Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘hymn singing’

This is One Amazing Book

Check our pew racks and you’ll find not only a Bible and a Book of Common Prayer but another blue-covered book, The Hymnal 1982.    It is one amazing and important book.  Our hymnal draws all of us, all Episcopalians, together musically in the same way that the Book of Common Prayer draws us together in prayer and liturgy. 

Hymns are powerful expressions of our faith, powerful reminders that our Lord is with us in struggle and sorrow, powerful exaltations of joy, powerful and loving reminders of God’s grace.  Singing our praise through hymns is another form of communing with Christ and each other. 

I had many plans for this newsletter article this month, but because of visits from my family, work, practice, and most recently, the death of a dear friend, I put off writing the article until the day after our editor wanted it.  Well, now I know why.  It is so I can share a story with you about the power of hymns – the power of a hymn we sang several weeks ago, “The Lord My God My Shepherd Is.”

Two weeks ago, I learned one of my students (and a very dear friend) was diagnosed with colon cancer, a mass on the liver, and pulmonary embolisms.  A shock but I was sure with prayer and the miracles of medicine this wonderfully caring, generous, woman of God would go through and survive treatment for all the above and life would go on.  I was wrong.  She declined dramatically and quickly.

One week ago, I was teaching Paul, one of my many incredible organ students – a 54-year-old man who is a savant in some very particular ways, and also has cerebral palsy.  His lessons have been such an amazing journey for me.  He grew up in the Lutheran church the son of a pastor.  He has heard hymns all his life and amazingly can play by-ear, even with his physical limitations, almost any hymn his sister, Ruth and I can name or hum.  Not only does he know the tunes, but he knows how many verses each has.  Woe is me when I choose a Lutheran hymn that happens to have 11 verses as he will play every verse for me as he is singing that text in his mind.  His lessons are often jaw-dropping for me.  And…if I give him a word, like “shepherd,” he will create a medley of hymns that contain the word “shepherd” in some verse or other of the hymn.  Truly it is astounding seeing/hearing this man/ child share God’s glory through hymns.

And, so back to the story.  A week ago, I knew their friend and fellow-student, Karen who attends and plays the organ at Paul and Ruth’s church, was in the hospital and struggling mightily after colon surgery.  So, I decided to record Paul playing “The Lord is My Shepherd” and send it to Karen.  The response from Karen’s daughter who shared this recording with her Mom, was that Karen was at peace and smiled throughout the recording.

Today I sent word of Karen’s death to my student group.  Several expressed their sadness at losing a friend and colleague but the following response from Ruth, my student Paul’s sister, truly shows the power and glory of the many hymns, but in particular #663 from our amazing blue book, The Hymnal 1982.

“I am so grateful for you and your moment of genius last week during Paul’s lesson.  Recording him playing The Lord is My Shepherd was clearly a God-inspired moment.  I know that song brought joy and comfort to Karen and her family.  It has brought comfort to me at hearing this news.  It amazes me how you and Paul were used in this special way.  I am grateful.”

And this is the power of the great hymns of our faith. 

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, organist, has a large organ studio with students of all ages and skill levels.  She is also the Minister of Music and Organist at St. Bede Episcopal Church in Forest Grove, Oregon. She and her husband, David Jordan, media artist of Pro-Motion Music , are the creators and presenters of the dramatic story-driven organ and multimedia concert experiences, From Sea to Shining Sea, Bach and Sons, and Around the World in 80 Minutes.  Subscribe to our free monthly e-newsletter for more intriguing and engaging articles – click here #DrJeannineJordan  #OrganAndMultimediaConcert

The St. Bede Hymn-A-Thon Fund-Raiser

Enter the Hymn-A-Thon – the singing of ALL the hymns in your hymnal in one day

·   FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANTLY YOU REALLY HAVE TO WANT TO DO THIS AND BELIEVE THAT IT IS IMPORTANT.    You have to believe that it is important to have great worship music, in our case, the music of our strong Episcopal tradition.  Only then will things will start to fall into place.

·   It’s like crowdfunding in a way.  Each person in your little choir or church knows a number of people around the country or even the world that they can ask for donations

·   Not everyone you know will want to participate but there are many that will be glad to help in some small or large way

·   Think about it, if everyone you know on your email list would donate the cost of going out for a large fast food meal or a small fine dining appetizer, you would be able to push forward and bless the church with great music and without apology.

