October 11th


Amy Beach (1867-1944), who wrote today’s prelude, was a child prodigy, composing her first work (several waltzes) at the age of four. She received her only formal education in composition as a teenager in Boston, supplemented by a rigorous program of self-study in music theory, composition and orchestration. She made her public debut as a concert pianist at the age of 16.

At 18, Beach married a doctor 24 years her senior. Their marriage was conditioned on her limiting her public piano performances, and concentrating on composing. In 1896, Beach’s “Gaelic Symphony” was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, marking the first performance of a symphony composed and published by an American woman. The BSO premiered her “Piano Concerto” four years later. One writer theorized that the piece reflects Beach’s conflict with efforts by her mother and husband to control her musical life.

In addition to her works for orchestra, Beach wrote sacred and secular choral works, solo piano music and chamber pieces. Today’s prelude is one of about 30 compositions inspired by folk music.


Hyunsung Essie Lee, who wrote “Peace to You,” is a young Korean composer, pianist and organist. She earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in composition from Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory.


Jane Parker was born October 24, 1926 in Tsinan, China, to missionary parents. She attended Wellesley College and graduated from Hanover College where her father was president. She married William A. Huber, her childhood sweetheart, in the Hanover Presbyterian Church. After Bill Huber attended McCormick Presbyterian Theological Seminary they served churches in Illinois and Indiana mostly in Indianapolis at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church. 

Jane served on several committees and councils of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Presbyterian Women, received several honors including "Valiant Woman" designation by Church Women United in their Jubilee Year. She's mostly known for hymn writing - over 200 since 1975. Her words emphasize inclusive language for God and all people, social justice, creation, and peacemaking. 

Two books of her hymns were published in 1987 and 1996, and 11 hymns were in The Blue Presbyterian Hymnal (1990) and there are 6 of her hymns in our current red hymnal.

#772 "Live into Hope” was written for the United Presbyterian Women’s National Meeting in 1976 because the worship team could not find a suitable hymn on the text of Luke 4:16-20. 

 #23 “God, You Spin the Whirling Planets” was written for the 1979 National Meeting of United Presbyterian Women, whose theme “In the Image of God” is variously considered in the hymn text as reflection, focus, distortion, and polishing for clarity.


Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847), who composed today’s postlude, was a German composer and pianist. She began writing music as a teenager alongside her brother, Felix Mendelssohn. Eventually, she was to write more than 460 pieces, mostly for piano and voice. However, few of her compositions were published under her name during her lifetime. Both her father and brother discouraged the publication of her compositions; her father told Hensel that music could not be her profession but “only an ornament.” Although Felix valued his sister’s critique of his own compositions, he said that “publishing [her own works] would only disturb her” in fulfillment of her duties as a woman. Felix published some of Hensel’s compositions under his name.

A collection of her songs was finally published and credited to Hensel a year before she died of a stroke.