Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘hymns’

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.”

Something About Hymns

A religious song or poem in praise of God is a hymn.

A writer of hymns is a hymnist.

A collections of hymns is a hymnal or a hymnary, which may or may not include music.

The music to which a hymn may be sung is a hymn tune.

The singing of hymns is hymnody.

A student of hymnody is a hymnologist.

And, finally the scholarly study of hymns, hymnists, and hymnody is hymnology.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, church musician and hymnologist, is also the creator and performer of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons and From Sea to Shining Sea, as a concert organist.

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.

ENTER CROWDSOURCING

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!”

How Can You Help Support Excellence in Church Music?

Contact me at jeannine@promotionmusic.org to learn how you can support the St. Bede Episcopal Church Hymn-a-Thon!

Small churches everywhere are struggling — struggling with a downturn of membership and the resulting downturn in financial resources.  However, in the midst of this struggle there are those churches that are holding to a high standard of excellence in worship –and in excellence in the music of worship.

I hold up as an example, the very small parish church of St. Bede Episcopal in Forest Grove, Oregon.  This church with its shrinking membership and resulting budget crisis made a bold decision to keep their professional organist and choir director.  Difficult decision?  Yes!

The musicians of the church numbering fewer than a dozen, have decided to implement fund-raisers during the year– not to take their choir on a European tour– but to make sure their parish church continues with excellence in its worship and music.

Their first fund-raiser is a barn-burner of a project for a dozen souls.  You see they have decided to sing their way through the Episcopal Hymnal — all 720 hymns — in one day!  March 2, 2014.  That is a lot of singing and playing for this intrepid group, but they are enthused and ready to sing. 

The fund-raising part?  Oh yes!  You can contribute to their project by pledging ten cents/hymn sung — or even a dollar/hymn sung.  Or you can come sing with us — yes, I am the organist and choir director of this hard-working group.   Or you can request that we sing ALL the verses of your favorite hymn during our hymn concert hour.

Want to join the project?  Just drop me a note at jeannine@promotionmusic.org and I’m sure we can find a way that you can participate whether you are in Forest Grove, Oregon or Dornheim, Germany.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Jeannine Jordan, Director of Music, St. Bede Episcopal Church

HYMN-A-THON  Sunday, March 2, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with Holy Eucharist at 10:00 a.m.  St. Bede Episcopal Church, 1609 Elm Street, Forest Grove, Oregon. Come when you can, leave when you must. Please join us.

 

Sing Praises, Sing Praises

“Praising God in song is the only earthly activity in which we will continue to engage after our time on earth is done. So we really ought to learn how to do it right.” 
Erik Routley

There is nothing like robust, exuberant, Spirit-filled hymn singing to bring tears of joy to this organist.  Yesterday, the congregation of the small church I serve lifted their voices in glorious praise as they joyfully sang “All Creatures of Our God and King;” years ago I had the thrill of accompanying 400 men as they opened a Christmas service singing “Joy to the World;” at a revival meeting I counted verses as I played while the congregation lustily sang “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” in Korean; in Columbo, Sri Lanka I joined the congregation enthusiastically singing, “Majesty;” after hearing an incredible organ introduction, the congregation and I sang “Lobet den Herrn” acapella in German with the Stadtkirche congregation in Bielefeld, Germany.

I grew up singing and playing hymns.  “How Great Thou Art,” “Are Ye Able,” and “For All the Saints,” were family favorites.  Spirit-filled family hymn singing on Sunday afternoons in the Zielke household was not uncommon.  Playing hymns is the most treasured and pleasing part of my church work and something I cherish sharing with each congregation I serve.

“Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.”
Psalm 47:6-7

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