Remembering Norma Aamodt-Nelson with Easter Music for Organ

Jul 16, 2021 8:35:25 AM / by David Sims

Norma Aamodt-Nelson, 1952–2020, served as instrumental acquisitions editor at Augsburg Fortress from 1993 until her death. Here she oversaw the development of a generation of music for the church’s worship, including the creation of the Augsburg Organ Library in 1999. In her work as an organist, teacher, conductor, church musician, mentor, and editor, she enabled countless musicians to serve their congregations, worshipers to sing hymns of praise and lament, and composers to refine their craft and artistry.

Norma loved people. Her service to the church was a way of caring for God’s people through song, introducing all of us to the beauty and mystery of the church’s music. She was funny and caring, loved color and design, great food and great music. I don’t think I ever got an email or note from her that wasn’t in color, usually green or pink. At my Augsburg Fortress desk, I inherited her reference copy of LBW, inscribed with her name in green pen.

Shortly after she died, composer and organist Wayne Wold called me to ask about ways to honor her memory. We eventually decided to create a new volume in the Augsburg Organ Library dedicated to her. This series was her creation, and she was enormously proud of its success. Although the next volume to appear would have been Epiphany, we jumped a few seasons to do Easter instead. Norma was an Easter personality, and the promise of resurrection was one to which she held fast.

Twenty-two of the thirty-five settings in this anthology were newly composed in memory of her by composers with whom she collaborated. The other works also reflect her constant care of our library of existing works and those from other publishers, as she was always finding old things to update and reintroduce. With Wayne’s help, we have assembled a volume that we hope will be a beautiful and enduring legacy, continuing her mission to provide the church with the music it needs to praise God.

In a letter to her congregation on April 21, 2020, Norma wrote that she was entering hospice care and quoted the final stanza of “O Day Full of Grace.” It is our hope that this collection of Easter music will serve the church and embody her lifelong praise of the God of resurrection.

When we on that final journey go
that Christ is for us preparing,
we’ll gather in song, our hearts aglow,
all joy of the heavens sharing,
and there we will join God’s endless praise,
with angels and saints adoring.

—“O Day Full of Grace,” st. 5; text: Scandinavian folk hymn; tr. Gerald Thorson, 1921–2001, alt; © 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship, admin. Augsburg Fortress

Augsburg Organ Library Series 2: Easter is available now.

Topics: music

David Sims

Written by David Sims

David Sims is the Music Development Manager at Augsburg Fortress, where he will direct development and production of choral, instrumental, and congregational song resources. Since 2014 he has served as Cantor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, and prior to that worked as an organ builder and church musician in Indiana. David grew up in the cornfields of central Illinois and holds degrees in Church Music and Organ Performance from St. Olaf College and Indiana University. His compositions are published by Augsburg Fortress and GIA, and you can usually find him on a search for a new hymn text, recipe, or a source of coffee.

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