Robert Murphy has been music director at St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church in North St. Paul, Minnesota, for more than 25 years. He is responsible for four worship services, two traditional and two contemporary, each Sunday. He appreciates all forms of sacred music, regardless of era and style, and mixes them in creative ways.
The music program includes five choirs, a wind ensemble, and a contemporary worship band. Two criteria are upheld as music is chosen: first, that it be appropriate for its place in the service; and second, that it is done well and has artistic integrity.
In 1989, three years after Murphy began his ministry at St. Marks, a new sanctuary was completed, just in time for the celebration of the church's first century. The sanctuary organ was built and installed by the Rod Levson Organ Company in Buffalo, Iowa, four years later, in 1993. Originally a two manual, 22-rank instrument, it has been expanded to three manuals and thirty ranks. It is a transposing organ and has a self-recording feature.
Murphy was born in Vallejo, California. Both of his parents were musicians, his father a choir director and his mother the organist in their Adventist church. He started piano lessons at seven and then switched to organ while in high school.
He completed an undergraduate music degree in 1980 at Pacific Union College, where, in addition to his study on organ, he played French horn in the band and served as a music librarian. He completed a master's degree in church music at Westminster Choir College in 1986.
Sources: Thea Hanson, “Robert Murphy: A Double Agent,” Pacific Union College Viewpoint, Winter 2005; St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church website, 2012; Pacific Union College Fine Arts series printed program biographical sketch, 2002.