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ONE OF M. L.'s colleagues asked him what he felt was his greatest contribution to Union College. "'My contribution was the Friday-evening meeting.' He worked out the beautiful, quiet Friday evening that consisted of several numbers by a string ensemble led by Prof. C. C. Engle, a quiet song sung without string accompaniment, a reading of certain scriptures in unison, and very short talks, which he gave every Friday night that he was in town. It was the consensus that this was an outstanding spiritual factor in the administration of Andreasen."
"Friday-night meetings were his favorite times," another colleague recollects. "He wanted them just so. They would begin with quiet music, to put everybody in a meditative frame of mind. The Engel ensemble would play Bach or Beethoven for twenty minutes to half an hour. Then the ministers would come onto the platform. (We had started a new song, which we were to swell from pianissimo when the prayer was finished.) Usually there was a vocal duet or solo or quartet. Then, in his quavering voice, M. L. would start us out with 'Beautiful Valley of Eden' or maybe 'Sweet Hour of Prayer.' We knew all three stanzas of each by heart, and never tired of them. The last stanza would be sung unaccompanied, and M. L. would sing bass. Then Elder Andreasen would give the message, which didn't exceed twenty minutes. It might be from the book of Hebrews or the life of Christ or an illustration of some quality that ought to
be emphasized in our lives. Often there would be a testimony service or a call, but not a lot of emotional appeal as such. Elder Andreasen's forceful way of illustrating Bible truth, and his interesting manner of presenting it, would be the appeal. The response of the 400 students was so spontaneous that it would always occupy all the time he would allow. It would be nine or nine-fifteen before we got out, having started at seven-thirty or seven-forty-five."
It seems that Union College students of the Andreasen years remember his Friday-evening vespers more than anything else. Others have tried to imitate them, but no one has been able to do them quite the way he did.
Twenty years after M. L. left Union, a group of former students arranged for him to conduct a typical vesper service at Minneapolis. This was recorded. Excerpts from the tape follow:
"It was a revelation to me when I found out that violins can not only play but praise. . . . There are sounds so pure, so wonderful, in music, that they move me to my inmost being, and I say, 'I must be a better man.'
"It's too bad I don't remember all the good students. . . . I remember the bad ones. I had them in, so I know them quite well. But that is all forgotten, and we all love the Lord together . . . and that's wonderful.
"Friday evening holds sweet memories for me. It goes back to the beginning of my experience as a Seventh-day Adventist. In those days heaven was very real. We believed in the life hereafter. We were in the first love of the truth, and we loved one another and we loved the Lord. And so we came together, sang a little, and prayed a little. Again and again we read those statements concerning that which is to be, which I read tonight. 'He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal.' In our
childlike faith we took this as real, and I still believe it to be real. We would read in the twenty-third psalm, 'He leadeth me beside the still waters.' We took that to mean just what it said, that the time will come when the Lord Himself will lead us, and I believe that is true in a very literal way. . . .
"I believe that God in heaven looks down in tender compassion upon us even here this evening. Unfaithful as we have been, unworthy as we are, the Lord loves us. And wonderful is that love. I wonder how some people can love me, and I suppose you wonder how some can love you, and all of us wonder how God can love us when He knows our many shortcomings and our many failures. As God knows and loves. God understands. . . .
"If we could only learn to be a little more like God, a little more like our Master, kind and understanding, merciful—if we could learn to look at the good things rather than the bad—we could have a little heaven here on earth. That is what I am having here tonight. I am having a little heaven.
"We can think of what it will be when, in the world made new, we shall meet never to part. You say, 'That isn't so good, if we are never to part. I can be good for a little while. But if I stay with you a long time, I'm not sure you'd be convinced of my goodness.'
"Hence it is necessary, if we are to be all together forever, that we learn to live here, now, in such a way that the love of God can prevail in our hearts. Christianity is love. Christianity is understanding. Christianity means adaptation. It means giving up our own ways and being sweet about it. And so now tonight, Friday evening—Friday evening in the world's history as well—the sun is sinking silently. It will be but a little while and He that shall come will come and will not tarry. . . . We cannot expect that things will continue to be peaceful very much longer.
And when the calamities of the last days are upon us, when thousands shall fall at our side, and ten thousand at our right hand, will we be hid under the shadow of the Almighty? Those are solemn thoughts, but worthwhile even this evening. Thanks be to God, we have One who is above all earthly sorrows and calamities, and who can take care of and protect His people. And of that we have been promised.
"The fourth chapter of Isaiah has become very precious to me. It speaks of the time, just before the Lord shall come—that final year we have all been interested in, and are all interested in—when probation closes and God's people pass through the last suffering, the time of Jacob's trouble. I read, 'In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious.' That's God's people. 'And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem.' Can you see the shaking there? We may expect a shaking, and many will be shaken out. . . . Some are shaken out already, but those that remain, that remain faithful, every one shall be called holy. 'When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion ... by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.' God will cleanse His people by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning. 'And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion . . . a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night.' You have read how, during the last struggle, when persecution shall come, some of God's people will have to flee. . . . And some shall be incarcerated, even in dungeons, alone, and apparently forsaken. I have said, 'Lord, save me from that. I don't think I have the strength to go through
that experience.' But I can take courage, for I know that 'as thy days, so shall thy strength be.' So I need not worry over that. But most of God's people will be permitted to be together in small companies. That thought has been a wonderful blessing to me. I can stand a great deal when I know there's someone around who loves me. That gives a man courage and hope. If we are permitted to be together in small companies, what a glorious thing it will be."
M. L.'s opinion of his greatest contribution to Union College was probably correct. His reputation for being able to provide spiritual inspiration was established there. "I will never forget Elder Andreasen's vesper talks; they were of great spiritual value to me" has been the sentiment of many.
His sermons were equally helpful. "I remember a sermon he preached that helped me to drive my doubts away"; "I recall a sermon he preached on the Spirit of Prophecy that established my faith in this, the great gift to the church." Undoubtedly, M. L. knew how to speak to hearts and minds.