Typically, we associate this poem with the familiar tune DIX (ELW #879) and the prelude will be an arrangement by world renowned organist and composer Diane Bish. It's important to note that Bish is a very visible and influential classical organist performing today. Concert and recording artist, composer, conductor, and international television personality, Bish displays her dazzling virtuosity and unique showmanship the world over to international acclaim. Her organ performances are hailed as “stunning, virtuoso, fiery, and astonishing.” Some of you may recognize her from her international television series The Joy of Music. She used it as a platform for awareness and appreciation of “the king of instruments.” Broadcast to over 300 million people around the world each week, The Joy of Music combined exhilarating organ and ensemble performances with an informative, inspirational narrative and exciting world travel. The Joy of Music boasts over 500 episodes featuring famous cathedrals, concert halls, churches and organs. She has an interesting DVD series out called "Music and the Bible" where she performs concerts based on biblical themes. Her creativity is inspiring and I love that she still plays concerts wearing her signature, rhinestone studded gold organ shoes.
A German, Norwegian and Scot all had their hands in our opening hymn "Hallelujah! Jesus Lives!" The text was written by Carl B. Garve (a German preacher), the original German was translated into English by Jane L. Borthwick (a member of the Free Church of Scotland who co-produced a book of translations of German hymns titled Hymns from the Land of Luther with her sister) and the tune was written by Ludvig M. Lindeman (a leading Norwegian musician and church organist in the 19th century).
The tune of our hymn of the day, "We Walk by Faith" (SHANTI ELW #635), was written by the well known Marty Haugen. The text is quite profound and in the first verse we will hear again the words that Jesus spoke to the disciples, "My peace be with you here." The tune name is worth noting because the word Shanti is used in many Eastern traditions and it simply means "peace". Shanti is often repeated three times and means Threefold Peace in body, speech and mind. It was curious to me to see that while Haugen writes many of his own texts, the text for this particular hymn was written by Henry Alford. Alford was a busy theologian, English churchman, textual critic, poet, scholar, hymnodist and writer. He is well known for translating "The Odyssey", for editing the works of John Donne, publishing several volumes of his own paintings and poetry, writing a number of hymns and spending 20 years working on his monumental edition of "The New Testament in Greek".
Five of Brian A. Wren's works, including our final hymn, can be found in our ELW. Wren is an internationally published hymn poet with a huge repertory of poems found in hymns in multiple denominations and traditions. Equally prolific, composer Thomas Pavlechko has 83 of his 102 hymn tunes in print on four continents. In 2002, the Churchwide Offices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America appointed him to serve on the Liturgical Music Editorial Team to assist in choosing and editing the liturgical music for the ELW, which also includes his own liturgical music settings and hymns.
So how do we tie in the glory of Earth Day with a gospel about trusting in our Faith walk with these über-talented poets and composers? I think one of the verses from our communion hymn best sums it up:
Jesus calls us in, sends us out bearing fruit in a world of doubt, gives us love to tell, bread to share: God (Immanuel) everywhere!
Jesus lives again, earth can breathe again, pass the Word around: loaves abound!