This week I will be substituting at a Sunday service and funeral at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church on University Avenue. Karl Bachman, their music director and organist, is visiting family on the mainland and asked that I play some of the selections from Bach’s Great Eighteen Chorales for the prelude and postlude. Sure, I’ll be happy to — and boy, am I getting a lot of mileage out of this music! Karl specifically asked that I play Komm Heiliger Geist BWV 661, as the prelude since that is the opening hymn. He also requested Komm, Gott Schöpfer BWV 667 as the postlude since that will be the closing hymn. I will also be playing Bach’s Kyrie Gott, Vater in ewigkeit, BWV 672 from the Clavierübung, Part III for the offertory.
This afternoon Pastor Bill Carney called me with the hymns for the funeral which will be held for a former church secretary. He said that when he talked to the family about my playing the organ they were ecstatic because they said they knew me! He couldn’t remember the surname of the woman’s daughter right away, but said the couple’s names were Charley and Diane. And I thought, well, the only Charley and Diane I know live in Texas but used to live in Hawaii. Wouldn’t you know it — it turned out that the daughter and son-in-law he was referring to was The Rev. and Mrs. Charles Burger, he formerly of Holy Innocents Episcopal Church — and, get this, he was one of the three clergymen who officiated at our wedding 36 years ago!
We got to know Father Burger because he was the Episcopal priest who fell in love with the Beckerath positiv organ when it was offered for sale by the Lutheran Church of Honolulu in 1977. As you may recall, the Beckerath positiv served as an interim instrument while the larger 33-rank instrument was being built. After two and half years of having both instruments, the decision was made to sell the positiv — and it went to Holy Innocents in Lahaina (where my student, Clay Logue, is now the organist). The dedication recital was played by Carl Crosier — and I came along to hear the concert. That’s when we met Father Burger — and we later asked him to participate in our wedding which happened in July 1977.
Talk about a small world, after all!