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Noted Lutheran minister, poet, lyricist Herb Brokering passed away, an Obituary, by Peter Menkin
by Peter Menkin
11/14/09
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by Peter Menkin

The Reverend Doctor Herbert F. Brokering, pastor, author, lyricist, speaker and hymn writer of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), died Nov. 7 of congestive heart failure at his apartment in Bloomington, Minn., according to his son, Mark.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America news service says in its report, “Brokering, 83, was a member of St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Bloomington. "Herb Brokering's legacy includes carefully crafted words on the lips of believers gathered around the means of grace. He has helped us bring our faith to rich expression," said the Rev. Michael L. Burk, bishop, ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod, Iowa City.


Two of his best known hymns are: "Earth and All Stars"; and, "Thine the Amen.”

“Reverend Doctor Herbert Brokering has been called the “Leonardo DaVinci of the Prairies.” Gifted with extraordinary creativity, the Lutheran pastor, author, lyricist, hymn writer and peace activist has spent his life finding new ways to minister to the holistic health of all God’s people.” So says ELCA radio ministry Grace Matters.

The radio interview notes, “He is the father of four adult children with his late, beloved wife Lois. In their 54 years together Herb and Lois created many joint educational writings, projects and songs.” The December 31, 2006 radio interview reports he is the author of 30 books, ELCA news service reports, memorial service is planned for Nov. 21 at Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis. Brokering, 83, was a member of St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Bloomington.

"Herb Brokering's legacy includes carefully crafted words on the lips of believers gathered around the means of grace. He has helped us bring our faith to rich expression," said the Reverend Michael L. Burk, bishop, ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod, Iowa City.

He authored more than 30 books for Augsburg Fortress, the publishing ministry of the ELCA, and more than 100 lyrics for almost 60 composers.

"Herb was a gifted poet, author, speaker and composer. He was also a delight -- a man who cared deeply about his God, his family, his many friends and this publishing ministry," said Beth A. Lewis, Augsburg Fortress president and chief executive officer.

"Herb Brokering was a gifted creative partner with Augsburg Fortress! He was also a delight! He had a ready wit, but was serious about his faith and loved to share it in person and through his marvelous writing of books, poems, and music. And, he was the youngest octogenarian I've ever known! Even as his body aged, his mind was young! His curiosity and joy in living each day fully was reflected in his sparkling eyes as well as in the words he shared with his readers! He will be missed by all of us at Augsburg Fortress who were privileged to work with him. And, I will personally miss him because I was honored to have him as a friend" Lewis added in an email to this writer.

The written work, "Prophets and Angels" is described by its publisher Augsburg Fortress in this manner:

"This wonderful musical service is based on the message of prophets and angels heralding the Good News of Christ. A lovely setting of Advent-Christmas lessons and carols for SATB choir, organ, congregation, optional oboe, and optional brass. The work includes carols/hymns for choir (including one for children), scripture readings, reflective texts and responses by Herbert Brokering, and a prelude and postlude. The length of the work is approximately 50 minutes. Organ only parts, congregational and oboe parts are available for free download."



As a writer of Hymns, one of his well known Hymns reads in part:

Thine the kingdom thine the prize
thine the wonderful surprise
thine the banquet thine the praise
then the justice of thy ways
thine the glory thine the story
then the welcome to the least
then the wonder all increasing at the feast at thy feast.
“Thine the Amen”, ELW 826, Stanza 4, Text: Herb Brokering, (c) 1983 Augsburg Publishing House

Jonathan Rundman, on his blog says of his passing, “I only met Herb once, at a book signing he did in the Augsburg Fortress Bookstore at the ELCA Youth Gathering in St. Louis in 2000. Sometimes I tell that story when I'm playing a concert, and I always say "I felt like I was meeting Paul McCartney."

One Christmas album in which his lyric work appears is described by the publisher this way:

This is the third Christmas album arranged, orchestrated and produced by Robert Way. There is one new carol on the CD, “Angel Questions.” The arrangement is instrumental; however, the words are those of poet Herbert Brokering.

Songs on the album include:

Christmas Brings Joy; Angel Questions; Long Ago And Far Away; God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen; Give Heed My Heart; Ice Crystals; Willie Take Your Little Drum; In That Poor Stable; Good Christian Men Rejoice; O My Dear Heart; Masters In This Hall;The Happy Christmas Comes Once More; I Saw Three Ships; Sweet Lil’ Jesus Boy; O Come, O Come Emmanuel and O Christmas Tree.


In another Christmas album, the publisher says:

Hear some of your favorite Christmas Carols and songs in a different way. This CD was arranged and orchestrated for concert orchestra and choral voices used as instruments. There are traditional Carols seldom heard and five new works with music by Robert Way and lyrics by Archie Rasmussen, Herbert Brokering,

Songs on the album include:

Sweet Was The Song The Virgin Sang; Lullay, Thou Little Tiny Child; Love Came Down At Christmas; The First Good Joy That Mary Had; A Virgin Most Pure; A Little Child On Earth Was Born; Silent Night; The Holly And The Ivy; The Babe In Bethlem’s Manger Laid; Christ Was Born In Bethlehem; Away In A Manger; Beside Thy Cradle Here I Stand; We Three Kings Of Orient Are; Here We Come A-Wassailing. Also included are five original works: Christmas With You; Christmas Is Glowing; God Touched The Earth; Little Woman; Everything Says Christmas Is Here and one of the children’s favorites, Up On The Housetop.

