Hymn Summary: Seventh Sunday after Trinity

SING PRAISE TO GOD, THE HIGHEST GOOD (LSB 819)

7th Sunday after Trinity – One Year series; Epiphany 8 and Proper 3 (B) – Three Year series

Johann Jakob Schütz’s (1640–1690) hymn of our merciful Creator is set to the exuberant tune by famed Lutheran composer Michael Vulpius (c.1560/70–1615). He who made man also knew that man would need a Savior from his sin. God had placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil within Eden (Genesis 2). Though his desire was that man should live, he knew that man would pursue the fruit of the forbidden tree unto death. Thus the Father sent his Son as Savior, shepherd, refuge, rock, peace, and salvation for his chosen band. We, who confess Christ’s holy name, continue to sing: “To God all praise and glory!”


THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION (LSB 644)

Trinity 10 – One Year Series; Proper 11 (B) – Three Year series

Samuel J. Stone (1839–1900) wrote this hymn as a defense of the creedal article: I believe in…the holy catholic (meaning universal, Christian) church. At the time the validity of the Old Testament accounts were being questioned (even as today). While the church must fight (via the Word) against many and various heresies and heretics, it is good to remember that Christ himself is the foundation of the church and his confession is such as even the gates of hell cannot prevail against it! Though we see many communions within her, she is yet one church, the washed bride of Christ. Through all strife and divisions, saints in heaven (along with saints on earth) cry out, “How long?” When Christ returns in all glory all saints will dwell in heaven. We will all confess in blessed victory song that we have been “. . . saved by your grace.”


Rev. Thomas E. Lock serves as Kantor/Assistant Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 

Hymn Summary: Sixth Sunday after Trinity

All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall (LSB 562)

6th Sunday after Trinity – 1 year series (July 12, 2015)

Lazarus Spengler (1479–1534) was an early supporter of Luther’s reforms. In fact, Spengler was named and excommunicated in the papal Bull of Excommunication against Luther. His hymn, All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall, is considered one of the most important hymns of the Reformation era (along with hymns like Salvation unto Us Has Come). On the day we hear the Ten Commandments from the lectern it is good to remind ourselves that we not only commit sins, but we are also sinful from the moment of our conception because of Adam’s fall (original sin). Apart from Christ there is no good in any person at all. Thanks be to Christ Jesus that because of his death for our sin and sins we now have forgiveness, life, and salvation in him. We are justified—declared righteous—by his grace. This justifying grace attends his saints until “we reach our final end.”


Jesus, Priceless Treasure – LSB 743

Lent 4 (Laetare; 1 year) AND Proper 10 (B) (July 12, 2015)

Johann Franck’s hymn is a love song from the bride (church) to her Lord Jesus Christ! This is not as easy to see in English as in the original German which includes this line: “God’s Lamb, my Bridegroom.” Jesus is the priceless Bridegroom, pleasure, friend, and Lamb who has ransomed us, not with gold or silver, but with his precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). Jesus defends his bride against all evils of body and soul, especially that accuser from of old—Satan. Christians also are made able to decry fear and death. The world and its treasures hold no sway over those who in faith rely on Christ. Faithful Christians, members of the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22–33), fear not leaving this evil world, for then they can dwell forever before the face of their Bridegroom, their priceless treasure, in heaven. 


Rev. Thomas E. Lock serves as Kantor/Assistant Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 

Hymn Summary: Fifth Sunday after Trinity

“Come, Follow Me,” the Savior Spake (LSB 688) — 1 yr

Based upon the Holy Gospel of today (Luke 5:1–11) this hymn by Johann Scheffler (1624–1677) focuses upon the works a Christian does after coming to faith. Believers are to deny themselves and ever affirm Christ crucified. Our minds are to be like Christ’s—humble, meek, and submissive to God. Christians are taught to live in love with one another, without abandoning the doctrine of Christ. Above all else, the Christian is called upon to cling to the cross, to cling to the means of our salvation. After the battle of this life is the eternal crown in heaven for those dying in the Christian faith.
 


