Carl Schalk, teacher, composer, lecturer, and author died January 24th. He is probably most widely-known for his hymn tunes, which appear in numerous hymnals, including Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), and Lutheran Service Book (2006) among others. In 2019 Carl was featured in an ALCM webinar. A bio is included below.
Grant to your faithful servant, O Lord, eternal rest.
Carl grew up in Des Plaines, IL, and attended Concordia High School on the campus of Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, now Concordia University Chicago, where he subsequently enrolled as an undergraduate. After graduating in 1952 with a degree in education, he served Zion Lutheran Church and School (Wausau, WI) as a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher and director of the congregation’s musical ensembles. In 1958, he completed a graduate degree in music at the Eastman School of Music and took up residence in St. Louis as musical director for radio broadcasts of “The Lutheran Hour.” During this time, he also completed a Master of Arts in Religion at Concordia Seminary (St. Louis). In 1965, Carl returned to Concordia in River Forest as assistant professor of music where he established the annual Lectures in Church Music conference, the Master of Church Music program, and the journal Church Music. He helped develop Worship Supplement (1969) and, as a member of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship, was instrumental in the preparation of Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). Though he retired from Concordia in 1994, he continued to maintain a robust schedule of presentations, writing, and composing.
With Carlos Messerli, Carl was instrumental in establishing the Lutheran Music Program, the parent organization of the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival. He was a driving force behind components of the curriculum that remain essential today such as student participation in smaller chamber music ensembles—or, as they are affectionately known by LSM alumni, “smembles”! During the summer of 2009, the Lutheran Summer Music community was introduced to Carl’s settings of Luther’s morning and evening prayers: each summer since, Luther’s Morning Prayer has gathered the community each day in song. Returning students sing it from memory, and a virtual choir recording made in June 2020 has been viewed some 70,000 times.
Schalk was also a familiar face at the Institute of Liturgical Studies and was recipient of its 2014 Christus Rex award for significant contributions to Lutheran liturgical scholarship and renewal. More recently, in 2017, he led an Institute seminar on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Like Scott, Carl was also a charter member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians and was a frequent contributor to its publications, a small fraction of his prolific output. In Thine the Amen: Essays on Lutheran Church Music in Honor of Carl Schalk (2005), a list of his writings—books, articles, editorials, forewords, reviews—and compositions spans 40 pages. In the fifteen years since its publication, that list as grown to include such resources as a sixteenth-century Lutheran choral anthology (2010); numerous articles and compositions; small and large Catechisms on church music in the Lutheran Tradition (2017); and Singing the Faith: A Short Introduction to Christian Hymnody (2020). ALCM member Rev. Nancy M. Raabe published the biography Carl F. Schalk: A Life in Song (CPH, 2013). In November 2015, Pastor Raabe received the Award of the Concordia Historical Institute, recognizing the importance of the book in carrying forward the legacy of the Lutheran church in this country.