it impacted me and my faith. Thanks for this.

  • saddler

    Booklover,

    I’ve had precisely the same experience growing up in the Lutheran tradition. It wasn’t until I was quite a bit older until I realized how it impacted me and my faith. Thanks for this.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Thanks, booklover. Lovely article.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Thanks, booklover. Lovely article.

  • LAJ

    My first job was organist also, however, it was singing that put the words in my heart rather than playing. You have written beautifully about your experience, and I hope will inspire many young people to become organists.

  • LAJ

    My first job was organist also, however, it was singing that put the words in my heart rather than playing. You have written beautifully about your experience, and I hope will inspire many young people to become organists.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Good article, good comments.

    When I was reading Booklover’s article, I could hear everything she alluded to. It’s kind of magical. I wouldn’t say that’s the point of the liturgy, but it is cool that someone that I’ve never met, in a completely different part of the country, had the exact same experience that I did, and knows the same words and tunes. It is, of course, much cooler that this comes out of expression of a common faith.

    The first hymnal I remember paying attention to was the blue LCMS one, back in the 80s. I think our church before that had used the old red LCMS hymnal, but as my age was in the single digits, I don’t really remember all that well. When I went off to college, my parents changed churches to one that still used the old red LCMS hymnal and ooh, how that chafed at me. All those archaic thees and thous, and words I was sure a good number of people couldn’t even define, even as they repeated them, like sabaoth and vouchsafe!

    Naturally, I now treasure both the wording and tunes (such lovely minor-key tunes!) of that old red LCMS hymnal. When my parents’ church switched to the new LSB, I made sure that they sent me a copy of the old hymnal, which the church was giving away.

    Since I’ve been in the WELS, I’ve only used the current red WELS hymnal, which largely seems like an updating of the old red LCMS hymanl (which I believe was the old blue WELS hymnal, as well … so confusing). But the updating makes it seem like a tepid version of the original, with different, shorter words shoehorned into the same melody, which has a less complex arrangement than the old one did. Or so it seems to me. If I’m not paying attention, I’ll find myself slipping into the old words and harmonies, only to find that I’m out of place with the rest of the congregation.

    I’m rambling and digressing, but all that came back, reading all that. I still love the words and music of “Create in Me …”, and I’ve often wondered if I could appropriate it for my own music, but I never have. Every time I try, I just end up playing it and enjoying it and then moving on.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Good article, good comments.

    When I was reading Booklover’s article, I could hear everything she alluded to. It’s kind of magical. I wouldn’t say that’s the point of the liturgy, but it is cool that someone that I’ve never met, in a completely different part of the country, had the exact same experience that I did, and knows the same words and tunes. It is, of course, much cooler that this comes out of expression of a common faith.

    The first hymnal I remember paying attention to was the blue LCMS one, back in the 80s. I think our church before that had used the old red LCMS hymnal, but as my age was in the single digits, I don’t really remember all that well. When I went off to college, my parents changed churches to one that still used the old red LCMS hymnal and ooh, how that chafed at me. All those archaic thees and thous, and words I was sure a good number of people couldn’t even define, even as they repeated them, like sabaoth and vouchsafe!

    Naturally, I now treasure both the wording and tunes (such lovely minor-key tunes!) of that old red LCMS hymnal. When my parents’ church switched to the new LSB, I made sure that they sent me a copy of the old hymnal, which the church was giving away.

    Since I’ve been in the WELS, I’ve only used the current red WELS hymnal, which largely seems like an updating of the old red LCMS hymanl (which I believe was the old blue WELS hymnal, as well … so confusing). But the updating makes it seem like a tepid version of the original, with different, shorter words shoehorned into the same melody, which has a less complex arrangement than the old one did. Or so it seems to me. If I’m not paying attention, I’ll find myself slipping into the old words and harmonies, only to find that I’m out of place with the rest of the congregation.

    I’m rambling and digressing, but all that came back, reading all that. I still love the words and music of “Create in Me …”, and I’ve often wondered if I could appropriate it for my own music, but I never have. Every time I try, I just end up playing it and enjoying it and then moving on.

  • Stephen

    I have become a hymnal nerd. I got my own LCMS bron one for Christmas this year, one of the little ones with the soft cover. I also have an old red one and all my father’s worship books including the blue hymnal.

    I was in the ELCA for 20 years on and off. I also have some green hymnals. This is the one they created in 1986 when the ELCA was formed and which they ditched (VERY unfortunately) in 2007, about the same period of time I was around. For me, it marks a moment in time for a Lutheranism that “might have been.” The story I heard about how the that hymnal was put together is tha tit began with the LCMS trying to bring all the synods together to create one worship book. As the process went on, the LCMS (and the WELS, but I’m not sure how far they bought in) split over differences with the LCA and the ALC. Out of that came the ELCA.

    Anyway, I have a soft spot in my heart for that green one. It introduced me to things I had not heard, and it has some great liturgical tunes that will now be, I assume, mostly lost. It only had a 20 year run. I worhsiped out of it in a lot of different setting while traveling around the country with all kinds of people.

    One more story and I’m done – our pastor sang the old red hymnal liturgy for the Divine service a few weeks back and did kind of a horrible job. I just love to hear that old stuff, so it was a little disconcerting, but I love him anyway. He’s great! At the end of the service he confessed to everyone that he had never sung it from that side before. He had always sung it as a person in the pew. He promised ot learn it better for next time. Isn’t it great to be forgiven. How many church musicians who slog it out Sunday after Sunday wouldn’t like to hear more people tell them how much they are grateful for what they do?

