“Joyful, joyful we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love; Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee opening to the sun above,” we sing. Our voices unfold joyously, responding to the uplifting music of the pipe organ as the day slips away.
Inside the sanctuary of Trinity Lutheran Church in Faribault, sunlight softens the patches of green, brown, yellow and rose in the old stained glass window that depicts Jesus’ resurrection. As I sing, I watch the colors transform from vivid to muted shades.
And I feel my spirit soar as the music fills my soul. The words embrace, surround, comfort, stir, inspire. I am energized, overcome with emotion at the sheer power and praise in the words I am voicing.
I keep a watchful eye on the man at the organ, Dr. Jeffrey E. Burkart of Concordia University, St Paul. Burkhart plays with a passion unequaled, his whole body leaning into the music, his hand ending songs in a dramatic flair. He works the keys, the pedals, playing this organ with every bit of his being.
The congregation responds with voices raised in heavenly praise that fills this sanctuary.
Later, Burkart moves to the grand piano. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth,” we sing, our voices clear and concise, matching the sharpness of the piano.
Soon he is back at the organ and we are singing my favorite hymn, Beautiful Savior. I hold my hymnbook open before me, but I don’t glance at the words I have known since childhood. “Beautiful Savior, King of creation, Son of God and Son of Man,” I sing.
I am looking now to the cross at the front of the church. And I am thinking of my wedding day 27 years ago, when my husband and I stood before the altar of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vesta. “Truly I’d love thee, truly I’d serve thee, light of my soul, my joy, my crown,” we sang in unison.
In this moment, on this November day, at this Festival of Hymns, I am celebrating the blessings God has bestowed upon me, expressing my thanks in joyful song.
“Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices…”
© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling