Tag Archives: Eternal Song

“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 »

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 »

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 »

Thoughts on “O Holy Night”

Of all Christmas carols, “O Holy Night” has one of the most fascinating stories. It is a rather unlikely carol in that the poem was written by an avowed atheist (albeit one well-versed in Christian theology) and the tune composed by a practicing Jew who did not observe Christmas. It was first sung by a Parisian opera singer, but soon after church officials banned the song when it was discovered that the… Read More »

Thoughts on “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”

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. For additional devotions, click here. For a downloadable PDF version of this devotion, click here. Although many of our most popular Christmas carols are only a few hundred years old, the Christmas carol “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” takes us back a few thousand years, almost… 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 »

The Angelic Choir

The shepherds were “sore afraid,” which means they were completely and totally terrified fearing for their very lives. Here they were half-asleep watching sheep (some of which would eventually be slaughtered in Passover celebrations and temple sacrifices) and an angel of the Lord appeared to them with “news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a… 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 »

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 »