The 6th annual Harmonies Hymn Concert was held Sunday, November 20, at the Neffsville Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pa. The hymn were chosen around the theme of American music. Under the leadership of Glenn Lehman, the concert also featured a 24-voice choir, Organist Frank Dodd, the Manor Winds woodwind quintet (photo above) and the Tenor Duo, Stephan Englehart and Brenten Megee.
The hymns represented a whole chronological range of the American faith experience including native American, colonial unison, spirituals, gospel, and 20th century.
Nov. 20 Hymn Concert song list: Sing them over again; We gather together; There is a place; Steal away; When Israel was; There is a balm; When all thy mercies; Just as I am; Softly and tenderly; Lord I am fondly; When my lifework is ended; Alas and did; By and by; Shall we gather by; Precious Lord take; My life flows on; To God be the glory; Open my eyes; Like the murmur; Here I am; Jesus I live to thee; O little town of Bethlehem; I’m pressing on and more.
The 11th annual Harmonies Hymn Sing was held on Sunday, April 3, 2016, 6:30 p.m., at the Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pa., with Pastor Michelle Dula opening the 6:30 p.m. service of singing. Mike Burkholder, David Sauder, Stan Godshall, and Glenn Lehman led acappella singing on the themes of Resurrection and Twilight. Also participating was the Reunion Vocal Band (see photo). An offering totalling over $2,300.00 was received for promoting hymn singing through the work of of Harmonies Workshop.
Photo by Stan Godshall
On Sunday, November 22, at 4:30 p.m. Glenn Lehman led a concert featuring Bach chorales and songs of Advent. Assisting the congregational singing was the Harmonies Vocal Ensemble: (sop.) Rhoda Denlinger, Cheryl Gingrich, Sarah Schrock, Janet Tisinger, Gretchen Thomas, (alto) Susan Godshall, Nancy Hess, Jeanette Metzler, Anne Sensenig, Sarah Shirk, Stephanie Stauffer, (tenor) Mike Burkholder, Daniel Erdman, Merle Gingrich, Al Hein, Joel Kaltreider, Jon Landis, Carl Laws-Landis, Paul Metzler, (bass) Berry Friesen, Stanley Godshall, Carl Hess, David Sauder, Don Sensenig, and Kelly Williams.
Assisting on instruments were Daryl Snider, guitar oboe, and recorder; Jason Blome, trumpet; Janet Tisinger, soprano; and Frank Dodd, organ,.
One grateful attendee emailed: “I find such singing … to be such a wonderful spiritual uplift, and your event was no exception.”
The next annual hymn concert is set for Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016.
Listen to a partial recording of the concert:
At the Oct. 16, 2015 Harmonies banquet, Dr. John L. Ruth amused the 114 attendees with yarns about song leaders prevailing against great odds and colonial hymn writers pioneering three centuries of singing in America. The banquet supported the Harmonies project of publishing the tunes and lyrics of the earliest two centuries in America. “This music which Glenn arranged charms modern singers and listeners back to the unfamiliar but authentic texts and plaintive melodies that were sung for centuries,” Ruth said.
Present also was Dr. Karl E. Moyer who endorsed the project that “deals not only in the faith heritage we cherish but also worship, education, and evangelism … making its value to congregations and schools beyond question.”
Glenn Lehman, Director of Harmonies, said his composing and arranging began at a neighbor’s worship service where he was ushered abruptly into the world of early American music. “It was a sonic revelation,” he said. “We’ve covered the shaped-note singing school era, but this ethereal, mysterious body of literature has been ignored until now.”
Harmonies board member Rhoda Denlinger emceed the event. Leading hymns were board members Stan Godshall and Mike Burkholder. With the early supporters and the gifts at the banquet the goal of $15,000.00 is nearly two-thirds met.
The annual Harmonies Hymn Sing was held March 22, 2015, at 6:30 pm at Blossom Hill Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pa. With nearly all seats taken, rich harmonies filled the acoustical A-frame space.
Just two days after the vernal equinox and a week before Palm Sunday, the avid singers worked their way through the four seasons under the leadership of Mike Burkholder, Stan Godshall, Margaret High, Glenn Lehman, David Sauder, and the Blossom Hills String Band. The freewill offering received will benefit Harmonies Workshop annual fund for basic hymn promotion.
The next scheduled concert is Nov. 22, 2015, at Neffsville, featuring guest musicians and hymns and chorales of Advent being the focus.
