Hymn of the Day: “To Christ Belong, in Christ Behold” ACS 958
Text: Susan R. Briehl, b. 1952
Tune: WONDERS, Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis, commissioned this text from Pastor Susan Briehl for its one-hundredth anniversary. This centennial is reflected in the text itself: “To Christ belong, in Christ behold God’s wonders still unfold,” and “fruit one hundredfold.” The desire was for a text that proclaimed the paschal mystery of baptism without alleluias so that it could be sung during Lent. The music was crafted by Pastor Robert Farlee, a prominent composer and former editor at Augsburg Fortress, but also cantor at Christ Church. This hymn represents an exemplary collaboration between poet and composer.

Offertory Anthem: Wondrous Love, Carson Cooman (1982)

Carson Cooman has composed a setting of this well known tune from Southern Harmony which is at the same time rustic with a hint of the Celtic influence that's prevalent in the hills of Appalachia.

Carson Cooman is an American composer with a catalogue of works in many forms ranging from solo instrumental pieces to operas, and from orchestral works to hymn tunes. He is in continual demand for new commissions, and his music has been performed on all six inhabited continents. Over 130 new works have been composed for him by composers from around the world, and his performances of the work of contemporary composers can be heard on a number of CD recordings. Cooman is also a writer on musical subjects, producing articles and reviews frequently for a number of international publications. He serves as an active consultant on music business matters to composers and performing organizations.

What wondrous love is this,
O my soul! O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this
that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse,
for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

When I was sinking down,
sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down,
beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown
for my soul, for my soul.
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul.

to God and to the Lamb,
I will sing, I will sing.
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
to God and to the Lamb,
who is the great I AM,
while millions join the theme,
I will sing, I will sing.
While millions join the theme,
I will sing!

Opening and Closing Voluntaries: Martyrdom, Emma Lou Diemer (1927) and Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

Both the Opening and Closing Voluntaries are based on the hymn tune MARTYRDOM, which was originally an eighteenth-century Scottish folk melody used for the ballad "Helen of Kirkconnel." Hugh Wilson (1766-1824) adapted MARTYRDOM into a hymn tune in duple meter around 1800. A triple-meter version of the tune was first published by Robert A. Smith in his Sacred Music (1825), a year after Wilson's death. A legal dispute concerning who was the actual composer of MARTYRDOM arose and was settled in favor of Wilson. However, Smith's triple-meter arrangement is the one chosen most often. The tune's title presumably refers to the martyred Scottish Covenantor James Fenwick, whose last name is also the name of the town where Wilson lived. Consequently, in Scotland this tune has always had melancholy associations.

Emma Lou Diemer is a native of Kansas City, MO. She received her composition degrees from Yale and Eastman. Her music has been published since 1957 and ranges from hymns and songs to large chamber and orchestral works.

Robert Buckley Farlee is Associate Pastor and Director of Music at Christ Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

Hymn of the Day: “Amazing Grace” ELW 779
Text: John Newton (1725–1807)
Tune: NEW BRITAIN, W. Walker, Southern Harmony (1835); Edwin O. Excell (1851-1921)

Making his way through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in Book I of Olney Hymns (1779), John Newton got to hymn #41, titled it "Faith's Review and Expectation," and cited 1 Chronicles 17:16-17: "Then King David went in and Sat before the LORD, and said, 'Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my houe that you have brought me thus far? And even this was a small thing in your sight O God; you have also spoken of your servant's house for a great while to come You regard me as someone of high rank, O LORD God! " That evoked "Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound!)." Here again is Newton's "sweet sound" as in "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds", but even more the astonishment at grace: "You regard me as someone of high rank, O Lord." That astonishment accounts in part for the many translations, adaptations, and the widely ubiquitous spread of this hymn, but, paradoxically, the spread has made it so commonplace and so related to a general miasma of niceness that the shock of Newton's awareness is often lost, Our nervousness about Newton's word "wretch" points to the loss and to our attempts to shield ourselves from the shock, though a look at Newton's biography or plumbing the depths of one's own being or just encountering the daily news makes "wretch" the right word. The meaning is deeper, however. The issue is the "wretched" human state that Paul is wrestling with in Romans 7:24, where the law of sin and death requires rescue. Paul's "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord" is Newton's "amazing grace," and the distance from wretch to high rank expresses the incredulity.

Newton wrote six stanzas. Evangelical Lutheran Worship, like most hymnals prints the first four. The fifth stanza, though often joined to this hymn, is not by Newton. It is an anonymous "traveling refrain" that was first appended as stanza 10 to nine stanzas of "Jerusalem, my happy home." By the end of the ninetend century it seems to have been used as the final stanza for "Amazing grace."

Sometimes called AMAZING GRACE because of its close association now with this hymn, the tune, NEW BRITAIN (which is also known by many other names), is a hardy pentatonic shape-note tune. It was first joined to "Amazing grace" in William Walker’s The Southern Harmony (New Haven, 1835), but the tune appeared earlier with different names and different texts in other books, the earliest in slightly different versions as ST. MARY'S and GALLAHER. Edwin O. Excel in his Coronation Hymns (1910) standardized the tune to the form we now have in Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

Edwin Othello Excell was born in Ohio, the son of a German Reformed pastor.

He worked as a bricklayer and construction worker, loved to sing, began to conduct singing schools, and in the 1870s was converted in a Methodist revival where he was leading the music. He studied at normal schools-nineteenth-century teacher training institutions. After moving to Chicago in 1883, Excell became a Sunday school leader, helped found the International Sunday School Lessons, began his own publishing company, wrote over two thousand tunes, and edited almost ninety hymn collections.

Offertory Anthem: Flocks in Pastures Green Abiding, J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Flocks in Pastures Green Abiding is a melody (also known as Sheep May Safely Graze) from Bach's Hunting Cantata BWV 208, written in 1713 and later arranged by Stanley Roper for organ and choir. Today the flutes add a delightful dimension. Many thanks to Carole Smith and Suzanne Tsitsibellis for their flute playing!

Flocks in pastures green abiding, safely with their shepherd rest. Cooled by waters gently gliding.
With the food of life he feeds them, to the fold He gently leads them, there to dwell forever blest.

