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.

Music of the Month: Preludes on Five Hymns of Martin Luther

Bret A. Heim has crafted new settings based on five of Martin Luther's hymns:  GOTT DER VATER, WOHN UNS BEI; JESUS CHRISTUS, UNSER HEILAND; a cantilena and toccata on NUN BITTEN WIR; NUN FREUT EUCH; and a delightful triptych on NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND. These attractive settings will be a wonderful addition to the organist’s library.

The Heritage of Music during the Reformation

This blog post has been adapted from an article that appears in Lutheranism 101: third edition.

Live Out Your Love for Traditional Church Music

How horribly unfair movies are toward Christianity.

I am speaking generally, of course. But Hollywood is not a hotbed of orthodox Christian thought and practice. Movies often show the very opposite of what the Church teaches, but more than that, they often portray Christianity and traditional worship services as boring, dull, and humorously bad.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

God Always Has Room for You: Devotion on Where Shepherds Lately Knelt

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. … 

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!

The Reformation’s First Lutheran Hymns

This excerpt is from “The Reformation and Lutheran Confessionalism to 1620” by Christopher Boyd Brown. Read the entire essay and learn more about the Reformation and its impact on Lutheran worship in Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns

Holy Spirit, Breathe on Us

Thou camest to our hall of death,

O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air,

To drink for us the dark despair

That strangled our reluctant breath.

So writes Martin Franzmann in my school’s hymn of the year: “O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth” (LSB 834). With strong and striking text, he could almost be predicting our 2020 world of “poisoned air” and “reluctant breath,” thanks to the awful virus. It may be a novel coronavirus, but there is nothing novel about sickness and death, though it is fresh in our minds these days. Since our first parents partook of the fruit of the forbidden tree, our air has been poisoned, our breath both reluctant and short, and our despair, indeed, dark.

Using a Children’s Hymnal at Home, Church, and School

What’s the very first thing you do when you get to church on Sunday morning? With social distancing it might look a bit different right now, but do you usually greet the people around you? Sip the coffee you grabbed from the refreshments table? Sit down, pray for a few minutes, and center yourself for worship? As a long-time music lover (and player), the first thing I always did was look up what we would be singing for the day. Knowing which hymns would ring out during service was important to me, not only to see if we’d sing my favorites but also to see what the service was going to be about.  

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.

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