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Holy Spirit, Breathe on Us

Thou camest to our hall of death,

O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air,

To drink for us the dark despair

That strangled our reluctant breath.

So writes Martin Franzmann in my school’s hymn of the year: “O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth” (LSB 834). With strong and striking text, he could almost be predicting our 2020 world of “poisoned air” and “reluctant breath,” thanks to the awful virus. It may be a novel coronavirus, but there is nothing novel about sickness and death, though it is fresh in our minds these days. Since our first parents partook of the fruit of the forbidden tree, our air has been poisoned, our breath both reluctant and short, and our despair, indeed, dark.

Composer of the Month: Kenneth Kosche

Dr. Kenneth T. Kosche, born in 1947, holds a DMA in choral music and served on the faculty in the music department at Concordia University Wisconsin from 1978 to 2009. In those 31 years, Kosche conducted the school’s two choirs and taught classes in composition, conducting, and choral literature.

Unison, 2-Part and 3-Part Choral Music for Sundays in a Pandemic

If you’re a church musician, chances are high that the way you’ve performed music (or haven’t) at church has been completely different from “normal” circumstances. Maybe you’ve switched to pre-recorded services, or livestreamed services with limited groups of musicians accompanying. In some cases, the organist and a soloist might be the safest options.

Music of the Month: The TTBB Chorale Book, Volume 2

CPH is pleased to introduce this new collection of thirty-five hymns for men’s voices, following the classic first volume published in 1961. Featuring all new settings for the Church Year by Kevin Hildebrand, these hymn arrangements include predictable, pleasing harmonies with the melody almost always in the top voice (Tenor 1). These will be useful as stand-alone choral anthems or choral stanzas in alternation with congregational singing.

Music, the Church Year, Repeat

“Repetition is the mother of all learning.”

This is a common saying, especially in education. The exhortation to repeat, repeat, repeat hopefully is prevalent in our Lutheran schools. Only through repetition does one learn and retain something. You are only reading this right now because someone drilled you on your ABCs and phonograms. In music, we drill note names and scales and rhythms.

Composer of the Month: Fridrich Layriz

 Have you ever wondered why some hymns in Lutheran Service Book have more than one setting? To the untrained ear, the spacing and notes may seem almost identical, but to a seasoned musician, one tweak can make all the difference. Fridrich Layriz (pronounced LIE-ritz) supported the use of traditional rhythmic settings for hymns, and his work was influential, especially for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and its music. 

Using a Children’s Hymnal at Home, Church, and School

What’s the very first thing you do when you get to church on Sunday morning? With social distancing it might look a bit different right now, but do you usually greet the people around you? Sip the coffee you grabbed from the refreshments table? Sit down, pray for a few minutes, and center yourself for worship? As a long-time music lover (and player), the first thing I always did was look up what we would be singing for the day. Knowing which hymns would ring out during service was important to me, not only to see if we’d sing my favorites but also to see what the service was going to be about.  

Music of the Month: Built on the Rock

Handbells are a beautiful addition to any Sunday worship service. “Built on the Rock” by Hart Morris gives your handbell and handchime group a challenging yet stunning piece for your congregation to listen to, with a triumphant conclusion of praise to the Savior. 

Why Christians Should Make Music with Joy

This past weekend, I discovered a delightful new album that mixed Mozart horn concertos with mambo music featuring the French horn. The promotional video for the album showed a colorfully arrayed orchestra playing a mambo on a Havana street, the musicians dancing to their own music.

Music of the Month: Piano Prelude Series: Volume 4 (FG)

The Piano Prelude Series features newly composed pieces by dozens of composers who write in a variety of styles and harmonizations. Edited by Kevin Hildebrand, volume 4 contains preludes for tunes starting with the letters F and G. These pieces are useful as preludes, postludes, music at the offering, for introduction, and during distribution, as well as for those who play hymns at home. The durable wire binding ensures that each page lies flat against the music stand.