Magazine article Pastoral Music

A High and Holy Calling: Essays of Encouragement for the Church and Its Musicians

Magazine article Pastoral Music

A High and Holy Calling: Essays of Encouragement for the Church and Its Musicians

Article excerpt

Book A High and Holy Calling: Essays of Encouragement for the Church and Its Musicians Paul Westermeyer. MorningStar Music Publications, 2017. ISBN 978-0-944529-77-5. 104 pages, paperback, $16.00.

"I did not intend to write this book" is the way that Paul Westermeyer opens the preface of A High and Holy Calling. This book is, indeed, a collection of writings that Westermeyer compiled. The first section is a series of reflections that the author wrote while serving as Dean of the Twin Cities chapter of the American Guild of Organists. The second section consists of articles Westermeyer wrote for The Hymn, the peer-reviewed journal of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. The remainder comes from work that Westermeyer has done throughout his career. The common theme to all these writings is that they recognize the often-difficult task that pastoral musicians face in working in churches that struggle to sustain themselves. This collection is a valuable resource forprovidingsustenance in what seems at times like a thankless vocation.

The text is an easy yet valuable read. Armed with many years of experience serving the Lutheran Church, Westermeyer offers very practical advice. This is evident from the start in his first essay, "Communal Wisdom." While the pastoral musician often faces difficult tasks, the community has a breadth of wisdom that can help make a tall taskseem within reach. "Congregations are smart," Westermeyer writes, and the work of a pastoral musician is one in a "life together" with "requisite checks and balances" from the people of the community. The members of the community come from all backgrounds and levels of expertise. Music does not serve agendas, but instead serves "real people delightfully!" And this delight brings about true community.

In what Wester meyer profoundly calls a "culture of distraction, greed, and cruelty," music can become what cleanses. …

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