Thoughts on “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

The text of the popular Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is a lyrical paraphrase of the O Antiphons, an ancient set of seven antiphons for the Magnificat (Song of Mary) sung by Christians at the Vespers services held on the last seven days before Christmas (December 17-23). Each of the O Antiphons expounds upon a name that the prophet Isaiah had given to the Messiah: 1. December 17: O Sapientia (O… Read More »

The Song of Habakkuk – A Song for Our Time

On this, the Last Sunday of the Church Year, our thoughts are drawn to the end times and the prophecies regarding the Second Coming of Christ. Considering the events of the past weeks with terrorist attacks in Africa and France, threats of attacks in other parts of Europe and the United States, reports and arguments about “war,” “jihad,” “refugees,” the “silent jihad,” and other such topics, it is easy to… Read More »

Wanpela Song Long Refomesen De (A Song for Reformation Day)

Long taim bilong Refomesen, Martin Luther (1483-1546) raitim planti song bilong lotu. Luther i raitim tok wantaim nek bilong dispela song. Tok bilong song bilong Luther litimapim nem bilong Jisas Krais na singautim marimari God i salim yumi olgeta long kisim bek wok bilong Jisas. Wantaim Aposel Pol, Martin Luther tok olsem: kisim bek wok bilong God, em i wok bilong Jisas Krais tasol. During the Reformation, Martin Luther (1483-1546) wrote many hymns… Read More »

The Connection Between All Saints’ Day and the Reformation

This past Sunday, October 25th, Lutheran Christians celebrated the 498th anniversary of the Festival of the Reformation. However, the actual feast day is today, October 31st. Tomorrow, November 1st, we will celebrate All Saints’ Day. So if these two festivals are on consecutive days, are they connected in any way? The connections are quite interesting and valuable to consider. Let me explain. Frederick the Wise (1463-1525), the ruler of Saxony during the time… Read More »

Thoughts on “Hope of the World”

The thoughts below were prepared for the “Devotions on the Hymn of the Day” project of the Center for Church Music at Concordia University, Chicago. This devotion is on “Hope of the World,” the Hymn of the Day for the Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 24B) on Sunday, October 18, 2015. For additional devotions, click here. For a downloadable PDF version of this devotion, click here. “Hope” is an optimistic word… Read More »

“Soli Deo Gloria” – The Fifth Sola

Earlier this month we were able to personally thank over 60 of the musicians, volunteers, and supporters of the Peoria Bach Festival at our annual Peoria Bach Festival Appreciation Party. This blog is dedicated to them and all those who make the Peoria Bach Festival possible. As you may know, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) concluded all of his sacred compositions and many of his secular works with the phrase “Soli Deo… Read More »

Thoughts on “Our Father, By Whose Name”

The thoughts below were prepared for the “Devotions on the Hymn of the Day” project of the Center for Church Music at Concordia University, Chicago. This devotion is on “Hope of the World,” the Hymn of the Day for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 22B) on Sunday, October 4, 2015. For additional devotions, click here. For a downloadable PDF version of this devotion, click here. So, who gets to decide what… Read More »

Peoria Bach Festival 2015

Join the Peoria Bach Festival from May 31-June 7, 2015 for another week of celebrating the music, art, and faith of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Altogether there will be eight concerts, several free lectures, two festival worship services, and an event for children. The primary work for the Peoria Bach Festival 2015 will be Cantata 147 “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (“Heart and Mouth and Deeds and Life”)… Read More »

Top Ten List – April 2015

Last week this blog surpassed 7,500 total hits. Not much as far as some blogs go, but pretty good I guess for this little one on sacred music. I hope that you have found some practical and, most importantly, spiritual benefit from my thoughts and ramblings. If you know of anyone who could benefit from these postings, please forward this message to them and encourage them to subscribe as well. In case… Read More »

A Lament? At Easter?

One aspect of the Resurrection story that is difficult for many of us to appreciate is the depth of the sorrow and grief that the followers of Jesus must have felt after His crucifixion. No doubt this would have amplified the confusion, disbelief, and ultimately the joy that they experienced upon hearing that He had risen from the dead. There is a section at the beginning of Bach’s Easter Oratorio that… Read More »