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Why Christians Should Make Music with Joy

This past weekend, I discovered a delightful new album that mixed Mozart horn concertos with mambo music featuring the French horn. The promotional video for the album showed a colorfully arrayed orchestra playing a mambo on a Havana street, the musicians dancing to their own music.

How 6 Popular Lutheran Service Book Hymn Tunes Got Their Names

Think about your favorite hymn in Lutheran Service Book. If you have a hymnal handy, take a minute to look it up. In the bottom right corner of the page, there’s probably a name listed in all capital letters—this is the hymn tune. Some are simple, like CAROL or GREENSLEEVES. Others are phrases, often in Latin or German.

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.

Teaching the Faith with Catechism Hymns

Music is a wonderfully underrated teaching tool. Think back to your childhood. Can you remember singing your ABCs? What about the catchy tunes from Schoolhouse Rock!, which covered history, math, science, and grammar? It’s not surprising that many educators use music to help their students learn and memorize curriculum.

Martin Luther was extremely familiar with the concept of music as a teaching tool. In fact, Luther wrote six catechism hymns, one for each of the Six Chief Parts of the Small Catechism. He knew that by putting the words of Christian doctrine next to a hymn tune, it would help the people to remember the words and their meaning more easily.

Why Christians Need Pop Music

We need good music.

We need Palestrina and Bach and Mozart and Beethoven and Mendelssohn and so many others. We need good Renaissance and Baroque and Classical and Romantic music. We need good cantatas and passions and chorales and chorale preludes. We need our modern church composers, for what would I do Sunday after Sunday without my trusty Hymn Prelude Library? We need beautiful, classical, and sacred music that uplifts the soul and draws us to heaven, or refreshes the spirit, or teaches our children what truth, beauty, and goodness sound like.

But just as much as all of that, we need good modern secular pop music.

Reflection on "There is a Balm in Gilead"

The past several months in this country have made many weary, worn out, and tired. From fighting a pandemic to fighting racial injustice, there have been difficulties in neighborhoods from coast to coast. During these times of struggle and injustice, the meaningful message of hymns continues to provide comfort and point people to Christ.

In today's post, read Dr. Joseph Herl's commentary on one well-known African American Spiritual hymn, “There is a Balm in Gilead” (LSB 749), from Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns.

What Songs Are Stuck in Your Head?

I was leaning into the fridge and looking for a snack when the blasphemous lyrics popped into my head from out of nowhere.

It was a line from a song by a band my husband and I had recently seen in concert. Their songs are relatively clean, any crude or uncouth language typically warranted by the dark life circumstances they detail, things like broken homes and hurt people. This band sings about these things as a way to cope with a sinful world, not in order to praise them; however, it is not a Christian band.

Uniting Church Hymns throughout Time and Place

This summer, One and All Rejoice, a new children’s hymnal for K–8 students, will be released. There are two hundred well-loved hymns along with newer songs debuting in this hymnal. Among them are six modern hymns that can be used throughout the Church Year. Learn more about the hymns below, and listen to them on the One and All Rejoice playlist.

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.