  • Stephen

    I have become a hymnal nerd. I got my own LCMS bron one for Christmas this year, one of the little ones with the soft cover. I also have an old red one and all my father’s worship books including the blue hymnal.

    I was in the ELCA for 20 years on and off. I also have some green hymnals. This is the one they created in 1986 when the ELCA was formed and which they ditched (VERY unfortunately) in 2007, about the same period of time I was around. For me, it marks a moment in time for a Lutheranism that “might have been.” The story I heard about how the that hymnal was put together is tha tit began with the LCMS trying to bring all the synods together to create one worship book. As the process went on, the LCMS (and the WELS, but I’m not sure how far they bought in) split over differences with the LCA and the ALC. Out of that came the ELCA.

    Anyway, I have a soft spot in my heart for that green one. It introduced me to things I had not heard, and it has some great liturgical tunes that will now be, I assume, mostly lost. It only had a 20 year run. I worhsiped out of it in a lot of different setting while traveling around the country with all kinds of people.

    One more story and I’m done – our pastor sang the old red hymnal liturgy for the Divine service a few weeks back and did kind of a horrible job. I just love to hear that old stuff, so it was a little disconcerting, but I love him anyway. He’s great! At the end of the service he confessed to everyone that he had never sung it from that side before. He had always sung it as a person in the pew. He promised ot learn it better for next time. Isn’t it great to be forgiven. How many church musicians who slog it out Sunday after Sunday wouldn’t like to hear more people tell them how much they are grateful for what they do?

  • Jack K

    I also love the liturgies. What’s great about them for me is that once one becomes familiar with them one can concentrate on what the words say rather than saying the words.

    I have carried my own hymnal to most services since my Confirmation almost 55 years ago, when I received a leather bound hymnal as a gift. I used it in my daily devotions at home. I still use it in daily devotions from time to time, but not as often now that I have Treasury of Daily Prayer.

    I love attending services where the liturgies are used. I leave having been filled with the Word because the liturgies are the Word.

  • Jack K

    I also love the liturgies. What’s great about them for me is that once one becomes familiar with them one can concentrate on what the words say rather than saying the words.

    I have carried my own hymnal to most services since my Confirmation almost 55 years ago, when I received a leather bound hymnal as a gift. I used it in my daily devotions at home. I still use it in daily devotions from time to time, but not as often now that I have Treasury of Daily Prayer.

    I love attending services where the liturgies are used. I leave having been filled with the Word because the liturgies are the Word.

  • Booklover

    Thank you all for your kind words, and especially for sharing your experiences of liturgy, and with the hymnal. How would our lives have been different if we had not been formed by the liturgy?

  • Booklover

    Thank you all for your kind words, and especially for sharing your experiences of liturgy, and with the hymnal. How would our lives have been different if we had not been formed by the liturgy?

  • collie

    Booklover, I kind of envy you and other Lutherans born into this kind of worship. I didn’t really know what I was missing until our family stumbled upon it when we moved to Michigan. There is so much reverence and depth through the liturgy – God’s word for us. Thanks for the article, and thanks for serving in the vocation of church musician. Talented pianists and organists are true blessings to the church.

  • collie

    Booklover, I kind of envy you and other Lutherans born into this kind of worship. I didn’t really know what I was missing until our family stumbled upon it when we moved to Michigan. There is so much reverence and depth through the liturgy – God’s word for us. Thanks for the article, and thanks for serving in the vocation of church musician. Talented pianists and organists are true blessings to the church.

  • LAJ

    Could I copy your article for the deacons at my church to read? It is so difficult to persuade people that what we have is a treasure when they see the exodus of members partly because of that. Thank you for writing so beautifully about one of our Lutheran treasures.

  • LAJ

    Could I copy your article for the deacons at my church to read? It is so difficult to persuade people that what we have is a treasure when they see the exodus of members partly because of that. Thank you for writing so beautifully about one of our Lutheran treasures.

  • Booklover

    Yes, LAJ, you could copy it. Thank you for your kind words.

  • Booklover

    Yes, LAJ, you could copy it. Thank you for your kind words.

  • Van

    If you don’t get to participate in the Liturgy you become even more aware of how powerful and life-changing it is. If you are one blessed to be able to participate weekly, or even at all, thank God for his rich blessing!!!

  • Van

    If you don’t get to participate in the Liturgy you become even more aware of how powerful and life-changing it is. If you are one blessed to be able to participate weekly, or even at all, thank God for his rich blessing!!!

  • Judy

    I, too, grew up with Lutheran liturgy, and have been singing “Create in Me . . . ” off and on all day today. Isn’t that amazing? It’s so wonderful to know that other people feel just like I do about the liturgy. I was raised ALC in the 60′s (prior to the ELCA) and we had a red hymnal called the Service Book and Hymnal. Sometimes the words and music come to me so clearly that I just sing them out loud. No matter where I go to church, those songs I learned as a child are the best and the strongest.

  • Judy

    I, too, grew up with Lutheran liturgy, and have been singing “Create in Me . . . ” off and on all day today. Isn’t that amazing? It’s so wonderful to know that other people feel just like I do about the liturgy. I was raised ALC in the 60′s (prior to the ELCA) and we had a red hymnal called the Service Book and Hymnal. Sometimes the words and music come to me so clearly that I just sing them out loud. No matter where I go to church, those songs I learned as a child are the best and the strongest.


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