God’s love gives in such a way that it flows from a Father’s heart, the well-spring of all good. The heart of the giver makes the gift dear and precious, as among ourselves we say of even a trifling gift, it comes from a hand we love, and look not so much at the gift as at the heart.
“My heart which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.”
What about you? Have you ever been comforted by music in a difficult time? We’d like to hear your thoughts.
I borrowed this book from my husband’s office at church because it looked like it fit well with our theme this month and some of the posts I have been doing on the Psalms. The Psalter was Martin Luther’s daily prayer book as a monk and the subject of his initial lectures as a professor. His lectures and commentaries on the Psalms fill five volumes in the American Edition of Luther’s Works
This book combines several resources. The text of each Psalm is included along with the translation of Luther’s Summaries on that Psalm. To maintain the devotional style some things have been omitted, and his shorter summaries supplemented with comments from other writings. Each Psalm is also accompanied by a prayer drawn from Book of Devotion: The Psalms by Rev. F. Kuegle. The Book also includes instructions for singing the Psalms, categories of Psalms, and a schedule of Psalms for daily prayer.
Reading the Psalms With Luther is an excellent resource for individual or family devotions. I hope some of our authors and readers will try it and post their opinion.
“The Psalter is the book of all saints, and everyone, whatever his situation may be, finds psalms and words in it that fit his situation and apply to his case so exactly that it seems they were put in this way only for his sake …”
“Where does one find finer words of joy than in the psalms of praise and thanksgiving? There you look into the hearts of all saints, as into fair and pleasant gardens, yes as into heaven itself. There you see what fine and pleasant flowers of the heart spring up from all sorts of fair and happy thoughts toward God, because of His blessings.”
The Book of Psalms was the songbook of the Israelites. Many churches still chant or sing the Psalms today. A multitude of hymns and Christian songs are based on a particular psalm. Luther called this book “the Bible in miniature” and took particular comfort in reading the Psalms. His most famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress, is a paraphrase of Psalm 46:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble
Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though the waters roar and foam though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
What’s your favorite Psalm? Is it used in worship or a song that you love? I’m hoping our authors and readers will weigh in on this.
This article, written by my husband, our Pastor was included in the congregation’s December newsletter. If you would like to read more articles he has written, his blog is goodnewsforabadworld.wordpress.com
The Lutheran Church has often been called “the singing church.” Prior to the Reformation there was no congregational singing in most worship services. What singing occurred was done by choirs and specially trained cantors. Martin Luther decided to change that and published the first hymnal in German with a number of hymns written by him and by his colleagues in the reform movement.
Luther was, himself, a talented musician who enjoyed playing and singing. His love of music led him to the belief that lay people, many of whom were illiterate at the time, could learn more about the faith by being taught to sing of the doctrines and truths of the Church during regular worship services. While other reformers encouraged only the singing of the Psalms, Luther’s work was much more expansive.
Over time a great tradition of hymnody developed in the Lutheran Churches and this was copied by others, especially in England and in the United States. Now the Church has thousands of hymns to choose from as part of its function as the teacher of the true faith.
It is important for us to maintain this tradition of hymnody. Without it we would, as a Church, be much the poorer. At St, Paul’s we are trying to expand our repertoire of hymns, searching for ones that, while they might be unfamiliar are, indeed, gems that we have yet to unearth.
Unfortunately, not all hymns in our hymnal are gems. Some of them are difficult to play and sing and a very few others have theological problems. When we try one of those less than stellar hymns and it doesn’t work well we have to decide if we’ll keep working on it or just drop it. But it’s a process. In the last 2 years we’ve used over 200 hymns in our worship. Some we’ll see again, some we won’t. But all singing is for the glory of God.
“Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through Music.”
This is one of many quotes said by Martin Luther regarding our praise through song.
Think about it, I am sure there is a hymn/song out there that seems to touch you more than others. I know that it can be a hard decision but I believe that God speaks to us in the song that touches us the most. Now I also believe that the song can change as we grow in our faith or even as we surmount obstacles in life. My song used to be “In the Garden” but recently I feel compelled to follow in the footsteps of “Here I Am”. These words seem to resonate deep within me to be a witness in Christs’ name, without fear of rejection. I am posting the lyrics to follow:
|Here I am, Lord|
I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin
my hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.
I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my words to them.
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. ……
I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will send the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide
till their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord. …..
