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.

The Legacy of Classic Concordia Chorale Preludes

Classic Concordia Chorale Preludes contains settings of twenty-three different hymn tunes total, written by twenty-one different composers, among whom are Carl Schalk (1929–2021), Healey Willan (1880–1968), Hugo Gehrke (1912–92), Jan Bender (1909–94), Richard Hillert (1923–2010), and Wilbur Held (1914–2015).

These names, among others, are synonymous with the excellence of Lutheran church music throughout the twentieth century. Classic Concordia Chorale Preludes helps to preserve the legacy and character of Lutheran organ repertoire from the second half of the twentieth century.

Using Classic Concordia Chorale Preludes

Classic Concordia Chorale Preludes is a one-stop jackpot for Lutheran twentieth-century organ chorale prelude literature. Compiler and editor Michael Burkhardt has culled the archives to reintroduce and enshrine this extensive collection of short preludes under one cover.

Organists who are familiar with both the historic German-Lutheran baroque repertoire and CPH’s current extensive catalog of repertoire will be pleased to discover some “new to you” repertoire from the twentieth century in Classic Concordia Chorale Preludes.

“Miniature” Chorale Preludes

There are many advantages to a collection of “miniature” chorale preludes. Shorter preludes that still prominently feature a hymn tune’s melody are often effective as hymn introductions. They also give organists a supply of versatile options when needing something to play in a pinch, whether it’s extra preservice music, during an offering collection, or during the distribution of Communion.


Aside from their utility, these less extensive chorale preludes also function as an excellent teaching tool, both for learning organists and aspiring composers. Classic Concordia Chorale Preludes seizes on this opportunity, as it includes not only scores of music but also a preface for each piece that provides information about each hymn tune and setting.

Beyond the Scores

On these prefatory pages, the analysis of each prelude is both enlightening to the musician and inspiring for those who wish to consider a variety of ways to compose or improvise their own prelude on a hymn tune.

In addition to the relevant source information and musical analysis, the prefatory page for each prelude includes suggestions for organ registration. These suggestions will also give organists useful ideas for combinations of sounds and the use of multiple manuals on their own instrument, both for these preludes and beyond.

The chorale preludes in this volume are arranged in order according to the Church Year, and the prefatory page indicates the hymn texts that are associated with each tune. This chronological structure will suit organists well; this anthology of contemporary miniature preludes is a tool for the entire Church Year, beginning to end.

Order your copy of Classic Concordia Chorale Preludes to share these classics with your church each season.

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Written by

Nathan Grime

Nathan Grime is from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a 2020 graduate of Hillsdale College, where he studied rhetoric, public address, and journalism. Nathan is the fifth- and sixth-grade teacher and assistant kantor at Our Savior Lutheran School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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