Category Archives: Resources

“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 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 »

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 »

Celebrate Christmas with the Peoria Bach Festival

Celebrate Christmas this year by watching the Peoria Bach Festival 2012 performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. You can find it on the Peoria Bach Festival YouTube page by clicking here or following the video links below. Although the performance is in German, English subtitles are provided making the story easy to understand and follow. The translation is a literal one so that the original meaning of the German is as accurate… Read More »

Handel’s Messiah – Biblical, Christological, and Eschatological

Arguably the most popular musical work of all time, Handel’s Messiah sets to beautiful and awe-inspiring music Old and New Testament passages that proclaim the salvation story. According to one scholar,  the librettist Charles Jennens (1700-73) “intended Messiah as a statement of faith in Christ’s divinity, in reaction to the increasing popularity of rationalised atheism.” In July 1741, Jennens wrote to his friend Edward Holdsworth: Handel says he will do… Read More »

Observe Good Friday with the Peoria Bach Festival

Observe Good Friday this year by watching the Peoria Bach Festival 2010 performance of the St. Matthew Passion. You can find it on the Peoria Bach Festival YouTube page by clicking here or following the link below. Although the performance is in German, English subtitles are provided making the story easy to understand and follow. The translation is a literal one so that the original meaning of the German is as… 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 »

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 »

The Passion According to St. Matthew

Observe Good Friday this year by watching the Peoria Bach Festival 2010 performance of the St. Matthew Passion. You can find it on the Peoria Bach Festival YouTube page by clicking here or following the link below. Although the performance is in German, English subtitles are provided making the story easy to understand and follow. The translation is a literal one so that the original meaning of the German is as… Read More »