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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!

Music of the Month: The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came

“The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” is a brand-new choral setting composed by the late Philip Gehring (1925–2020). Using the text and tune of Lutheran Service Book 356, this two-part treble choral setting is ideal for church choirs working with limited numbers this Advent and Christmas.

Composer of the Month: Johann Crüger

Johann Crüger (1598–1662) was a seventeenth-century German Lutheran composer whose influence dwells richly in Lutheran Church music even today. He studied music across Europe as a teenager and eventually settled back in Germany, where he studied theology in Wittenberg and became cantor at St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche) in Berlin. He served there for forty years until his death.

During his life as a church musician, Crüger produced dozens of Lutheran chorale tunes. Among his most famous work in today’s Church is his collaboration with German-Luther hymnwriter Paul Gerhardt in the final twenty years of Crüger’s life.

Develop a Music-Making Culture at Home

Music-making doesn’t have to be serious. It can also be hilarious.

If you teach music in any capacity, think about the times it has most brought a smile to your students’ faces. For me, it’s when ridiculous silly songs and silly voices are used. Take for example the song about the tree in the wood. You know the one: “The nest was on the branch and the branch was on the tree and the tree was in the hole and the hole was in the ground …” Even my most reticent third graders will break into a giant grin and start singing heartily when that song is in the lesson plans for the day. They think they are just having a good time. I know that they are learning to sing and to love music.

Composer of the Month: Sandra Eithun

Sandra Eithun has composed dozens of handbell and piano compositions for CPH Music, most recently “Four Communion Hymns for Twelve Bells.” This collection continues a series of handbell music written for twelve bells, joining books with Advent, Christmas, and Easter themes. She also serves as the Director of Music Ministry at First Congregational United Church of Christ in New London, Wisconsin, a position she’s held since 1992. She is the organist for the congregation, accompanies the vocal choir, and directs three handbell ensembles. 

Four Instrumental Pieces for Thanksgiving Worship

Thanksgiving is approaching, and it’s likely that you or your music director and worship team have started planning for Thanksgiving services. If you’re looking for music to add a bright, festive note to your worship, or if you’re looking for pieces to include your choir or handbell teams, look no further. The organ, choral, and handbell selections below work well in a variety of settings, both for in-person worship and for recorded or live-stream online services. For additional inspiration, check out the Thanksgiving Music Playlist!

Music of the Month: Let All Things Now Living

“Let All Things Now Living” gets a lively calypso setting in this arrangement, which expresses the excitement of the text. A more tranquil, hymn-like second stanza leads back to a dance-like ending. The tune THE ASH GROVE is used with many texts, including “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing,” making this a useful arrangement throughout the Church Year. Level II.

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.