In many ways, yesterday’s 10:30 am service was just an ordinary Sunday at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. It being the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the service was preceded by our Sunday School children’s presentation of the Jesse Tree, which are lessons about the preparation of Christ’s coming, interspersed with a musical refrain. Allen Bauchle and I got out the umpteen handbells which were to be used for the final hymn — my setting of “Veni veni Emmanuel” which was published by GIA in the late 70s. The choir started with a warm-up rehearsal in Isenberg Hall, and then moved into the nave after the Jesse Tree was over.
I scrambled to get all my music in order (again, a typical Sunday) and had some difficulty locating the accompaniment to Peter Hallock’s Magnificat which took the place of the Psalm. I finally found it as part of Cycle B — and not Cycle C where I first looked. My prelude was Bach’s quiet and introspective Meine Seele erhebt den Herren, BWV 648, from the so-called Schübler chorales, which are Bach’s transcriptions of his own cantata movements.
We repeated Peter Klatzow’s Magnificat for the anthem, and I felt much more confident about it than our first performance at Advent Procession on December 2nd. And then on the final chord, I and the whole congregation felt and heard a low rumble. I thought perhaps there was a cipher on the pedal Fagott, but it was in fact the Air Force flyover for Senator Inouye’s memorial service at Punchbowl cemetery, which is less than a mile away. I thought it was perfect timing to the end of the anthem!
My setting of “Veni Emmanuel” went exactly the way it was supposed to — and the choir made sure to walk slowly during the alternating bell chords on the last verse. For me, there’s always a magical moment when the singing is ended and the bells keep pealing, fading into the distance as the choir processes into the courtyard. The magic happened again.
At the end of the service, Pastor Jeff got right next to me on the organ platform to make his end-of-service Unannouncements [During Advent, we were supposed to give up lengthy announcements!] He again kept it short and sweet, and again, everyone stayed in place to hear my postlude, Bach’s “Fugue on the Magnificat,” BWV 733, then gave me a standing ovation. Because this was not a typical postlude where I don’t turn around afterwards [because I don’t consider the applause for me, personally, but for the entire service], today I stood and acknowledged the ovation.
You might imagine that I perhaps could be feeling many emotions — sadness that this was my last Sunday — happiness that a new chapter in my life would bring new experiences. Many people came up to me with a lei and tears in their eyes. But for me it was just a typical Sunday, and I had done my job.