Opening Voluntary: Aus de Tiefe (Forty Days and Forty Nights), June Dixon

The melody, AUS DE TIEFE (also called HEINLEIN) was published as a setting for Christoph Schwamlein's text based on Psalm 130, "Aus der Tiefe rufe ich" ("Out of the Depths I Cry"). In that songbook the tune was attributed to "M. H.," initials that are generally accepted to refer to Martin Herbst (1654-1681). Herbst was educated in theology and philosophy at the universities of Altdorf and Jena. In 1680 he became rector of the gymnasium (high school) and pastor of St. Andrew Church in Eisleben. The following year he died of the plague

June Dixon is an Australian church organist, composer and teacher.

Closing Voluntary: Southwell, J. Bert Carlson (1937-2017)

The tune, SOUTHWELL is found in many hymnals and most often paired with the text “Lord Jesus, think on me,” by Synesius of Cyrene, Bishop of Ptolemais. The tune was composed by William Daman (1540-1591), a foreign composer resident in England. There are a few conflicting reports on his origins, but contemporary London records describe him as an Italian from Lucca, Italy who arrived in England circa 1566 as a servant of Sir Thomas Sackville. In 1576 he became a recorder player at the Court of Elizabeth I.

Pastor Carlson ministered to many congregations for over 50 years in NJ, PA and IN. He was also an accomplished musician and published composer.

Hymn of the Day: “As the Deer Runs to the River” ELW 331
Text: Herman G. Stuempfle Jr. (1923- 2007)
Music: JULION, David Hurd, (1950)

This is one of the fine hymns that Lutheran pastor, seminary professor, and finally seminary president Herman Stuempfle wrote during his retirement. The hymn sets us next to the woman at the well, thirsting for living water, and the second stanza celebrates today’s first reading from Exodus 17. The reference in the fourth stanza to desert places is particularly appropriate for Lenten song.
 — Gail Ramshaw

David Hurd was a boy soprano at St. Gabriel's Church in Hollis, Long Island, New York. Educated at Oberlin College and the University of North Carolina, he has been professor of church music and organist at General Theological Seminary in New York since 1976. In 1985 he also became director of music for All Saints Episcopal Church, New York. Hurd is an outstanding recitalist and improvisor and a composer of organ, choral, and instrumental music.

Offertory Anthem: “Hide Not Thou Thy Face From Us” Richard Farrant (1530- 1580)

Richard Farrant, English composer, choirmaster, and theatrical producer, who established the original Blackfriars Theatre, home to the outstanding children’s companies of the Elizabethan era. Farrant was a gentleman of the Chapel Royal until 1564, when he was appointed organist and choirmaster to St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. This post entailed the annual presentation of a play before the queen, which led to the creation of the Children of Windsor, a boys' theatrical company formed from members of the choir. Farrant’s skill at directing the Children of Windsor led to his appointment in 1576 as deputy of William Hunnis, director of the Children of the Chapel. From that point until his death in 1580, Farrant directed productions for both companies, sometimes combining the two. Eager to offer performances outside the court, Farrant leased a portion of the defunct Blackfriars priory and converted it into the Blackfriars Theatre in 1576. In addition to his theatrical successes, Farrant was a respected musician and composer. He served as the queen’s organist and wrote music for the plays, as well as anthems and a service.

Hide not thou thy face from us, O Lord,
and cast not off thy servant in thy displeasure;
for we confess our sins unto thee
and hide not our unrighteousness.
For thy mercy's sake,
deliver us from all our sins.

Opening Voluntary: “Sarabande on ‘Rockingham’” Rosalie Bonighton (1946-2011)

Bonighton's music was influenced by plainchant, British and Celtic folk song, but she was equally interested in the extended harmonic tensions of late German Romanticism, multi-rhythms, jazz harmonies and syncopated effects. When composing music, the functional requirements of a piece of music heavily influenced Bonighton's choice of style, compositional techniques, structure, performing resources and level of performance difficulty. Bonighton also experimented frequently with the use of jazz elements for the performance medium of pipe organ. In addition to her activity as a composer, Bonighton worked as a school organist, a parish organist/music director, and a piano accompanist.

Closing Voluntary: “Allegro Pomposo,” Thomas Roseingrave (1688-1766)

Irish organist and composer who began his musical studies under the tutelage of his father, Daniel Roseingrave, organist of Gloucester, Winchester, Salisbury, St. Patrick's and Christ Church cathedrals. He studied in Italy, where he knew both Scarlattis. After settling in London in 1717, he popularized Domenico Scarlatti's music in England and later made a famous edition (1739) of 42 of his sonatas. Among Roseingrave’s compositions were extra numbers for Domenico Scarlatti's opera Narciso.

Hymn of the Day: “This Is the Spirit’s Entry Now” ELW 448
Text: Thomas E. Herbranson (1933-2009)
Tune: LAND OF REST, North American traditional

In 1970 Thomas E. Herbranson wrote a master's thesis at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, titled "Christ and the Sacraments in the Hymnal Authorized by the Lutheran Churches Cooperating in the Commission on the Liturgy and Hymnal." From ten years' experience as a parish pastor he had become convinced of the importance of the hymnal for parishioners. He proposed to study "only the words" in the Service Book and Hymnal (1958). He divided his study into three parts- baptism, communion, and the person and work of Christ. At the end of the part on baptism he appended this hymn. His attempt was to “bring together in a hymn the biblical themes of baptism: The Spirit, the physical element and the Word of institution in stanza one; new birth and the Redemption theme in stanza two; the life-long growth theme in stanza three; and praise to God for the Spirit's washing throughout our lives as well as the specific event at which the hymn is sung.” 

The hymn was published in Contemporary Worship 4: Hymns for Baptism and Communion (1972) and then in Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), #195, with alterations Herbranson approved. Evangelical Lutheran Worship made other modifications, but left it essentially as Lutheran Book of Worship had it.

This "originally pentatonic tune” was paired with "O land of rest, for thee I sigh!" in the 1836 Appendix of Samuel Wakefield's shape-note tune book called The Christian Harp (Pittsburgh, 1832). As we have it, the tune is hexatonic but only slightly so: the fourth degree of the scale is used twice, once as a passing tone at measure 5 and once in a more accented fashion four notes from the end. The seventh degree is not present (E in this key that is otherwise F major), which gives the tune an open, rustic flavor. Herbranson linked his hymn with John Dahle's tune LUTHER SEMINARY. In Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) it was paired with a more pensive tune by Leo Sowerby called PERRY. In Evangelical Lutheran Worship it gets a third tune. More than the first two, LAND OF REST highlights the motion and physicality of the text. If one finds such things significant, it also has a compound background beat whose three can be seen as reflecting or underscoring the trinitarian Three in whose name the church baptizes.

