Winnetka Congregational Church was the light-filled setting for North Shore Chapter’s Hymn festival on Sunday afternoon, April 30. About 50 members and friends gathered for “This Joyful Eastertide,” led by organist David Cherwien and poet Susan Palo Cherwien.
Before the service, David rehearsed a choir of 14 (AGO members, a professional quartet, and members of the National Lutheran Choir), who led the singing of nine hymns. Susan offered spoken reflections in alternation with the hymns.
True to their strong backgrounds liturgy and church music, David and Susan chose hymns and texts which led us through a liturgy highlighting Easter themes:
Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain
In Deepest Night (text: Susan Cherwien, tune: David Cherwien)
O Blessed Spring (text: Susan Cherwien, tune: Robert Farlee)
Now the Green Blade Rises
Out of Deep Unordered Water
Lord Whose Love Through Humble Service
This Joyful Eastertide
Abide with Me
David displayed much enthusiasm and skill in his introductions, interludes and accompaniments, showing off the vast tonal resources of the Martin Pasi organ. He demonstrated how to enhance the experience of singing hymns: verses for choir alone, verse for organ alone, all in unison, choir or all in harmony, verses for men alone or women alone, choir leading a canon, and choir voices accompanying with an ostinato. Susan’s spoken words were meaningful pauses, giving us time to reflect (and rest from vigorous singing). There was much variety in mood, tempo, texture, and color, a mix of familiar, lesser known, and newer hymns.
David Cherwien is Artistic Director of the National Lutheran Choir and Cantor at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He holds DMA and MA degrees from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in music education and organ performance from Augsburg College. He studied at the Berlin Church Music School for two years.
Susan Palo Cherwien studied church music and voice at Wittenberg University and voice in Berlin for five years at the Hochschule der Kunste. She holds a Master of Liberal Studies degree from Mundelein College. Two of her books are “Crossings: Meditations for Worship” and “From Glory into Glory-Reflections for Worship.”
Our thanks go to the Cherwiens, Winnetka Congregational Church and their organist Elaine Clemens, the Festival Quartet and Choir, and North Shore board members Rich Leasure and Philip McPeek, who organized this inspiring event.
Submitted by Christine Kraemer