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.