Offertory Anthem: "You God Are My Light" Scott Perkins 

Connecticut native Scott Perkins enjoys a multifaceted career as an international prize-winning composer of vocal music, an award-winning scholar, and a dynamic educator. His “beautifully crafted” (American Record Guide) and “tightly composed” (Choral Journal) compositions have been called “dramatic” and “colorful” (The Washington Post), and “perfectly orchestrated” and “haunting” (The Washington Times). He has been commissioned by organizations ranging from the Washington National Opera to the American Guild of Organists, and his work has been performed throughout North America and Europe. He has been an invited guest lecturer on his music and research at Harvard University, The Hartt School, Boston University, and the University of the Pacific. Scott’s recent and current projects have been extended works that support and illuminate the words of living authors on themes of social justice, environmentalism, and mental health. 

You, God, are my light and my salvation; who shall I fear?
You are the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?

One thing I ask of you, O God: that I may dwell in your house all the days of my life to behold your beauty, and to seek you in your temple.

Teach me your way, O God. Hear me when I cry unto you: have mercy upon me and answer me. 
For in the time of trouble you will hide m in your dwelling; you will lift me high upon a rock.

Opening Voluntary: “At the Rivers of Babylon” (from Sixty-Six Chorale Improvisations) Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933)  

The German composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert's real name was Karg, the 'Elert' having been added early in his career at the suggestion of his concert-agent. He studied at Leipzig Conservatoire, served for a time as professor at Magdeburg Conservatoire, and was appointed in 1919 to Leipzig Conservatoire, where he taught piano, theory and composition. Though his earliest ambitions lay in the direction of composition, his chief distinction during his student days, and for some years after, was as a pianist of unusual brilliance. Some meetings with Grieg turned his ambitions once more towards composition, and the result has been a very large output in a great variety of forms - over 100 songs, sonatas for violin, pianoforte, etc., many sets of pieces for pianoforte, a symphony, string quartet, and much music for organ, etc. He was one of the principal German composers for organ of his generation. 

His early works reflect the influence of composers such as Claude Debussy, Aleksandr Scriabin, and Arnold Schoenberg, but he later developed an original style that melded chromaticism and expanded harmonies with Renaissance and Baroque polyphony. Among his best-known works are the 33 stylistic studies for harmonium, based on works of composers ranging from Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina to Schoenberg; for the organ he wrote the Sixty-Six Chorale Improvisations (1908–10) and 20 Chorale Preludes and Postludes (1912). A virtuoso organist, Karg-Elert also performed on the Kunstharmonium (a type of harmonium—larger than the standard size—that was popular in Germany in the early 20th century).

Closing Voluntary: “Allegro molto from Sonata #6 in D Minor,” Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

The organ music of Felix Mendelssohn represents an approach gesturing not towards the future but towards the glorious past of German composition and the work of J.S. Bach in particular. (Liszt once called him “Bach reborn.”) The stark dissimilarity in compositional approach between Mendelssohn and Liszt was heralded by the coolness of their personal relationship, manifested for instance at a soirée when Mendelssohn drew a picture of Liszt playing the former’s music with five hammers, rather than fingers, on each hand. (This somewhat childish action is perhaps understandable given Liszt’s description of preceding events: “The truth of the matter is that I only played his Concerto in G minor from the manuscript, and as I found several of the passages rather simple and not broad enough…I changed them to suit my own ideas.”) Inherently conservative in character, Mendelssohn formed a profound aversion to the iconoclastic work of Liszt and kindred spirits such as Berlioz, of whose work Mendelssohn remarked: “one ought to wash one’s hands after handling one of his scores.” Mendelssohn was undoubtedly a Romantic composer, but his Romanticism was often of the Biedermeier kind; he was capable of composing dramatic and inventive works such as the Hebrides Overture, yet his individual musical poetry emerged perhaps most strongly in miniatures such as the Songs without Words for piano and in those works (e.g. the Quartet in F minor) wherein he recaptured the youthful genius that had burst forth so forcefully in the Octet and Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture.

Mendelssohn’s posthumous reputation in the country of his birth suffered from Wagner’s pen (this time through the faintest of praise rather than vitriol) and, in due course, the Nazi regime’s efforts to expunge his name from musical history. In England, where Mendelssohn had made a strong impression on musical life over the course of ten visits, his stock remained considerably higher. Mendelssohn enjoyed particular success with his organ recitals in the late 1830s and early 1840s, leading the publishers Coventry and Hollier to commission a set of six “voluntaries” from him in 1844. The planned voluntaries soon became Mendelssohn’s six Organ Sonatas Op 65, with the term sonata here implying the Bachian sense of the term—i.e. suites of varied pieces which are played instrumentally, as opposed to sung cantatas—rather than works exhibiting classical sonata form. The Organ Sonata No 6 in D minor (1845) demonstrates Mendelssohn’s consummate craftsmanship and mastery of organ texture in a set of variations upon the Lutheran Bach chorale Vater unser im Himmelreich (BWV416). Following a five-part harmonisation of the Chorale, which pervades the sonata as a whole, Mendelssohn presents four variations of increasing brilliance before a restatement of the Chorale. Today’s Closing Voluntary is the final variation. The sonata concludes with a substantial fugue and the finale in D major, whose quiet religiosity symbolises the completion of a journey from stern Lutheranism to an essentially English brand of sentiment. In this work and its companion sonatas, Mendelssohn revitalised the then-moribund European organ tradition, spurred English organ-builders to new heights, and, through his particular blend of chorale, counterpoint and domestic spirituality, substantially augmented the organ repertoire for the first time since Bach. Musing on his passion for structural innovation, Liszt once remarked that “new wine demands new bottles”; Mendelssohn here demonstrates the continued potency of an older brew.

Hymn of the Day: “When We Are Tested” ACS 922
Text: Ruth Duck (1947)
Tune: SLANE, Irish traditional

A prayer based on the temptation of Christ, this text set to a traditional Irish tune calls to mind whole Bible stories with single words or short phrases: “wrestle” in Genesis 32, “bread” and “stone” in Matthew 7, “food that sustains” in Exodus 16, and “by night and by day” in Exodus 13, thereby situating the struggle to be faithful within the biblical narrative. From that struggle the hymn calls upon God who nourishes, lifts, teaches, and holds us.

