Sunday, January 24, 2010

Singing "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

My brother Steve wrote to me:

"Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" just wrings me out with emotion. It makes me cry, and smile, and be joyful, and just be broken as a redeemed sinner forgiven by God. I love singing it, but I can barely sing it, yet I sing it with everything I can possibly muster whenever I am given the chance in church.

Hymns like that hymn just dumbfound me when I am confronted by lack of faith in others. That hymn makes faith — the gift of faith, the desire for faith, and the reward of faith — so very real, so very humbling, and so very blessed. God gifted me with faith. I believe. I have no doubts.

And Steve liked the following videos of performances.

St. Olaf's Choir

Crystal Cathedral Choir

Jubilate Reunion

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Singing "Angels We Have Heard On High"

Angels we have heard on high,
Sweetly singing o'er the plains,
And the mountains in reply,
Echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be,
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.

This song fits well with Christmas Eve programs, because the Christmas story told in the Gospel of Luke is read aloud, and that story features the incident when the angels sang to the shepherds.

The first verse depicts a rich image. The point of view is a person who had been traveling along the floor of a valley that has a mountain range on each side. As the person traveled, he occasionally heard angels singing from the mountain range on one side, and this singing echoed from the other mountain range.

The second verse expresses the person's wondering about why the angels were singing.

The third and fourth verses are a different point of view, another person answering and explaining to the traveler. This other person already has been in Bethlehem and is traveling away from Bethlehem, and on his way he has met the first person, who heard the angels on his own journey.

Apparently the first person has heard the angels singing but does not know about the birth in Bethlehem. The second person knows about the birth in Bethlehem, but still has not heard the angels, but he will hear them soon because he is traveling into the valley. Thus, information about these marvelous events is being shared and spread.

The Gloria in Excelsis refrain is fun, fun, fun to sing.

Here is a rather standard performance of the song by the University of Wisconsin's Superior Acappella Choir.

Here is an interesting performance by Liberty High School. The tempo seemed too fast to me at first, but I liked it more and more as I listened to it. Parts of this performance evoke another Christmas carol, The Little Drummer Boy.

Here is a performance by the Ohlone Chamber Singers. Here too the tempo seemed too fast to me at first, but I liked it more and more as I listened to it.

One attractive feature of this song is the mention of angels. Here is a video that shows a lot of sappy pictures of angels.

Here is a heavy-metal performance by someone who calls himself Pastor Brad. It is illustrated by a roller-coaster ride, which evokes the image of the valley and mountains.

Here is a rock-and-roll performance by what seems to be a Christian youth group in Singapore.

This is a performance by a Christian youth group in what appears to be the Philippines. I liked this performance because of its unusual emphasis on the percussion over the melody.

This seems to be a Japanese version illustrated by scenes from non-Christian fantasy stories. I think the singing is very pretty.

Finally, here is a jazz instrumental performance. The musicians are Marshall McDonald, Steven Sharp Nelson, Kevin Dee Davis, Alex Rowley and Camille Nelson.

My brother Steve likes this performance by Andrea Bocelli:

And Steve recommended this performance by the College Of the Sequoias Concert Choir:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Second-Grade Class in 1955

Lois (Meyer) Voeltz sent me this picture of her second-grade class in 1955.

The Second-Grade Class of St John School in Seward, Nebraska, in 1955

If you click on the picture, you will go to the Flickr page, where you can see larger sizes of the picture.

The class teacher was Miss Groteluschen, and the class room is to the right in the picture.

Lois was able to match following names to faces:

Back row: Connie Pollock, Patsy Ahrens, Kathy Brinkmeyer, Lois Meyer, Pam Bock, Patty Bangert, Liz Ocken, Bevery Boeka, Cheryl Ficken

Front row: Dick Hans, ? Kassabaum, Bob Schlueter, Jon Vogel, Marvin Brauer, Doug Zimmerman, Ron Beckman, Ron Pfeiffer

Below is a list of this class's members when they were in eighth grade in 1961: Patricia Ahrens Patricia Bangert Ronald Beckmann Beverly Boeka Marvin Brauer Kathrine Brinkmeyer Melvin Churchill Cheryl Ficken Jacquie Folkerts Richard Hans Bonnie Ihde Frank Janzow Jerry Kahler Terry Kahler Patricia Kolb Karen Lindner Thomas Mantey Lois Meyer Ronald Pfeiffer Connie Pollock Robert Schlueter Diane Schultz Annetta Stork Edward Uhlig Jonathan Vogel Kenneth Voss Douglas Zimmerman Nancy Deremer Carla Kirch

The Students of St John School, 1952-53

In an earlier article I introduced a booklet that was published in 1952 to celebrate the 75th anniversary (1877-1952) of St John Lutheran Church. The book belongs to Lee Meyer, and he scanned some of the pages and e-mailed them to me.

