Ceremony in the Divine Service

“I was raised Catholic, but, I dunno. Mass is just … well, it’s so much ceremony.

This was overheard at a recent get-together. You may have heard a similar sentiment directed at the Lutheran Divine Service and its faithful use of liturgy. It seems that ceremony can be a bit of a deterrent to some, especially in our casual culture. But I would argue that it is the very ceremony of the Divine Service that beckons and invites those outside the Church in.

Downloadable Sheet Music for the Easter Season

Easter is fast approaching, and every musician knows how important the beautiful organ, piano, handbells, and choral singers are on that Sunday morning. Hearing the resurrection bells in a sanctuary filled with Christ’s presence and victory fills people with joy. Here are five downloadable sheet music pieces to use during the Easter season at your church.

Music of the Month: That Easter Day with Joy Was Bright

A classic Easter text is given a substantive, dramatic setting by Benjamin M. Culli. This English cathedral–style anthem features a memorable tune accompanied by dramatic and thrilling organ writing. Utilizing the full dynamic ranges of both the choir and the organ, this majestic piece is perfect for Easter Sunday and throughout Eastertide. An optional trumpet part is available separately for download.

Music of the Month: Now, Even Now, Declare a Fast

Kevin Hildebrand has set a text by Stephen P. Starke to the Welsh tune LLEF. This easy-to-learn composition is useful throughout the Lenten season, especially on Ash Wednesday during the imposition of ashes. Written to be flexible, it may be sung by soloists or a two-part choir, with an optional SATB stanza, and it may be modified in length. An optional part for treble instruments is included.

Do We Listen to Too Much Music?

I was recently listening to a podcast in which one of the hosts shared a personal anecdote about his attempt to not listen to music all day. He briefly related how he realized he had music playing almost constantly and found it incredibly difficult to stop listening for one 24-hour period. This experiment reminded me of the countless people I know who work with headphones on or earbuds in all day long. It is almost assumed today that music will have a permanent place in the background of most environments, be it the office, a coffee shop, or anything in between.

Why Do Christians Celebrate Communion at Christmas?

When I was a child, my church always sang “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” on Christmas Day as the Communion elements were processed into the sanctuary. The congregation would start quietly and crescendo with each verse, serving to highlight the Lord’s Supper as the high point of the service. We would have the hymns printed in a bulletin, so I remember being surprised the first time I realized that this hymn is found in the Lord’s Supper section of the hymnal rather than the Christmas section.

Pondering Christ in Our Work as Church Musicians

A common complaint in our modern culture is the swiftness of time. It seems like every month we look at each other and ask, “Where did the last month go?” For church musicians, this is especially true during Advent as Christmas approaches, more closely followed than we might wish by Lent and Easter. It seems as though there is never enough time to adequately prepare our music and our hearts for each season.

Music of the Month: When Morning Dawns: Nine Preludes for Advent and Christmas

David Maxwell has crafted nine extensive organ settings for Advent and Christmas in this collection. Maxwell uses a variety of styles ranging from introspective (W ZLOBIE LEZY) to strong and majestic (CONSOLATION). The collection also includes a joyful toccata of ANTIOCH and a lively swung setting of GO TELL IT. These settings will be enjoyable for all levels.

Waiting for the Light of the World

“Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome.”

These words mark the opening of the service of Evening Prayer (Lutheran Service Book, p. 243). The language of light and darkness reminds us that Christ, our light, has overcome the darkness of sin, death, and the evil one. Christ as the light of the world is taken directly from Scripture and is a recurring theme throughout Advent. As a new Church Year begins in the season of Advent, we are surrounded by reminders in Scripture, in hymns and the liturgy, in traditions, and in nature, that light remains a crucial component both of our biology and our faith.

Music of the Month: The First Noel

The First Noel is one of the final contributions to the Concordia Publishing House choral catalog by the late Carl F. Schalk (1929–2021). Schalk’s soaring tune and captivating setting of the beloved Christmas carol is set for SATB, strings, tubular bells, and timpani. Useful for concerts, services, and pageants, the piece is a processional carol. The new tune and unique combination of instrumentation will engage listeners and set the tone for concerts and worship.

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