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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

A Special Heritage

Perhaps no American city enjoys a stronger choral tradition than Minneapolis-St. Paul, thanks largely to the love of singing that Lutheran immigrants brought with them from northern Europe in the late 1800s and then cultivated in their colleges.

F. Melius Christiansen, the Norwegian-born founder of the St. Olaf (College) Choir, was especially influential in spreading musical excellence during his long tenure (1903-1944).

Other colleges followed, including Luther in Decorah, Iowa, Augsburg in Minneapolis, Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, Concordia in St. Paul, and, most notably, Concordia in Moorhead, where F. Melius’ son, Paul J. Christiansen, built a choral dynasty beginning in 1920.

St. Olaf Choir


The fact that many graduates of these musical powerhouses settled in the Twin Cities boosted the choral tradition here, both secular and religious. “There’s a special convergence here,” said Susan Palo Cherwien, the noted hymn writer and a Mount Olive member, who's married to the parish's cantor, David Cherwien.

Because of Cantor Cherwien’s interest, and because of the congregation’s own strong musical tradition, Mount Olive feels a special kinship to the Lutheran colleges and their music programs. Preserving and promoting the classical excellence of these and other college choirs is part of Mount Olive’s mission. Our interest not only is in performance but in furthering the art of congregational singing as a worship experience.

It’s the same sacred project that drove F. Melius Christiansen more than 100 years ago, according to St. Olaf’s current choir director Anton Armstrong. “It was his commitment to the revitalization of congregational singing in the Norwegian Lutheran congregations of that day that led to his settings of the Lutheran chorales for choirs,” Armstrong wrote. Learn more.

Mount Olive considers itself a part of Christiansen’s legacy. We continue to lift our voices heavenward mindful of his gift, and the gift that college singers and musicians offer.

The Schlicker Organ has 39 independent registers and 55 ranks of pipes. The base rests 12 feet above the narthex and rises about 28 feet. The pedal organ is on either side of the façade, with its largest pipes adorning the façade.


St. Olaf College
Concordia College, Moorhead
Luther College
Augsburg College
Gustavus Adophus College
Concordia University, St. Paul
University of St. Thomas
St. John’s University
College of St. Benedict
Bethel University
Hamline University
Wartburg College


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