Jacob Weber’s Lent Mosaics provides six new preludes on familiar hymns for the time of Lent. These settings ponder the Passion of our Lord through intricate and serious writing and will help set the tone for worship during this penitential season.
“A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth”
This hymn uses the tune AN WASSERFLÜSSEN BABYLON, which recalls Psalm 137:1: “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.” Indeed, the tune was originally paired with a metrical paraphrase of Psalm 137, written by Wolfgang Dachstein and published in 1525. In LSB, the hymn is number 438.
Jacob’s setting is an ornamented chorale prelude, so the hymn melody is not as straightforward as what is sung from the hymnal. Passing tones and neighboring tones embellish the tune as it is featured on a solo stop on the manual. The melody is marked with a tenuto marking, which guides the organist’s performance of the tune throughout.
“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”
LSB includes two tunes for this hymn: HAMBURG (LSB 425) and ROCKINGHAM OLD (LSB 426). Lent Mosaics uses HAMBURG. The tune was written by Lowell Mason and was first published in 1825. It is based on a Gregorian chant tune.
Jacob’s piece is a gentle, flowing setting modeled after select settings found in Bach’s Orgelbüchlein. The melody appears in the soprano, and Jacob says that the note values have been doubled to extend the short tune. The tune’s accompaniment and pedal line are embellished with moving quarters and eighths to keep things musically and harmonically interesting. This setting was envisioned to be played as a quiet postlude during midweek Lent services.
“O Dearest Jesus, What Law Hast Thou Broken”
The tune used in this hymn is HERZLIEBSTER JESU. Johann Crüger composed the tune based on Johann Heermann’s hymn text and published it in 1640. Part of Crüger’s tune is a direct quotation from the tune to Psalm 23 in the 1562 Genevan Psalter. The hymn is number 439 in LSB.
Jacob’s setting for “O Dearest Jesus” balances out his Lent Mosaics collection. The setting employs contrapuntal writing and features broad statements of the melody in the pedal. The counterpoint in this setting, Jacob says, was inspired by and in some cases borrowed from his fugue on “Savior of the Nations, Come,” thus connecting the themes of the incarnation with the themes of the crucifixion. He recommends playing this setting on a soft registration or on a bold, snarly registration with the pedal being played on a prominent Reed stop.
“Jesus, I Will Ponder Now”
This hymn’s tune is JESU KREUZ, LEIDEN UND PEIN. The tune was written by Melchior Vulpius and first published in 1609. In LSB, you can find it as hymn 440.
Jacob’s setting of “Jesus, I Will Ponder Now” sets the tune in the soprano voice. The gentle accompaniment figure helps the listener reflect on and ponder the Passion. Because the setting is registered for soft accompaniment and Principal 8' solo, Jacob says that the organist should feel free to choose a different solo stop, such as a mutations combination or light Reed 8' for color. This setting works well as a voluntary during the offering collection.
“Christ, the Life of All the Living”
The tune for this hymn is JESU, MEINES LEBENS LEBEN, which first appeared in 1687. The hymn is number 420 in LSB. Jacob’s setting of the tune is in the form of a fugue. Movement and motion in the manuals balances the long statements of the tune in the pedal. Jacob says that when he wrote this setting, stanza seven’s statement of thanksgiving continually echoed in his mind:
Then, for all that wrought my pardon,
For Thy sorrows deep and sore,
For Thine anguish in the Garden,
I will thank Thee evermore,
Thank Thee for Thy groaning, sighing,
For Thy bleeding and Thy dying,
For that last triumphant cry,
And shall praise Thee, Lord, on high.
For this reason, he recommends registering the setting with a Plenum to Mixture in the manuals and the pedal to balance, with the addition of a Reed 8' in the pedal for clarity.
“Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted”
This hymn uses O MEIN JESU, ICH MUSS STERBEN for its tune. The tune originally appeared in 1850 and gained more attention in the LCMS by being included in Friedrich Layriz’s 1853 Kern des deutschen Kirchengesangs. The hymn is number 451 in LSB.
Evident from measure one of Jacob’s setting, the throb of Christ’s journey to the cross is heard in the pulse of the pedal and dark chords. Set in minor, brief visits of the sigh motif appear in the major as the setting paints the picture of Christ’s crucifixion. The tune is featured in the tenor voice on the manuals and could be registered with a solo Krummhorn 8', soft 8' accompaniment stops, and Subbass 16' and Flute 8' for the pulsing notes in the pedal. Listen to the setting below.
May these settings encourage your church’s worshipers to reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice for them on the cross and, most importantly, on the fact that He has redeemed them!