By the time Dennis had studied the piano for seven years, he received instruction on the pipe organ from Deaconess Mertice (Spaude) Brueske in 1959, at the age of 11, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Great Bend, KS. Dennis then became employed as the regular organist for Sunday morning worship services. He's pictured below, seated at that organ as he played it again last year as we visited Great Bend at the time of our father's burial.
One of the memories that touches my soul the most deeply is of that Sunday in August, 1965, as Dennis played the Recessional hymn (the final hymn of the service) at the last worship service of his employment at Trinity. He was about to depart for college and I knew it would be rare that I'd be able to enjoy his talent again. The hymn he chose to play that Sunday was #47 in The Lutheran Hymnal "Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise", by John Ellerton (1826-1893).
We were each getting ready to leave for different colleges and I knew I'd miss him terribly. Tears came to my eyes as I listened to Dennis provide the accompaniment as the congregation sang these words:
1. Savior, again to Thy dear name we raise
With one accord our parting hymn of praise.
Once more we bless Thee ere our worship cease,
Then, lowly bending, wait Thy word of peace.
2. Grant us Thy peace upon our homeward way;
With Thee began, with Thee shall end, the day;
Guard Thou the lips from sin, the hearts from shame,
That in this house have called upon Thy name.
Let me pause here and interject the brief side story.
In August we had a yard sale as part of our efforts to downsize. I had quite a collection of old hymnals and knew I needed to diminish the numbers of books in our library. I put the hymnals in the yard sale. Most were not sold and were taken to another friend's house who offered them once again at her yard sale last weekend. We visited her last Friday to see how things were going and selling. I noticed my red Lutheran Hymnal, picked it up several times, always returning it to the box, thinking "I don't need to take another book back home! And besides, someday I'll sell my piano and won't even be able to play any hymns from this hymnal". I was proud of myself for resisting the temptation to bring another book into our house.
But....we again visited the yard sale on Saturday and my husband pointed out the red hymnal, resting in the book box just waiting for me to rescue it from the sale. I grabbed it and held to it tightly, as if I'd found a long-time, dear friend.
|I'm standing with my friend Karen, holding the red hymnal in my hands, along with |
two books I rescued to send to a friend.
I sent a quick text to my brother this weekend to tell him I brought my hymnal back home so I could again sit down and play #47. In return, this morning I received a text from him that was simply the third verse of the hymn:
"3. Grant us Thy peace, Lord, through the coming night;
Turn thou for us its darkness into light.
From harm and danger keep Thy children free,
For dark and light are both alike to Thee."
The hymn ends with a fourth verse.
4. Grant us Thy peace throughout our earthly life.
Our balm in sorrow and our stay in strife;
Then, when Thy voice shall bid our conflict cease,
Call us, O Lord, to Thine eternal peace.
Composer: Edward J. Hopkins, 1869
Tears again came to my eyes as Dennis played this final hymn at our mother's funeral, Feb. 27, 1997. "Savior, again to Thy dear name we raise, with one accord our parting hymn of praise."
As I read the text from Dennis this morning, I thought what beautiful reassurance to me from my big brother that our Heavenly Father will grant us His peace, and keep us, His children, free from harm and danger. My brother blesses me always. His musical talent stirs my very being through his piano and organ performance, and the reassurance of his love and care, along with the grace of our Savior, blesses me with peace. And tears of joy, as well!
I love you, Dennis. God knew what He was doing when he made us twins.