The Life and Legacy of Isaac Watts

[Historically, in church music] Lutherans sang hymns from the beginnings of the Reformation. Calvinists, though, in their zeal to use nothing but the Bible in worship, tended to restrict their singing to biblical psalms. Though they might have chanted them—a musical style that makes possible the singing of prose just as it is written without alteration, straight from the Bible—instead they made metrical translations, complete with regular rhythms and rhymes. In practice, these metrical psalms were closer in some ways to vernacular hymns than to the text of the Bible. Such psalm singing is still the practice in some conservative Reformed churches today, and it was the norm for early English Protestantism. Then came Isaac Watts

Music of the Month: Richard Hillert: The Unpublished Organ Works

Eight recently discovered organ works of distinguished composer, teacher, and parish musician Dr. Richard Hillert (1923-2010) are being newly released in Richard Hillert: The Unpublished Organ Works. These settings have never been published before and are all settings of commonly used hymn tunes. They should be a welcome addition to the church organist’s repertoire, especially for those who have studied with Hillert; for those who have played, sung, and admired his work; and for those in the future who have yet to encounter the music of this remarkable man.

Top Handbell Pieces for Children and Beginners

Handbell music holds a unique place in the realm of parish music education and congregational worship. Its blend of teamwork, rhythm, and melody offers a rich experience for children, fostering both musical skill and spiritual connection. When building a handbell music program within your school or congregation, selecting compositions that guide beginners will help them take their first steps into handbell music confidently. Let’s explore the top handbell pieces that make learning handbells accessible and add a touch of beauty to church services.

Music of the Month: Classic Concordia Chorale Preludes

Classic Concordia Chorale Preludes is a large collection of miniature chorale prelude gems mined from the Concordia Publishing House (CPH) catalog of the 1950s through 1980s. These pieces represent some of the best titles previously found in the Concordia Hymn Prelude Series, The Parish Organist, Preludes for Hymns in the Worship Supplement, and several other individual collections. Prefacing every piece is a page giving background information about the tune (its source, form, and melodic characteristics) and the organ setting (its composer, publication source, compositional aspects, and suggested registration). This collection is of great use for both worship and academic situations, encouraging organists to learn and share a broad, balanced repertoire that includes music of the recent past.

Noteworthy People in Church Music: Johann Walter

There are numerous historical figures who gave their gifts to Lutheranism and hymnody as a whole. Their contributions to Christianity give us amazing ways to praise God and all that He has given us. One who stands out is Johann Walter, who published the first collection of Lutheran choral music. Read more about his work with Martin Luther, hymn publication, and three hymns that appeared in his book of choral music with an excerpt from Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns below.

Music of the Month: Alleluia! Amen! Eight Organ Preludes for the Church Year

The Eight Organ Preludes for the Church Year series continues with “Alleluia! Amen!” and features the accessible and versatile writing that characterizes previous releases in the series. Organists of varied ability levels will find these pieces useful throughout the Church Year as well as musically edifying. This edition is wonderful for any church organist’s library!

Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the First Lutheran Hymnal

Beloved Lutheran hymnals have a long history, dating all the way back to 1524 in Germany. Each variation has been used for different purposes, such as a home devotional that eventually led to a worship hymnal. Learn more about the beauty of Lutheran hymnals from the very first edition to Lutheran Service Book today with this excerpt from Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns.

Music of the Month: Easter with Minimum Pedal

Edwin T. Childs adds to his series of settings for minimal pedal, providing a collection of hymn tunes for the Easter season. Composed as a single stanza, these preludes are suitable as hymn introductions or service music. Easter with Minimum Pedal will appeal to organists who have limited pedal abilities or seasoned organists who need something in a pinch.

Five Easy-to-Learn Sheet Music Options for Easter

Every spring, Easter comes around in the Church Year as a celebration of the battle Christ has won for believers everywhere. He has conquered the devil, died for your sins, and defeated death by rising to life again! He has won! This joyous occasion is coupled with beautiful music ringing out from every musical ensemble in your church. Need something to play that won’t take much rehearsal time? Try these five different options from the CPH Music Subscription. There’s no waiting to order them—just download, print, and play in minutes.

Music of the Month: Hymn Tune Innovations: 5 Preludes for Lent

This collection of five preludes for Lent is another stunning addition to the Hymn Tune Innovations series. Benjamin M. Culli has composed five accessible preludes for use during the Lenten season. These preludes are appropriate for use from Ash Wednesday through Good Friday, showcasing familiar tunes and those that might be new to your congregation. 

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