A Holy Week Visit

News | April 2, 2015

Ellen Weiss comes from a family of musicians. Her mother, grandparents, and generations of great-grandparents all practiced the art of music.

As a young child, Ellen started to sing in her local church’s children’s choir in Sweden. The director of that choir became a lifelong mentor as Ellen grew older and chose church music as her own path. “I found where I was supposed to be,” said Ellen.

St. Paul people will see Ellen singing in the Chorale this Easter weekend. She won an award for her work as a church musician in Sweden, an award that came with a stipend. Her connection with Jon and Sonja Hurty (Jon directs St. Paul’s adult chorale and works in the music department at Augustana College), led her to use that stipend to come and study at Augustana and St. Paul.

At St. Paul, she has attended staff meeting, come to worship, practiced with the Chorale, played the organ, and met with Pastor Peter Marty and Chris Nelson, director of music ministries. She also presented the congregation with a candle and candlestick holder.

Ellen is the musician at Hille Church. It was built in 1864, replacing a medieval church structure. Some of the items from the original church are on display at Hille Church, including a 15th century processional crucifix, an image of the Virgin Mary from the 14th century, and a bronze censer from the 13th century.

Her church is where Lars Paul Esbjorn had roots. He was the first president of Augustana College.

Sweden used to have a state-run church, but that was discontinued in 2000. The Swedish church was Roman Catholic until the Reformation in the 16th Century. It then became Lutheran.

At Hille, Ellen conducts four choirs – three children/youth choirs and one adult choir. She oversees the confirmation program of approximately 50 students, and teaches music lessons to select students.

She leads music on three of four weekends at her church, and plays for weddings and baptisms, which are held on Saturdays, and funerals, which are held on Fridays.

In June, the Augustana Choir will make a tour stop at Ellen’s church to perform.

Music, she said, is one of the best ways to build friendships.

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