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Hymns Played on the Psalmodikon

MUSIC-ON-A-STRING By the late 1900’s, the psalmodikon had become a near-forgotten instrument and some were tucked away in the family attic or worse yet had fallen into disrepair and tossed away. As in the case of Harlis Anderson, of No. St. Paul, MN who came upon an old battered up instrument in the attic of his grandparent’s home in St. Ansgar, IA. After doing what little research there was available, Harlis learned that it was a homemade Norwegian instrument called a psalmodikon. The date on the back side of the psalmodikon was 1867 and it had belonged to Harlis’ grandfather, a Norwegian immigrant, who was a Klokker at his church in Saint Ansgar, IA.

In 1991, Harlis met Beatrice Hole, of Eden Prairie, MN who had recently been given a psalmodikon and was teaching herself to play it. At that time there were no known psalmodikon players in the country and very little history had ever been recorded in America. Because of the lack of psalmodikon history, Beatrice and Harlis soon realized they had an important story to tell and began giving programs and teaching others about the psalmodikon that was an interesting part of their Scandinavian heritage. They decided to call themselves “Music-on-a-String” and for the next few years they were busy giving programs to interested folk groups, community gatherings, churches, and schools. Because of the few resources on the psalmodikon available to them, Beatrice and Harlis decided to make a Tape Cassette, recording twenty-one of their favorite songs. The psalmodikon music and history was intended to be used for future reference in museums, libraries and interested psalmodikon enthusiasts.

The Tape Cassette is no longer available, but the recording of their music is on file in the Library of Congress, Folk Culture Division in Washington, D.C.

The following three songs are played in 2-part harmony and are an example of the music Beatrice Hole and Harlis Anderson played on their psalmodikons.

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words: Adelaide A. Pollard, 1862-1934
Music: George C. Stebbins, 1846-1945

MusicalNoteHave thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after thy will,
while I am waiting, yielded and still.

Just as I am

Words: Charlotte Elliott, 1835
Music: “Woodworth,” William B. Bradbury,

MusicalNoteJust as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


Near the Cross

Words: Fanny J. Crosby
Music: Near The Cross, by William H. Doane
Season: Lent, Holy Week, Good Friday

MusicalNoteJesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all a healing stream,
Flows from Calv'ry's moun-tain.


In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.