MERCER ISLAND, WA (March 1, 2011) – While millions of Americans were watching “The King’s Speech” garner multiple Oscars Sunday night, nearly 200 music lovers gathered at Mercer Island Covenant Church to sing favorite hymns to their king.
People from six Evangelical Covenant Churches in the Seattle area and Covenant Shores Retirement Community gathered for the old-fashioned hymn sing, said Mercer Island pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos.
Asimakoupoulos, who served as emcee and song leader, began the event declaring, “And the Oscar for the most intelligent way to spend this evening goes to you all!”
The program consisted of 16 hymns and gospel songs taken from “Come, Let Us Praise Him,” the supplement to the Covenant hymnal published for the 1985 centennial celebration in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The gathering also sang requests from the audience.
Although lyrics are generally projected on the two sanctuary screens at the church, only songbooks were used in keeping with the old-school evening.
Ann Hunsberger, a newcomer to the church, read three hymn stories. Bud Palmberg, MICC pastor emeritus, gave a brief historical perspective on the importance of hymns to early Covenanters.
Musicians included Howard Nelson, a Covenant Shores resident who performed with the Zurich Opera for three decades; Dr. Margaret Brand, the widow of Dr. Paul Brand, who still plays violin for the retirement community at age 91; and the Covenant Shores men’s quartet.
The program ended with a selection of Covenant heritage hymns. As Asimakoupoulos introduced “I Have a Friend Who Loveth Me,” he noted that the old Covenant hymn played a key role in his ending up a part of the denomination.
“When I began my studies at Fuller Seminary in 1976, I was looking for a church to attend,” Asimakoupoulos recalled. “Pasadena Covenant Church was near to campus. One Sunday I arrived early for the evening service and was browsing through the red Covenant hymnal. When I saw “I Have a Friend Who Loveth Me,” I recognized it as a song my Norwegian grandmother had sung to me when I was a boy. The Lord used that surprise to help me realize I had found a church that provided me a connection to my faith heritage. The rest, they say, is history.”