Martin Dicke

Dr. Martin Dicke is a Musical specialist with the Office of International Mission of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Prior to accepting that position in May 2016, he was the Cantor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Peoria, Illinois for 14 years. Having served in various capacities as a church musician over the course of his career, Martin is now returning to Papua New Guinea, the place of his birth, to serve as a musical educator and adviser to the people of the Gutnius (Good News) Lutheran Church, a church LCMS missionaries helped establish in the early 1960s. Martin's parents Edward and Phyllis served as missionaries in the Enga Province of PNG for 20 years and his uncle and aunt Rev. Dr. Willard and Elinor Burce served in PNG for 40 years. After attending Concordia University, St. Paul, Martin served churches in both Minnesota and Iowa, taught at a Lutheran high school for fifteen years, founded and directed a select choir in St. Paul/Minneapolis for ten years, and conducted the Chamber Singers of Iowa City for three. For several years Martin served as the Dean of the Peoria Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He has a masters and doctorate in choral conducting (University of Minnesota and Iowa respectively). While at Trinity he helped establish the Trinity Concert Series (www.trinityconcertseries.org) and the Peoria Bach Festival (www.peoriabachfestival.org) held annually during the first week of June. At the same time, having grown up on the mission field he has a heart for songs of the global Church that proclaim Christ. His recent composition - Fanfare, Fugue, and Chorale on CRUCIFER for brass choir - was premiered at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis in October 2014 in connection with the opening of the Concordia Historical Institute's Exhibit "Bringing Christ to the Highlands: Painting a Portrait of Early Lutheran Mission Work in Papua New Guinea." Sound samples of his music are available at www.soundcloud.com/jubalslyre.

Author Archives: Martin Dicke

“And Take They Our Life” – More Thoughts on “A Mighty Fortress”

The short phrase “and take they our life” is the fifth line of the fourth and final stanza of one of the greatest Christian hymns in all of sacred music, “A Mighty Fortress” (EIN FESTE BURG) by Martin Luther (1483-1546). This phrase consists of five words in English and only four in the original German, “nehmen sie den Leib,” but behind it lies Luther’s entire Theology of Martyrdom which points… Read More »

A Virtual Hymn Sing Pandemic Style

Sacred music and the singing of Christian hymns is a corporate activity that all came to a halt a few weeks ago when this pandemic began. To address this problem, Kloria Publishing (www.kloria.com) began a program called “Sing Hymns with Me.” Every week they are posting a hymn appropriate for the Bible readings of the upcoming Sunday of the liturgical year and inviting people to sing along. They then make… Read More »

Praise and Honor: Hymn-Inspired Devotions

Those of you familiar with this blog know that it offers reflections and insights into sacred music and Christian hymns. This week I would like to share with you a new book that does the same. The author is Timothy Shoup, a parish pastor from Bonduel, Wisconsin and a former classmate of mine. With his book Praise and Honor: Hymn-Inspired Devotions he provides deep insights into fourteen hymns, both old… Read More »

More Settings of “Now Thank We All Our God”

It is quite remarkable that a faithful Christian pastor wrote a hymn of thanksgiving in the middle of war, pestilence, and famine (see “Pestilence and ‘Now Thank We All Our God.’”). It is equally remarkable that this hymn transcended time and place and has become so popular. The hymn is still performed throughout the world by many different ensembles in many different ways. My post several weeks ago on the… Read More »

Lamentations of Jeremiah – Tallis

The scenes of the empty streets in our cities these days reminds me of the first verse of the Lamentations of Jeremiah written thousands of years ago: “How lonely sits the city that was full of people!” (Lamentations 1:1) These laments take on new meaning during this Coronavirus pandemic. Christians have also used these laments during Holy Week as they grieve over the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. The… Read More »

Pestilence and “Now Thank We All Our God”

What does pestilence have to do with the hymn “Now Thank We All Our God”? Quite a bit, actually. Watching the news of the dangers, growth, and spread of the Coronavirus gives new meaning to the petition in the special Litany prayer in our hymnal asking God to protect us from “pestilence and famine.” Pestilence was nothing new hundreds of years ago. 1637 was a particularly difficult year for the… Read More »

Some Thoughts on Bach’s Birthday

Today is the 335th birthday of the great Lutheran composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). It is hard to underestimate his importance in the history of music. Besides being a consummate musician he was a man of intense faith, something that is evident not only in his vocal music but even in his instrumental music. Standing upon the shoulders of giants, he himself became a giant and was used by God… Read More »

Thoughts on “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright”

For the Twelfth and last Day of Christmas and for the Feast of Epiphany let us examine the “Queen of Chorales,” “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright” (“Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern”). Composed by the Reverend Philip Nicolai (1556-1608), it is often sung as an Epiphany hymn although it can be sung on other occasions as well. For this post, I simply wish to share two settings of this hymn by… Read More »

The Paradoxes of “This Little Babe”

Many of you may be familiar with the great choral work “This Little Babe” from Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols. The driving rhythm, the compelling tune with its unique canonic treatment, and the dramatic shift at the very end from a minor key to its parallel major all make for a memorable and powerful setting of the text (click here for a video). The text explores the paradoxes that came with the birth of Christ, with God becoming… Read More »

Thoughts on “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

The beloved Christmas carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” began its long journey into our Christmas celebrations as a ten stanza poem entitled “Hymn for Christmas Day” by Reverend Charles Wesley (1707-88), younger brother of Rev. John Wesley (1703-91), the founder of Methodism. It was first published in Part 2 of their collection of poems entitled Hymns and Sacred Poems (London: William Strahan), 1739 (click here for the original text). As a… Read More »