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Advent 2009: “We Must Adore Thee,” Willy Reske (arranger)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 19, 2009

Willy Reske (1897-1991), the arranger of this traditional French carol, was a German-born convert to the church who emigrated from Königsberg to New York City in 1926. He was a professional organist, playing for 33 years for St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, while also serving in leadership positions in the Manhattan/Brooklyn branches/wards. He is the composer of two hymns in our current hymnal (“Thy Servants Are Prepared” and “God’s Daily Care”) as well as hundreds of other compositions that have been used in the Church — he was, for instance, the composer of the prelude/postlude music used in connection with the Sacrament Gem in Sunday School, composing new music for that purpose month after month, year after year.

This carol arrangement was published in the Instructor in November, 1940.

Infant so gentle, so pure and so sweet,
Love from thy tiny eyes sinners doth greet.
Tend’rest words are falling all thy beauty to show,
We must adore thee, if Thee we would know.

Lead us, o Christ-child, oh lead us thy way,
Helpless we wander in darkness astray;
Let thy joyous tidings of good will toward men,
Resound again, Lord, let peace reign on earth!



7 Comments »

  1. Nice. You have a winner! This is the sort of piece that would be a hit with your standard Mormon congregation, and since it comes from a French carol, even the snobs and music purists among us would have a hard time turning up their (our) collective noses at it, although it is a bit more on the Janice Kapp Perry end of the spectrum of church music than some would probably prefer. And, as a curiosity, there is a surprising echo or two of the song Aloha Oe.

    Although many congregations have difficulty finding and keeping talented organists, there is a sizeable, talented, and professional organ community within the church, with many people like Reske holding positions as organists in large churches or at universities around the country. Some are composers, like Reske, (I regularly use his arrangement of “I Need Thee Every Hour” for organ prelude) and some of their output can be found on sites like wardorganist.com.

    Comment by Researcher — November 19, 2009 @ 7:55 am

  2. Hurrah! At least it sounds as though you think it might be usable.

    I’m also glad to know that Willy Reske is a known name.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 19, 2009 @ 8:19 am

  3. I agree, Researcher. The piece is interesting, without being gimicky. And it has a simple folk-like quality to it that is appealing and singable. Thanks!

    Comment by Hunter — November 19, 2009 @ 2:42 pm

  4. Oh yes. This is a keeper.

    Comment by Coffinberry — November 19, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

  5. I’m so tickled! Three of our musicians agree that finally this series has turned up a worthwhile piece to drag back into the light!

    Now I’m going to have to find someone to play it for me to hear.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 19, 2009 @ 8:38 pm

  6. I suspect it all has to do with Br. Reske’s time in Brooklyn. Brings out the best in a person!

    Comment by Mark B. — November 19, 2009 @ 8:40 pm

  7. That’s been my uniform observation, Mark. :)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 19, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

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