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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.

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.

Comforting Hymns for Listening at Home

I know I’m not alone when I say that during times of distress, I cling to music. I cling to melodies that I have come to love, especially melodies and lyrics that I can repeat as a source of strength. As Lutherans, hymns of comfort and strength have been passed down for generations. These hymns help each and every believer remember the Savior through music, singing praise to Him as one united body.

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.

The Church’s Song: Proclamation, Pedagogy, and Praise

To celebrate the release of Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns, here is an excerpt from Carl Schalk’s essay in Volume 2:

Hymn of the Month: From Heaven Above to Earth I Come

The Hymn of the Month is “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” (LSB 358), set to the tune VOM HIMMEL HOCH. The text was written by Martin Luther, and it was translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, one of the most prominent female hymn translators in history.

Six Myths about Christmas Hymns

As we wait for the arrival of the Savior, here is a guest post from Rev. Dr. Jon D. Vieker, one of the three general editors of Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymnswhich originally appeared in the December 2019 edition of The Lutheran Witness.

Hymn of the Month: From God Can Nothing Move Me

The Hymn of Month is “From God Can Nothing Move Me” (LSB 713). It is set to the tune VON GOTT WILL ICH NICHT LASSEN. This is probably the most well-known hymn of Ludwig Helmbold, a German philosophy professor and poet of Lutheran hymns. It was written for friends fleeing the 1563 plague in Erfurt to comfort them on their journey. Johann Sebastian Bach used several of Helmbold’s hymn texts in his cantatas, and stanza five of Von Gott Will Ich Nicht Lassen appears in Bach’s O heilges Geist-und Wasserbad (O holy bath of Spirit and Water).