Karen Gehrke Retirement continues to be busy Organ lessons and being a relief organist at different churches is an enjoyable part of my activities. I am thankful to Dr. Jordan for her skillful teaching, encouragement and patience.
Karen (Gierke) Gehrke There has not been much change in my life during the past year. God continues to bless me with a loving, hard-working husband who loves the Lord and four grown, self-sufficient children. In retirement, I truly appreciate the opportunity to take organ lessons with Dr. Jordan. With 60 lessons “under the bench”, you’d think my feet and hands would be working together nicely, but they don’t. I’m thankful to have the time to practice with and accompany the children’s choirs at Forest Hills Lutheran Christian School. In serving as relief organist at Lutheran churches in Beaverton, Hillsboro, Cornelius and Forest Grove, it is sometimes challenging to figure out appropriate registrations for the different types of organs. For me, each season of the church year comes with special music. Having recently celebrated the 500th year of the Reformation with rock solid hymns of faith, followed by hymns of praise and Thanksgiving, we are now in the season of Advent with hymns of preparation for the celebration of Jesus coming to earth as a baby to be our Savior and also preparing our hearts for His second coming as King and Judge.
Karen Gehrke I feel so blessed to be taking organ lessons at this point in my life and in having Dr. Jordan as my instructor! Music has become the more important part of my life and I am formally giving up my nursing license in July with my 70th birthday. My original focus in starting organ lessons was to learn organ registration and pedaling. I have a long way to go in both areas but gradually, my feet and hands are becoming more comfortable in working together. One of these days, they will become “good friends” and work in harmony with one another, not in discord! Registration is another issue as the six organs I have played on in different churches during the past year are all quite different from one another. I still have hope in acquiring better comprehension in this area.
Karen (Gierke) Gehrke Forty-four organ lessons under the bench. You would think that by now, my feet would be fully co-operating with my hands, but that is not the case – YET. I still have hope! I thank Dr. Jordan for her patience and encouragement! I’m still the wife of Wil, a retired Lutheran pastor, mother of one son and three daughters and Grandma to Josh who lives in Denver. I am officially a “Retired” RN with the Board of Nursing. I continue to fill-in for the organists at Pilgrim, Zion, Mt. Olive and St. Peter’s Lutheran Churches in the cities of Beaverton, Hillsboro, Cornelius and Forest Grove. I also stay busy accompanying the choirs at Forest Hills Lutheran Christian School.
Karen Gehrke Twenty-eight organ lessons “under the bench”. I feel so blessed to be taking organ lessons at this point in my life and in having Dr. Jordan as my instructor! Music has become the more important part of my life and I am formally giving up my nursing license in July with my 70th birthday. My original focus in starting organ lessons was to learn organ registration and pedaling. I have a long way to go in both areas but gradually, my feet and hands are becoming more comfortable in working together. One of these days, they will become “good friends” and work in harmony with one another, not in discord! Registration is another issue as the six organs I have played on in different churches during the past year are all quite different from one another. I still have hope in acquiring better comprehension in this area.
Karen (Gierke) Gehrke – Wife of a pastor, mother of four, career long RN and now retiree, living in Forest Grove. I was born in Hardin, MT. and moved to Butte, MT at age three. My first memory of the organ was in Butte when the organist practiced faithfully every Saturday in preparation for the Sunday worship service. Moving to Belvidere, IL in seventh grade, my second mentor was a classmate, Jim, whom God gifted with an amazing ability to play the organ with never having lessons except fundamentals from his father. It amazed me that he could play the pedals as fast as he played the keys on the three manuals of the pipe organ. My formal training started in Butte, MT with shared piano lessons with my brother. I began playing the organ for worship, manuals only, in Chinook and Rudyard MT during our vicarage year. This continued relief/part-time/full-time in each parish we served in Dayton, WA, Fairbanks, AK, Glendive, MT, Kennewick, WA, Reedsport, OR and now in retirement at St. Peter’s Lutheran in Cornelius, OR. I met Dr. Jordan at a recital last fall and was encouraged to hear that she had students who were “older”. So at age 68, I am fulfilling a longtime dream of taking organ lessons with a beginning focus on learning organ registration and pedaling. My feet and left hand still do not want to work together but I am hopeful that one day they will decide to play together nicely!
Old Folks at Home One of the main reasons I started to take organ lessons was to learn how to play the pedals. My feet love the pedals when they can be played solo. Variations on “Old Folks at Home”, Var. III, mm: 1-16 is a pedal solo found on page 38 of The Organist’s Manual by Roger E Davis. It is also known as “Swanee River”, written in 1851 by Stephen Foster (1826-1864). He was known as the Father of American Music, known for his parlor and minstrel music. In 1935, “Swanee River” became the official state song of Florida. The actual name of the Florida river is Suwanee. Foster is known as the first fully professional songwriter in America, having written over 200 songs in his short life. Who knows how many more songs he might have composed if his life had not been cut short from an accidental fall caused by weakness from a high fever, while alone at his home.
