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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.

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.

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. 

Composer of the Month: Kevin Hildebrand

Kevin Hildebrand is Kantor at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana (CTSFW), and at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne. His work involves training future pastors at CTSFW in practice and understanding of Lutheran church music and hymnody as well as forming a confessional, congregational, and musical identity at St. Paul’s.

Hildebrand attended Concordia University Chicago for undergraduate study, and afterward, earned master’s degrees in music from the University of Michigan and theology from CTSFW. In Lutheran Service Book, Hildebrand composed the tune “Lord of Life” (552, “O Christ, Who Shared Our Mortal Life”) and wrote harmonizations for three more hymns in LSB.

Hymn Translator of the Month: Catherine Winkworth

Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) was born the youngest of four daughters in an Anglican manufacturing family. She was never married, never formally educated, and died suddenly when she was only 50, yet her work translating hymns from German to English is indispensable in the Lutheran tradition of hymn singing today.

Composer of the Month: Charles Ore

Charles Ore is a renowned organist, music teacher, and composer. His storied career spans more than sixty years, and his passion for liturgical music and education is unmatched. Ore’s notable work includes 11 Compositions for Organ and several choral pieces. 

Cling to Hymns in a Pandemic

This pandemic is certainly horrific, but I have found many positives during this time. One of these positives was a slower and more reflective Holy Week, allowing me to ponder and study Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and to write some lessons on it for my school. In this Passion, as the evangelist—St. Matthew—and the rest of the biblical characters narrate the story, Bach uses chorales to mark the communal response of all believers to the biblical events. These chorales, or hymns, can be seen as our congregational response to Christ’s saving work, much like our hymns act within the church service.

Composer of the Month: Paul Gerhardt

Paul Gerhardt (1607–76) is in a tier only with Martin Luther as the most beloved and celebrated Lutheran hymnwriters in the church today. Seventeen of Gerhardt’s 100-plus hymn texts are in Lutheran Service Book.

The Women of Lutheran Service Book You Might Not Know About

Men have had an incredible impact on shaping Lutheran hymnody as it’s known today. From Paul Gerhardt to Dr. Carl Schalk, male hymnwriters have truly given Lutheranism foundational music that speaks volumes. But did you know that many female hymnwriters, hymn translators, and composers have also contributed to the creation of many Lutheran hymns? Read biographies below from Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns to learn about some of the wonderful women who helped bring Lutheran hymnody together for Christians everywhere to enjoy today.

Composer of the Month: August Crull

August Crull (1845–1923) was born in Germany but moved with his mother to the United States as a young boy following the death of his father. His mother remarried, and Crull began studying to enter the pastoral ministry at Concordia Seminary in 1862.