Ruth Ann Hagen Wade

1940 -

Ruth Ann Wade, a pianist and organist, has taught music in a number of settings and at five Seventh-day Adventist schools, two of them being degree-granting schools in higher education. In addition to conducting choirs and teaching theory and keyboard, she enjoys a reputation as an accomplished accompanist and a creative composer of Bible-related songs.

Ruth Ann was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, the daughter of Elmer E. and Frances Leona Sparrow Hagen. Her mother was a pianist and Ruth Ann's first teacher. At age five, she started lessons with Marguerite Woodruff Widener, piano teacher at Union College, and two years later started violin lessons with Merlene Ogden.  By age nine she was playing hymns in the church school.

When Ruth Ann was ten, the family moved to Topeka, Kansas, where her father was Home Missionary Secretary of the Kansas Conference, the position he had held in Nebraska. There she continued lessons on both the violin and piano and, beginning in the fifth grade, played for daily song services in her church school as well as for Sabbath School on the weekends.

She attended Enterprise Academy, where she accompanied the choir, voice lessons, and numerous soloists during her four years there. During that time, Ruth Ann enjoyed working with four different music teachers, taking lessons in piano and organ and learning about teaching by observing them in rehearsals and the studio.

She also started taking clarinet, an instrument she had wanted to study from her earliest years, and played in the band which William Murphy started. Murphy and his wife, Doralee, both graduates of the music program at Union College, had a significant impact on her and were influential in getting her to think about a career in music.

While at EA, Ruth Ann heard the UC Unionaires under the direction of J. Wesley Rhodes when they performed at her school while on tour. She was thrilled by the sound of the choir and a piano solo played by the accompanist in that concert. She graduated from the academy in 1958 and enrolled at UC that fall, hoping to do a double major in music and nursing.

Rhodes, her advisor, told Ruth Ann she couldn't do both, and helped her choose classes that would preserve the option of doing either at the end of her first year. By the end of a few weeks, she had decided to major in music. Four years later, in 1962, she completed a B.S. degree in music education with high distinction.

While at UC, Ruth Ann studied piano with Eleanor Attarian (later Wahlen) for four years and organ with Catherine Brown Lang (later Titus) for two. She accompanied voice lessons for Rhodes as well as his successor, William Haynes, worked as Rhodes' secretary, and accompanied the Golden Chords Chorale and the Unionaires during her time at UC. These persons and her experience in working with them provided an invaluable preparation for the varied roles she would later fill in her music teaching career.

Ruth Ann's first teaching position was at Enterprise Academy, where she taught for a year. She married Loron T. Wade, a UC theology graduate, in June 1963 and then traveled with him to Guatemala, where he was district pastor for fourteen churches or groups, none of which had a piano. She started a small choir and rehearsed them without accompaniment. An accordion that she had been given in her teens was especially useful during that time.

In 1966 the Wades moved to Honduras, where, during the next three years, she taught music and art classes at the secondary level, directed the choir at Centro Educacional Adventista, and taught piano at home, for there was no music department. Although the choir could master only hymns initially, at the end of three years they were able to sing the "Hallelujah" chorus from the Messiah. While at CEA, the Wades wore out the accordion. It was the first of seven they would use in mission service. The 1968 CEA yearbook was dedicated to the Wades in appreciation for their contributions on campus.

Following a furlough, they served for a year in a large church in San Salvador, where Loron was pastor and Ruth Ann directed the choir. The Wades then worked at the Adventist college in Costa Rica for the next four years. Ruth Ann worked with Roselyn Ward, head of the music department, directing the fifty-member choir, with Ward serving as accompanist. As Wade developed her own rehearsal approach and conducting style, she drew heavily on what she had observed during her years of accompanying choirs under several highly qualified directors in academy and college.

She was able to do eight-part a cappella choral literature and present a varied secular and sacred repertoire with finesse on campus, in numerous local settings, and on tours. The choir took ten-day tours to Panama and Guatemala, where they were received enthusiastically. She was particularly gratified when a General Conference official compared her choral sound to that of Rhodes, her choir director at UC, and George Greer, another noted Adventist choir director. The 1974 college yearbook was dedicated to both Ruth Ann and Loron.

