The Singing Church

I recently reviewed Garrison Keillor’s memoir, That Time of Year.  In it he describes a singing experience he had while performing at St. Olaf College:

“… the audience sang Children of the heavenly Father safely in His bosom gather, nesting bird nor star in heaven such a refuge e’er was given in pure four-part harmony, impromptu, which listeners thought was a choir, but it wasn’t, it was just eight-hundred Lutherans.  I made fun of Lutherans for their lumbering earnestness, their obsessive moderation, their fear of giving offense, and I never felt so exalted as when I stood in the midst of a roomful of them … and we all sang together.”

Readers, there is a reason they call us The Singing Church!  Follow this link for a Lutheran rendition of the song Keillor mentions, in case it’s unfamiliar to you.

The Concordia Choir -Children of the Heavenly Father arr. René Clausen – YouTube

For more about Lutherans and music see these posts:

Martin Luther on Music

Lutherans and Music

Why Lutherans Sing



That Time of Year by Garrison Keillor–Book Review

I assume most Lutherans are familiar with the name Garrison Keillor.  Keillor is well known for his live radio show, “A Prairie Home Companion” which aired for forty-two years.  He invented a fictional midwestern town, Lake Wobegon, a place where, “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”  In his weekly monologues, he poked fun gently, of the inhabitants, many of whom were Lutherans.

In this memoir, he looks back on his life from the age of 78.  He has had some amazing serendipitous events that led to his successful career in radio and writing (some might say they are instances of God’s grace).  His life has been both happy and sad, and he looks back with gratitude for all he has received.  He writes in a style that is reminiscent of his Prairie Home stories, rambling, self-deprecating and true to life.  If you grew up in a small town, you’ll instantly identify with some of his stories and experiences.

You may be surprised to learn that Keillor is not, and was not a Lutheran.  He was raised Brethren, and became an Episcopalian.  However, he does have a few comments about Lutherans that will make you smile.  I’ll let you ferret them our for yourself if you decide to read the book.  He says of his Brethren upbringing:

“The Brethren was a great education … It said that the material world is not All, that human institutions are susceptible to severe moral judgement, and that one day the mighty would be brought low, and the low exalted.  It was like a superhero comic except you  knew it was true.”

Keillor does not sugarcoat his own failings including his divorces and a #metoo episode. His religious background seems to allow him to forgive, both himself and others, to move on, and to appreciate life despite the challenges and disappointments.

VERDICT:  4 STARS.  It’s an enjoyable, light read and if you’re my age, you’ll find yourself looking back and evaluating your own life.

For another post on Garrison Keillor see:

Garrison Keillor on Books



Garrison Keillor on Books

If you don’t know who Garrison Keillor, is you should.  He’s a writer and humorist, who pokes gentle fun of all things Lutheran.  Here’s what he has to say about books:

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.”


“One reads books in order to gain the privilege of living more than one life.  People who don’t read are trapped in a mine shaft, even if they think the sun is shining.”

For more quotes about books and reading see:

Read More Books!

More About Books & Reading