Ruth Duck is a United Church of Christ pastor, professor, feminist, practical theologian, and hymn writer.

Offertory Anthem: “I’m So Glad” R. Nathaniel Dett (1882- 1943), BBV arr.

Robert Nathaniel Dett was a Black Canadian-American composer, organist, pianist, choral director, and music professor. Born and raised in Canada until the age of 11, he moved to the United States with his family and had most of his professional education and career there. During his lifetime he was a leading Black composer, known for his use of African-American folk songs and spirituals as the basis for choral and piano compositions in the 19th century Romantic style of Classical music. “I’m So Glad” is one of these choral compositions, originally part of his collection for the Hampton Singers.

Dett's most important work began in 1913 at the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia. He trained the choir at that traditionally African-American school to a new level of musical excellence. His 40-voice Hampton Singers performed at Carnegie Hall in January 1914. Dett rose to the position of director of the Music Department at Hampton in 1926, the first black to hold that job. That same year, Oberlin Conservatory awarded Dett an honorary Doctor of Music degree, another first for an African American. On December 17, 1926, the 80-voice Hampton Choir assumed national prominence as it performed by invitation at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The unaccompanied program contained Dett's trademark mix of repertoire--early English music, works from the Russian liturgy, Christmas carols, and arrangements of spirituals.

In 1930 the choir achieved another milestone as it embarked on a European tour under the auspices of George Foster Peabody, a philanthropic patron of the arts and Hampton Institute trustee. En route to New York, the group sang for President Herbert Hoover on the White House lawn. The choir of 40 select voices went on to impress audiences during its six-week tour of seven countries.

After earning his master's degree in 1932, Dett resigned from Hampton and moved to Rochester, New York. He died in 1943 while serving as choral advisor for the United Services Organization and touring with a women's choir in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1973 his piano works were collected and published as a volume.

Dett's most enduring musical legacy survives in his numerous arrangements of folksongs and spirituals, most written for the Hampton Choir.

I'm so glad trouble don't last alway.
[Refrain:] Oh, my Lord, oh, my Lord, what shall I do?
Make more room, Lord in my heart for Thee. [Refrain]

Opening Voluntary: “Troubled Water” Margaret Bonds (1913-1972)

Margaret Bonds was an American composer, pianist, arranger, and teacher. One of the first Black composers and performers to gain recognition in the United States, she is best remembered today for her popular arrangements of African-American spirituals and frequent collaborations with Langston Hughes. As a composer well acquainted with the greats of the Harlem Renaissance and schooled in Western composition at Juilliard, Margaret Bonds binds these elements of her background in Troubled Water (1967). The piece takes its cue from the Classical sonata form and uses the spiritual ‘Wade in the Water’ for the primary theme.

Closing Voluntary: “Toccata on GREAT DAY” Adolphus Hailstork (1941)

Adolphus Hailstork (actually Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork III) has always been aware of what he calls his dual cultural heritage: born in Rochester, NY, and raised in Albany, the son of a chef, he received his primary musical education in the Episcopal Cathedral of All Saints and was introduced to the classical tradition, including of course, his fellow Episcopalian Samuel Barber, and other contemporary Americans. As he says below, he was insulated from the developing civil rights movement in his earlier education. His B.A. in music, from Howard University (1963) and his initial postgraduate study at the Manhattan School (1964–1966, where he was taught by David Diamond, one of the leading lights of the mid-century American symphonists, and Vittorio Giannini, who remained a tonality-based composer in an academic world heavily dominated by serialism and other non-tonal compositional processes) and a nine-week study course with Nadia Boulanger in France, sound idyllic, in a way, shelters from the storm and stress of American Culture.

But a reckoning came, as he says, when he got out of the army (he served in West Germany) in 1968. And while the story of that development is fascinating, the richness and breadth of the musical influences make Hailstork’s music exciting. There are the mid-century symphonists and the eventful, forward push of that style, devoid of excessive rhetoric, but also Episcopalian music, spirituals, stories from black history, references to iconic musicians like Still, and more. Hailstork’s eminence and the quality of his music deserve more time on America’s and the world’s concert stages.

Hymn of the Day: “Dazzling Presence on the Mountain” ACS 917
Text: Paul E. Hoffman (1956)
Tune: WAVERLY, Karen E. Black (1960)

The text and music of this hymn were written for a Transfiguration hymn festival at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, in 2014. The text gives us an expanded understanding of Christ’s mountaintop experience for believers in our own day. Becoming dwellings for justice, mercy, and compassion in the world can bring transfiguration to the earth and all living creatures. The stately melody written by Karen Black, professor of music and college organist at Wartburg, musically draws us up and down the mountain.

Offertory Anthem: "You God Are My Light" Scott Perkins

Connecticut native Scott Perkins enjoys a multifaceted career as an international prize-winning composer of vocal music, an award-winning scholar, and a dynamic educator. His “beautifully crafted” (American Record Guide) and “tightly composed” (Choral Journal) compositions have been called “dramatic” and “colorful” (The Washington Post), and “perfectly orchestrated” and “haunting” (The Washington Times). He has been commissioned by organizations ranging from the Washington National Opera to the American Guild of Organists, and his work has been performed throughout North America and Europe. He has been an invited guest lecturer on his music and research at Harvard University, The Hartt School, Boston University, and the University of the Pacific. Scott’s recent and current projects have been extended works that support and illuminate the words of living authors on themes of social justice, environmentalism, and mental health.

You, God, are my light and my salvation; who shall I fear?
You are the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?
One thing I ask of you, O God: that I may dwell in your house all the days of my life to behold your beauty, and to seek you in your temple.
Teach me your way, O God. Hear me when I cry unto you: have mercy upon me and answer me.
For in the time of trouble you will hide m in your dwelling; you will lift me high upon a rock.

Opening Voluntary: “Many and Great, O God, Are Your Works” Robert Buckley Farlee

The Voluntary today is Robert Buckley Farlee’s setting of the Native American melody, DAKOTA. This song, which is also known as the “Dakota Hymn,” was sung by thirty-eight Dakota prisoners of war as they were led to execution at Mankato, Minnesota, on December 26, 1862. This song was first published in the Dakota Indian Hymnal (1916).

