Man plans event of glorious choruses
Former church music director Gary Nyquist admits he can be easily bored with hymns as they are commonly performed in churches.
But the bland becomes exciting when performed well and with variety Nyquist said, and he's been feverishly arranging 20 hymns to ensure the crowd leaves inspired from a hymn-sing Sunday that will feature a 60-voice choir and 25-piece orchestra.
"I'm expecting there will just be a lot of excitement and I think there will be a lot of energetic singing," he said.
Nyquist, a Cottage Grove resident, said he hopes this is the first of many such events. He's created a business called Hymn Sings America and developed a model that could be used to do similar events anywhere in the country. He charges a flat fee for his services to arrange music and lead the events.
"I believe that all over the country, the trends in church music have changed so much so quickly that I think there is a large body of people out there who are no longer able to sing their music," he said. "This is an opportunity to give them a gift to be able to worship God in a medium that they understand."
Nyquist has led evenings of singing hymns in the past while working as a music director, but he envisioned something on a grander scale. He said his grandmother, his first piano teacher, inspired him to pursue excellence in music and in every other area of his life.
Nyquist found his calling at a young age. When he was 11 his grandmother, the longtime organist and pianist at the family's home church in Harris, Minn., died.
So, with some piano lessons under his belt and a little practice playing hymns, he took over for her leading worship at the church in the small town about an hour north of St. Paul.
"I wasn't the best choice, I was the only choice," he said.
He went on to major in music in college and eventually became a music director at New Life Church in Woodbury.
Following a six-year stint as a missionary in Thailand, Nyquist now works in home remodeling -- another passion of his, this one inspired by his grandfather.
Because of his history with the church in Harris, he wanted to hold his first large hymn-sing near there.
And after this first event, Nyquist admits it's a dream, but he envisions that maybe the hymn-sing movement will have grown enough that possibly more people will be doing what he does.
"I think for the foreseeable future, hymns will still be a very potent force in church worship even if they're not part of normal Sunday worship," he said. "There are still a lot of people out there who really see that as their worship language."
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If you go
A hymn-sing directed by Gary Nyquist of Cottage Grove will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25 at Trinity Lutheran Church at 38460 Lincoln Trail in North Branch. There is no cost to attend, and a freewill offering will be taken.