(Top photo: The Blossom Hills String Band performs at the 2015 Harmonies Spring Sing. Right photo: Glenn Lehman leads congregational singing.)
Two hundred persons attended the concert of Thanksgiving and Welsh hymns on November 23, 2014. Under the direction of Glenn Lehman, thirty select singers led vigorous congregational singing. It was supported at times at the organ by Kathy McKeever and the Bravura Brass.
Said Lehman, the director of Harmonies and organist at Neffsville, “These hymns deserve the Carnegie Hall, top-billing treatment we give them in this concert series. This is music to delight the heart and the head and body. The first-class musicians up front turned the whole crowd into a choir.”
Previous concerts, always on Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving Day, have featured hymn writers Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts. Next year, Nov. 22, 2015, the theme will be Advent and Bach Chorales.
Play a recording of the concert:
The annual Harmonies Sing was held on Sunday, March 23, at 6:30 p.m., at Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pa. The singing, including selections from the audience, was led by Glenn Lehman and David Sauder.
The guest musicians were Harmonies With Friends, an octet consisting of (see photo L. to R.) Rhoda Denlinger, Dennis Maust, Sandi Harnish, Kenny Pellman, Nancy Hess, Philip Warner, and Susan and Stanley Godshall. This octet sang familiar hymns such as: I Stand Amazed in the Presence; Lord, I Am Fondly, Earnestly Longing; and The Love of God. A few new, historic, and obscure hymns were also vigorously sung, raising praise to God by an audience of hymn aficionados and acappella music lovers.
The event also launched the Harmonies Annual Fund for ongoing ministries. An “e-Publish Campaign” was announced for the near future. The e-Publish Campaign will get into modern format and in professional scores the many German heritage materials the Foresingers and Table Singers have sung from manuscript for over 20 years.
On November 24, 2013, at the Neffsville Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pa., Harmonies presented a hymn concert featuring Isaac Watts.
This was the third in a series marked by vibrant congregational singing, acappella and assisted on some pieces by, a select vocal ensemble, organ, and the Bravura Brass Quintet. Glenn Lehman was the director and organist and Pat Martin was performance manager and pianist. Two psalm-based hymns by GIA-published Adam Tice were premiered. Over 225 persons attended.
No one tops Isaac Watts (1674-1748) as the world’s most successful hymn writer. In 1719 he wrote “Joy to the world.” He’s known universally, too, for such classics as “When I survey the wondrous cross,” and “Alas and did my Savior bleed.”
On May 4, 2013, at Mellinger Mennonite Church, the public felt and sang the breadth of congregational singing of the entire 20th century.
Titled “What Made 20th Century Singing Great,” all the Mennonite hymnals of the century were used to create a mélange of styles.
Besides singing the hymns, personal memories were presented by Paul Burkholder, Glenn Lehman, Dan Wenger, and others.
Table Singers alums formed a group to assist in demonstrating singing schools, revival meetings, missionary farewells, and other poignant musical moments of the generations.
(Photo: 1989 photo of the second Table Singers group)
The annual Harmonies Hymn Sing was held at the Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, Delp Road, Lancaster, Pa., Sunday, March 24, 2013, 6:00 p.m. Stanley Godshall and Glenn Lehman as well as the Warners led vibrant singing from the current hymnals.
Guest artists Phil and Carrie Warner (pictured above) and their select choir from the Berks and Conestoga Christian Schools sang stirring choral music, including the Hallelujah Chorus. Phil is interim administrator at Berks Christian School and Carrie teaches music at Conestoga Christian School. In addition to teaching, they have produced musicals and summer music camps for over ten years.
The audience enthusiastically sang the hymns all evening and gave generously in the offering to support Harmonies music ministries.
Harmonies Workshop presented a hymn concert Sunday, November 25, 2012, at 4:30 p.m. at Neffsville Mennonite Church. Over 200 attended.
Glenn Lehman, assisted by Jessica Spieser-Landes, led classics by Charles Wesley (1707-88) and a few 20th century hymns. On several pieces, Kathleen Horein, oboist, Becky Hess, guitar, and a vocal ensemble helped lead along with the pipe organ.
Said Lehman, organist at Neffsville and director of Harmonies. “After centuries Wesley’s work remains essential to every hymnal. This was smart music and lyrics for the head and the heart, presented in full glory as a concert. And the public gave hearty support to it.”
The annual Harmonies Hymn Sing was held at Blossom Hill Mennonite Church, Lancaster, Pa., on Sunday, March 25, 2012.
