Top Ten List – December 2015

Happy New Year! In case you missed some of them, here are the ten most popular blog posts on this blog as of December 31, 2015. By far the most popular blog was on the Christmas carol “Silent Night,” but a close second is the one on “O Holy Night” and the one on the Biblical significance of bells. If you have any topics on music and worship that you would… 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 »

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

The Song of Habakkuk is 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… 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 »