Music Which is Not "Pretty"

The music of Lent is not always "pretty". We can over-simplify by saying that much of it is in minor keys and depressing. During Lent we will sing a lot of hymns in minor keys.

Some music is magnificent in its ugliness. On Sunday Feb 25th, I'll be playing "Weary of All Trumpeting", a tune by Hugo Distler. It will be a rather angry sounding Prelude. If you knew the words Martin Franzmann set to this tune, you'd sing:

"Weary of all trumpeting, weary of all killing,

Weary of all songs that sing promise, nonfulfilling,

We would raise, O Christ, one song: we would join in singing

That great music pure and strong, where-with heaven is ringing."

In the second and third verses we'd sing of how Christ teaches us to put down the sword and follow him. That we may all see triumph in surrender to Christ.

St. Stephen has more music coming up which isn't what I'd call "pretty". On March 18, a French horn solo played by Sharon M. is entitled "Throned Upon the Awful Tree." It is arranged for organ by Garrett Parker and then by myself for French horn and piano. It is a piece about Christ's agony. You won't need words to understand the turmoil and resignation in it.

Further, on Good Friday (March 30) the St. Stephen Singers will sing "I Wonder Why?" which is a song about Christ's crucifixion. Written by the 1970s duo Avery & Marsh, it is an anguished, dramatic song. The Singers will cry, "Crucify! Crucify!" And they will wonder aloud if we were to meet Christ today, would we treat him the same way? Would we still crucify him?

About 15 years ago, a former organist here (Pam Kuebler) told me that she never uses two-foot pipes on the organ during Lent. Then on Easter morning, the high pitches of the two-foot pipes make the music sound even more joyful in comparison. I am trying something similar.

Lent is a church season where we remember the end of Jesus' life. We pray. We confess. We are forgiven. We live to serve.

In Christ's Service,

Melanie Fuhrmann

Music Director

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