Two of the scanned pages seem to show the students of St John Lutheran School (on Columbia Ave) posing for class photographs. (The photographs were taken on the steps of Weller Hall.) There are five such photographs: 1) the Kindergarten, 2) grades 1-2, 3) grades 3-4, 4) grades 5-6 and 5) grades 7-8. The 2nd picture is cropped.

Lois (Meyer) Voeltz recognized herself and her own classmates in the kindergarten class. Since her class graduated from the eighth grade in 1961, that class graduated from kindergarten in 1953, which means that all these photographs must have been taken in the first part of the 1952-53 school year (I assume the booklet was published before the end of 1952).

Below I will provide each photograph and also a list of students in each class. Each list of students is the eighth-grade list of students of that class, as compiled for the 2009 anniversary of St John School. This list was described in a previous article of this blog. So, for example, the first picture shows the students in the kindergarten class in the 1952-53, but the name list shows the students of that same group of students when they were in eighth grade in the 1960-1961 school year. Of course, during the intermediate years some of the students stopped attending St John School and some other students began attending the school, in that class.

I will appreciate any help from people who can clarify these pictures and can match faces to names. To provide me such information, add a comment under this article or send me an e-mail to

You can click on any of the pictures below to go to the picture's Flickr page, where you can see the picture in larger sizes.

The teachers in 1952-53: Mr. Herb Kaiser, grades 7-8 and principal, Mr. Herman Schmieding, grades 5-6, Miss Lucinda Bartels, grades 3-4, Miss Edna Grotelueschen, grades 1-2, and Miss Martha Maehr, kindergarten. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

(Update: In August 2012, Wayne Buls identified 21 more names for the classes of 1953-56.

The Kindergarten in 1952-53 (Graduated in 1961) Students of the Kindergargen of St John School in Seward, Nebraska, in 1952

Back row: Patsy Ahrens, Bev Boeka, Pam Bock, Lois Meyer, Connie Pollock, Kathy Brinkmeyer, Ron Beckman

Front row: Jon Vogel, Cheryl Ficken, Dick Hans, Doug Zimmerman, Bob Schlueter, Pat Bangert.

Grades 1 and 2 in 1952-53 (Graduated in 1960 and 1959) Students of Grades 1 and 2 of St John School in Seward, Nebraska, in 1952

Front Row: Phil Rosel, ?, Candyce Reiling, Patty Kolb, Sue Westerhoff, Lorraine Eicher , Judy Justice, Terry Wied, ? , Ann Cannon, Virginia Tonniges, Wally Cannon,?, Rusty Darold Schulz

2nd Row: ?,?,?, Linda Meyer, Mark Brandhorst, Phil Griesse, ?,?,?, Mary Ann Schmeiding, Elizabeth Werth, ?

3rd Row: ?, ?, ?, ?, Iomo Jean Zillig, ?, Jim Wake, ?, Ruth Riggert, ?, Elvin Ahrens

Class of 1960: Kenneth Brauer, Annetta Cannon, Loraine Eicher, Judy Fosler, Gene Gehle, Alice Gehle, Nancy Hans, Gary Heinicke, Gerald Hillmann, Lynda Johnson, Judith Justice, Linda Meyer, Ronald Neujahr, Candyce Reiling, Dickie Rhodes, Philip Rosel, Mary Schmieding, Donald Schrader, Darold Schulz, Virginia Tonniges, Phyllis Warnsholz, Mary Westerberg, Sue Westerhoff, Terrence Wied

