Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘hymn texts’

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. 
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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 Old Year has passed away

  The old year now has passed away;                                
We thank you, O our God, today
That you have kept us through the year
When danger and distress were near.

We pray you, O eternal Son,
Who with the Father reigns as one,
To guard and rule your Christendom
Through all the ages yet to come.

Take not your saving Word away,
Which lights and cheers our sols each day.
Abide with us and keep us free
From error and hypocrisy.

Oh, help us to forsake all sin,
A new and holier life begin!
Forgive the old year’s sins, and bless
The new year with true happiness,

Wherein as Christmas we may live
Or die in peace that you can give,
To rise again when you will come
And enter your eternal home.

There shall we thank you and adore
With all the angels evermore.
Lord Jesus Christ, increase our faith
To praise your name through life and death.

Johann Steurlein (1546-1613).  First published in Sieben und Zwantzigk newe geistliche Gesenge in 1588 in Erfurt, Germany.
Translated by Catherine Winkworth and published in the Chorale Books for England in 1863.
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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, organist and 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.  #DrJeannineJordan  #OrganAndMultimediaConcert

God’s Mighty Power

Silver CreekThe Second Lesson for our service on September 27th, was James 5:13-16, known in some commentaries as the Prayer of Faith. This compelling scripture was followed by our Sequence Hymn, “If thou but trust in God to guide thee.” Dare we call this hymn the Hymn of Faith? Observing the distinct parallels between the scripture and the hymn, the words of James were illuminated and brought to life by our singing of this beloved hymn.

The hymn and hymn tune were written and composed by Georg Neumark in 1621 following a particularly trying time in his life. As he writes, “Which good fortune coming suddenly, and as if fallen from heaven, greatly rejoiced me, and on that very day I composed to the honour of my beloved Lord the here and there well-known hymn ‘Wer nur den lieben Gott least walten’; and had certainly cause enough to thank the Divine compassion for such unlooked for grace shown to me.”

Neumark’s hymn text exhorts us “Sing, pray, and keep his ways unswerving.” James asks and answers the questions, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”

Neumark continues, “And trust his word, though undeserving; thou yet shalt find it true for thee; God never yet forsook in need the soul that trusted him indeed.” Our scripture tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Our service continued on that Sunday morning with the sermon, the Eucharist, another hymn, and finally the announcements. At the end of the usual round of announcements, a new member stood with what at first appeared to be tears of fear and trembling to inform the congregation of something overwhelming. As it happened, those tears were tears of joy and thanksgiving and her announcement was not one of overwhelming sadness, but a testimony to faith, to the might of prayer, and to God’s grace, love, and healing power.

As James says in Chapter 5, verse 15 “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.”

As Neumark put into poetry those words of scripture,

“If thou but trust in God to guide thee, and hope in him through all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength whate’er betide thee, and bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging love builds on a rock that nought can move.”

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