The Wades spent a year pursuing graduate study at Andrews University in 1974-1975 and then went to Puerto Rico, where Loron taught in the theology department at the Adventist college for three years. Ruth Ann did some accompanying and started a women's choir which performed both secular and sacred music. They next returned to AU in 1978 for two years of additional graduate study, she completing an M.Mus. in 1979 and he an Ed.D. in 1981.

From 1980 to 1984 they worked in the Adventist college in Medellin, Colombia. There Ruth Ann worked with Richard White, head of the music department, directing the choir, giving lessons on piano and organ, and teaching music education classes.

The Wades, who are now at the University of Montemorelos, started their work there in 1985. In these years, Loron has taught in the school of theology, serving as dean of the school part of the time. Ruth Ann has taught both organ and piano and a number of classes, including all of the theory offerings, hymnology, piano pedagogy, and music appreciation. From 1989 to 1994, she served as director of the fine arts department and then music, after art and music were separated. Both of the Wades are now retired, Loron in 2003 and Ruth Ann in 2010.

She has produced recordings with her music colleagues and is featured as a soloist on cassettes and more recently on CDs. She has also arranged a number of hymns and composed over 100 songs based on Bible texts.

In recent years, Ruth Ann worked with the university in editing, composing, and arranging music for a series of Bible textbooks that were prepared for publication by the UM for use in Mexico and Central and South America in the church schools. Using Finale, she prepared around fifty songs for publication in each of the seven books for grades K-through 6.


Source: Information provided by Ruth Ann Wade, 2008 and 2013; personal knowledge.


My Musical Journey

Ruth Ann Hagen Wade

I was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, where my father worked as Home Missionary Secretary for the Nebraska Conference. My mother played the piano and I grew up hearing Weber's Invitation to the Dance, The Robin´s Return, The Maiden´s Prayer, the Brahms' Waltz in Ab, Scarf Dance by Chaminade, and works by Mozart, Beethoven and others. She started to teach me at age four, when I picked out Jesus Loves Me on the piano and when I was five, I started lessons with Marguerite Woodruff Widener at Union College. When I was nine years old, I played hymns in the church school in Lincoln.

I started taking violin lessons from Merlene Ogden when I was seven. I remember trudging up the hill between Stockwell and Bancroft streets with 50 cents in one hand and my grandfather's violin in the other. The student who had a lesson before me played the clarinet, and I longed to play that instrument too. I continued studying piano and violin after we moved to Kansas when I was ten.

Nobody could play hymns in the Topeka church school, so from fifth to eighth grade I had the wonderful opportunity of playing for song service every day. I also played for Sabbath School. I entered Enterprise Academy at age thirteen. Rose Shroeder was the music teacher in my freshman year, and I did a lot of sight-reading in John Thompson's book V. She also asked me to play for the choir.

In my sophomore year, William and Doralee Murphy, music graduates from Union College, came to teach at the academy. I worked for them, both in their house and in the music department. I accompanied voice lessons for him and also played for the choir. She gave me more advanced piano repertoire, including music by Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, and Rachmaninoff. During this time, I began thinking seriously about music as a possible career when she said to me, "We need good music teachers."

Mr. Murphy started a band and I was overjoyed when Tommy Thompson, boys' dean at Enterprise, offered to teach me clarinet. Murphy also introduced us to the Messiah, and I spent many hours accompanying the vocalists, as we prepared for our performance. In my junior year, I took organ from Mrs. Murphy. Even so, the organ lessons stood me in good stead for my senior year because after the Murphys left at the end of my junior year, I had to play organ for church services the next year.

Even though I was interested in music, I thought my father wanted me to take nursing, so when I got to Union College, I had the idea of taking both. When I walked into the gym on registration day, there was a long table where several faculty members were seated. By chance, I sat down in front of J. Wesley Rhodes. I told him I wanted to take both majors and he kindly told me that wasn't an option.

He hired me to work for him as his secretary and to accompany voice lessons for him. After a week or two of school, he asked me to also accompany the Unionaires. It wasn't long before I was very sure I wanted to be a music major. I received a B.S. degree in music education in 1962.