Stanley Godshall, Glenn Lehman, and David Sauder teamed up with the Hein family to bring leadership to vibrant singing of hymns from the current hymnals.
Allen, Darlene, Rob, and Kate Hein led with their inspirational blend of family singing. Darlene Hein is the director of the Mennonite Children’s Choir, now in its 10th year, with 70 singers grades 2-12.
Photo by Stanley Godshall
December 2011 -- Just released. Amish School Christmas is not a performance. Not a studio production. This CD will bring you inside a one-room Amish school. The Christmas program is about to begin. Family and neighbors sit wall to wall, adding background sounds.
When grades one through eight sing and recite, the folksy charm will lift your heart. Songs range from “Good King Wenceslas” to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” In English, except two carols in German with parents singing along.
Original cover art by Cheryl Benner. Rare photos of Amish-dressed snow figures. 24 minutes.
> Purchase Amish School Christmas CD on Amazon.com
Photo: Glenn Lehman stands in front of Neffsville Mennonite Church ogran.
November 2011 -- Glenn Lehman led a hymn sing Sunday, November 20, 4:30 p.m. at the Neffsville Mennonite Church, Lancaster, PA with Jessica Spieser-Landes assisting. Featuring classics and gospel hymns, 150 persons sang as he or Spieser-Landes led from the organ or acappella. Several in attendance sat in voice part sections and 15 sang with the lead ensemble seated in front.
The classics included: All things bright and beautiful; For all the saints; Sing to the Lord of harvest; Guide me O thou great Jehovah. The gospel set included: I’m pressing on the upward
way, Great is thy faithfulness, and To God be the glory.
Click here to see the full hymn list (PDF)
April 2011 -- The Atlantic Coast Conference has awarded Harmonies Workshop a certificate of Related Ministry. Above, the Rev. John Weber, Moderator of the Conference, presents the certificate to the Harmonies director, Glenn Lehman, in the course of the annual conference held April 30, 2011, at the Immanuel Community Church in New York City. Harmonies has collaborated with Atlantic Coast churches in concerts and leadership development.
March 2011 -- The annual Harmonies Hymn Sing featured the Valley Table Singers and their unique blend of informal singing Sunday, March 27, 2011, 6:30 p.m., at the Blossom Hill Church, Delp Road, Lancaster, Pa. The program included dynamic congregational singing. The church was full, including chairs set up in the foyer.
The Valley Table Singers is a group of 12 friends from the Harrisonburg (Va.) Mennonite Church. They have sung together for over 20 years, including venues in West Virginia, Florida, and Ontario, where they inaugurated an annual Harmonia Sacra singing at the historic Detwiler Meeting house.
The Valley singers presented acappella music from the Harmonia Sacra of 1832, the oldest English hymnal still in continuous use.
On March 16, a quartet of the Foresingers presented early American hymns to the Road Scholar program at Black Rock Retreat, Quarryville, Pa. The focus of the week was American music, and the Foresingers material, including hymns in German and one Amish hymn, was the earliest music presented during the weeklong course of study in the program formerly called Elderhostel. A new feature created for this venue was a slideshow of colonial era meetinghouses, early maps, and musical artifacts such as tuning forks and hymnals.
--seated at table, l to r: Glenn Lehman, David Sauder, Nancy Hess, Beth Peachey (photo by Carl Hess)
The Foresingers presented a sampling of martyr and early American songs in German and English at the annual meeting of the Boehms Chapel, Willow Street, Pa. Recently restored, the oldest Methodist meetinghouse in Pennsylvania was built in 1791.
The Foresingers presented six songs, two new ones added on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the Martyr’s Mirror.
The featured speaker was Bishop Peggy Johnson, the spiritual head of some 1,000 Methodist churches in eastern Penna.
Singing in costume under the direction of Glenn Lehman were Laura Metzler, Lynn Sommer, Gretchen Thomas,
Stephanie Horst, Sarah Shrock, Sandi Harnish, Stu Metzler, and David Sauder.
June 9, 2010
The Foresingers presented music from the 16th century martyr era at “Martyrs Mirror:
Reflections Across Time,” a conference commemorating the 350th anniversary of the
Dutch first edition of the Martyr’s Mirror. The conference, held at the Young Center for
Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, located on the campus of Elizabethtown College,
explored various dimensions of an ancient book that is still important in some Anabaptist
communities and still a publishing achievement in colonial American history.
