Shirley Hahn honored for using her gift of music for 55 years

By Shirley Hahn

I began my church music career in 1963 as a Sunday School teacher when I also prepared the music for the students. Pastor Werre gave Ruth Tanquary and I the go ahead to organize and have the Christmas Eve Childrens Service here at Our Redeemer’s, rather than taking the students to Batesland to St. Paul’s for practice and the Christmas Eve Service. One reason was we were both expecting our babies very soon in April, and road travel with 12 kids was a little too much, so we had it here in Martin. 

The next year Pastor Kuckhahn was the pastor for the two churches. During a Sunday worship the young lady that was organist had a job at Cedar Pass and no longer was here to play. Pastor asked if anyone could do the playing of the music and my husband, Harvey, all but pushed me out of the pew and said, “She can!” I shook my head NO and the Pastor said, “Even if you can use one finger or one hand that would be helpful, so this began the 55 years. I did not read notes, so all of my playing was by ear. (Which was part of my background as a Rosane) It didn’t seem to help me much, but everyone knew my family played for barn dances, and was pretty sure I could do the same thing.

Some of the experiences during those years: I was given the hymn numbers by CB Radio as Pastor Bruss, who was the Vacancy Pastor from Mission, would call “Mother Hubbard,” (me) “This is the Roving Rev,” and he would give me the numbers and ask if I would call Audry Peil and give them to her, as she was organist at Batesland. 

One Easter morning when I was to play, we had a snow storm. The Pastor was coming from Batesland, and was coming by plane, but the plane hit a fence and he was late for that service. If I didn’t know the hymn they picked out, and I would say, “I don’t know that one,” the Pastor would hum it to me and then I could play it.

One Sunday our son Harvey Lee was standing with the family as I was playing. We told him to stand straight and don’t move around (as kids do.) He locked his knees, and down he went, while I was playing. I just kept on playing and the family picked him up off the floor. Someone in the congregation remarked to me, “My you are pretty cool, calm and collected.” They didn’t see my knees shaking or my hands, too.

From 1964 to this last year I was organist for the Installation of all  the Pastors. I retired from the organ bench so to speak last October.

I believe this is unusual, the organists from Gordon, Rock Of Ages, Batesland, St. Paul’s, and three from Our Redeemer’s, all had their Birthdays in June. Two were on the same day.

I had the honor of writing the music and words for the song for the Sunday School Children to sing for the Dedication of the Our Redeemer’s new Church. I will say the way it was written was rather primitive, as when you have to use the cardboard  keyboard to find the notes and match them on the paper with the words was a job in it self. However, the kids did a super job on it. They were so proud they had a song just for them. The gathering Sunday was very special.

The notes on the cupcakes and the song I wrote was placed on the table for all to see and read. I think this is enough so “The end.”

502 Second Avenue, Martin, SD 57551 • 605-685-6866 •