Hymn Prelude on When in Our Music God Is Glorified………………J. Wayne Kerr The tune ENGELBERG was composed in 1904 by the famous British composer Charles Villies Stanford (1852-1924). A British Methodist minister, Fred Pratt Green, who did not focus on hymn writing until after he retired from the active ministry, was asked to write a text to ENGELBERG for a festival of praise. It was a tune that had become neglected with time but was brought back to life with the words of the new hymn of praise and adoration, based on various Bible verses including Psalm 150. The fourth verse is based on Mark 14:26; “After they sang a hymn, (Jesus and His disciples) they went to the Mount of Olives.” This was on the evening Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, just before His betrayal. It is said that Green agreed with Martin Luther that, “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”
Dear Christians, One and All Rejoice………..Kevin Hildebrand #556 in Lutheran Service Book. Text by Martin Luther based on Psalm 98: 1-3 and 2 Tim.1: 9-10. The arrangement is by Kevin Hildebrand in “Salvation unto Us -Twelve Easy Organ Preludes for Reformation”. Concordia Publishing House.
Praise the Almighty, My Soul Adore Him.......Robert Lind #797 in Lutheran Service Book. Theme: Praise and Adoration. Text by Johann Daniel Hernschmidt - 1675-1723. Translated by Alfred Brauer 1925. Text based on Psalm 146. This setting is by current day composer, Robert Lind. He has approximately 180 works published for the organ. This one is found in Hymn Prelude Library, Volume Six. Lutheran Service Book. CPH publisher.
Let All Together Praise Our God - The People that in Darkness Sat….Brad Hall # 412 in LSB. Theme: #389 in the LSB. Theme: Christmas. Text by Nicolaus Herman, a German Cantor and School Teacher, 1480-1561. He expressed the Christian beliefs in the form of hymns and was a close friend and colleague of Martin Luther. Text is based on Luke 2:1-20 and 2 Corinthians 8:9.
The People that in Darkness Sat……………………………………………………….Brad Hall # 412 in LSB. Theme: Epiphany. Text by John Morison 1749-1798, based on Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 and Mt. 4:16. Tune: Nicolaus Herman, as above. This setting by Brad Hall is found in Hymn Prelude Library, Volume Six. Lutheran Service Book. CPH publisher.
Beautiful Savior…………arr. Kenneth T Kosche for Thomas and Cynthia Feiertag The original text of the beloved hymn is said to have first been published about 1677 in the Roman Catholic Munster Hymnbook. It originally was written in German and had five verses. The “Beautiful Savior” title is said to have originated with its translation around 1873 into English by Joseph A. Seiss, a Lutheran pastor of Moravian descent. The original composer is unknown but the tune is said to be a Silesian folk song. The first arrangement published in the United states is believed to have been done by Richard S. Willis in his 1850 volume of church choral works. Dearest Jesus We Are Here...Theme Holy Baptism………..Text by Benjamin Schmolck 1672-1737; translated by Catherine Winkworth 1827-78. Catherine, an English language translator from London, is best known for bringing the German chorale tradition to English speakers with her numerous translations of church hymns.
Blessed Jesus, at Your Word……..Theme Beginning of Service…………….Text by Tobias Clausnitzer, 1619-84; translated by Catherine Winkworth.
Word of God, Come Down on Earth…Theme Redeemer……Composed by Scottish Fr. James Quinn, 1919-2010, one of the most important hymn writers in the Roman Catholic Church. This hymn is a skillful commentary based on John 1:14. “And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” The tune written for these hymns was written by Johann Rudolph Ahle, 1625-74 with hymnal setting by Paul G. Bunges, 1014-1998. The prelude setting is by Jim Vyhanek, Director of Music at St. John Lutheran Church in Mt. Prospect, IL
Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying…….Text &Tune by Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608) This rendition is from The Parish Organist, edited by Heinrich Fleischer and published by Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO. It is a collection of 120 Chorale Preludes, Voluntaries and Postludes. In this season of Advent we celebrate the first coming of Jesus as God’s only begotten Son as a baby in a manger. It is also a time when we focus on being ready for the return of Jesus on Judgment Day where we will see Him as Lord and King! This hymn is based on the parable in Matthew 25: 1-13 which talks about being ready for the Lord’s coming and the joy we will have as we worship Him in heaven. The hymn is #516 in the Lutheran Service Book hymnal here at Zion.