The Foresingers is an ensemble of singers, including on the photo, left to right, Glenn
Lehman, Joel Alderfer, Leon Miller, David Sauder, Lynn Sommer, Stephanie Horst, Pat
Martin, and Sarah Schrock at the keyboard. The full concert includes representational
skits of worship and family life of the early 1800s. The Foresingers most recently
appeared on a PBS documentary, “Destination America.”
Says Director Lehman, “We do the 16th century music the pioneers brought with them
from Europe in the early 18th century. That music was acappella and mostly unison,
passed orally from generation to generation.”
With 235 persons packing the church, Jim Baer and his singing boys from Lancaster Mennonite School, Kraybill Campus, sang at the Harmonies Spring Sing on March 28 at Blossom Hill Mennonite Church.
The annual singing, sponsored by the musical ministry, Harmonies, featured vigorous acappella hymnal singing and showcased a group which is keeping the singing of hymns alive.
The singing portion of the evening was led by Marcy Hostetler, director of choral music at Lancaster Mennonite High School. She graduated with honors from Westminster Choir College, Princeton, N.J. and has led Campus Chorale to distinction at several regional festivals.
Besides leading popular favorites of various styles, she lead the top ten hymns from a survey Harmonies has circulated this year.
As a fund raiser for the ministries of Harmonies, the offering goes entirely to support music. Board members covered the expenses of the meeting.
Harmonies has released the Harmonies Christmas Special to stations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Ohio, where it had been requested. This year the half-hour of Table Singers Christmas songs is being released free to stations who want to use it as religious content.
Harmonies Workshop has released a CD of early German hymns sung in Lutheran, Reformed, Mennonite and other churches in the 1700s and early 1800s. Called “Meetinghouse Treasures,” the recording includes 21 hymns, a few of which are translated and known today, such as “Sleepers, Awake” and “Out of the Depths.” All the hymns are still used by several old order Mennonite groups. An informal anonymous old order ensemble sings them on this CD to slow tunes derived from German chorales, ancient folk tunes, or from later tunes of American hymnody.“
At first I thought we had a classic rendition of hymns from an 1804 Mennonite hymnal,” said Glenn Lehman, producer of the CD. “In fact, we do; but research confirmed my suspicion that these hymns were widely circulated among German speakers in the American colonies.” Nine come from an 1803 Lutheran hymnal. Nine are found in a 1797 Reformed book, and all are found in Mennonite hymnals.
“Meetinghouse Treasures” retails at $14.95 and is on Amazon.com. This collection was released in 1999 as a cassette.
Marie Leasa asked the Foresingers to present two songs at her husband’s funeral at Frazer Mennonite Church on Saturday, August 8. Here is the group that was able to be present: (l to r), Jessica Landes Spieser, Lynn Sommer, Sandy Harnish, Patricia Martin, Glenn Lehman, Dennis Kauffman (holding the retired hat of Varden’s character, Jonas), and Reuben Miller. Here the group stands after the service, outside of the church on Maple Linden Lane in Frazer, Pa.
Marie requested the group sing “Jesu, Jesu,” and “Wer Jesum.” The retired Jonas hat was placed near the singers, close to the casket, while the Foresingers sang during the funeral service. Varden joined the Foresingers just two years after the group was formed in the early 1990s and quickly developed the role of the elder brother, Jonas. Varden also made the unique contribution of writing Pennsylvania German script for several spoken parts.
While hundreds of tourists and local history buffs converged on the 1719 Herr House on Saturday, August 1, for its annual outdoor festival, music was among the options to choose from.
“I’m always amazed that people sing,” said Glenn Lehman, who offered the session in the stube, the family room, of the oldest building in Lancaster County. “We have people from all parts of the country and they sing songs Hans Herr would have known.
”This is the second time this year Harmonies assisted in program activities at the historic house close to Willow Street, Pa.
On the Net: http://www.hansherr.org/
A male acappella ensemble from Harrisonburg, Va., Sons of the Day, regaled a full house at Blossom Hill Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pa. The March 28 concert filled all the seats of the house and ushers hurriedly set up 50 additional seats in the rear.
The ensemble, already producing their fourth recording in about as many years, offered repertoire ranging from rhymic contemporary to sacred medieval Kyrie’s to plaintive South African freedom chants.
The concert, billed as a benefit for Harmonies Workshop, bracketed the two Sons of the Day sets with broad swaths of vigorous hymn singing sessions from traditional Gospel classics to contemporary hymns.
