Thoughts on “Silent Night”

Did you know that the beloved Christmas carol “Silent Night” originally had six stanzas and not three? We know this from an original manuscript submitted by the composer Franz Gruber (1787-1863) when an official investigation was held in 1854 on the origins of the carol. Other autographs have been discovered over the years, the most recent being by the author of the text, Father Joseph Mohr (1792-1848). When comparing the English translation… Read More »

A New Hymn Text – “The Emmaus Road”

There is a great fear of death here in Papua New Guinea as there was for many hundreds of years of Christianity, even after Jesus rose from the dead. Even today, some Christians fear death. One of the great gifts of the Reformation and the Lutheran theology that followed is the emphasis their songs placed on the victory that Christians have over death and that it is therefore nothing to… Read More »

“Now No Condemnation”

On July 28, 1750 the great man of faith and church musician Johann Sebastian Bach entered eternal glory. His music reveals to us that he was not afraid of death, but rather welcomed it because he knew it was the door to eternal life with his Savior, Jesus Christ. The Lutheran church pauses on July 28 to commemorate his life, music, and faith. In case you missed it, here is… 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 »

O Come, Let Us Sing Unto the Lord” (Psalm 95) – Handel

Here is a setting of selected verses of Psalm 95 by Georg Frideric Handel (1685-1759). Psalm 95 is an exhortation to sing and praise God for all He is and all that He does. The verses used by Handel are below the recording link or can be downloaded by clicking here. Find 30 minutes today to relax, listen to this psalm, and meditate on all that God has done for you,… Read More »

I Will Lift up Mine Eyes (Psalm 121) – Walford Davies

Having grown up in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, Psalm 121 has always been a favorite: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills.” We were literally surrounded by mountains. In the distance on either end of the valley the mountains cascaded over each other in infinite shades of blue and green. As we looked southeast towards Mt. Hagen, we could see the rugged mountain range over which the… Read More »

Beati quorum remissae (Psalm 32) – Wadsworth

“Beati quorum remissae” by American composer Zachary Wadsworth (b. 1983) is a setting of portions of Psalm 32, the second of the seven Penitential Psalms. This intense setting alternates the English text with the Latin. It begins with verse 3 which relates to us the consequences of remaining silent and keeping our sins to ourselves. While I held my tongue, my bones withered awaybecause of my groaning all day long.… Read More »

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God” (Psalm 51) – Handel

Psalm 51 is a significant in that it provides for us an example of deep and heartfelt repentance. The story involves a king who after having an adulterous affair and getting a woman pregnant, gets wrapped up in an elaborate cover-up that leads to deceit, treachery, murder, and despair. The full story is told in 2 Samuel 11-12. Thankfully for us, the king was also a musician who recorded his… Read More »

Peoria Bach Festival 2016

Join us from June 5-12, 2016 for the fourteenth annual Peoria Bach Festival. This year’s festival will feature eight concerts and six other events including a free lunch lecture and an event for children. For a complete schedule and details, please call (309) 676-4609 or visit www.peoriabachfestival.org. The first concert on Sunday, June 5 will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1420 West Moss Avenue and feature organist James Kibbie (see www.agopeoria.org).… Read More »

Fanfare, Fugue, and Chorale on CRUCIFER (Brass Choir)

The best sacred music is not “background” music, but rather music that proclaims the eternal truths of Scripture whether it is a simple song or one in which the message is written into the music. The hymn “Lift High the Cross” (CRUCIFER) has become an iconic one for many Christians because it highlights the centrality of the crucifixion of Jesus to the faith. Martin Luther speaks powerfully to this dogma in his Theology… Read More »