Hymn-a-Day May

By May 12, 2020

Peggy Graff says that the idea for doing her “Hymn a Day May” daily music offering came to her shortly after she invited our beloved 11:11 band cellist Dace Sultanov to play for a Sanctuary worship service where the two of them played several pieces—prior to the service, then prelude, offertory, and special music. “During all that I thought, this music makes me feel so much better!” Peggy relates. “My mind, body, and spirit felt so much lighter after having played this music with Dace. It was just what I needed — food for my soul — and I realized in that moment that I wanted to share that feeling as a special project during this time.”

Peggy says that when she and Dace play together, they’re in a zone where each can feel where the other is going with the music. “She and I have such a connection when we play it’s incredible. We feel the music phrasing and pace in the same exact way. It transcends just playing together—it’s a beautiful connection that God has given us to play that way and I think people pick up on that and feel it, too, even if they don’t realize what it is.”  Peggy says that while there are certainly players with greater technical excellence on these instruments, it is rare to find this connection that allows them to look beyond the black notes on the page and feel and sense the music in another dimension.

You can find this initial series of daily offerings Peggy recorded with Dace — and other Music Ministry Moments prior to beginning the Hymn-a-Day May series on our FUMCFW SoundCloud channel — or wherever you get your podcasts. Take a listen and feel your spirits lifting!

“After that service I knew I wanted to share that experience with others,” Peggy adds, “so I invited Dace back to record four pieces, and the last one was a hymn. It wasn’t too long after that when I realized how much doing a Hymn-a-Day (in May!) might benefit people who are struggling with the thoughts, feelings, and emotions associated with quarantine and the COVID-19 pandemic in general.

Saying that her love of hymns and hymnology goes all the way back to her days at Perkins School of Theology where she studied and earned her master’s degree in Sacred Music, Peggy adds, “I know that God put the idea in my head to do this series — to share this deep love I have for hymns — and the comfort and joy they can bring — with others who are struggling in this time.” For Peggy, she’s just doing what comes naturally and now able to share it more widely, thanks to the extended reach of technology. By reaching out to others across this socially distanced reality, Peggy hopes to instill at least some of this love and the comfort ti brings to others. “I’ve always loved hymns,” she adds, “I wake up singing hymns, hymns are part of my everyday experience at work, and if I’m not singing them, they’re usually playing in my head. Sacred music is part of our church life and theology that we are intimately involved with.”

Peggy says that as the COVID-19 restrictions presented themselves as more of a long-term reality, she knew she wanted to share the blessing and comfort theology-laced music brings to her every day with others. “And then I thought about the other people in our church with incredible musical gifts I could bring into this project—to add their gifts and their own comfort and joy of providing this music for others. With an initial guests list that includes Tim and Susan Bruster, Nancy and Greg Froman, Hans and Mary Grim, Austin Patton, Dace Sultanov, Robert Stovall, Taylor White, Allison Haygood, and many, many others of all ages and life stages, Peggy’s Hymn-a-Day May series is chock-full of delightful surprises.

“In each segment we’ll offer a glimpse of the history and origin of the hymn — and maybe what makes each personally meaningful to us,” Peggy explains. “Then we’ll do a variety of things—instrumentals, vocals, combos, special arrangements. It will be a way for people to experience these hymns in new ways and hopefully they’ll get as stuck in their heads as they are in mine!”


Listen to the entire Hymn-a-Day May playlist



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