Video: The Art and Craft of Playing Hymns

with Sue Mitchell-Wallace. Kingston, NY: Selah Publishing Company, 1995, in cooperation with The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. Two videos with accompanying 44-page workbook. $80.00.

I've had the privilege of singing in a congregation with Sue Mitchell-Wallace at the organ. In these helpful videos, she offers a resource that will provide any organist—or pastor or congregational member—a stimulating and challenging view of the high calling of leading God's people in congregational song at the organ.

I suggest that churches invest in this resource, ask their worship committees and organist(s) to watch it together, and use it as a basis for discussion about encouraging and improving congregational singing in their own situation. Watching this video together may help not only organists but all worship leaders, who need to work together to encourage their congregations to sing with heart and voice to the Lord.

The first video (ninety minutes), filmed at Calvin College on the Lynn Dobson organ, begins with comments from a variety of denominational perspectives from a number of leaders throughout the United States and Canada. George Black (Anglican), Carl P. Daw, Jr. (Executive Director of the Hymn Society), Carol Doran (Episcopal), Nancy Faus (Church of the Brethren), Hugh McElrath (Baptist), Kenneth Nafziger (Mennonite), and Paul Westermeyer (Lutheran) join Sue Mitchell-Wallace (Presbyterian) in offering very insightful perspectives in several sections: The Importance of Hymnody, Hymn Playing Considerations, Leading Hymn Singing, and Registration. Each of these people are artists in their own right, whether organists or song leaders, composers or hymn writers, and each has become well-known to those who attend Hymn Society conferences. Only the last two sections get somewhat technical, and even then non-organists would benefit from an introduction to the specific demands of good organ playing for congregational singing.

The second video (eighty minutes) could stand alone; after a repetition of the introduction from the first video, she introduces sections on Technique, The Pastoral Role, Enhancing Hymn Playing, Introducing New Hymns, and Self Evaluation.

Sue Mitchell-Wallace has concertized all over North America and Europe, but is probably best known for her worship leadership at the organ in the many hymn festivals and conference workshops she leads. She is currently Councillor for Education for the American Guild of Organists, and resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where she is director of music at St. Luke's Presbyterian Church, Dunwoody (Atlanta).

Emily R. Brink (embrink@calvin.edu) is Senior Research Fellow for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and former editor of Reformed Worship.