O Christ, Our True and Only Light (LSB 839) — 3 yr

Written in the midst of the Thirty Years’ War, Johann Heermann’s (1585–1647) hymn confesses the eternal Light shining in the midst of the darkness of this world. Further, his own son had become a Roman Catholic (though he returned to Lutheranism later).  Heermann, along with his parishioners, needed hymns of comfort. The comfort provided by Christ the light is the gracious forgiveness of sins. The prayer is that Christians would be reminded of their need and comfort and that those who do not yet know Christ would hearken to His voice, that is, believe in him unto salvation.  The result prayed for is that all would believe and sing the true confession of faith in unity in earth and heaven. All praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

 


Rev. Thomas E. Lock serves as Kantor/Assistant Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 

Hymn Summary: Fourth Sunday after Trinity

O God, My Faithful God (LSB 696) — 1 yr

Johann Heermann (1585–1647) was a Lutheran pastor in Silesia during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). During his time as pastor many of his congregation died from pestilence, especially during 1631. It is no wonder that Pastor Heermann could write such words as comfort as are found in this hymn. 

We find true comfort in the merciful God alone, in the fountain ever flowing! A prayer for all times is for a “healthy frame,” not only to be healthy, but also to help others through one’s calling and vocation. It is so tempting to curse, swear, or speak out of turn; these betray a mistrust that God would actually work good in this vale of tears. Only forgiveness won by Jesus on the cross can set aside this mistrust. The final two stanzas are pure comfort, echoing the Nunc dimittis (Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace). Death for the Christian body is but sleep; the Christian soul does not die, but immediately is drawn to heaven at the death of the body. Christians now commend themselves to their Savior. Then, in splendor, Christians will rejoice over their salvation with all those who love his name.


In the Very Midst of Life (LSB 755) — 3 yr

Martin Luther (1483–1546) wrote this hymn for use at funerals. Based on the Latin Media vita in morte sumus (Amid life we are surrounded by death), this hymn was sung as mourners walked from the church to the cemetery. That does not mean funerals are the only times it is to be sung for it deals not only with death, but sin and its consequences throughout earthly life. When sin and the snares of death surround the Christian the cry is to him who is holy, holy, holy, that is, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, our baptismal Lord. Whether Christians face death, hell, or any other trial this Triune God is the only one who has mercy on them.

The tune by the first Lutheran kantor, Johann Walter (1496–1570), is based upon the chant that accompanies the original Latin text (Media vita . . .). This hymn is no dirge, but a bold and boisterous confession of faith in Jesus Christ. The whole hymn is forceful, but the voices are raised most at the recurring Trisagion (thrice holy) at the end of each stanza.


Rev. Thomas E. Lock serves as Kantor/Assistant Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 

Hymn Summary: Second Sunday after Trinity

A Multitude Comes from the East and the West (LSB 510) — 1 yr

In Luke 14 Jesus explains the ones who eat bread in the kingdom of God: They are those who are poor, crippled, blind, and lame, that is (in context), those who are sinners and have no help except the Lord Jesus Christ. This lively hymn by Norwegian pastor, hymn writer, and hymnal compiler Magnus Brostrup Landstad (1802–1880) richly describes the love of God in inviting such sinners to his Supper (in time) and to the great wedding feast (in eternity). Most of those who had been invited from Israel rejected Christ. Thus, the call invited those of every land, that multitude coming from the east and the west. All the saints from all times are joined with us at the Lord’s Supper and will dine with us in heaven. All the trials, trouble, and mourning of this life will be forgotten. The plea, Have mercy on us, O Jesus, will be turned into a triumphal hymn based on the mercy Christ has had on His saints.

