For the next two Sundays, I am playing the organ for Karl Bachman at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) while he is visiting family on the mainland. As I began practicing the music for the liturgy, I got a real sense of déjà vu. That is because the music that is being sung for the Ordinary is by Ronald A. Nelson—it was Setting Two for the Lutheran Book of Worship in 1978! The same setting appears in the Lutheran Service Book, which is the successor to Lutheran Worship, copyrighted in 2006. It is the newest official hymnal for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.
I first learned Ronald Nelson’s setting when the Lutheran Book of Worship was published in 1978. We used it for years and years at LCH at the early service, but now I can’t tell you the last time I played this setting—perhaps it was in the year 2000 when Pastor Don Johnson retired from the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. That was seventeen years ago!
We used to call Setting Two the “Sousa March” setting because of its walking pedal line which jumps all over the place. It came right back to me, though, even if it has been at least 17 years since I have played this setting.
Ever since I retired from LCH, which has been four years ago already, I have mostly substituted in Episcopal churches. The last time I subbed at Our Redeemer Lutheran was in August 2013. So it’s been about 3-1/2 years since I’ve even played a service in a Lutheran church.
Starting with my organ prelude, I will play four hymns, plus Kyrie, This is the Feast, a Peter Hallock psalm from the Ionian Psalter (it’s been 2-1/2 years since I’ve played a Hallock psalm!), offertory hymn plus an offertory organ voluntary, the Preface, Holy holy holy, Lamb of God, and Post-Communion Canticle, and ending with an organ postlude. With four of the hymns, I’m playing a short chorale prelude, plus alternate harmonizations for the last verses. I’m playing Baroque music for the organ voluntaries: two settings of “Christ lag in Todesbanden” by Georg Böhm and J.S. Bach, and my postlude is “In dir ist Freude” by Bach.
Wow, that’s a lot of music to play in one service!
I guess I’m only saying this because for the last four months, I’ve played only for school chapel services at St. Andrew’s Priory and Punahou School, both of which have a lot fewer demands on the organist and the services are a lot shorter (30 minutes).
But just think, I used to play all this music every week for 35 years—plus I held a full-time job doing something else!