Alexander Schreiner was born in 1901 in Germany. Two years later his mother and father joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At age eight Schreiner was baptized and was immediately called to serve as the organist for his local congregation. This eight-year-old boy was charged with providing the music for Sunday School, Sacrament meeting, and choir rehearsal. In 1912 Schreiner and his family left Germany for the United States and eventually Salt Lake City.
By age fifteen Schreiner was performing professionally. At age twenty he was performing recitals in the Tabernacle and then left on a mission to California. While a missionary, Schreiner was offered at least eight paid organist positions. He refused all offers but still played in a number of musical engagements.
Following his mission release in 1924, Schreiner returned to Salt Lake and was called as assistant organist of the Tabernacle organ. Later that year he left for Paris to study alongside of noted musicians including Louis Vierne, organist at Notre Dame Cathedral.
In 1927 Schreiner married Margaret Lyman, the daughter of Apostle Richard R. Lyman and Amy Brown Lyman. The Schreiners, along with their four children, split their time between Salt Lake City, where Alexander would perform at the Tabernacle, and Los Angeles, where Alexander was employed as an organist at UCLA. Schreiner’s talents were so famous that he was frequently invited to inaugurate new organs. He even toured the country eventually performing in at least 44 states in the United States.
At the request of President Heber J. Grant, the Schreiner Family returned to Salt Lake City in 1939 to allow Alexander to work closer with the Tabernacle and Choir. In the late 1940s, Schreiner played an important role in the rebuilding of the Tabernacle Organ.
Schreiner passed away in 1987 at age 86. However, his influence on organ music and the Church is still felt to this day. Among other things, he contributed to nine songs in the current LDS Hymnbook, including “Truth Eternal”, “Lead Me Into Life Eternal”, “Thy Spirit, Lord, Has Stirred Our Souls”, “While of These Emblems We Partake”, “God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son”, “In Memory of the Crucified”, “Lord, Accept into thy Kingdom”, “Behold Thy Sons and Daughters Lord”, “Holy Temples on Mount Zion”.
For more on the life of Alexander Schreiner, click here to listen to Episode 29 of the Mormon Channel’s History of Hymns series.