OR

Lord Jesus Christ, You Have Prepared (LSB 622)

Samuel Kinner (1603–1668) was a physician in Breslau, Germany (now in Poland). Although this physician did not call the Lord’s Supper the medicine of immortality, he clearly describes it as such: his body and blood, which grant rest, comfort, and pardon for weary and sin-oppressed souls. The saints are not to trust in and empty supper (such as the Reformed teach) but in the true Supper of Christ’s Body and Blood in, with, and under bread and wine! Reason cannot understand this reality of Christ’s presence, but the Word declares it to be true. We do not “spring our minds into heaven to access Christ there,” but rather receive him where he promises to be, at his altar. Thanks be to Christ for this consoling Supper, a true and blessed comfort when living or dying.


Creator Spirit, by Whose Aid (LSB 500) — 3 yr

Rhabanus Maurus (776-856), Archbishop of Mainz, wrote Veni Creator Spiritus, Mentes, which appears in varying forms as LSB 498, 499, and this one, 500. The Holy Spirit had an active role in the creation of all things (see Genesis 1:2). The hymn prays that he would continue to refresh us, freeing us from sin, and making us living temples. He who is uncreated light and fire is the one who gives the healing message of salvation in Christ alone. This holy one now makes sinners into holy saints. All of this is by the Spirit’s gracious work, not the work of man, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8–9). Rightly do saints who have received this grace return thanks to this Paraclete (counselor/comforter) along with the Father and the Son.

This hymn is paired with the tune, All Ehr und Lob, which was the tune used by Luther for his German versification of the Gloria in excelsis.

 


Rev. Thomas E. Lock serves as Kantor/Assistant Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 

Hymn Summary: First Sunday after Trinity

To God the Holy Spirit Let Us Pray (LSB 768) — 1 yr

The first stanza of this leisen hymn (each stanza ending with “Lord, have mercy,” Kyrieleis in German) is from the 12th century, from a sermon by Berthold of Regensburg; Martin Luther penned the other three stanzas. The first stanza points to three truths which can perplex man: 1) the Holy Spirit IS God and deserving of prayers like the Father and Son, 2) the Holy Spirit is the giver of the true Christian faith, which faith later is defined as knowing aright the Lord Jesus Christ who bought us [st. 4], and 3) saints on earth are exiles. Not only are Christians to believe in Christ as Lord and Savior, they are—as forgiven sinners—called upon to live in love with each other [st. 2]. While the church militant fights against devil, world, and flesh, she receives comfort and strength for the battle [st. 3]. Finally, by the Lord who bought her, the pilgrim church will cross the Jordan to enter the promised land of heaven [st. 4]. While now we cry out, “Lord, have mercy,” in need and with trust, then we triumphant saints will proclaim the merciful works of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Psalm 118:17). Lord, have mercy!


Rise to Arms! With Prayer Employ You (LSB 668) — 3 yr

This “battle hymn” by Wilhelm Erasmus Arends (1677-1721) has its roots in the sixth chapter of Ephesians. Saints in this world should rely on the Spiritus Gladius, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Christians are often told by the world that there is no devil, no real foe against them. He is often pictured as a lame comic figure with horns and a pitchfork. His weakness or absence could not be further from the truth! He is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). The Spirit’s gift of faith also grants bravery and wisdom to stand against this foe. Focus on Christ the savior is the main thing needed by baptized and fed Christians. Finally, after the spiritual battles on earth, the believers in Christ will be taken to dwell with Christ in heaven. Glory be to God alone!


Rev. Thomas E. Lock serves as Kantor/Assistant Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 

 

Hymn Summary: Trinity

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest (LSB 498/499)

Feast of Holy Trinity (both 1 year and 3 year series)

The author of this text, Rabanus Maurus (776-856), was a Benedictine monk who was called to be the Archbishop of Mainz. His hymn to the Holy Spirit teaches the work and comfort of the Holy Spirit. As each Christian is a temple of the LORD, so we sing and pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to dwell in us. The Spirit upholds us by his sevenfold gifts so that saints would behold God through his word. Though saints on earth often are weak, the Spirit comes to uphold and strengthen all in faith.
Many do not realize that Maurus’s hymn is the hymn of above all hymns to be used at the call, ordination, and installation of pastors.
Two tunes are provided, Veni Creator Spiritus—a simplification of the original chant—and Komm, Gott Schöpfer—a further simplification of the original chant. Both tunes are in the same key. Thus, it is appropriate to alternate singing between congregation (Komm, Gott Schöpfer) and choir/soloist (Veni Creator Spiritus).


