Hymn of the Week: July 24, 2022
by Nick Bideler, Director of Music
The Episcopal Church of St. Michael & St. George, Clayton
This Sunday we will sing the hymn tune Flentge as the sequence hymn. This hymn is a paraphrase of today’s Gospel: “I know not how to ask or what to say; I only know my need, as deep as life, and only you can teach me how to pray.”
The tune was composed by Carl Flentge Schalk, a noted Lutheran composer, author, and lecturer. Between 1965 and 2004 he taught courses in Church Music at Concordia University in Chicago, IL and guided the development of the university's Master of Church Music degree. Schalk was a member of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship, which produced The Lutheran Book of Worship in 1978, around the same time as our 1979 Book of Common Prayer. He was also the editor of the journal Church Music from 1966 to 1980. Additionally, he was a published composer for Choristers Guild, a member of the Music Advisory Committee of Concordia Publishing House. Schalk graduated in 1952 from Concordia University in Chicago, a Master of Music from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, and an M.A.R. from Concordia Seminary in Saint Louis. He died just last year at the grand age of 91.
Schalk is well known for his numerous choral compositions as well as his numerous (more than 100) hymns and carols, though we in the Episcopal church know him for Hymn 698 – “Eternal Spirit of the living Christ.” This tune is a great example of the hymn text and hymn tune writing of contemporary American poets and composers. The tune is basically diatonic with a strong accompaniment that fits within the key of D and its gently arching phrases complement each other in a perfect and effortless way. This all makes the tune very accessible for both choir and congregation. The tune name is that of the composer’s mother, Elsie Flentge Schalk.