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Music Notes from Denise, March 9, 2024

This Sunday we will celebrate Women Composers Sunday and our prelude and hymns are composed by women musicians. For centuries, women were excluded or discouraged from contributing music for the church. Established in 2021 by the Society of Women Organists and Royal College of Organists in the United Kingdom and adopted by the American Guild of Organists, Woman Composer Sunday raises awareness of the contributions of these composers during Women’s History Month. Our prelude is a contemplative arrangement of Wondrous Love by Rebecca Groom te Velde (b. 1956). Groom te Velde is a third-generation professional organist, following both parents and her grandfather. She graduated summa cum laude from Seattle Pacific University where she studied organ and composition with her father, Lester H. Groom. In 1982, she received the M.Mus in organ literature and performance from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. For the academic year 1980-81 she received a full grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to study with Michael Schneider at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, Germany. During that year, she researched her master’s thesis on the ornamentation in J.S. Bach’s Eighteen Chorales. In 1989 she was certified as an Associate of the American Guild of Organists (AAGO). She has performed in numerous states as well as in Germany, England and Canada, and has published articles with The Musical Times and The American Organist. In 1991 she assumed her present position as organist of First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, OK. She is an active performer, composer, clinician, and adjunct instructor of music at Oklahoma State University. (


Our Sequence hymn will be Lead Me, Guide Me composed by Doris M. Akers (1923-1995). Akers moved to Kirksville, MO when she was 5 yrs. Old. A self taught musician, she wrote her first Gospel song at age 10. After moving to Los Angeles, she played for the Sallie Martin Singers, then formed her own group, the Simmons-Akers Singers. She was associated with the Full Gospel Church in Columbus, Ohio. In 2001, she was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. She wrote over 300 Gospel hymns in her lifetime, two of which we’re familiar with: Sweet, Sweet Spirit and Lead Me, Guide Me. (


The Communion hymn will be a new one for us: Bread of Life, both text and music were written by Bernadette Farrell (b. 1957). Farrell is one of the most beloved composers of music for worship on both sides of the Atlantic, and she is at the forefront of renewal in Catholic worship in both the United Kingdom and the United States and a leading composer of liturgical music. She is a former member of the St. Thomas More Group in London, an outgrowth of a center for the study of pastoral liturgy. In the 1980’s, she began publishing with OCP. Drawing inspiration from Scripture, she has composed rich meaningful, and often challenging lyrics to prayerful melodies. (; Leader’s Guide to Voices Found hymnal supplement, 2004 Church Publishing)


Our final hymn will be one of our favorites, I want to walk as a child of the light, written by Kathleen Thomerson. Kathleen Thomerson (b.1934) was Organist and Music Director at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas. She was born in Tennessee and grew up in Mississippi, California, and Texas. College music study was at the Universities of Colorado and Texas, the Flemish Royal Conservatory in Antwerp, and privately in Paris.  She directed music at University United Methodist Church in St. Louis and was on the organ faculties of St. Louis Conservatory and Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. Her best-known hymn text is "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light," set to her hymn tune HOUSTON.  She wrote the hymn during the summer of 1966 after a visit to the Church of the Redeemer in Houston, Texas. (

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