As we approach “The Music of Living” I’ve had cause to reminisce a bit about the history of this organization. There have been many memories along the way and the April 8th event will certainly be a milestone for Deo Cantamus.
I’ve been a music educator for almost forty years and God has blessed me with the opportunity to affect countless lives through my work. I’ve worked with multiple age groups and had numerous occasions to witness the profound influence of great music. Through Deo Cantamus I’ve been blessed with the privilege of doing that for the glory of God.
I can still remember the first Deo Cantamus event on August, 17, 2004 – a benefit concert for the Metro Women’s Center and their new project, the Amazing Grace Maternity Home. It came about because of a meeting with seminary student John Schiedel, and the performance featured a twenty-four voice women’s ensemble along with several instrumentalists. It was after that concert that Terry Veth suggested we incorporate into an official organization.
After some meetings of a task force, an interim board was established and we began the six-month process of meeting to officially become “Deo Cantamus of Minnesota." Articles of Incorporation were signed on January 25, 2005, and we made plans for our first official event. On April 2, 2005, we sponsored a benefit concert for the ministry Urban Initiative, with a twenty-one voice men’s choir and guest ensemble, Artisans in Brass.
From the beginning, I knew we wanted part of our mission to be working with children’s voices. A small group worked to get that started in the fall of 2005, and initially there was not enough interest. After some reworking, the first-ever “Let the Children Praise” event happened on January 21, 2006, with an ensemble of twenty-four children. My wife Kay often shares the story of the two of us driving to that first rehearsal. She was praying that the students would take it seriously and work hard. We were both surprised that they were SO serious that I had to look for ways to let them have fun. They did enjoy it, and we've been surprised every year at how much they can accomplish.
The first real performance for the Deo Cantamus chorale was in “Agape” on April 1, 2006. It was an ambitious program with an ensemble of thirty singers performing Jesu Meine Freude, by Johann Sebastian Bach. Dr. Kevin Bauder opened the program with some eloquent words including the following...
“...This evening, Deo Cantamus will present some truly great Christian music. This music will be of two kinds. The first is music that is meant to be done by the people of God, and the second is music that is meant to be overheard by the people of God. In both of these categories, the true audience is God Himself...This evening has been about presenting excellent music in an excellent way in order to bring glory to our Lord and Savior. We’re not the Minnesota Chorale or Dale Warland Singers yet, but we trust you found the evening to be enjoyable, profitable, and above all worshipful. We hope you can leave this evening wanting to spread the word that Deo Cantamus has something significant to offer in terms of both music and ministry...”
I’ve been especially grateful over the years to see how individuals have been challenged and stretched by the musical experiences we’ve sponsored. I’m sure it’s the teacher in me, but from the beginning I’ve had a burden to educate so that people can more effectively worship. Our motto has become to serve, educate, and worship.
In addition, in recent years we’ve taken on the challenge of promoting new music that is artistically crafted, theologically sound, and readily accessible for traditional worship. Working relationships with Josh Bauder, James Anderson, Josh Hummel, Ed Willmington, and now Dan Forrest have helped us to clarify our mission. Pieces like Abraham, Remember, Sweet Hour of Prayer, and Jubilate Deo have given a new energy and focus to the organization.
So here we are almost thirteen years since that very first Deo Cantamus event. Through the years there have been some wonderful memories, some meaningful milestones, some challenging struggles. Ultimately, God seems to be blessing our efforts. It’s hard to believe we’ve come from a twenty-four voice women’s ensemble to an event with over 100 singers of all ages, a professional orchestra, and working with an internationally recognized composer. We hope you’ll join us on April 8th and continue to follow as the Lord leads in years to come.
To God be the glory!