By Christine Reimers
As a member of the seminary staff I had the privilege to meet and get to know [Gettysburg Seminary's late 10th President] Herm Stuempfle a little over these last four years. Today, the day after the tragic shooting at VA Tech -- as on other days when I have been at loss for words and filled with emotion – I found myself at my piano looking through Stuempfle hymns for one that spoke to the pain, grief, and violence of these recent events. I found two. On Emmaus’ Journey is a wonderful witness to our human struggle to meet the risen Christ: “Who are you who walk in sorrow down Emmaus’ barren road, Hearts distraught and hope defeated bent beneath grief’s crushing load?’ Nameless mourners we will join you, we who also mourn our dead, We have stood beside graves unyielding, eaten death’s bare bitter bread.” This is, of course, only the first verse and Stuempfle moves from this poignant description through to the resurrection appearance and in-breaking of new hope. The second text is for choir, A Christmas Dialog and brings to life the power of the incarnation in the midst of the violence of the world: “Where nights are torn by siren’s wail an din of blaring horn, on streets where threats of violence lurk, the Child again is born. . . where life is harsh and hard, he comes with love for all.” This text is in dialogue through the piece with the vision of the Peaceable Kingdom where beast and humans alike will “all live in peace.” I give many thanks for the poetic gifts and vision of the Gospel in the world expressed by Herm Stuempfle in many many beautiful hymn and anthems.
The Rev. Christine E. Reimers, Ph.D.
Lutheran Theological Seminary Gettysburg