Dear Friends in Christ,
Happy Summer to you. I just love summer. I enjoy being outside, the slower pace of life, the opportunity for relaxation, renewal and play. It reminds me of the Plato quote, "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation". When I take my daughter to the playground there is not one child's face that says "I hate this summer playing business". What a wonderful gift from God!
To kick off our Summer Hymn Sing we have some wonderful hymns this week that will lighten your heart, deepen your worship experience, enhance your communion with God and inspire you for the week. Fun fact: two out of three of our hymn writers are alive and well and living in Minnesota! Our first two hymns are by the great Marty Haugen. His music is uplifting and easy to sing. Our communion hymn was chosen by Joan Carmody and it is the ever popular "Amazing Grace".
Our sending hymn, "To Be Your Presence" is one of my favorites and was also one of the recommended hymns for the week. The text for "To Be Your Presence" was written by Benedictine Sister Delores Dufner, one of the best-known hymn writers in the church today. More than 20 different publishers in the U.S., Canada, England and Australia have included her texts in their hymnals and hymn collections. The popular hymn anthology, Sing a New Church, contains her distinctive, beautifully crafted texts set to familiar hymn tunes. Sister Delores frequently receives commissions to write hymn texts for special occasions and needs. In 1994 she completed a commission for the libretto, Choose Life (Uvacharta Bachayim), an opera/oratorio in commemoration of the Jewish holocaust, with music by Mona Lyn Reese. In 1996 she was one of five winners in an international English-language hymn competition to update Mary's image in song. In the October 2000 issue of The Hymn, she was named as one of three outstanding Roman Catholic hymn text writers since Vatican II. Currently, Sister Delores is liturgy director for St. Benedict Monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota.
Our anthem will be sung by GA Choir member Krista Severeid. This piece holds special meaning to her not only because of the powerful text but it was also sung at her wedding in 2009. You will recognize some of the music and text which have been taken from the hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness". A final word about our prelude: It is a modern arrangement that includes excerpts from Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring". Some of my strongest musical memories involve this piece. My sister used to play violin and often times we would play piano/violin duets together. There are many fond sister memories of playing "Jesu" in the mountains of Colorado for my grandparents, or at family weddings or as the special music for church services. This was also one of the first pieces that my beloved piano teacher, Doris Luebeck, taught me to play on the organ.
My prayer is that for the next five weeks you will find your summer relaxation and renewal in the services that we plan. Sing loud and keep those favorite hymns coming!