Let Us All with Gladsome Voice………17th Century German text, translated by Catherine Winkworth - 1827-1878. Tune: Dresden – 1632- Author unknown. This setting is by Kermit Moldenhauer and is from the Hymn Prelude Library, Volume Six – Tunes JKL from the Lutheran Service Book published by CPH. St. Louis, MO. The hymn is #390 in the LSB hymnal at Zion. This hymn proclaims our joy as we reflect on God’s mercy to us in the Christmas story. The hymn is based on the Bible verse 2nd Corinthians 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
Toccata in E Minor…………..Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) This piece is from The Concordia Organ Method, John A. Behnke, published by CPH in 2000. This Baroque music has been a challenge for my feet and hands. Mr. Pachelbel maybe would be scratching his head if he heard my interpretation of his music! Onward and upward! Praise be to God for His gift of music, especially organ music!
.Prelude in F Major .........................… J.S. Bach Taken from Eight Little Preludes and Fugues. I found this piece in The Concordia Organ Method by John A. Behnke , remembering it from a postlude I heard a number of years ago.
A Pedal Solo, Toccata in F Major …....… J. S Bach is found in The Organists’ Manual, Technical Studies & Selected Compositions for the Organ by Roger E. Davis. I found this an enjoyable pedal piece for my beginning pedaling, although I cannot guarantee that the right notes will always be played. J
The third number is based on a hymn of confession and absolution, From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee text and tune, Aus tiefer Not, written by Martin Luther and translated by Catherine Winkworth. It is a very minor tune with no flats! Verses 1 & 3 are as follows: “From depths of woe I cry to Thee, Lord, hear me, I implore Thee. Bend down Thy gracious ear to me, My prayer let come before Thee. If Thou rememb’rest each misdeed, If each should have its rightful meed, Who may abide Thy presence?” “Therefore my hope is in the Lord And not in mine own merit; It rests upon His faithful Word To them of contrite spirit. That He is merciful and just; This is my comfort and my trust. His help I wait with patience. “ This is followed by a haunting rendition of the same hymn for two manuals with contrasting Flute 8 stops, composed by Benjamin M. Culli, found in the organ book, For Manuals Only, Set 2, Benjamin M. Culli, Concordia Publishing House.
Next, I am playing a pedal solo on the hymn, “Thy Strong Word.” The hymn was written by Martin H. Franzmann to the tune of Ebenezer by Thomas J. Williams. The pedal solo setting is by John A. Behnke. “Thy strong word did cleave the darkness; At Thy speaking it was done. For created light we thank thee, While Thine ordered seasons run. Alleluia, alleluia! Praise to thee who light dost send! Alleluia, alleluia! Alleluia without end! Give us lips to sing Thy glory, Tongues Thy mercy to proclaim, Throats that shout the hope that fills us. Mouths to speak Thy holy name. Alleluia, alleluia! May the light which Thou dost send Fill our songs with alleluias, Alleluias without end.
To conclude, I am playing a piece for this Easter season, a discordant setting by John A. Behnke, Fanfareon the joyful Easter hymn, “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” taken from an ancient Latin text. It includes the interlude hymn, “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands” written by Martin Luther, to the tune CHRIST LAG IN TODESBANDEN. This interlude is a very minor Easter hymn, again with no flats. “Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia! Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia! Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia! Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!” “Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands, For our offenses given; But now at God’s right hand He stands And brings us life from heaven; Therefore let us joyful be And sing to God right thankfully Loud songs of hallelujah. Hallelujah!” “But the pains that He endured, Alleluia! Our salvation have procured. Alleluia! Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia! Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!”
The music I have selected to play is taken from “12 Easy Organ Preludes for Advent and Christmas” except for the last one, are very short. The first two preludes are for the start of the Church Year, Advent, the four weeks preceding Christmas in which we prepare our heart for the first coming of our Lord as a baby. In addition, we also prepare for and anticipate His second coming as our Lord and King on Judgment Day but also celebrate that He comes to us now through His Word, the Bible, and in the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. bore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi.
“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”……...Tune: Southern Harmony, New Haven, 1835
“O Savior, Rend the Heavens Wide”………….Tune: Rheinfelsisches Gesangbuch, Augsburg, 1666
The last three preludes reflect the joy of Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior
“Let Our Gladness Have No End”……………..Tune: Bohemian Carol, 15th Century
“Let Our Gladness Have No End” ..Tune: Bohemian Carol, 15th Century
“On Christmas Night All Christians Sing”…………….Sussex Carol, English
"Gentle Mary Laid Her Child”………Piae Cantiones, Swedish, 1582