Conversation and information about music and liturgy from a confessional Lutheran perspective.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Yesterday a middle-aged couple came up to me after the Divine Service to compliment me on the music at Bethany. One of our choir members, Elise B. Calhoon, had sung parts of the liturgy and provided some of the attendant music, and so I was expecting to discuss her beautiful singing. However, the wife instead focused on the hymnody. They reported that they were not Lutheran, and had come for the baptism held at the service. They had visited several other Lutheran churches with their relatives in the past but had never liked the music. But she thought the hymns we sang were great!

What did we sing? "O Holy Spirit, Enter In" (Entrance Hymn), "If Christ Himself Be For Me" (all 10 stanzas, Hymn of the Day); "Have No Fear, Little Flock" (Hymn before the Rite of Holy Baptism); "I Know My Faith Is Founded" (Offertory Hymn); "Saints, See the Cloud of Witnesses" (just the last two stanzas as a closing hymn).

Let's see: 3 chorales, and 2 modern hymns that are probably unique to Lutheran hymnals. Folks, our hymnody isn't a problem. It's a blessisng! People can sing our hymnody - provided, like any hymnody, that it be ably led. And there are no better texts to be found!


Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Amen, Amen, Amen. Oops...that's Liturgy...

"On What Has Now Been Sown...thy blessing, Lord bestow." :)

Susan K said...

I must agree the hymnody was fantastic. I think I'm going to be done being surprised when an "outsider" finds it as wonderful. What a great story!

Stephen R. Johnson said...

In an age where modern protestantism is looking more and more homogenized through the praise chorus repertoire that everyone seems to be singing, the Lutherans can be confident that through our unique worship music and hymnody, we are presenting things that few other church bodys are hearing. In so doing we uphold our identity as confessional, sacramental and liturgical. When many among our ranks are becoming uneasy with our hymnic and liturgical musical heritage, it is nice to know that many still see it for the valuable entity that it is.

Phillip said...

Indeed, Stephen.

Let me also add that Susan K was at the service with the Lord's Supper that day, and so had the blessing of singing two other wonderful hymns: "I Walk in Danger All the Way" and "Thy Body, Given for Me, O Savior". :)

I also want to give a 'hat tip' to our friends on the hymnody committee who appointed "If God Himself Be For Me" as the HOD this past Sunday. What a great match for the beheading of John the Baptist: stanza 1 sings "If Christ, my head and master, befriend me from above, What foe or what disaster can drive me from his love?" Indeed: with Christ as our head, the Herods of this world can go ahead and take our heads along with goods, fame, child, and wife - for Christ is our true Head, and, as M.C. Hammer used to say: they "can't touch this!"

BTW, Gerhardt works with the head meme later in the hymn, reminding us in stanza 6 that "Who clings wiht resolution to Him whom Satan hates must look for persecution; fro him teh burden waits of mock'ry, shame, and losses heaped on his blameless HEAD". :)

Thanke be to God that in Christ we get blameless heads that nothing can destroy!