Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Harold Hansen, organist, wonderful human.

If nothing else, Harold Hansen is steadfast, and he is much more than that. After 73 continuous years Harold is putting away The Hymnal Accompaniment book as he retires from his career as organist and choir director at All Saints Episcopal Church, Tacoma WA. Harold is 95 years old.

Harold was in his sixties when he moved to the Puget Sound region after retiring from his full-time career as organist at a famous Episcopal Church in Hollywood CA. He began his “retirement gig” at All Saints, has been the only organist for that congregation since then, and announced his retirement this week. His last Sunday at All Saints, Tacoma, will be on September 10th.

Two of the many stories that I recall from Harold include hymns and license plate numbers, and the famous Hollywood actors that used to sing at his church. In 1982 the Episcopal Church adopted a new hymnal replacing The Hymnal 1940. Harold mourned the loss of the old hymnal because he had memorized most of the 740 hymn numbers in the old book. He enjoyed playing the game of the three-digit number on the license on the car ahead of him while driving and remembering which hymn corresponded to that number. For instance, the license on the car ahead of him would include the numbers 266 and Harold would say, “Holy, Holy, Holy” (…Lord God Almighty). The “new” hymnal of 1982 moved "Holy, Holy, Holy" to hymn number 362. For some time Harold’s game of license numbers and hymns was over, until he began memorizing the new hymn numbers.

Harold loved to recount to us choir members at All Saints about the famous Hollywood actors who sang in his choir in his Hollywood church. He’d say, “Oh, yes, (name) sang with us when we performed this anthem,” and we would be amazed and encouraged to sing it better.

Harold Hansen has been beloved by all throughout his long career as organist and choir director in the Episcopal Church.

Happy retirement, Harold!

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