Robert A. Hobby of Fort Wayne, Indiana, '85 has written two new musical arrangements which will be used during services celebrated by Pope Francis during his visit to New York City, Sept. 24-25.
Mr. Hobby graduated from Wittenberg with a bachelor's degree in music. He received a master’s degree in Organ Performance from the University of Notre Dame in 1987. His organ teachers include the late Dr. Donald Busarow, Professor of Music and university organist at Wittenberg and Craig Cramer, and he has studied composition under Dr. Busarow, Richard Hillert, and Andrew Carter. He also received an honorary doctorate of music from Wittenberg at the 2014 Commencement exercises.
Mr. Hobby has written a new musical arrangement for organ and orchestra for “Tu Es Petrus” ("You Are Peter"), which is scheduled for use during the pope's evening prayer service at 6:45 p.m., Sept. 24 in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. He has also written a new musical arrangement for the hymn Alleluia! Sing to Jesus, which is set for use during the pope's Mass at 6 p.m., Sept. 25 in Madison Square Garden.
"I feel very proud and very honored to be part of it because, first of all, we are all Christians," Hobby said.
He will be there for both services, serving as a staff musician on standby in case they need anything during the prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral. He will sing with the choir during Mass at Madison Square Garden, filling in for a choir member who had to drop out of the event.
Hobby said he has been "energized" by Pope Francis.
"I think he challenges all of us in some ways, maybe puts us in 'uncomfort' zones," he said. "But Francis also shares a message of hope and compassion."
Hobby's involvement with the papal Mass music began in late May.
The music director at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Jennifer Pascual, contacted MorningStar Music Publishers/ECS Music Publishing in St. Louis to see if they had a version of "Tu Es Petrus" scored for accompaniment by organ and orchestra and a version of "Alleluia! Sing to Jesus " arranged for congregation, choir and orchestra, Hobby said.
The music publisher didn't have what Pascual wanted, but they offered to contact several composers whose work they have published to see if any of them had what Pascual was seeking. One of those calls went to Hobby, who said he didn't have the requested music, but he volunteered to write them. Pascual agreed.
"My first thought was my dad is still alive to see it," Hobby said of his offer to help.
Initially, Hobby's work on the hymns for the papal worship services was slowed while he waited for Vatican officials to visit St. Patrick's Cathedral and Madison Square Garden to approve plans for the stage and how large of an orchestra would be allowed. Officials settled on about 22 musicians at St. Patrick's Cathedral and about 40 at Madison Square Garden.
Mr. Hobby is director of music at Trinity English Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana, with a congregation of nearly 3,500 members. He has been at Trinity since 1987. His responsibilities include playing for worship services, overseeing the graded choral program, and managing concerts. During his tenure, he has established a choral series at Trinity (with 16 composers commissioned so far), hosted a regional convention of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, produced four recordings, and expanded the church’s opportunities for music ministry. He has published over 250 compositions. Hobby has played at several of the national conventions of the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada, for national and regional conventions of the Association of the Lutheran Church Musicians, and for conferences of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is currently Chair of Young Lutherans Sing, a national summer choral program.