Class of 1959: Elvin Ahrens, Sandra Beckman, Mark Brandhorst, Walter Cannon, Roger Dankert, James Ehlers, John Eicher, Donald Erks, Bette Garber, Earl Graves, Terry Ihde, Carol Ihde, Jon Kruse, Kenneth Luebbe, Richard Mailand, Marilyn Prochnow, Franklin Reynolds, Ruth Riggert, Kathryn Rolfsmeier, Stanley Schlueter, Leon Schneberger, Shirley Schulz, Rodney Tonniges, Lawrence Uhlig, James Wake, Elizabeth Werth, Imo Zillig, Karmin Zimmerman

Grades 3 and 4 in 1952-53 (Graduated in 1958 and 1957) Students of Grades 3 and 4 of St John School in Seward, Nebraska, in 1952

Front Row: ?, ?, ?, Dean Hackbart, ?, ?, Ivan Ficken, Jim Vogel, Roleen Brinkmeyer, ?

2nd Row: ?, ?, Evelyn Kroeger, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?

3rd Row: Danny Juergensen, Donn Kaiser, ? Kathy Vogel, ?, Carol Pieper, Barry Kolb, ? , ?, Gerald Buls

Class of 1958: Betty Beckman, Charlotte Brinkmeyer, Rolene Brinkmeyer, Gerald Buls, Donna Erks, Sandra Gruenewald, Dean Hackbart, Nancy Hackbart, Linda Hans Ehrlich, Glenn Hillhouse, Susan Imig, Judy Jacobson, Daniel Juergensen, Donna Kaiser, Brian Katt, Barry Kolb, Evelyn Kroger, Gloria Ost, Steward Pflughaupt, Gary Reiling, Roger Rhodes, Jeannette Rusch, Thomas Schlueter, Ken Schmieding, Robert Schott, Gerald Uhlig, James Vogel

Class of 1957 Philip Beck, James Diers, Roger Ehlers, Ivan Ficken, James Garber, Gordon Goldsmith, Roger Graves, Judy Hans, Dean Hillhouse, Robert Johnson, Marcia Kirch, Larry Luebbe, Linda Luebbe, Wayne Mueller, Dennis Otte, Carolyn Petersen, Carol Pieper, Alice Reynolds, Katherine Rosel, Maureen Schlueter, Joanne Schultz, Diane Sies, Ronald Suhr, Karen Sundermann, Kathleen Vogel, Eva Walsh, Gerald Werth

Grades 5 and 6 in 1952-53 (Graduated in 1956 and 1955) Students of Grades 5 and 6 of St John School in Seward, Nebraska, in 1952

Front Row: ?, ?, ?, ?, Paul Griesse, ?, Julie Westerhoff, Charles Fenster

2nd Row: Harold Walker, David Rolfsmeier, Gordon Alschwede, Kathy Rosel, Leora Mueller, Carol Yauk, Sally Westerhoff, Margaret Beckmann, Wayne Buls

Back Row: ?, Gordon Bredow, Tim Wake, Philip Zillig, ? Diane Rigert, John Schmieding, Fred Kroger, ?

Class of 1956 Gordon Ahlschwede, Gerhard Backhus, Wayne Buls, Jerry Hackbart, C.Frederick Kroger, Jochen Landre, Stanley Litty, Lousie Meyer, Bernice Meyer, Rosalie Mueller, Leora Mueller, Jeanne Pfeiffer, Roger Pflughaupt, David Rolfsmeier, Don Schlueter, Harold Walker

Class of 1955 Margaret Beckmann, Robert Brauer, Gordon Bredow, Orval Buls, Charles Fenster, William Imig, Ann Johnson, Darold Kassebaum, Leonard Lamberty, Gerald Lehr, Richard Reinmiller, Diane Riggert, John Schmieding, Gerald Schultz, Lois Schulz, Thomas Wake II, A. Eugene Wendland, Sally Westerhoff, Julie Westerhoff, Carol Yauk, Philip Zillig

Grades 7 and 8 in 1952-53 (Graduated in 1954 and 1953) Students of Grades 7 and 8 of St John School in Seward, Nebraska, in 1952

Front Row: Janie Griesse, ?, Dale Pieper, Dennis Werling, ? ?, ?

2nd Row: Roger Mailand, Roger Lindner, ?, ?, ?, Merlin Ziellig, ? ?, Ronnie Mueller, ?

