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The Beautiful Routine of the Liturgy

A day or two before Ash Wednesday, I remarked to my husband, “I can’t wait for Lent.” In a dreary year of isolation, anxiety, moral quandaries, political polarization, disease, and death, compounded all the more by the last few months of gloomy, wintry skies and cold weather, I am ready for spring. Lent means that spring is coming and that Easter is drawing ever nearer. It is a yearly routine that remains unchanging even in the face of a pandemic and societal disruption.

Themes in the Season of Lent

To mark the first day of Lent, we’re sharing an excerpt from Heaven on Earth in which Arthur Just describes the theological accents in the season of Lent.

Music of the Month: Good Friday Suite

Good Friday Suite features four hymns: “O Perfect Life of Love”; “Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle”; “The Royal Banners Forward Go”; and “O Darkest Woe.” The suite may be played from start to finish or each as an individual prelude. The suite is especially useful for a Tre Ore service.

In Memoriam: Dr. Carl Flentge Schalk

The life of Dr. Carl F. Schalk (1929–2021) is certainly one of the clearest and longest proclamations of the Gospel ever heard in the world of Lutheran church music.

He was a beloved husband, father, musician, writer, composer, and fervent advocate of the Lutheran Church. While Carl is dearly missed, he continues to sing the Church’s song, now proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in His nearer presence.

Composer of the Month: Robert Powell

Robert J. Powell (b. 1932) began writing music when he was in high school and, since then, has had more than three hundred compositions published by sacred music publishers. His works range from organ and choral compositions to handbell and instrumental pieces.

Powell currently serves as organist at Church of the Redeemer in Greenville, South Carolina. Like many churches across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced his congregation to adapt their musical practices on Sunday mornings.

Live Out Your Love for Traditional Church Music

How horribly unfair movies are toward Christianity.

I am speaking generally, of course. But Hollywood is not a hotbed of orthodox Christian thought and practice. Movies often show the very opposite of what the Church teaches, but more than that, they often portray Christianity and traditional worship services as boring, dull, and humorously bad.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Music of the Month: Cross of Jesus: Six Preludes for Lent

Robert J. Powell has composed a well-crafted and accessible organ collection for Lent, Cross of Jesus: Six Preludes for Lent. This book offers settings that are appropriate to the season, such as “Go to Dark Gethsemane,” “Jesus, I Will Ponder Now,” and “Cross of Jesus, Cross of Sorrow.” Each setting offers a series of key and tempo changes. The final setting, “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me,” offers a joyful, majestic ending to an otherwise somber piece.

God Always Has Room for You

This post is from Praise and Honor: Hymn Inspired Devotions

“Where Shepherds Lately Knelt” is a remarkable gift, but it is easily missed because it is placed a third of the way into our hymnal’s Christmas section. …This hymn takes our doubts, weaknesses, and pains directly to the world’s key event, where we ponder its impact upon our lives and other people’s. Most of all, this remarkable hymn brings Christmas peace. … 

Teach Children to Play Beautiful Music through Stories

I’m a rule follower.

I hate making decisions, and rules tell me exactly what I should do. They are easy to follow because I don’t need to think about anything. If it’s a rule, I follow it. All of this makes me a good sight-reader. To me, it’s comforting to know that all the notes and harmonies and rhythms are laid out there and simply need to be followed.

A Celebration of Hymn to Joy

During the Christmas season, many songs resonate with people around the world. One of those immediately recognizable hymns is “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,” found in Lutheran Service Book (803). As a child, I frequently sang this in children’s choirs and even played it on my flute year after year. It’s loved by so many and a staple of winter and Christmas celebrations. Additionally, Ludwig van Beethoven’s birthday is celebrated in December (based on his Baptism date of December 17), with 2020 marking the 250th anniversary of his birth. It’s perfect timing for his most favored tune, HYMN TO JOY, to make an appearance!

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