The “Church Times” wrote in 2008 of his meditations “In the Bleak Midwinter,” for Advent and Christmas:

In his book In the Bleak Midwinter: 40 meditations and prayers for Advent and Christmas, Herbert Brokering has put together a meditation and a poetic prayer on each line of Christina Rossetti’s Christmas carol. This book is designed to be read at home, either alone or in the context of the family. Indeed, Brokering’s own family is never far from the surface in his meditations.

The winters of his upbringing in rural Nebraska, his own experiences as a parent, and the stillbirth of his grandson all contribute to his insights on the “stable place” and the holy family that lodged there. The charm and the frustration of many of the reflections is the way in which the author sacrifices structure in order to let his stream of consciousness flow.

A good number of the meditations assume a rather imaginative take on the Christmas story. According to Brokering, “Dr Luke must have wished to be personally present” at the nativity; and “Anna, Mary’s mother, must have made sure that what Mary would need was in a special bag.”

If a wistful and schmaltzy reading of this most wistful and schmaltzy of carols is really what you want to find in your stocking this Christmas, put this on your wish list. But we don’t think you’ll find it on ours. Other works by the same author include More Cat Psalms and More Dog Psalms.

The publisher describes the work this way:

This beautiful and gentle book of Advent and Christmas devotions takes its inspiration from the much beloved poem by Christina Georgina Rossetti, In the Bleak Midwinter. The poem is gentle, wise, full of faith, drawing us into mystery, touching the deep longings of the human heart with images that evoke wonder ...[It] focuses on incarnation, an act of full grace when "heaven cannot hold him." This grace comes to a humble place of human birth, to the humanity of Mary and to our own humanity, in the midst of divine angelic presence. So these meditations focus on the paradox, tension, pull, and contradiction experienced in the coming of Christ from heaven to earth.


Brokering was director for confirmation education with the former American Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, 1960 to 1970. He became a freelance educator, writer and consultant working in the United States,Europe and Japan. Brokering co-directed the film, "Where Luther Walked"
in 1981. He also taught at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., for several years.

Brokering was a promoter of healing, justice and peace, leading morethan 100 pilgrimages in his lifetime to places in Europe, the Middle East, China and India. The East German Ministry of Culture presented him with a peacemaking award.

Herb was devoted to his alma mater, Wartburg College. Wartburg was his first real experience of the world beyond southeast Nebraska.
Just before he passed away, he established a fund for activities to promote the healing arts at Wartburg. He hoped that any memorial gifts would be given to this tax-deductable fund:
The Herbert and Lois Brokering Healing Arts Endowment Fund
Wartburg College Office of Development?
100 Wartburg Blvd
Waverly?, IA 50677-0903

So report his children, Mark, Beth, Jon, and Chris Brokering.

(Photo: Herb with Darrel Colson, the new president of Wartburg College, on October 2, 2009)




Addendum:

Words to a hymn by Herb Brokering:

THINE THE AMEN
Arranged by Karen Wuertz
{Verse 1}
G2 G2/F#
Thine the amen, Thine the praise
Em7 C2
Alleluia's, angels raise
G2 G2/F#
Thine the everlasting head
Em7 C2
Thine the breaking of the bread
G2 G2/F#
Thine the glory, Thine the story
Em7 C2
Thine the harvest, then the cup
G2
Thine the vineyard
G2/F# Em7 C2
Then the cup is lifted up, is lifted up
{Verse 2}
G2 G2/F#
Thine the life eternally
Em7 C2
Thine the promise let their be
G2 G2/F#
Thine the vision, Thine the tree
Em7 C2 D
All the earth on bended knee
C2 D
Gone the nailing, gone the railing
C2/E D/F#
Gone the pleading, gone the cry
G2 G2/F# Em7
Gone the sighing, gone the dying
C2 D (G2 G2/F# Em7 Dsus C2 Dsus)
What was lost, lifted high
{Verse 3}
G2 G2/F#
Thine the truly, Thine the yes
Em7 C2
Thine the table, we the guest
G2 G2/F#
Thine the mercy all from Thee
Em7 C D
Thine the glory yet to be
C D
Then the ringing and the singing
C/E D/F#
Then the end of all the war
G2 G2/F# Em7
Thine the living, Thine the loving
C D Esus E
Evermore, evermore
{Verse 4}
A A/G#
Thine the glory in the night
F#m7 D
No more dying, only light
A A/G#
Thine the river, Thine the tree
F#m D E
Then the lamb eternally
D E
Then the holy, holy, holy
D/F# E/G#
Celebration jubilee
A A/G# F#m
Thine the splendor, Thine the brightness
D E (A2 A2/G# F#m7 Esus D2 Esus)
Only Thee, only Thee
{Bridge}
D E
Then the holy, holy, holy
D/F# E/G#
Celebration jubilee
D E
Then the holy, holy, holy
D/F# E/G#
Celebration jubilee
D E
Then the holy, holy, holy
D/F# E/G#
Celebration jubilee
{Ending}
A A/G# F#m
Thine the splendor, Thine the brightness
D E (A2 A2/G# F#m7 Esus D2 Esus)x2 A
Only Thee, only Thee






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