A lot of talent, dedication and love from St. John’s Lutheran School went into making “On the Wings of an Eagle,” a 19-song CD dedicated to the students and alumni of the school, and especially to Bob Hauch, a beloved teacher, athletic coach and musician who taught at St. John’s Lutheran School for 29 years before he died of cancer last year.
“We didn’t want to see his music go away. We wanted to preserve his songs,” said Rev. Michael Schmid, lead pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church.
Student and adult voices accompanied by musical instruments present seven of Hauch’s songs as well as other original school songs on the CD.
The title song, “On the Wings of an Eagle,” takes its name from Isaiah 40:31: “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Fifteen of the songs on the CD are yearly theme songs beginning with “Living Stones,” from the 1998-99 school year. The last two songs on the CD were personal to Hauch’s life. “From the Depths,” written by Hauch and sung by Schmid after Hauch’s death, was not written for the students but as a chronicle of Hauch’s battle with cancer. “Extreme Faith/Extreme God,” also written by Hauch, became the theme of his memorial service.
“During his battle with cancer, Bob taught and coached as long as he was physically able. I think he did his most profound teaching in the last year of his life,” Schmid said.
During the 2010 basketball season, while Hauch, who also coached freshmen boys basketball at Vintage High School, was battling the final stages of cancer, his team ran a record of 29-1 and won five tournament championships. This included winning St. John’s invitational tournament, St. Apollinaris March Madness, and Justin-Siena’s Dan Clark Tournament.
Many of Hauch’s songs reflect his coaching background as well as his Christian faith, such as “Ready Set Grow” and “Celebrate!” Words from his song “Run” evoke images of students lined up at the track preparing for a race:
“You’ve got to be ready/When it’s time to start/Focus your mind, stretch your soul/Train your heart/Listen to the wisdom of the ones who’ve gone before/As you take your place, set your pace/Know what you’re running for/Run! Run with all your might.”
These words, written by Hauch and sung by Steve Jeffery along with St. John’s students, are a portion of the legacy Hauch left to his school and community.
Hauch’s guitar-playing and singing were part of St. John’s for many years but were not recorded, with the exception of one small session where he was singing in a group and playing his guitar. There are no clear recordings of his voice alone.
“Bob and I talked about recording his songs before,” Schmid said. “The lesson here is don’t put things off. Cancer affected his voice toward the end.
“Bob was a really good teacher, coach and musician. He had a wonderful singing voice,” Schmid added. “You hear my voice on the CD, but his voice was much better.”
Schmid described how students entering Hauch’s fall classes were sometimes a little intimidated because he had a serious demeanor, but they would come to realize and appreciate what a deeply caring teacher he was. Over the years, students often came back to visit and let Hauch know how much his teaching meant to them.
“The CD cover is a picture of the center of the gym at St. John’s — Bob’s beloved gym floor. As athletic director he was very diligent in caring for the floor. If someone spilled on it or got dirt on it, you’d hear ‘Better pick that up, clean that up before Mr. Hauch sees you.’ The eagle in the center (St. John’s Eagles) was unofficially named Bob. So we thought it would be an appropriate CD cover. The background for the rest of the CD case is the gym floor,” Schmid said.
Each year, teachers selected a theme at St. John’s, and Schmid would write a song for it until he began encouraging Hauch to write the theme songs. Hauch wrote five of the 15 theme songs. On one occasion, Schmid recalls meeting with Hauch a couple days before the teachers’ meeting. To their chagrin, neither of them had written a song yet.
“By the next day we both had written songs. There’s something about guitarists,” Schmid said, smiling at the memory.
Ten of the 24 people involved in making the CD were student singers. Initially, Schmid said he hadn’t planned to use students’ voices as much as he did, but once they got into it and he heard how well they were singing, he expanded their roles. Usually he had around four students recording at his house for each session, he said.
Student singers include Amelia Arnold, Rachel Carey, Clayton D’Angelo, Sophia Johnson, A.J. King, Morgan Malloy, Sarah Mautner, Matthew Walters, Grace Walter and Katelyn Young.
“Some of the soloists were former students,” Schmid said. “I’m not a music teacher, but I get really jazzed about kids getting into music.”
Instrumental accompaniment includes bass, drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, violin, viola, piano, keyboard and other instruments.
“I think it was a great experience and a nice opportunity to see how all the recordings are put together to make a great song, ” said Sarah Mautner, 11. “It was an amazing, exciting, and fun experience and I hope they’ll be making another CD because I want to do it again. I hope this is what I do when I grow up.”
“It was cool to hear everyone’s voices put together,” said Grace Walter, 11. “I liked the way Pastor Mike helped me when we were recording all of the songs. I love to sing — especially these songs. I’ve been singing at school the entire time I’ve been at St. John’s. It was really fun and it felt great being involved.”
“I got involved in the CD when Pastor Mike approached me asking me to sing a solo,” said Sophia Johnson, 13, who sang the solo for “I’ll Be Your Friend,” written by Schmid for the 2001 graduation.
“The best part of making the CD was afterward, listening to myself and saying, ‘Wow, I’m on a CD!’ It felt very special to be involved,” Johnson said. “I would love to do more recordings like this because of the great experience and great fun the whole process is.”
Schmid, who produced, recorded and engineered the CD, was raised in a musical family with a father who was a music teacher. He said he loves all aspects of music, including the behind-the-scenes work. He spent many hours sitting with headphones “tweaking this and that,” Schmid said. Twice during the project he stayed at a friend’s cabin in order to concentrate on making the CD.
“This is a hobby, something I love doing,” Schmid said.
Schmid also shares music he has written with other churches and schools through the website TrueVine
Music.com. All lyrics and sheet music are available for free download with links for chord sheets, lead sheets and keyboard parts.
Will Schmid spearhead making another CD with his church or school? “I already have the next CD planned,” he said. “It will be songs we do here and in praise worship.”
All proceeds from “On the Wings of an Eagle” go to an endowment fund under Bob Hauch’s name to help the ministry of St. John’s Lutheran School. CDs can be purchased at online music stores, at TrueVineMusic.com and at the St. John’s Lutheran Church office at 3521 Linda Vista Ave., Napa.