Rev. Thomas E. Lock serves as Kantor/Assistant Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 


Hymn Summary: Easter 6

Our Father, Who from Heaven Above (LSB 766)

Easter 6 (1 yr)

This hymn paraphrases the Lord’s Prayer and its seven petitions. This excellent hymn teaches children and all those learning how to pray. It does the same thing as memorizing the catechism, but in the happier and easier way that song provides. Interestingly enough the Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal declares, “We hold this to be Luther’s finest hymn,” placing it above his “A Mighty Fortress,” and his “Out of the Depths.” Of course when it comes to Luther hymns and favorite hymns it is not a contest, but this shows how highly regarded this hymn was by those fathers and mothers in faith who have come before us!

Its place in the Easter season begins the week of Ascension. Because Christ has burst the grave we now have one who is at the right hand of the Father advocating for us and hearing our prayers. In this way the hymn provides a transition and reminds us that Christ’s Resurrection grants us the rich honor of praying to a Father who loves us for his sake. It would be a most excellent hymn to use around the supper table, when beginning or ending the day.


Dear Christians One and All, Rejoice (LSB 556)

Easter 6 (3 yr)

Luther makes a second appearance in the Easter season with this hymn for Cantate. This is one of his earliest hymns, thought to be the second hymn he wrote. Lutheran theologians often like to compare early and late Luther as his theology develops and sharpens with age. This hymn shows a rich and beautiful grasp of the Gospel quite early in Luther’s study. Thus it comments on how fast the Gospel spread, doing its work as it was carried along especially by hymnody.

In Luther’s Law/Gospel fashion, he lays out the impossible struggle of justifying oneself through works before God (vs. 2 – 4). The hymn then follows with life giving relief through the Gospel (vs. 5 – 10). It tells the story of Luther’s own struggle with sin and death. This struggle is now shared by all who sin and try to find any hope in this life apart from Christ. The sung confession of verse five gives the world hope as Christ alone can and does set free from sin and sorrow, Christ alone slays bitter death that mankind may live forever. The whole hymn provides a concise creed on the work of God to save.


Rev. Adrian N. Sherrill serves Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 

Hymn Summary: Easter 5

Dear Christians One and All, Rejoice (LSB 556)

Easter 5 (1 yr)

Luther makes a second appearance in the Easter season with this hymn for Cantate. This is one of his earliest hymns, thought to be the second hymn he wrote. Lutheran theologians often like to compare early and late Luther as his theology develops and sharpens with age. This hymn shows a rich and beautiful grasp of the Gospel quite early in Luther’s study. Thus it comments on how fast the Gospel spread, doing its work as it was carried along especially by hymnody.

In Luther’s Law/Gospel fashion, he lays out the impossible struggle of justifying oneself through works before God (vs. 2 – 4). The hymn then follows with life giving relief through the Gospel (vs. 5 – 10). It tells the story of Luther’s own struggle with sin and death. This struggle is now shared by all who sin and try to find any hope in this life apart from Christ. The sung confession of verse five gives the world hope as Christ alone can and does set free from sin and sorrow, Christ alone slays bitter death that mankind may live forever. The whole hymn provides a concise creed on the work of God to save.


At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing (LSB 633)

Easter 5 (3yr)

Our victorious King through death and resurrection has caused the angel of death to stand down. You are redeemed by his blood. Paradise is open to you. You are free. These are not abstract thoughts, hopes, or slogans but concrete realities found in the Lord’s Supper and your eating and drinking of Christ. Such is the mighty comfort and preaching of Christ’s death and resurrection, which have been joined to his supper for us sinners to eat and drink. This truth you declare to all who will hear through song.