I was a piano major and had four years of lessons with Eleanor Attarian (later Wahlen). In the first semester she assigned me Mozart's Sonata K 283, which I could read at sight. I never dreamed that we would spend much of the semester perfecting it. She carefully guided me with infinite patience and firm discipline on phrasing, practice methods, and tempo. While at the time I thought she was being very hard on me, I am now very grateful for her careful teaching. I also had two years of organ instruction from Catherine Brown Lang (later Titus).

While at Union College I started a women's sextet called the Harmonettes which won the grand prize at the amateur hour in 1960 or 61. They sang my arrangement of "The Lonely Goat Herd" from the Sound of Music. We were invited to be guest artists for the next year's amateur hour.

I began my teaching career at Enterprise Academy, where I taught for one year, 1962-63. I married Loron Wade in June at the end of that year. Although my goal was to teach piano, when I married, we went to Guatemala, where Loron was the district pastor in Puerto Barrios. We had fourteen churches or groups and not one had a piano. So I started a small choir, and we rehearsed everything a cappella. When I had been thirteen, I had been given an accordion. We literally wore it out in Guatemala and Honduras. Since then I have had seven accordions, and left one in most of the seven countries where we have lived.

We then moved to the Centro Educacional Adventista, in Peña Blanca, Honduras, where we lived from 1966-1968. I taught the secondary music classes, which included music and art, and taught piano in my front room. I worked with the choir there for three years. We started in the choir with hymns, but after three years of building, we were able to do the "Hallelujah" chorus from the Messiah. By the time we finished, I knew every part from memory. While singing at the graduation, in the silence before the final Hallelujah, my little son, David, came to me and said, "Mommy, here´s your purse!" and tried to get me to take it.

After furlough, we went to San Salvador, where Loron was pastor of the large city church, and I led the choir. We had been there only a year and a half when they called us to come to the college school in Costa Rica, where we stayed for the next four years, from 1971 to 1974. The choir, under the direction of Ana Gambetta de Hein, had been famous all over Central America. After she had left, a Mrs. Zachrison directed the choir for two years. I had the privilege of working with that 50-voice choir for four years.

Rosie Ward was head of the music program and a wonderful support in accompanying and encouraging me with the choir. God, in his mercy, had given me the opportunity to accompany William Murphy's, Stanley Chaffee's, J. Wesley Rhodes', and William Haynes' choirs. I had been exposed to many helpful ideas, repertoire, and methods, without realizing what I was receiving.

We did several eight-voice choral numbers a cappella, such as Christensen's Lost in the Night and Fairest Lord Jesus, Harry Robert Wilson's Jacob´s Ladder, the "Hallelujah" and "And the Glory of the Lord" from the Messiah, and the "Hallelujah" from Beethoven's Mount of Olives. We had a repertoire of about thirty sacred and secular numbers for our tours. We sang in Lions clubs, on television, in the park, and at other churches and schools. We also took ten-day tours to Panama and Guatemala. We made robes, and the boys even helped sew the collars. We also had long skirts for the girls for secular concerts. Again, Rosie Ward helped make this wonderful experience for them and me possible.

We attended Andrews University during the 1974-75 school year and then traveled to Puerto Rico, where we lived from 1975 to 1978 while Loron taught in the theology department. I did not teach for the school, but did accompany a concert in which the violin teacher, Elman Concepción, played. I also started a ladies' choir there in which we had a lot of fun singing both sacred and secular music.

We returned to Andrews University in 1978, so Loron could obtain a doctorate. While we were there, I completed an M.Mus. in 1979. I studied piano with Blythe Owen. At times, I used to go over and practice at 5:30 a.m., before our three small children got up. My husband would enroll, and then when he had a free block of time and could take care of our three children, I would see what class I could take and enroll in it. I started with the idea that if I finished, wonderful, and if not, I'd learn what I could. I was, however, able to complete my degree.

As I look back, I can see God's leading in several ways. When we later went to the University of Montemorelos, they needed someone to teach sacred music (hymnology), a class I had taken with Warren Becker at AU. Later, when they needed someone to teach piano pedagogy, I had taken that from Sandra Camp. When they asked me to teach form and analysis, I had taken that with Charles Hall.

When I finished my master's degree, Loron still had a semester to go, and I was free, so I took organ from Ruth Ann Plue. She took me carefully through the new Gleason book that Becker had helped create.

The next school we moved to our school in Medellin, Colombia, where we worked for five years. I started a choir there and worked with Richard White, who was serving as head of the music department. Besides teaching piano and organ lessons, I also taught both elementary and secondary music education classes.

One of the first assignments in Colombia was to teach organ. They had a new Rogers organ, and I had fresh material and the Gleason book, so was prepared to serve. The experience at AU was helpful since we had been working in Central America from 1963 to 1974 and there were no organs to play.

In Colombia I had the privilege of traveling to Tunja for a week to accompany the St. Cecilia Mass by Gounod on the organ and work with some of the great singers of that country. I then went again to accompany the Seven Last Words by Dubois, when choirs came together for Holy Week. I remember struggling with the "earthquake" in that music. These were not SDA performances, but were done by leading choirs and conductors in Colombia.

Then came the Faure Requiem, which was to be performed in Popayan on a Good Friday at 5:00 p.m. I flew down on Monday for a rehearsal that included four choirs, two orchestras, and a conductor from England. Before accepting, I had talked about the time of the performance in reference to Sabbath, and agreements were reached. As the week advanced, however, I discovered that the Requiem was going to be given after the intermission, which would have been after sundown. Even though it was religious music, it was being held in an opera house built in colonial times, and they were charging admission. I gave it much thought and prayer and decided that I would play, but not for pay.

On Thursday morning prior to the rehearsal, I went to the concert hall early with the SDA who owned the organ they had rented, to work on problem notes that were sticking. We had the organ open in the back, when all of a sudden the lights went out, there was a horrible roar that sounded like an airplane inside the building, and the structure began shaking. The wall behind the stage tumbled down, and the roof over the anterooms fell in. We knelt down and put our heads inside the organ. There were screams everywhere, and I felt that we would soon be buried under that building. After a seeming eternity, the earthquake stopped, and we got out, alive. The performance was canceled, the orchestra left, and I went with them. I was extremely thankful to be alive.

Since we came to teach at the University of Montemorelos Mexico in 1985, I have taught all of the classes offered in theory and composition, hymnology, piano pedagodgy, and music appreciation. I directed the handbells, after Leslie Bernhardt lent us his set and got us started. We now have our own set of bells. I have always taught piano and, much of the time, organ.

A providential moment in the School of Music at Montemorelos was the visit of Dan Shultz, who came to give us a seminar on organization within a music department. At that time he encouraged us to visit Orland and Joan Ogden's piano and organ store in Portland, Oregon. As a result of this contact, the university was blessed with a Johannus Opus 485 four manual organ, a Rogers organ, a nine foot Estonia grand piano, two other grand pianos, and numerous pianos for teachers and practice rooms. These instruments have made a tremendous difference in our church, and in our school.

I had the privilege of making a cassette with Lucille Taylor, "Hymns of Peace and Victory"; one with Efrain Piedra and Edrei Whitmore, "Cantemos a Jesus"; and another with Elphis, a flutist, "Oh Cristo te adoro." I did the piano arrangements for many of the songs on these cassettes. We produced a CD, "Cantemos las Escrituras," which consists of nineteen Bible texts I had set to music. Another CD, "Hymns of Peace," includes those that  I arranged, played, and recorded in the recording studio in the music department. I have also set Bible verses to music for the Union Sabbath School department for several years.

In 2003, UM began working on Bible textbooks to be used in all of Mexico, Central, and South America. These books were created and designed at the university, with each book containing fifty to sixty songs, including ten memory verses set to original music. I had the privilege of working on this project and editing and preparing each song for publication, using Finale. Music teachers on campus composed many of them. It was a very satisfying project for me.

Since retirement I have taught choral arranging and hymnology classes during the second semester each year at Montemorelos. In 2011 and 2013 we spent time in Angola, Africa.  The Seminary there is affiliated with MU and we have just returned from spending a semester teaching there.  They had their first graduation just before we left this year.

My husband, Loron, has not only been a pastor, teacher, and writer (nine books in Spanish and five in English), but shares in my love of music and plays the piano well. He is now working on the Brahms Waltzes. All of our children, David Stanley Wade, Jonathan Lee Wade, and Lori Ann Wade-Rangel have studied violin and piano.

I thank God for the privileges He has given me, and I pray that I can do what I should for Him and for music in our church and in our schools.