What happened at St. Bede was that in three short weeks the musicians got behind the Hymn-A-Thon idea and helped friends and relatives understand the importance of the music ministry in our church. Many people supported us even if they weren’t part of our local church. People from around the country, in fact, became patrons and generously pushed our St. Bede Music Ministry forward into the future.

Because of time and space we won’t go into the whole process here, however we would invite you to contact us for some suggestions and direction if you are interested.  The blessings you will receive from singing hymn after glorious hymn (720 in our case) will amaze and astound you.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Minister of Music St. Bede Episcopal Church, Forest Grove, Oregon – jeannine@promotionmusic.org
and David Jordan, choir member and accompanist, St. Bede Episcopal Church – david@promotionmusic.org

Getting Creative – Funding Music Ministry in the Small Parish Church

In the Minneapolis Airport there is a poster showing a picture of Daniel in the Lion’s Den surrounded by hungry but slightly confused looking lions. The caption is: “We in the 21st Century are not the first people to feel stressed.”

Today in church music we find ourselves in a situation that is not much different than it was centuries ago. We are not the first people to feel that there is not enough support to continue a fine music program/ministry.

The Hymn-A-Thon is such a great idea, I wish it were mine, but it’s not. It has been done before. However the purpose behind the Hymn-a-thon at our church is what is different from some others. Being a small parish, we as many, due to limited financial resources were faced with drastically cutting back the music ministry. However, whether you are in a large or small parish, there is a core of people who really believe the music ministry is very important and want to see it continue. It is their belief that music helps people worship and become closer to God.

Before you give up and think that your church is too small or too something else to attempt a Hymn-a-thon, let’s look at this idea more carefully.

First, let’s talk about patrons for a moment.

The term “patron” goes back to the medieval ages and through the Renaissance, feudal Japan, Southeast Asian Kingdoms, Aristocracy and right through to March 6, 2014. Patrons were the people and institutions that helped move the arts forward for present and future generations to enjoy and in which to participate. Patrons of the arts as were important in the early ages just as they are today.


Thanks to organizations like crowdfunding or crowdsourcing, the definition of who patrons are has expanded. Patronage is no longer just for the very wealthy, but for anyone who is interested in helping support a worthy project.

Instead of giving up and asking, “Why is this happening?  Why is our Music Ministry being cut?” say instead, “Our Music Ministry is too important to let go, so what we are going to do about it?”  That was the impetus the musicians of St. Bede had to start thinking about what could be done to mitigate the cuts proposed to their music ministry.

One Sunday morning, a choir member showed up with a newspaper article about a Hymn-A-Thon Trinity Cathedral in Portland had recently done. Their event raised funds to support their choir’s upcoming English tour. We thought, “well, we wouldn’t be raising funds for a tour, but a Hymn-A-Thon could work equally well to raise funds to further our small parish music ministry.”  Three weeks later, on the date we had chosen to “make something” happen, we held our own St. Bede Hymn-A-Thon.

What might surprise you is the number of people who really do believe in what you are doing.  We can become myopic (see paranoid) in our vision and think that people are not interested in maintaining or furthering excellence in church music.  However, as we found, there are a great number of people who respect and value the traditions of the past and want to sustain them for the future.

The Transfiguring Experience of a Hymn-A-Thon

Last Sunday, March 2, 2014, Transfiguration Sunday, the dozen musicians of our small Episcopal parish in Forest Grove, Oregon embarked on a project which in the end was a transfiguring experience for all of us.  Our project, a fund-raiser for the St. Bede Episcopal Church Music Ministry, was a Hymn-A-Thon:  a marathon singing of one verse of all 720 hymns of the Episcopal Hymnal.

 Our day of singing began at 8:00 a.m., included worship and a “concert hour” during which we sang all verses of over twenty “sponsored hymns,” and ended with a fervent singing of hymn #720 nearly 12 hours later.  We were all part of an exalting, glorifying, spiritually changing experience to promote and further excellence in church music.

To quote one singer, “I was periodically overwhelmed by the worship involved in the act of singing hymns – praising God. I don’t know quite why I was surprised by that… but every once in a while I was struck dumb by the message, the music and the act of prayer that we call singing hymns. Thanks be to God!”

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