What hymn/song moves you? I mean really moves you deep down. I am interested to see the responses and why those particular words move you.
Now do not be shy, I WANT to know.
God Loves You And So Do I
Luther’s writings contain a multitude of references to Advent and Christmas. The following excerpt comes from a sermon on the Nativity that he preached in 1530:
If Christ had arrived with trumpets and lain in a cradle of gold, his birth would have been a splendid affair. But it would not be a comfort to me. He was rather to lie in the lap of a poor maiden and be thought of little significance in the eyes of the world. Now I can come to him. Now he reveals himself to the miserable in order not to give any impression that he arrives with great power, splendor, wisdom, and aristocratic manners. But upon his return on that Day, when he will oppose the high and the mighty, it will be different. Now he comes to the poor, who need a Savior, but then he will come as a Judge against those who are persecuting him now.
This is a continuation of the sermon Jim gave during Advent – Here he talks about one of the explanations of the Advent wreath.
“The Advent wreath was first used as a Christian devotion in the middle ages. I suspect Martin Luther had a hand in keeping it popular because the Advent wreath in its present form started in Germany as a Lutheran family custom. It was used as an in home Christian education device; and did not become widely used in churches until the 20th century, and therefore an exact standardized meaning for every part of it would not be possible. I will try to give a good general meaning to all of its components. First the wreath gets its design from the customs of Pre-Christian Germanic and Scandinavian cultures who used candles and greenery as symbols of light and life during winter.
We have a circular evergreen wreath with white flowers, the evergreen symbolizes renewal – In ancient times the cedar was revered as the tree of royalty, it also signified immortality, all these the sign of Christ who reigns as king forever. The circular shape represents the completeness of God. No Beginning and no end. The white flowers represent life and resurrection or purity. I’m sure you now understand that each part could have different meanings, yet lead us to one common meaning. There are five candles; the candles symbolize the light of Christ coming into the world. We have one white candle in the center, slightly taller than the rest, surrounded by four candles which represent the period of waiting during the four weeks of Advent, which themselves represent the four centuries of waiting between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. There are three blue candles and one pink candle. The weekly progression of lighting the candles symbolizes our preparation through prayer and penitence. The blue color represents Royalty, prayer, penitence and preparation. We will get to the pink one in a minute. We light one blue candle on the first Sunday of Advent this reminds us of the hope Christ brings us. On the second Sunday in Advent we light the Hope candle and a second blue candle to remind us of the peace Christ brings us. On the third Sunday we light the first two and we light the pink candle to remind us of the joy that Christ brings us. Why is it pink? Long ago, the Pope had the custom of giving someone a rose on the fifth Sunday of Lent. The effect was to give some relief to the solemnity of Lent. ”
“Originally, before shopping malls, Advent was a solemn fast in preparation for Christmas, so the custom was extended to the third Sunday of Advent to lighten it up a bit too. On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we light the first three and the remaining blue one to remind us of the love that Christ brings us. Each Sunday the light keeps getting brighter until we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve and the light is brightest when we light the Christ candle. This, of course, is the slightly taller white candle in the center which reminds us that Jesus is the sinless, spotless Lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins. His birth was for his death and his death was for our birth.”
More to follow – Stay tuned
The following is the first in a series of excerpts from a sermon given by Jim Edgel on Advent. Each day I will post another part of this. He explains the meaning o advent and some of the traditions we celebrate.
“Friends this is the first Sunday in the season of Advent. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means “coming” or “arrival”. The advent of our Lord is the beginning of the “Church Year” and observed during the four weeks prior to Christmas. This is a time for Christians to Prepare their hearts as a welcome place for God and Prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to Prepare for the second coming of Jesus as the risen Christ to rule triumphantly over life in heaven and on earth. During the Advent season our prayers and Bible readings should be focused on preparing us spiritually for Christmas (the first coming), but also for his eventual second coming. That is why Advent services include both Old Testament passages related to the expected Messiah and New Testament passages concerning Jesus’ second coming as judge of all. Also passages about John the Baptist, the precursor who prepared the way for the Messiah. Jesus is the light of the world. We who have sat in darkness have seen a great light, the light of Jesus Christ, our salvation. We are reminded of the light that Jesus brings us by lighting the candles in our Advent wreath.”
Next time – The Advent Wreath – Stay tuned.