Photo by Edie Hess
Harmonies took its music under the tent Sept. 14, 2008. Both the Foresingers and the Table Singers made a rare appearance at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society’s anniversary festival on the banks of the Millstream, along Route 30 in Lancaster.
Although the afternoon heat soared to the high 80s, several Foresingers wore complete costumes. The Table Singers choose songs from the 1927 Church Hymnal. “With vintage 1950s cars outside the tent, with historical dress and household appliances, it was easy to get into character,” said Glenn Lehman, musical director of both choral groups. “That glorious acappella sound comes floating right out when we get together. I was amazed.”
Photo by Edie Hess
A reel to reel recording of the “The Holy City,” an oratorio directed by J. Mark Stauffer at Eastern Mennonite College’s 1963 homecoming, has been released as a CD on the Harmonies label.
“This is one of the golden years of the tradition, with J. Mark Stauffer at the helm and the chapel stage packed and overflowing with singers and not a single piano in sight.” said Glenn Lehman, who produced it. “Audrey Shank, David Augsburger, Earl Maust, Jean Snyder, and others appear as soloists,”
The CD is mastered from a reel to reel tape which was forgotten for 45 years. The audio fidelity is not high, but consistent and enjoyable. This recording includes the complete oratorio written by A. R. Gaul. It was sung at EMU from about 1930 to 1970. It is prefaced by Haydn’s “The Heavens Are Telling” and concluded by the “Hallelujah Chorus.”
The brand new CD is available for $14.95 online at Amazon or call Harmonies at 717.656.2749.
>Purchase CD on Amazon.com
The nine-voice acappella vocal ensemble, Shekinah, sang at the annual Harmonies benefit concert, Saturday, 7:00 p.m., April 12, 2008, at the Blossom Hill Mennonite Church. The concert included traditional congregational singing of both old and new songs, including selections from Sing the Story.
Shekinah formed in 2003 to provide music for Eastern Mennonite University’s chapel. Five years later these nine singers are still rehearsing weekly and getting more invitations than they can accept. Their unique blend of women's voices and exciting arrangements has created worship experiences and rave reviews for audiences on many campuses and churches. Shekinah's repertoire includes folk hymns, spirituals, classical sacred, and some secular pieces
"We have grown incredibly as a group and make the music our own,” said Heidi Bowman of the ensemble. “Each woman brings a distinct personality to the group, and each individual contributes in her own way to Shekinah's success and growth. Above all, we raise our voices to give back to God the talents God blessed us with."
Besides Heidi, the vocalists are: Andrea Kniss Stutzman, Eve Knepp, Joanna Showalter, Jenny Hartwig, Sara Gingerich, Katie Derstine, Chris Kniss, and Shannon Blosser, all of Harrisonburg, Virginia.
The April 12 concert was a benefit for the music ministries of Harmonies, which promotes hymn singing.
> Shekinah on the Web
Harmonies again has been tapped by national media. The NPR show On Point asked for Amish music to illustrate its story about an Amish group in Ohio.
Photo by Kenny Pellman
Spare Parts (a.k.a. The Akron Quartet) wowed a crowd at Forest Hills church, Leola, Pa., the evening of May 19, 2007. The event was the Harmonies Ascension Benefit Sing, the annual fund-raiser for the music ministry.
After the last applause, Glenn Lehman, director of Harmonies, asked the four men to remain on stage. Board member Rachel Pellman presented each quartet member with a blown up image of the disc. Then Lehman announced the release of the new CD, "Ain't Got Time to Die." The quartet gathered at the sales table to autograph CD as requested. This CD is the first to come out in the digipak format, which Lehman said, "is friendlier to the earth."
Between Spare Part's two sets, the Forest Hills Mens Ensemble sang several pieces and Treasurer Earl Rohrer announced the kick-off of the annual fund. This year the goal is $10,000.00. Said Lehman, "Most of the energy and time in Harmonies administration and products and live events is volunteer. However the board of directors plans a budget every year to keep a simple office functioning and to have a minimum staff time in place to keep all the various parts flowing together.."
Glenn Lehman led hymn singing at the Friday and Saturday sessions of the March 16 and 17, 2007, sessions of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference held on the campus of Lancaster Mennonite High School. Here he is seen leading from the piano. Many of the hymns were led vocally, without accompaniment.
Photo by Jonathan Charles.