Closing Voluntary: “Christ Is the World’s Light” J. Bert Carlson

This hymn tune, CHRISTE SANCTORUM, with an unusual meter, comes from the Paris Antiphoner (1681), a collection of music for Latin hymns. It’s accompanying text, “Christ is the world’s light,” was written at the request of the hymnal committee for a text to accompany the tune CHRISTE SANCTORUM for the British Methodist hymnal, Hymns and Songs.

This setting is by Pastor J. Bert Carlson, who ministered to many congregations for over 50 years in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Indiana. He was also an accomplished musician and published composer.

Hymn of the Day: “Oh, That the Lord Would Guide My Ways” ELW 772
Text: Isaac Watts, 1674-1748, alt.
Music: EVAN, William H. Havergal, 1793-1870

“Oh, that the Lord would guide my ways” (ELW 772) is most appropriate for the day. The hymn is a prayer that God will give us the will and the ability to live according to God’s ways, which are called “a delightful road.” “Statutes” is one of the synonyms for commandments that occurs in our translation of the psalms. Isaac Watts wrote this hymn as a versification of part of Psalm 119, the psalm for this day. Watts is called the father of English hymnody. Although many in his church asserted that the only songs Christians could sing in worship were the psalms straight from the Bible, Watts wrote over six hundred hymns and psalm paraphrases that have become classic staples in Christian worship around the world.
— Gail Ramshaw

Offertory Anthem: “The People Who Walk in Darkness,” Pepper Choplin (1957)

Pepper Choplin is a full-time composer, conductor and humorist. He has gained a reputation as one of the most creative writers in church music today. With a diverse musical background, Choplin incorporates varied styles such as folk, Gospel, classical, and jazz.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; now lift up your eyes, see the glory of the Lord, and all flesh shall see it together. Those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them, a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)

Opening Voluntary: “Adoration” Florence B. Price (1887-1953)

In 2009 a dusty treasure was uncovered during the renovation of a dilapidated home in St. Anne, Illinois. Workers discovered boxes containing music by Florence B. Price previously considered lost, including two violin concertos and her fourth symphony. Although the quality of her compositions was recognized during her lifetime, her works were not widely heard. Writing to Serge Koussevitzky, the conductor of the Boston Symphony, she plainly addressed the prejudice that stunted her career, “I have two handicaps – those of sex and race. I am a woman; and I have some Negro blood in my veins.” Now, 70 years later, the labor of activists, scholars, and performers has changed the musical landscape of the United States, and Price’s music is frequently heard in orchestra halls across the nation.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Price studied organ and piano at the New England Conservatory of Music, one of the only music institutions of the time that admitted Black students. She taught music at Black-serving institutions in the South after graduating. In 1912 she married and moved back to Little Rock. However, her hometown was not safe, and threats of racial violence compelled the family to flee to Chicago in 1927. Inspired by the culturally rich Black community in Chicago, Price renewed her study of music at the American Conservatory and the Chicago Musical College.

In 1932, she won the Wanamaker competition with her Symphony in E Minor, thus gaining national recognition. She is best known as a song composer, however, including her arrangement of the spiritual “My Soul’s been Anchored in de Lord” and a setting of Langston Hughes’ poem “Songs to the Dark Virgin.” Marian Anderson frequently sang her works and adopted Price’s arrangement of “My Soul’s been Anchored in de Lord” as a personal signature, often ending recitals with that spiritual. Price’s compositions combine a romantic vocabulary with African and African American musical traditions such as call and response and Juba dance rhythm patterns.

Published in 1951, Adoration was initially written as a short piece for organ in ABA form intended for use in church. It has proven attractive for arrangers, including Jim Gray, who has orchestrated it for solo violin and string orchestra.

Closing Voluntary “Tango for Organ on DOWN AMPNEY,” Mark Sedio (1954)

DOWN AMPNEY is the tune name for the hymn "Come Down, O Love Divine". It is named for the English birthplace of the tune's composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams. The Minneapolis organist and composer, Mark Sedio, gives it a subtle tango inflection in his arrangement for the organ. He currently serves as Cantor at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis where his responsibilities are varied: organist, choirmaster, resident composer, worship planner and educator. He is also on the music staff of Luther Seminary in St. Paul. Sedio has served as a clinician and lecturer in the areas of worship, liturgy, adult and children's choirs, hymnody and psalmody, and cross-culture music.

Hymn of the Day: “There Is a Longing in Our Hearts” (ACS 1078)
Text: Anne Quigley (1955)
Music: LONGING, Anne Quigley

This hymn illustrates two sides of human longing for God: it yearns for God’s reign of healing, wholeness, justice, and freedom as it calls for God’s presence within suffering. The musical setting has a steady forward motion, as if to encourage its singers to have confidence in a God who hears and answers prayer. “There is a longing in our hearts” may function as a call to prayer or as the prayers of the worshiping assembly; it can also gather the assembly to worship or call it to confession.

Anne Quigley is a respected composer and liturgist whose music has been featured in the Decani Choral Music Series in England. She manages to balance her work in music composition and liturgy with her work as a full-time homemaker. Anne is a member of the St. Thomas More Group of composers.

Choir Anthem: “Siyahamba, We are marching for the Lord is our light” Thomas Vozzella, arr. (1963)

The South African song Siyahamba, We are marching for the Lord is our light, was sung by Black South Africans at marches protesting the apartheid years with a firm religious conviction that God would set them free. This faith was very much a part of their fervent singing. By telling this story, we honor the soul of a culture who cherishes personal and religious freedom.

Thomas R. Vozzella, is the newly appointed Director of Music-Organist at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Missouri, a member of the Creator Magazine Editorial Board; of late, Dean of the Blackhills Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and served as the South Dakota Choral Directors Association R&S Chair for Community Choirs; Music and Worship.

Siyahamba kuklanyeni kwenkhos
We are marching for the Lord is our light.

Opening and Closing Voluntaries
Prelude and Fugue in E Minor, BVW 533, J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

This piece originates from the time when Bach was still in his twenties. He had just begun his first real job in Arnstadt. This position as a highly paid organist had fallen into his lap in 1703, after a brilliant performance when testing the new organ. But a couple of years later, it was actually criticism of his organ playing that was given as one of the reasons for letting him go. He was supposed to have used too many curious variations and strange notes in his chorale preludes. The church council believed that this confused the congregation.

In this concise Prelude and Fugue, we hear both sides of the coin. In the Prelude, there are short pedal solos, shaking tremolos for both hands, and series of full chords for keyboard and pedal simultaneously – all exciting musical elements which can also be used, if necessary, to test an organ’s sound and speed of response.

