“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”: From Lent to the Lord’s Supper

 

“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” is a common hymn to hear during the season of Lent. As you anticipate singing this well-loved text, take time to find a deeper meaning by studying its history. Read about this hymn by Isaac Watts below to uncover how “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” originally had an additional meaning aligning with the Lord’s Supper.

The Stories behind Three Favorite Christmas Hymns

Every Christmas tradition has an origin story, as do longtime favorite Christmas hymns. You may be surprised to discover what inspired three of your favorite holiday hymns: “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come,” “God Loves Me Dearly,” and “O Sing of Christ.” One of these hymns has roots in a folk song, another is tied to a rescue home for youth, and the third departs a bit from the typical themes of a Christmas hymn. Read on for more details about these holiday favorites from Eternal Anthems: The Story Behind Your Favorite Hymns!

The History of “Savior of the Nations, Come”

This Advent hymn is among the few that can be definitively attributed to the “father of Latin hymnody” himself, Ambrose of Milan. Listen to this beloved hymn and then check out its rich history. 

The Story That Inspired “Thy Strong Word”

 “Thy Strong Word” is a Reformation Day favorite for many churches. Composed for a special purpose, the lyrics were based on the Concordia Seminary motto, “Light from above.” Read on for the full story behind this hymn, which is recorded in Eternal Anthems: The Story Behind Your Favorite Hymns.

Congregational Singing and the Body of Christ

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it,” Paul writes in his first Letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Why We Should Sing Children’s Hymns

The best things in life can be enjoyed by children and adults. This especially includes the music of the Church—specifically, the hymns we sing.

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

The Reformation was still young in 1524. Barely seven years had passed since Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses. His German translation of the New Testament had only appeared two years before. His Small and Large Catechisms wouldn’t come for another five years.

But two important books came out that year that would shape and influence the course of music in the Lutheran church. Early 1524 saw the publication of the first Lutheran hymnal, which served as the model for subsequent Lutheran text writers. And toward the end of 1524, Johann Walter published a collection of music that would similarly influence Lutheran composers for the next five hundred years.

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.

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