Hymn Based Resources

John D. Horman & Mary Nelson Keithahn.

Hymns Etc.

"Music is the art of the prophets, the only art that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificient and delightful presents God has given us."

Martin Luther

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HYMNS ETC. - Books

TITLE: Embracing the Light: Reflections on God's Word
AUTHOR: Mary Nelson Keithahn

Mary Nelson Keithahn has drawn on a lifetime of experiences as a pastor-educator, pastor's wife, mother, and grandmother in writing this collection of meditations and prayers. Her commonsense and thoughtful reflections on age-old questions of faith approach familiar scripture with a new twist, making each short essay a delight and surprise. Keithahn offers faith with intelligence, and her use of hymns is refreshing. Her ability to weave sacred stories from scripture with stories from her own life make this book rich indeed.

A detailed table of contents makes it easy for readers to locate meditations for specific scripture readings and days and seasons in the church year, as well as for special life events. The imagery and nuggets of wisdom in this book will attract the readers' attention, engage their imaginations, and stick in their minds long after they have read the last page.


TITLE: Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier
AUTHOR: Mary Nelson Keithahn


Adapted from the memoirs of Elfie May Loverin Minard and Frank Clyde Sheldon, Elfie's "Double Cousin," Mary Nelson Keithahn's new book, Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier chronicles Elfie's story as she and her family settle in the Midwest.

A historical fiction chapter book for readers in grades 3-6, Elfie offers vivid descriptions of life on the American frontier. Questions at the end of each chapter reinforce understanding and expand discussion for young readers.

Watercolor illustrations by Katie Kangas, Keithahn's granddaughter, beautifully enhance Elfie's story.


Author Biography

Mary Nelson Keithahn, a graduate of Carleton College and Yale Divinity School, is a United Church of Christ pastor and educator, now retired and living in Rapid City, South Dakota. She still works out of her home as a freelance writer, lyricist, and hymnwriter. She has written curriculum and worship resources for denominational and ecumenical use, numerous articles for religious journals, the book and lyrics for ten multi-generational musical dramas, and over a hundred hymns, some of which appear in more recently published hymnals and supplements. Her hobby is genealogy, and she is working on a history of her extended family. She also enjoys traveling in this country and abroad. She writes from a lifetime of experience as a pastor's wife, mother, and grandmother, and as a volunteer in various areas of community life.

Elfie Illustrator Bio & Photo


Katie Kangas shares her grandmother's love for children's books and family heritage. When she isn't sketching and painting from her home in Shoreview, Minnesota, she works in an architecture firm.

We Came from Sweden, Mary’s six-volume history of her father’s family, was finally in print by the end of January, the result of over fifteen years of genealogical research with the help of extended family members, libraries and historical societies, and numerous online resources. In the process she has enjoyed meeting in person and online many relatives in the US, Canada, Sweden, and elsewhere that were hitherto unknown to her. 

(Complete sets of the books have been donated to the Minnesota Historical Society in Minneapolis and the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.)

Mary Nelson Keithahn will be simultaneously publishing two books in June 2016 – Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier, her first book for children, and Embracing the Light, a collection of meditations and prayers.

Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier, a chapter book for children, chronicles the experiences of Elfie and her extended family as they find a new life in the Midwest after the War Between the States. The stories in the book were adapted from the memoirs of Elfie May Loverin Minard and a family history written by her "double cousin," Frank Clyde Sheldon, Keithahn's grandfather. Katie Kangas, Keithahn's oldest granddaughter, provided the watercolor illustrations for the stories, and Hazel Keithahn, her youngest granddaughter, lent her hand to create the playful Elfie font that is a signature throughout the book.

Embracing the Light is a book of scripture-based meditations and prayers that provides thoughtful reflections on Christian faith, life, and mission within the framework of the liturgical and secular year, as well as insights into important life events from birth to death and issues such as peace and reconciliation and caring for one another. The author uses hymns, stories from various sources, and her personal memoirs to offer fresh insights into the Bible.

Although they belong to different genres, both books highlight Keithahn's passion for inspiring present and future generations to reflect on their personal journeys, the history of their families, and the ties that bind them together. Both books offer opportunities for thoughtful conversations among readers of all ages.

For more information on the books and ordering.


Articles about Mary’s two new books, Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier and Embracing the Light: Reflections on God’s Word, have appeared in several newspapers recently. Mary was also interviewed about her books on South Dakota Public Broadcasting on August 15, 2016.

Rapid City Journal 8/20/16 - Mary Nelson Keithahn is not new to being a published author, but that doesn’t dampen the excitement of seeing new writing published.

SDPB Radio 8/15/16 - Author and Pastor Mary Nelson Keithahn visits about her new books, Embracing the Light: Reflections on God's Word and Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier. She considers herself a "spiritual descendent of the Separatists who landed in Plymouth in 1620. She also describes how her long life has added to her insight into the nature of God.

Shoreview Press 8/25/16- The stories illustrations are able to tell, through stark sketches and the soft hues of watercolor, have captivated Katie Kangas since she was in elementary school.

Northfield News 8/12/16- Carleton College alumna Mary Nelson Keithahn publishes two books

Ruth Page Jones, a Wisconsin historian who writes a local history column, “It Happened Right Here,” for the South Dakota Mail, made Mary’s book, Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier, the subject of her column on August 10, 2017.  Having grown up in Plankinton, South Dakota herself, she knew descendants of Elfie’s sister Edith, and added details about the family to her description of the book. 



Let us come into God's presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to God with songs of praise!

Psalm 95:2

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