Tag Archives: Eternal Song

Why Study Music?

A couple of months ago my wife came across a meme on Facebook entitled “Reasons to Study Music.” With compelling graphics, it offered six to eight benefits that studying music provides. I’ve seen similar lists before, but all are derived from a secular viewpoint. I was led to come up with a list that also provides a Biblical and theological viewpoint. If you find the list useful, please feel free… Read More »

The Theological Basis of Music

Below is a brief statement providing the theological basis for music. I have begun to place it in concert programs and read it before concerts, even children’s recitals. It is never too early to educate children about God’s gift of music. It gives them a purpose and a reason for practicing and learning their instrument. Music ministries in Christian churches may also find it useful. The statement may be used… Read More »

Christmas and the Spectacular Music of Michael Praetorius

In 1994 Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort released an absolutely stunning recording of sacred music. In the previous years they had released three recordings: A Venetian Coronation, a recreation of a coronation that took place in Venice, Italy in 1595 (released 1990); Christmas Mass in Rome featuring the music of Palestrina (released 1993); and Venetian Vespers, a recreation of an evening service as it might have been celebrated at… Read More »

Robin Leaver on “The Eternal Song”

In 1984 the eminent scholar Robin Leaver, whose work has focused extensively on sacred music, published a monograph of the Passions of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). On the first page of this monograph he provides succinct and profound insights into the Biblical theology of music. For your convenience, I provide them below with links so that you can easily study the Bible passages yourself. The links sometimes include more Bible… Read More »

Handel’s “Messiah” for Children

A Blessed Easter to all of you! Children love picture books. Now it is possible to introduce children to Handel’s Messiah, one of sacred music’s most beloved and frequently performed works. In so doing, you will not only introduce them to a great piece of music, but also teach them the Biblical story of salvation (see my previous blogs Handel’s Messiah – Biblical, Christological, and Eschatological and Text Study –… Read More »

“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 »