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Abbey of the Hills to present some heavenly sounds

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Few experiences compare to hearing live music in the sanctuary of the Abbey of the Hills – and area residents will have this opportunity during the Hymn Festival on Saturday, Oct. 8.

“If you want to hear what heaven sounds like, you need to listen to music at the Abbey,” said the Rev. Matthew Wurm, senior pastor of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Brookings.

Wurm is part of the ensemble that will present “Singing the Faith” at 4 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Abbey of the Hills, located near Marvin. A door offering will be collected for the Hymn Festival that invites area residents to join their voices in great hymns old and new.

“We’ll be featuring the home run hymns of the church,” said Wurm.

A vocal choir and instrumental musicians will combine with the Abbey’s pipe organ for the hour-long festival. Commentary on the gift of song will be interspersed throughout, he said.

While last year’s event drew around 200 participants, organizers are expecting numbers to increase this year, according to Deacon Paul Treinen, Director of the Abbey of the Hills.

“Everyone who attended last year told us what a wonderful experience they had,” said Treinen.

“These songs of praise and thanksgiving will resonate with all denominations and generations,” he said.

The Hymn Festival will feature Phillip A. Magness of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, organist; Rev. Dr. Harold L. Senkbeil of Waukesha, Wis., commentator; and Rev. Matthew E. Wurm of Brookings, officiant.

The Abbey will also offer a light meal in the dining room, beginning at 5:30 p.m. (Suggested meal donation is $10 for adults and $5 for children.)

The Hymn Festival is the culmination of a two-day training for area pastors, choir directors and musicians hosted by Doxology, the Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel. Wurm said because congregations as a whole are aging and getting smaller, the training will focus on how to find, train and support new musicians.

“We expect a large age range from high school students through musicians who have served for 40 or 50 years,” he said.

“Could there be a better place or time to hear God’s word and see his creation?” asked Wurm.

A former monastery called Blue Cloud Abbey, the Abbey of the Hills is now a non-profit retreat and event center located among lakes and prairie hills about 35 miles north of Watertown.

“The fall colors are beautiful. The music will be wonderful. Anyone who comes to the Hymn Festival will not regret it,” said Wurm.

Area residents may also wish to reserve Saturday, Dec. 10, to attend the Abbey’s third annual Sing Noel Concert, this year featuring the St. John’s Boys’ Choir.

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