Three days before the 25th anniversary of his ordination, Glenn Beard Jr.’s ears caught a tune he had been waiting years to hear.
As he walked to the pulpit of Trinity Lutheran Church in New Holland to deliver the sermon as a supply pastor, the Heidelberg Brass Band burst into a polka. And there in the middle was his father, Glenn Beard Sr., playing the drums.
It was not Mr. Holland’s Opus. Instead, call it New Holland’s Opus.
The younger Beard was well-acquainted with the Heidelberg Brass Band — formerly known as the Heidelberg Polka Band. He had played with it over the years and his father has been a member since its founding in 1954. Jim Beard, Glenn’s uncle, also is a member.
But it marked the first time the band had the music for a Polka Mass.
This Sunday, the Heidelberg Brass Band will again perform a Polka Mass at the 10:30 a.m. service at Trinity Lutheran with Glenn Sr., 76, on drums, and Glenn Jr., 52, serving as emcee and singer. The choir and congregation will sing as well.
There is a history to the Polka Mass and to its initial performance by the Heidelberg Brass Band.
Polka Mass researched
The younger Beard, who now serves as director of church relations and pastoral care at Luthercare, 600 Main St., Lititz, is largely responsible for the very music that was played that day.
“When I became a pastor, I always thought it would be fun to do a Polka Mass,” Beard said.
Research led him to the Rev. Frank Perkovich, a Roman Catholic priest in Minnesota, who developed a Polka Mass. The work of Perkovich, known as the Polka Priest, was so popular that he was inducted into the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame in 2012. Perkovich gave Beard permission to use his work.
“He said ‘Use it, have fun,’ ” Beard said.
But there was a problem. The music was written for organ and accordian, not a brass band. Enter former band member C. Jay Hertzog — who agreed to rework organ and accordion music for a brass band — and Beard’s wife, Lisa, who impressed upon Hertzog the desire to have it done in time for her husband’s ordination anniversary.
That day, Beard, recalled, there were about 250 people in church to hear the Polka Mass and honor Beard.
Over the past two years, the Heidelberg Brass Band has performed 18-20 Polka Masses. And Glenn and Lisa Beard have added to the repertoire. She wrote the original lyrics to “Lamb of God,” which is played to the tune of “Edelweiss,” as well as to four original hymns — “God of Love,” “I Love to Go A-Wandering,” “Rise Up, Disciples” (to the tune of the “Pennsylvana Polka”) and “Let Us Sing.”
Beard contributed different liturgical pieces as well. That includes a “Hallelujah verse” set to the “Beer Barrell Polka” and “Psalm 47.”
A Denver native, Beard played in the Cocalico High School Band and was the drum major at Millersville University before enrolling at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.
He previously served churches in Snyder County and in Reamstown and was a chaplain for Hospice & Community Care of Lancaster County before joining Luthercare.
“This will be a regular liturgy set to the Polka Mass,” Beard said.
The church website notes that “Martin Luther wanted to bring the gospel to the people. As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Polka Mass is one of four special services from January to October that will lead us in the celebration of the Reformation with unique morning worship.”
The Rev. Charles Oberkehr, pastor at Trinity Lutheran, said the church holds other music masses, including a Jazz Mass. The Polka Mass, he said, offers congregants an inspiring way to worship.
The service is open to the public.