These elements return in the Fugue, which opens with a moving theme – first modestly and almost hesitantly, but later with increasing assurance. Towards the end, there is a passage where Bach makes the left hand stand out rather dissonantly against the right hand, in opposition to the rules of composition. This is precisely the sort of “frembde Thone” (strange notes) to which people later objected in Arnstadt. Here, we see a youthful and rather impetuous Bach. On the one hand, an excellent job application, and on the other a reason for dismissal.

Hymn of the Day: “Let Streams of Living Justice” ELW 710
Text: William Whitla (1934)
Tune: THAXTED, Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

William Whitla (b. 1934) wrote this hymn in 1989. It was published in Sing Justice! Do Justice! (1998), a collection of hymns that "grew out of a formal search for hymns on justice sponsored by the organizations Alternative for Simple Living and The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. It had four stanzas.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship, not the only hymnal to do so, prints three of the four by omitting the second. Whitla is "not very keen" on this move, which he views as "cutting out both the too incarnational and the too feminine images." Here is what he says about the hymn:

I wrote the hymn in 1989 just after the events in Tiananmen Square, and when the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina were bringing their campaign to the conscience of the world. At the same time, the religious and racial disputes in Ireland, Israel-Palestine, the Congo and other parts of Africa, and in Canada and many other countries over First Nation or Aboriginal rights all seemed impossible to solve. Unfortunately, similar events are still replayed, and only too-similar images in the Near East, Irag, Afghanistan, and now Somalia- not to mention the school shootings at home-recur and are now extended well beyond those earlier sad happenings. So I used some images from those events, especially in verse two, seen through echoes of the holocaust, to tell of the bad news before the Good News of verses three and four. Subsequent events only sharpened those images, alas. To me all of these parts are needed for a full expression of the biblical promises of hope and justice so long awaited, including the too-common images of both the child with the gun and the old ones dreaming for peace.

Here is stanza 2:

The dreaded disappearance of family and friend;
the torture and the silence- the fear that knows no end;
the mother with her candle, the child who holds a gun,
the old one nursing hatred- all seek release to come.
Each candle burns for freedom; each lights a tyrant's fall;
each flower placed for martyrs gives tongue to silenced call.

The tune, THAXTED, was originally set to the text "I vow to thee, my country" and then used for others. That it is a splendid melody is clear. Whether it is a congregational one is less clear. Like Parry's JERUSALEM (#711-for which Whitla has written "O dream of peace,") is the melody more orchestral than congregational, with problems of length, range and Anglophilia?

Offertory Anthem: “Create a Pure Heart in Me,” Susan Matsui

Susan Matsui began composing as a child. She plays fiddle, French horn, piano, and organ, and many medieval and folk instruments, both string and wind. She studied composition at Williams College with Dan Gutwein and at the Salzburg Mozarteum with Cesar Bresgan. She is the organist and music director at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and a member of the American Guild of Organists. She is also a public school music teacher and a member of Woodbinde Medieval Band. She is continually composing and arranging music, often for use in her church, for both the adult and junior choirs. Her music is influenced by her nearly twenty years in Japan, as well as by medieval music, and by her formative years in an Episcopal church with an outstanding music program (Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack, NY). She has published 39 children’s books in Japan, among which are three songbooks, as well as scores of children's songs for children's magazines. She continues to write and publish for the Japanese children's book market.

The text is a paraphrase of Psalm 51.

Create a pure heart in me, O Lord.
Grant me a new and steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me away from thy presence,
or take thy Spirit from me.

Revive in me the joy of deliverance,
Grant me a steady soul to uphold me.
Open thou my lips, everlasting Lord,
that my mouth may sing thy praises.

Thou takest no delight in sacrifice,
nor hast thou any wish for whole offering.
My sacrifice, Lord, is a broken soul,
my offering, a contrite heart.

Opening Voluntary: “THAXTED” (Let Streams of Living Justice), Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

As was noted above, “Thaxted” is a hymn tune by the English composer Gustav Holst, based on the stately theme from the middle section of the Jupiter movement of his orchestral suite The Planets. It was named after Thaxted, the English village where he lived much of his life. He adapted the theme in 1921 to fit the patriotic poem "I Vow to Thee, My Country" by Cecil Spring Rice but that was as a song with orchestra. It did not appear as a hymn-tune called "Thaxted" until his friend Ralph Vaughan Williams included it in Songs of Praise in 1926.

Robert Buckley Farlee is a graduate of Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, Missouri. He also serves on the worship editorial staff at Augsburg Fortress Publishers, and was deeply involved in the recent publication of Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

Closing Voluntary: “Now”, Michael Helman (1956)

Michael Helman is currently Director of Music/Organist at Faith Presbyterian Church in Cape Coral, Florida. He is an active composer of handbell, organ, and choral music with numerous pieces pieces in print.

Today’s Closing Voluntary uses the hymn tune, “Now” by Carl F. Schalk (1929 - 2021) He was professor of music at Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois, where he taught church music since 1965. Honored as a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada in 1992, Schalk was editor of the Church Music journal (1966-1980), a member of the committee that prepared the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), and a widely published composer of church music.

Hymn of the Day: “Light Shone in Darkness” ELW 307
Text: Delores Dufner (1939)
Tune: LUX IN TENEBRIS, Mark Sedio (1954)

Here are two complementary views of this hymn. Its author, Delores Dufner, OSB had in mind a hymn of hope for morning prayer or other times. John 1:25, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it," stands behind the text, with the truth that "the world often looks darkest just before light breaks through.” The writer of the tune, Mark Sedio, says he "was taken by the rather declamatory character of the first two stanzas of Delores Dufner's fine text- -the first focusing on creation, the second on salvation, and the third morphing into a more eschatological forward-looking sense, all three ending curtly with the phrase ‘praise (prays) for the light. Amen!’” Sedio's view graciously carries forward Dufner's intent in ways Dufner herself may not have articulated and illustrates how a hymn moves outside its author.

