August 12, 2020

Recommended: St. Olaf Choir

Last night, we attended another special event, this one unrelated to Super Bowl week. Seventeen of us from our choir traveled to the north side of Indy to St. Luke’s Methodist Church to hear the St. Olaf Choir from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Choral music is one of the greatest helps to meditation in my life, and we had a wonderful evening of hearing profound texts presented in beautiful music. The choir is on its 2012 Centennial Tour, and will be singing in various cities across the country through February 13.

And here is a sample of their wonderful sound, from an earlier choir season.

O Light Everlasting
O Love never failing
Illumine our darkness
And draw us to Thee
May we from Thy spirit
Receive inspiration
As children together
Thy wisdom may see
Make known to all nations
Thy peace and salvation
And help us O Father
Thy temple to be.

by Olaf Christiansen


  1. Clay Knick says

    I love watching their Christmas concerts on PBS. They can sing! Wonderful.

  2. Clay Knick says

    The Super Bowl and St. Olaf’s in one week…I’m jealous in a deeply Christian way. 🙂

  3. Wonderful stuff. This has been a week that cries for meditation and the comfort of Christ.

  4. That’s my alma mater! In fact, I think that’s the choir from the year after I graduated – at least, I think I recognize some of the people in it.

    The running joke at St. Olaf was that everyone was so musically gifted, even when they were singing “Happy Birthday” they’d do it in four-part harmony. Our annual Christmas concert had more than a third of the student body performing. (I was a math major, but even the math department had a yearly “recital,” where students and profs shared geeky, math-oriented music.)

  5. My former pastor’s daughter was part of that concert! I’d ask if you remembered a blond student there, but then I remembered that we’re talking about St. Olaf…

    My sister went to St. Olaf, and it’s a beautiful campus. Until a few years back had the best classical music station in the country.

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Definitely NOT a 7-11 P&W band from a Megachurch.

  7. Awww…that’s rehearsed. 😉

    (my Dad used to always say that)

  8. Richard Hershberger says

    St. Olaf’s choir: you really are turning into a Lutheran. What’s next: lutefisk?

  9. Beautiful!

  10. I went online and looked at some photos of St. Olaf’s College. It looks beautiful.

  11. Randy Windborne says

    The music was beautiful, no denying that. But have you ever secretly feared that heaven will be one continuous worship service of some sort, with choirs, bells, chanting, and the occassional P&W band thrown in for the handful of evangelicals that made it?

    Wouldn’t that be more like hell?

    • Randy, my idea of heaven has changed since reading N.T. Wright’s book Surprised by Hope. He pointed out that Heaven will be on Earth, an Earth that will have been transformed by God in the process of making all things new. It gives more importance to the words that Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” It makes all that we do have have even more importance. I can’t say at all that I understand how this will all happen, but that’s no surprise: I don’t understand how the universe came to be made; I don’t understand how Mary conceived Jesus without a man involved; I don’t understand how Lazarus came to life after being dead a number of days; I don’t understand how Jesus was resurrected with a body that was changed somehow from the body he had before the resurrection. The list of things I don’t understand goes on and on. BUT, I trust God that these things did happen and I trust God that in the end, all will be well.

  12. One of St. Olaf’s former choir directors, Harmon H. Bro, was a Disciples of Christ minister and a student of Edgar Cayce. In an autobiographical portion of “A Seer Out of Season: The Life of Edgar Cayce,” he writes movingly about directing the men’s choir during WW2, knowing that many of the singers would soon graduate, join the army, and be killed.

  13. I just did a term paper on the history of the St. Olaf choir last year. They were the leading pioneer in a capella choral singing in America and directly responsible for many developments in American music education. If they come within 200 miles of you, get to their concert. Look for their signature song, “Beautiful Savior,” which was arranged by founder F. M. Christiansen. (For non-Lutherans, that’s the REAL version of “Fairest Lord Jesus” :P) Music of this kind is one of the major steps that led me into Lutheranism, it’s on an entirely different plane of aesthetics than the trend-driven CCM industry. I think that, to a certain extent, you can judge a faith tradition based on the art it produces. Here’s hoping for, as in the early days of St. Olaf, a new age where the church takes the leading role in promoting the advancement of choral music. In days where public educational systems are cutting out arts on a “utilitarian” agenda, the church has the power that the music educator dare not ignore.

  14. The Guy from Knoxville says

    Chaplin Mike,

    Man oh man – I love that choir! They were here in Knoxville in 2008 and my wife and I went to hear them and it was a most enjoyable evening – I think we both shed a few tears listening to them. Think about it – I was serving as organist at an SBC church here in town which was on its way to contemporary – far too much contemporary – and it was so refreshing to hear music (sacred and secular) done so well and I’ve been on the St. Olaf website many times listening to vesper services and the choir as well. Look forward to hearing them again next time they’re in the area.