3rd Row: ?, ?, ?, ?, Keith Brose, Dave Kroeger, ?, ?, ?, ?,

4th Row: ?, ?, Jim Juergensen, Orval Buls, Larry Goldsmith, ?, ?, James Schmieding 

Class of 1954 Floyd Abele, Keith Brose, Barbara Gade, Gary Hackbart, LaRue Hackbart, James Juergensen, Wilma Kassebaum, David Kroger, Louis Lamberty, Roger Mailand, Ronnie Mueller, Dale Pieper, David Reynolds, Beverly Jo Rolfsmeier, Susan Sahn, Karen Schaeffer, Jerold Schlueter, James Schultz, Barbara Splittgerber, Jerold Varner, Dennis Werling, Sandra Westbrook, Merlin Zillig

Class of 1953 Nancy Kay Aegerter, Maureen Ahlschwede, Richard Chloupek, Roger Duerr, Sylvia Fritz, Dean Gade, Larry Goldsmith, Janice Griesse, Kenneth Hackbart, Marjorie Hans, Marilyn Imig, Rodney Imig, Roger Lindner, Harvey Mueller, Dwayne Otte, Dorothy Pleines, Lorrence Pleines, James Schmieding, Wayne Schulz, Shirley Siebe, Linda Kay Sies, Doris Walker, Euleen Werth, Margaret Whittrock, Margaret Yauk

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More Memories of the Christmas Program

[Lois (Meyer) Voeltz provided the following memories and photographs.]

I [Lois] thoroughly enjoyed the memories of the St. John Christmas programs and finally, this week, found some pictures of the kindergarten angels that did have wings -- my class, 1952-53 and Alan's class, 1954-55. I remember the kindergarten made a 'curtain' with the Mary & Joseph moving in behind the angels. Arms were linked and then opened up.

Kindergarten Angels at St John School in Seward, Nebraska, in 1954
Flickr page

Kindergarten Angels at St John School in Seward, Nebraska, in 1952
Flickr page
[The Flickr pages show larger sizes of the images.]

Also, I do remember practicing on that one day in the Seward High gym -- long and a bit "boring" -- don't like using that word but it was so repetitious. And we all know Luke 2 in the King James Version, I'm sure! I loved singing "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come", all 70 zillion verses, ending with "Ah dearest Jesus holy child...."

Lower grades wore white gowns with big red bows. Upper grades wore black undergown and white overgown. A big deal to have grown to Mr. Schmeiding's upper grades.

When in 8th grade, Larry Peterson brought cinammon sticks for all of us to enjoy. (Mike S, so appreciated your story about our cousin, John Garmatz, and how he 'introduced' cinammon sticks. I remember getting the vial of cimammon at Brockhoff Drug Store. We loved it!!)

I can smell the brown paper bags and see the big orange and apple and hard candy that was passed out to each of us as we recessed. And hurrying home to open presents.

I was saddened when St John decided to forego the traditional (as we knew it!) Christmas Eve service ritual but also appreciated the creative services that followed the traditional 'recitations and singing.'

Jody, I, too am thankful to have learned to sing in 4 part harmony in 5th grade. I also sing the 'parts' I know from the ones Mr. Schmeiding wrote. "Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah" and "Rock of Ages". We are the folks that Garrison Kiellor talks/writes about -- that know HOW to sing 4 part harmony, without music! A gift of training that we didn't realize was happening.

[Lois provided some other old, non-Christmas photographs that I will upload in the next couple of days.]

Tobin Beck sent these remarks:

Your notes bring back a lot of memories.

When the three of us kids were little Mom started the tradition of Jesus birthday cake on Christmas Eve. We’d go to the children’s service at the Seward High gym and then come home. Dad would read the Christmas story, we’d open presents, and then we’d go into the kitchen to sing happy birthday and have Jesus birthday cake before going to bed.

Mom and Dad took a lot of photos and slides at Christmas, which helps with the memories.

This week’s blizzard (we got about 14 inches of snow, with winds of 30-45 mph) reminded me too of some of the big winter storms we had on Faculty Lane, how we’d make snow forts in some of the big drifts – and how we’d sled down the hill by Sylwester’s house. When Kevin, Tedi and I were little Dad would take us one at a time and sit behind us on the sled as we went down the hill.