Delores Dufner was born in North Dakota, attended a one-room country school, studied at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota (BA in music, 1960), became a Benedictine sister, continued her studies at DePaul University in Chicago (MA in liturgical music, 1973), and completed another degree at Notre Dame University, Notre Dame, Indiana (MA in liturgical studies, 1990). After teaching elementary school, piano, and organ, and serving as a church organist and choir director, she became liturgical coordinator for St. Benedict's Monastery in St. Joseph, director of the Office for Worship of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota, liturgical music consultant for the Diocese of Ballarat in Victoria, Australia, and a member of the executive committee of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. Her longest lasting legacy, however, will probably be the fine hymns she has written. In 1994 Sing a New Church, a collection of forty-eight of her hymns, was published by OCP Publications, and in 2003 an anthology of seventy-nine more was published as The Glimmer of Glory in Song by GIA Publications. Nathan Mitchell, an unusually perceptive critic, suggests that "perhaps the greatest skill [Dufner] brings to her work is a sensitive ear for natural, unselfconscious speech that is also memorable. Her style is a vigorous modern English whose music and rhythms never seem forced, contrived, or cute."

Mark Sedio wrote the tune at the request of the Evangelical Lutheran Church America’s Renewing Worship hymnody editorial team. The text suggested to him “a style reminiscent of a Gaelic sea shanty with a dynamic climax on the downbeat of the fifth measure ('all, sings, longs'), ending with the snapping whip of the final phrase." Mark Sedio was born in Minnesota and graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis (BA in music, 1976) and the University of Iowa (MA in choral literature and conducting, 1979). He also attended St. John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota, and Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he played the organ for chapel services for twenty-five years. He was cantor at Mount Olive Lutheran Church and now is director of music at Central Lutheran Church, both in Minneapolis. A charter member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians and an active member of the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, he is a fine improviser, service player, and clinician who has written hymn tunes, service music, anthems, and organ pieces, as well as articles about church music.

It is worth noting that Dufner and Sedio work and live not far from one another in Minnesota, but it is perhaps even more worthy of note that they come from different traditions (Roman Catholic and Lutheran) that have often been marked by separation from one another. The partnership here may serve as a reminder that, as virtually every hymnal in every one of the church's traditions demonstrates, in the hymnody and music of the church the distances that separate us very often disappear.

Offertory Anthem: “Rise, Shine,” Dale Wood (1934-2003)

Based on the hymn tune WOJTKIEWIECZ, which has become a standard in many congregations and is also today’s Sending Hymn. Dale began playing the organ in church at age 14. His hymns and canticles are found in the Lutheran Book of Worship, Worship II (a Roman Catholic hymnal), Seventh Day Adventist Hymnal, The Presbyterian Hymnal, The United Methodist Hymnal, the Agape Hymnal Supplement, the Moravian Book of Worship, the Chalice Hymnal, and several hymnal supplements.

Wood's musical activities were not limited to sacred music. While still a college student, he entertained as organist at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles and appeared on television shows produced in Hollywood. In 1975 he was employed by the Royal Viking Line to entertain passengers on a 70-day cruise of the South Pacific and Orient.

For many years Dale maintained his home and studio at The Sea Ranch, California, 115 miles north of San Francisco. It was here, amidst acres of redwood trees and gentle meadows on the rural and spectacular coastline of Northern California, that he composed most of his organ works, using a three-manual electronic theatre organ. Dale had a strong theatrical streak in him, and he maintained close ties with the American Theatre Organ Society. In his later years he collaborated with his partner, Ivan de la Garza, in designing the ATOS website.

In 1977 Dale and jazz pianist George Shearing created a volume of organ settings of early American folk hymns entitled Sacred Sounds from George Shearing. Over a period of 11 weeks Shearing had recorded a series of improvisations at the piano. After the tapes were transcribed to paper, Shearing visited Dale in his studio at The Sea Ranch. Dale spent hours at the organ making suggestions of registrations and textures, while Shearing with his critical ear listened for accuracy.

In recent years, Dale composed at the computer and was able to hear his work played back via MIDI, obviating the need for tedious proofreading. Most of his pieces were conceived with a three-manual organ in mind but are readily adaptable to smaller instruments. He gave general suggestions for registrations, but he always trusted in the performer's own imagination ("The printed music is just a blueprint, and it is the performer's job to complete the project," he liked to say). He used unusual techniques in several pieces, such as wedges in keys for pedal points. His hymn arrangements were not all easy. Many require a significant amount of finger substitution; several involve "bridging" (playing on two manuals simultaneously with one hand); and his pedal lines sometimes go to the top of the pedalboard.

Rise, shine, you people! Christ the Lord has entered
our human story; God in him is centered.
He comes to us, by death and sin surrounded,
with grace unbounded.

See how he sends the pow'rs of evil reeling;
he brings us freedom, light and life and healing.
All men and women, who by guilt are driven,
now are forgiven.

Come, celebrate; your banners high unfurling,
your songs and prayers against the darkness hurling.
To all the world go out and tell the story
of Jesus' glory.

Tell how the Father sent the Son to save us.
Tell of the Son, who life and freedom gave us.
Tell how the Spirit calls from ev'ry nation
God's new creation.

-Ronald A. Klug

Opening Voluntary: “Dix” (As With Gladness) Wayne L. Wold

Dix, as the son of poet John Ross Dix and named after Thomas Chatterton, would regularly write Christian poetry in his spare time. Dix wrote "As with Gladness Men of Old" on 6 January 1859 during a months-long recovery from an extended illness, unable to attend that morning's Epiphany service at church. As he read the Gospel of Matthew's account of Epiphany in The Bible, he was inspired and started to reflect on the text. He then started to write about his thoughts and did so for the whole day with the eventual result being "As with Gladness Men of Old”. Dix kept the text private until a year later when it was published in Hymns for Public Worship and Private Devotion, which was written for St Raphael's Church in Dix's hometown of Bristol. It was also added to the trial version of Hymns Ancient and Modern before being included in the original publication of that hymnal in 1861. Most hymn writers in the Church of England at the time were clergymen, so Dix, a layman and marine insurance agent living in Glasgow, Scotland, was delighted that his carol was included.[4] It was also self-published by Dix in his own Hymns of Joy and Love hymnal.

The editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern, William Henry Monk, adapted a tune by Stuttgart organist Conrad Kocher as the music for "As with Gladness Men of Old". Dix personally did not like the tune, which was ironic as it was later titled "Dix" as a tribute to him. Despite Dix's opinion of it, the tune became popular and is used for the majority of performances of the hymn. The same melody is also used in the hymn "For the Beauty of the Earth", an example of what is often considered to be a seasonal hymn melody given to a more general hymn text for use in Ordinary Time.

