Every other month we get an update on what’s been happening recently at our
Immanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
For regular readers of the Lutheran Spokesman, David Schaller, the new music and Greek professor at Immanuel Lutheran College, is likely not a stranger. He has been writing articles for this publication for a number of years now.
Nor is it surprising that many of his recent articles have been on hymns. As happens with many other people, his interest in music goes back to his childhood, as does his interest in proclaiming the wonderful works of God. From pre-school days—blowing the trumpet along with the televised concerts of the Boston Pops Orchestra—to grade school days—playing the piano upstairs, the organ in the basement, and the recorder part to a Buxtehude Cantata with a joint choir at Gethsemane congregation in Spokane, Washington, David’s hobby has been music. He first played for church services at Peace Lutheran Church in Orofino, Idaho.
During his high school years, he played B-flat, C, and D trumpets in a variety of groups, including marching, pep, jazz, and concert bands; and the ILC choirs after arriving on campus as a junior. He was privileged to sing and play with nine tour choirs during his years at Immanuel.
David was in the fourth grade when computers were introduced in the Clarkston, Washington, school system, and he soon became interested in computer programing. He took a number of accelerated mathematics classes over the years in preparation for a possible career in computers. The Lord, however, had other plans for him. After studying German in high school and beginning Greek at ILC, David came to realize that languages came even more easily to him than math. This guided him to continue in the pre-theological program, which included the study of the Biblical languages, as well as the use of German in older Lutheran hymns and writings. He went on to prepare for service in the pastoral ministry, graduating from the seminary department in 1999.
That was the same year that he was married to Sarah Lau, also a graduate of ILC, and the couple moved to his first congregation, Redeemer Lutheran of Sister Lakes, Michigan, a congregation first served by his grandfather, Ralph E. Schaller, a founding member of the Church of the Lutheran Confession. For the next twenty-two years in the parish ministry, David not only regularly used the Greek and Hebrew in preparing sermons, Bible classes, and conference presentations, but he also continued his hobby of music, arranging music for the Sunday school children and church choir, taking up the study of the violin under a University student who was majoring in the instrument, playing cornet in a community band, playing piano accompaniment for local high school students preparing and playing for solo and ensemble festivals, and accompanying local high school musicals.
He continued his organ hobby, and through computer sampling of European and other pipe organs, he began recording in Sister Lakes the organ works of J.S. Bach and posting them on Youtube along with other organ works, such as “Christ is Our Cornerstone,” recorded March 14, 2019, in memory of Professor Ronald Roehl and other teachers who have gone before us. These may be viewed at bit.ly/afterdarkorgan.
So although the transition from pastoral ministry to teaching music and Greek can be a daunting change of career for someone in his late forties, the Lord has given David many opportunities to develop and maintain the linguistic and musical gifts which He has given him, as it turns out, in preparation for teaching at our college. May God bless his new ministry, and bless those who study under him.
Dr. Daniel Schierenbeck is President of Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.