Text Study – Handel’s Messiah

Did you know that Handel’s Messiah sets 81 Scripture passages to music? Singing or listening to it is a great way to be immersed into Scripture and the story of salvation. To enter more deeply into this story, click here for a Text Study of Handel’s Messiah. I hope that you find this study as interesting as I did. Some of Handel’s most powerful and inspired settings are for passages from 1… Read More »

Thank You to Trinity’s Musicians and Worship Leaders

I would like to offer a sincere thank you to all those who were involved in last evening’s Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at Trinity. From those who prepared the Sanctuary to the Lectors and to all the musicians and thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit, the proclamation that occurred was incredibly strong, wonderfully heartfelt, and truly beautiful. For me there were many, many favorite moments. Besides… Read More »

Thank You to the American Kantorei and Concordia Seminary

A week ago I conducted the American Kantorei in their December 2013 concert (click here for photos). I would like to thank both the choir and the orchestra “aus Herzens Grunde” (“from the bottom of my heart”) for their glorious, incredibly beautiful, and heartfelt proclamation of the Christmas story last Sunday. It was a great thrill and honor to work with them once again. Their music was stunningly beautiful and… Read More »

Choral Music Provides “Epic!” Expressions of the Faith

A few Sundays ago, I had the privilege of singing three settings of the Te Deum – that great text of proclamation, praise, and thanksgiving – with the Bradley Community Chorale accompanied by the Bradley Orchestra. What a great experience and great opportunity to enter deeply into that great text of Christendom and into the minds of three great composers. The settings we sang were by Franz Josef Haydn, Antonín… Read More »

Emergency Procedures for Churches

Our thoughts and prayers this week are with all those who lost a loved one or their homes and belongings in the recent tornados that passed through Central Illinois. We pray in this difficult time for their healing in body, mind, and soul and that the Lord will show us how we can help in the best possible ways. This is also perhaps a good time to mention that several… Read More »

Thoughts on “When Morning Gilds the Skies”

“When Morning Gilds the Skies” was originally the German hymn “Beim frühen Morgenlicht” (literally “By the Early Morning Light”) that first appeared around 1744. In the mid 1800s, an English translation was made by the Reverend Edward Caswall (1814-78), an Anglican priest and in 1899 another appeared by the famous poet and playwright Robert Bridges (1844-1930). The original hymn has 15 stanzas, only five of which are included in our… Read More »

The Connection Between the Lutheran Reformation and All Saint’s Day

Although this year we are celebrating All Saints’ Day on Sunday, November 3rd, the actual feast day is November 1st every year. This past week we celebrated the 496th anniversary of the Reformation (the actual feast day for the Festival of the Reformation is October 31st every year). So, how are the two connected? Well, Frederick the Wise, ruler of Saxony during the time of the Martin Luther, was a… Read More »

Thoughts on “A Mighty Fortress”

In many cases, key thoughts and insights are lost in translation. This is especially true when translating poetry while at the same time trying to maintain the original poem’s meter and rhyme scheme. A case in point is Martin Luther’s popular Reformation hymn “A Mighty Fortress,” of which there are numerous English translations. The first line is fairly easy to translate into English: “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” literally… Read More »

Worship Services Are About What God Has Done for Us

In his time, one of Martin Luther’s struggles was to help people realize that worship services were not about us and what we do for God, but rather about God and what He has done for us. Among other things, he had to come up with a German word for worship. The term he began using was “Gottesdienst,” which literally translated means “The Service of God” or more accurately –… Read More »

Less Than 500 Years Old

In preparation for conducting the American Kantorei’s Reformation Concert at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, last October, I listened to the Roland Bainton biography of Martin Luther. Since then I’ve listened to David Teems’ biography of William Tyndale, who was executed for translating the Bible into English, and am now listening to his other book about the King James Bible. At one point through all of this, I came to the… Read More »