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Composer of the Month: Martin Franzmann

Not unlike many American Lutherans in the upper Midwest, Martin Franzmann (1907–76) was the son of a Lutheran pastor. Born and raised in Minnesota, Franzmann continued his undergraduate and seminary education in Wisconsin and ultimately taught at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Reformation’s First Lutheran Hymns

This excerpt is from “The Reformation and Lutheran Confessionalism to 1620” by Christopher Boyd Brown. Read the entire essay and learn more about the Reformation and its impact on Lutheran worship in Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns

Music of the Month: O Rejoice! 25 Hymn Introductions for Organ

Are you in need of some fresh and innovative music for Sunday morning worship? Bring creative variety to your hymn playing with these artistic hymn introductions for organ. Some of these introductions explore the hymn tune in full, while others use only a portion of the tune. All of them set the tone for the hymn and prepare the congregation to sing.

Handbell Guidelines for Sundays in a Pandemic

If you are a church musician, especially a handbell ringer, the last time you practiced was likely months ago. Or maybe your church is slowly allowing ringers and choirs to play again, albeit under irregular circumstances.

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.