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Thread: First Plymouth Congregational Church, Lincoln NE -- Amazing hymn singing!

  1. #1
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    First Plymouth Congregational Church, Lincoln NE -- Amazing hymn singing!

    We are using this grand and wondrous hymn on Sunday morning as our processional, and I found this glorious presentation on youtube when searching for a teaching example. Quite well done, competent organist and nice instrument in an acceptable acoustic. Large crowd and fairly exuberant singing too.

    A bit of investigation reveals that First Plymouth Congregational Church of Lincoln Nebraska is a vibrant growing church with multiple services each Sunday in two locations. Their youtube page holds many other examples of fine hymn singing, as well as choir and bell music.

    Quite an astounding situation for a church so obviously devoted to high church worship! May God bless and prosper them. This is a church I think I could attend. Sadly, there are few (or none) such churches in many parts of the country. You have to wonder what they are doing that works so well, and why this type of worship is not being done and received so successfully everywhere.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbkNXq71iis
    John
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    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

  2. #2
    mf Mezzo-Forte Leisesturm's Avatar
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    They aren't doing anything that thousands of mainline Protestant churches weren't doing since this country was a colony. That congregation isn't even that large by the standards of say, a mega-church. But they are doing what they are doing without apology! They have invested in one of Schoenstein's largest instruments, and they allow (encourage?) the organist considerable freedom to PLAY his heart out, and not just lead the congregation by the nose in a simplified accompaniment that will only bore people to tears after the third identical and unchanging repetition. Organists haven't been encouraged to be creative and to increase their technique to the level of awe in a generation. I am five times the organist I was when I first started out in Church Music and I make 1/2 in salary now what I made 30 years ago! Most clergy consider themselves horribly underpaid, especially when adjusted for cost of living over decades, nevertheless, the least of them probably earn 7x what their organist earns. It used to be about 3x what their organist earned. This is an outlier congregation for sure. That organist is certainly an assistant. Just imagine what the senior organist is capable of! This very hymn is the one I was given to play when I auditioned for my latest position. I was encouraged to think that it and/or hymns like it would make regular appearances in the ongoing Worship Services. Hah! Well I've recently been given the assignment to program the hymns used in Worship. Of course they know me by now. I've been advised to think about people who have never been to church before and program music that is non-threatening and won't trigger people's associations. I've been explicitly requested to play no more Bach in service music and an unofficial request not to play any Classical Music at all has been sent down. When mainline churches attempt to emulate mega-churches without the accoutrements of the smallest of mega-churches, the end result is a dying and eventually closed church. My church claims to have a "Praise Band". There is no drummer. The Bass player is beyond terrible. An absolute beginner. The guitarist plays only five chords on an acoustic (only) and his models are all from the Country and Western idiom. They advertise that as a "Praise Band" in promotional literature. If I was not employed there and I was looking for a Contemporary Church experience I could not worship there. If on the other hand I was of a certain age, long familiar with the great hymnody of Western Europe and congregational singing ... I couldn't worship there either! Modern mainline churches are neither fish nor fowl and they are making a huge mistake in taking the faithful members that have been with them for decades for granted. They are panicking because there aren't any new people coming in. But they ignore their core constituency that still has a lot of life (and money) left.

  3. #3
    pp Pianissimo prm's Avatar
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    No wonder you like it. That's Tom Trenney on the organ, a fabulous organist, conductor and clinician. No, he's not the assistant, he's the Director of Music and Organist. The organ is a humongo Schoenstein.
    Allen Q285D

  4. #4
    mp Mezzo-Piano John Kinkennon's Avatar
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    First Plymouth broadcasts their services and was my "go to" church when we lived in Iowa and I didn't feel up to attending a service in person. My niece was married at First Plymouth with Tom Trenney at the console -- what a thrill! They have a great Schoenstein instrument, an environment where everyone is welcomed, a staff that appears to be in sync with the musicians, and they do high church remarkably well. They doubtless benefit from being in a university town as well. Powerful stuff when a church gets it right.

  5. #5
    Moderator jbird604's Avatar
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    1 members found this post helpful.
    I'd almost move and retire there just to attend that kind of church!

    So very sad to see nearly all the mainline churches in my area floundering about without direction because they have been led to think that they will die if they don't "modernize." So they downplay their heritage as a place of historic worship, give the best time slots on Sunday morning to a comptemporary service led by some hired rock band, and wonder why their attendance continues to plummet.

    Even if the mega church in the big box up the street is filling up their stadium seating three or four times every Sunday with their rock concert format complete with exotic stage lighting, fog machines, and holes in their bluejeans, while we're struggling to keep the doors open, we need to press on with being what we have always been. Not just singing the "old songs that Grandma used to love," but being the only church in town that offers a genuinely historic service with the best of both ancient and modern hymnody, authentic choral music, liturgy done with real enthusiasm and joy, communion done with the greatest solemnity and respect.

    There are reasons why Christians worshiped this way for centuries before Satan whispered in the preacher's ear that they needed to bring in a band to "attract some young people." That approach has obviously failed, so why are people still doing it? It's so refreshing to see a church doing high church and doing it so well, and being rewarded with growth and participation!
    John
    ----------
    Church: Allen MDS-45 with Allen MIDI-DIVISION-II expander
    Home: Allen Renaissance R-230 with expanded four-channel audio and MIDI-DIVISION-II
    Shop: Bunch of organs in varying conditions, some good, some not...
    Half of an incredible two-man organ service team -- servicing all the major digitals in Arkansas churches
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

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