From Augsburg Quartets: A Mission-Driven Tradition by Merton P. Strommen and David M. Larson, a book that recounts the history of the Augsburg Quartets. Purchase this book on Amazon >
The Augsburg Centennial Singers are men who share a spirit of love for Jesus Christ and for spreading the Word of God’s Love through song.
The Centennial Singers were founded in 1993 to celebrate the centennial of the first singing tour of Norway by an Augsburg College Gospel Quartet. Male gospel quartets have been a rich tradition of Augsburg’s past, spreading the story of salvation in Jesus as they also brought attention and future students to the school.
The ardency and passion for Jesus Christ that motivated the Augsburg Quartets made an impact on countless numbers of people in the congregations and communities they visited. It also made a significant impact on the college they represented and the men themselves. Following their quartet activity, the men became pastors, missionaries, professors, teachers and lay leaders within the church. The last of the traveling quartets was in 1961.
About 22 years later, Merton Strommen, a former Gospel Quartet member, began asking others to assemble at Homecoming to sing several of “their” songs. One year, when these men were having dinner together, a preposterous idea was proposed: to form a chorus of former quartet members and travel to Norway to celebrate the centennial of the first Augsburg Quartet to visit. A chorus of 34 men set out for a two-week tour in 1994. They called themselves the Augsburg Centennial Singers.
Returning from the tour, the Centennial Singers continued as a chorus with a separate objective of reviving the gospel quartet tradition. A Centennial Singers scholarship was established in 1996 to be awarded to a student involved in vocal music. Now numbering more than 50 singers, they present a series of concerts each year, having made a second tour to Norway and, in 2005, making their first visit to the southwestern United States. Tours to Florida in 2006 and a second southwest U.S. tour in 2007 followed.
Mert Strommen served as director of the choir from its inception through 2001. Al Reesnes then led the choir through the 2013 season. Our current director, Paul Christensen, was the choir’s assistant director and accompanist before transitioning to the director role in 2014.