This hymn is a commentary on what Holy Communion is and does. It is the body and blood of Jesus delivered to you. Both Old and New Testament sacramental themes run throughout. The Lord God brought Israel out of Egypt through the sea into the promised land by the blood of the Lamb. Jesus through his death brings us through this wilderness sustained by this supper into paradise (6). The Passover and the Exodus were the great meal of old (3, 4). The death and resurrection of Jesus are the greater meal that now sustain us as he has put all things under his feet (5). 


Rev. Adrian N. Sherrill serves Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 

Hymn Summary: Easter 2

O Sons and Daughters of the King (LSB 470/471)

Easter 2 (1 and 3 year)

The hymn tells the story of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. In nine verses the accounts of the first week of the resurrection unfold. The many individuals who were overcome with immense sorrow encounter the preaching of the word and with it Christ and his resurrection. It indicates such a joyous turn of events by wrapping its verses throughout in joyful Alleluias.

The words paraphrase John 20. When we sing this hymn, we participate with St. John and the holy angels in the preaching of Christ’s resurrection to the world. Both singer and hearer go with the women early in the morning to the tomb, hide behind locked doors with the disciples, encounter Jesus and his wounds with Thomas, all the while seeing sorrow, fear, and unbelief shattered by Christ and the proclamation that today the grave has lost its sting! Alleluia!

The Resurrection grants and strengthens faith to a fear-filled world, and so the work of this hymn both restorative to the fallen and missional to the unbelieving. It culminates in verse eight before ending with a high doxology in verse nine. “How blest are they who have not seen and yet whose faith has constant been, For they eternal life will win. Alleluia!”


Rev. Adrian N. Sherrill serves Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 

Hymn Summary: Easter

Christ Jesus lay in Death’s Strong Bands — LSB 458

Easter (Main Service) (1 and 3 year)

Luther writes the text and his Kantor Johann Walter the tune to one of the strongest sung confessions of piercing Law and heavenly Gospel ever written. “Death is now dead,” is the theme. The hymn invites the singer to share with Jesus in full-throated rejoicing that our last enemy of ours has been embarrassed and laid waste. A strange and dreadful fight to the death develops through seven verses, with Jesus tearing us free from death’s chains by being captive Himself. He turns the tables and the tide of fallen human history destroying sin and taking death’s crown. You may be confident because, “Holy Scripture plainly saith that death is swallowed up by death . . .”

The first four verses depict Jesus’ entrance, fight, and securing of man’s salvation. The final three locate where we lay claim of this resurrection and how to partake of its benefits. We sing with Luther to eat and drink the Supper is to join Jesus in His reign, transporting us from death’s darkness into the light, made strong and well fed for whatever trouble comes our way. Together in song and meal we brag what Christ has done, “And Satan cannot harm us. Alleluia!”


Rev. Adrian N. Sherrill serves Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado. 

Hymn Summary: Lent 3

 

Lord of Our Life and God of Our Salvation – LSB 659

Lent 3/Oculi (1 year) AND Proper 7 (A) (3 year)

Jesus Christ, the Lord who has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Christ is the one who defeats Satan, the accuser, and helps his saints (Revelation 12:10). Though they are surrounded by foes with unfurled banners, yet the Lord’s banner of love waves over his Church (Song of Solomon 2:4) and preserves her. Though darkness surrounds the believers, his light of the gospel shines through the darkness. Though the Church is assaulted by devils, still the Lord’s armor (Ephesians 6) defends her. This hymn is unusual in that the second stanza of the text is sturdy and loud; the text then tapers off from billows to prayers for peace. He brings his peace to our hearts, to the Church, to the world, and to the fullness of heaven.

Rev. Thomas E. Lock serves as Kantor/Assistant Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado.