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You are here: UMWiki>WorldInTwoCities Web>LocalMusicScenes>LutheranMusic>LatvianEvangelical (21 Feb 2009, zelti001)

Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Minneapolis and St. Paul (Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [LELBA])

3152 17th Avenue South
Minneapolis MN 55407

When Latvians immigrated to the Twin Cities after World War II, the Lutheran church became the focal point of their ethnic community. Guna Skujina, the director of the choir at the South Minneapolis church for the past 30 years, discusses the drive to keep Latvian culture alive in the US: “The only cultural institution that encompassed all of the Latvians was the Church, so everybody would meet at the church whether you were religious or not.”

The Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Minneapolis and St. Paul was established in 1951. Skujina’s father, a nationalist who was more pagan than Lutheran, insisted that his children go to the Latvian school housed in the Lutheran church’s basement so that they maintained their Latvian language skills and became familiar Latvian cultural practices. Almost sixty years later, the church continues to worship in the Latvian language and offer language classes for children.

With around four hundred members, the church remains important to the Latvian-American population of the 21st century. Moreover, with approximately thirty-five choir members, the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Choir of Minneapolis and St. Paul is one of the largest in this study.

Skujina describes the musical tastes of her congregation as conservative. The Latvian choral tradition was largely informed by German musical practice in Latvia so that it is often described as “difficult, heavy, and formal” by church members. However, the music originally practiced by the congregation was different from the music parishioners sing today. Skujina comments, “In the beginning, only Latvian music from Latvian composers was sung.” Skujina has begun to introduce music authored by composers outside of Latvia and occasionally varies the instrumental accompaniment, once bringing in an electric guitar to play the bass line for the choir.

Listen the Music of Latvian Evangelical:

1. Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Choir of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Minneapolis and St. Paul, “ Pateicos ” (“I thank you”) words and music by Mara Richtere, arrangement by E. Brusubardis III. mp3 download

Musicians: Guna Skujina (director), Biruta Spruds (accompanist), Sandra Ozolins-Plifka, Laima Zoltners Dingley, Aina Rozenbergs, Mirdza Eglitis, Elita Ozolins, Ruta Vetra Kubits, Ilze Kancans, Selga V. Petersons, Lidija Petersons, Nora Lund, Janis Zeltins, Maigonis Antons, Indra Halvorsone, Baiba Z. Olinger, Visvaris Giga, Girts Jatnieks, Inta Gravitis, Janis Skujins, Aija Deme, Anna Ozolins.

Jesus, I want to thank you for never stopping to love us,
Jesus, I want to thank you for never leaving us.
Jesus, though I am weak, I love you and serve you. You are my Saviour.

Jesus, without you I can do nothing.
All that I do I do in praise of you.
Jesus, though I am weak, I love you and serve you. You are my Saviour.

Jesus, you gave us life, but your own you sacrificed.
You bring us happy days and our sins forgive.
Jesus, though I am weak, I love you and serve you. You are my Saviour.

2. Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Choir of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Minneapolis and St. Paul, “ Dievam Pieder Zeme ” (“God Rules the Earth”). mp3 download

Musicians: Guna Skujina (director), Biruta Spruds (accompanist), Sandra Ozolins-Plifka, Laima Zoltners Dingley, Aina Rozenbergs, Mirdza Eglitis, Elita Ozolins, Ruta Vetra Kubits, Ilze Kancans, Selga V. Petersons, Lidija Petersons, Nora Lund, Janis Zeltins, Maigonis Antons, Indra Halvorsone, Baiba Z. Olinger, Visvaris Giga, Girts Jatnieks, Inta Gravitis, Janis Skujins, Aija Deme, Anna Ozolins.

God who rules the earth, God who rules the heavens.
All the angels bow in honor. Great God’s glory, great God’s name.
When the sun begins to rise, it warms the earth and sea.
New life stirs, the trees awaken, bud and blossom, God’s new creation.
When the spring gives out its blossoms in the fields and birchtree groves, then we can behold God’s great glorious hand.

God who rules the earth, God who rules the seas.
All that has both life and breath will seek the nurture of the Lord.
Those who daily work and toil, they know God gives them food.
All of the creatures raised in the forest, flowers that blossom in the valley, fish in the sea and birds in flights, give praise to God who nurtures them.
All living things display God’s great blessing.

Topic revision: r4 - 21 Feb 2009 - 19:18:03 - zelti001
 
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