In anticipation of Daniel Berghout’s upcoming lecture at the Church History Library on August 14, 2014, Keepapitchinin is featuring a few selections from long-time Tabernacle organist, hymn writer, and German immigrant Alexander Schreiner (1901-1987).
The Schreiners lived in Kattenhochstatt, Germany, but attended the Nürnberg Branch, so the picture is of Nürnberg in 1906. Eleven-year-old Alexander was serving as branch organist when his family emigrated to America. He told the following story in his biography.
We arrived in Salt Lake City on a Friday. We were welcomed by Latter-day Saints who formerly lived in Nürnberg and had immigrated previously. We loved them and we were happy, of course, to see them again. There were also former missionaries who had been in Nürnberg. We were given a warm welcome indeed.
On Sunday morning we were taken to Sunday School, and of course, someone else was playing the organ.
At 12 o’clock Sunday School was over. At 12:30 we learned that there was to be a meeting for the German Saints, to be conducted in the German language, in the same ward chapel. It was held regularly every week.
We went to the meeting. And to my tremendous surprise, there was consternation about not having an organist. They wondered if they could hold a meeting.
My father said, “My son plays the organ. He was the organist in Nürnberg.”
So I didn’t miss even one Sunday after we arrived before I was playing again. I was soon made ward organist in the Twenty-Sixth Ward, and later, in the Cannon Ward….
The man who led the singing in the Cannon Ward Sunday School was Ether M. Davey, a happy and energetic man who had a very fast beat, much faster than the congregation wanted to sing.
Sometimes I would try to make a compromise, which wasn’t very satisfactory either. I remember occasionally thinking, “I had better respect Brother Davey’s tempo.” And then I would play exactly in time with his fast beating, whereupon the bishop would turn around and scowl at me for playing so fast. But alas, I was merely doing my duty.
The bishop really should have scowled at Brother Davey for leading the music so fast. This scowling made me slow down my tempo, and then I was in battle again with the man who wielded the baton.