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Leader of the People’s Song

A reflection by Cantor Bev Jedynak

Ever wonder why my “title” at St. Luke’s is Cantor? Cantor is a historical term among Lutherans that means “leader of the people’s song”. In this role, the Cantor’s responsibility is to lead the musical expression of the people: the assembly, the choral groups, solo singers, instrumentalists, using whatever musical resources are available in a manner appropriate to the talents of those serving and the needs of the people being served. The ALCM (Association of Lutheran Church Musicians) has a wonderful poster that describes the Role of the Cantor noting that it is a high and holy calling – and yes, it is – and I continually give thanks that I am able to serve in this way at St. Luke’s. It is also somewhat challenging and awe-inspiring as well.

It’s a role that fits me well. I can’t think of a time when music has not been a part of my life. It’s just there…it’s one of my senses. My mom has told me that when I was a toddler rather than talk (and I guess I was a pretty late talker) I would point to what I wanted and make a “ta-da” sound like a trumpet – it got the message across. I’ve been told that when I was about three I would imitate a very popular flamboyant pianist who was on television at the time – even to the point of bowing deeply and saying, “Thank you very much,” just like he did. (Apparently my folks thought it was so cute they put a small candelabra on the bookcase that I was using as my piano). This desire to play the piano has been something that has been there forever – even though it wasn’t until the day after my 11th birthday that I had my first piano lesson – and with my left wrist in a splint!

My mother also has told me that at as a small child I would tell her: “Mommy, I hear music; why do I hear music in my head?” I still do hear music – always. It might be a hymn or song that simply stays in my head. Or some other music. I am convinced that if I were in the wilderness I would still hear music.

Bev at the piano leading the whole church…all ages in song

And, even though I have memories of doing lots of musical things (e.g. singing solos, playing the piano, etc.) in school, it was in the church where my gifts were truly nurtured. Whether singing; playing “What a Friend we Have in Jesus” – the first hymn I could play with two hands – for the Sunday School closing; leading Bible camp songs, talent shows or revues; accompanying soloists and choirs; – all led to eventually becoming a church organist – and Cantor at St. Luke’s.

Music is one way that I pray. I feel God’s presence very strongly through music. For some people, it’s the outdoors…. or meditation…. or journaling…for me it’s being alone at a piano or organ and playing. It can be playing Beethoven, Mozart or Mancini on the piano – or Bach and hymn preludes by Burkhardt, Cherwien or Manz at the organ.  I’ve found comfort in times of great sorrow and reassurance during turbulent periods.  Through music I respond with both joy and thanksgiving (usually at an organ with a  full-stop “Now Thank We All God” or Bach toccata or fugue or some other big, fun piece!)

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