Closing Voluntary: “Prelude #5 on an Old Irish Church Melody” Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)

Sir Charles Stanford has been called the most important single factor in the renaissance of English music during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; indeed, even if one were to overlook Stanford's own vast catalog of compositions, it would be impossible to ignore the pronounced effect Stanford's nearly 40-year teaching career had on several generations of British composers. And Stanford was a prolific composer, completing seven symphonies, eight string quartets, nine operas, more than 300 songs, 30 large scale choral works and a large body of chamber music. He also composed a substantial number of works for the organ, as well as anthems and settings of the canticles for the Anglican Church. He wrote extensively on music including three volumes of memoirs and a popular text on composition. Today he is largely remembered for his songs and religious music as well as his influence on several generations of composition students at the Royal College of Music. These included Sir Arthur Bliss, Frank Bridge, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Rebecca Clarke, Ivor Gurney, Gustav Holst, Herbert Howells, John Ireland, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Charles Wood.

Hymn of the Day: “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” ELW 311

This is James Montgomery's best psalm rendering. It is based on Psalm 72 and was written in eight stanzas for, and included in, a Christmas Ode which was sung at one of the Moravian settlements in the United Kingdom, Christmas, 1821. It was published in the following year in the Evangelical Magazine and entitled "Imitation of the 72d psalm (Tune: Culmstock)."

Psalm 72 is a well-known prophecy of the coming Messiah – foretelling the reign of the King and what the Kingdom of that Messiah will be like. But perhaps more than a prophecy, Psalm 72 is a prayer. In these verses the psalmist calls upon God to give justice and righteousness to the King, perhaps the newly crowned earthly king of Israel, but also the heavenly king. It is a cry for the deliverance of a broken people, for the realization of peace and light. James Montgomery’s hymn text from 1821 beautifully captures the essence of that prayer. Albert Bailey says, “His poem is more prayer than prophecy, or shall we say it is prophecy in large part unfulfilled but still capable of inspiring the Church to work for its fulfillment!” (Bailey, Gospel in Hymns). As we sing this beautiful hymn, we both declare our hope and our longing for the Kingdom of God, and for the coming of the one who will turn darkness to light, and whose “name to us is Love.”

Offertory Anthem: “Never Night Again,” Samuel Walter (1916-1987)

American organist and composer Samuel Walter studied at Boston University, Union Theological Seminary with Seth Bingham, and in France with Nadia Boulanger. He was music director at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in New York City and taught on the faculty of Douglas College-Rutgers University, Boston University, and Union Theological Seminary.

The soft light from a stable door
Lies on the midnight lands.
The wiseman’s star burns ever more
Over all desert sands.

Unto all peoples of the earth
A little Child brought light,
And never in the darkest place
Can it be utter night.

No flickering torch, nor wavering fire,
But Light, the Life of all.
What ever clouds may veil the sky,
Never is night again.

Opening Voluntary: “Repton” (He Comes to Us), Robert J. Powell (1932)

Robert J. Powell is a prolific composer of organ and choral music, a celebrated church organist, and an accomplished choir director who used Parry’s hymn tune, Repton, in this organ prelude setting. Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918) is well known for the choral song, “Jerusalem.” Parry originally wrote the music for what became Repton as a contralto aria, 'Long since in Egypt's plenteous land' from his oratorio Judith. In 1924 George Gilbert Stocks, director of music at Repton School, set it to the text 'Dear Lord and Father of mankind' in a supplement of tunes for use in the school chapel. In the Lutheran hymnal we find this tune paired with the text “He Comes to Us as One Unknown” written by Timothy Dudley-Smith (1926), an English hymn writer and retired bishop of the Church of England.

Closing Voluntary: “Helft Min Gott’s Gute Preisen” (Come, let Us All with Fervor) J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Bach’s Chorale Prelude “Helft Min Gott’s Gute Preisen” is cast in the atmosphere of joyous praise with a suggestion here and there of the sadness caused by the passing of the old year. The latter is marked by the use of chromatic color. The melody soars over all while we hear the other voices taking turns imitating the opening notes of the choral melody.

Hymn of the Day: “Down Galilee’s Slow Roadways” ACS 916
Tune: MERE’S TUNE, Hal H. Hopson, b. 1933
Text: Sylvia G. Dunstan, 1955–1993

A text by the late Sylvia Dunstan, a minister in the United Church of Canada, is combined with a tune by Hal Hopson, a prolific composer of church music. This hymn relates the story of Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River, an event to which he came with the unassuming throngs of ordinary people (soldiers, scribes, and slaves) but which revealed him as the Son of God through a voice from heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit like a dove. Because we are joined to Jesus through our own baptism, God claims us also as beloved children.

Offertory Anthem: “Down to the River to Pray” Robert E. Lee, arr. (1951)

“Down to the River to Pray" is a traditional American song variously described as a Christian folk hymn, an African-American spiritual, an Appalachian song, and a Southern gospel song. The exact origin of the song is unknown. It was made famous in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Robert is an Alabama native and has been a church organist from age 16. With a BMusEd in organ performance from Samford University and a MEd in history from Mississippi College, Mr. Lee has worked as a choral director and history teacher. He has been active with college and professional musical theater groups and is currently the assistant organist at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church in Louisville, KY.

As I went down to the river to pray,
Studyin' about that good old way,
And who shall wear the starry crown,
Good Lord, show me the way,
O sisters, let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O sisters, let's go down,
Down to the river to pray.

As I went down to the river to pray,
Studyin' about that good old way,
And who shall wear the robe and crown,
Good Lord, show me the way,
O brothers, let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O brothers, let's go down,
Down to the river to pray.

As I went down to the river to pray,
Studyin' about that good old way,
And who shall wear the robe and crown,
Good Lord, show me the way,
O fathers, let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O fathers, let's go down,
Down to the river to pray.

As I went down to the river to pray,
Studyin' about that good old way,
And who shall wear the robe and crown,
Good Lord, show me the way,
O mothers, let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O mothers, let's go down,
Down to the river to pray.

As I went down to the river to pray,
Studyin' about that good old way,
And who shall wear the starry crown,
Good Lord, show me the way,
O sinners, let's go down,
Let's go down, come on down,
O sinners, let's go down,
Down to the river to pray.

Opening Voluntary: “Caravan of the Three Kings” (We Three Kings) Richard Purvis (1913-1994)

Richard Purvis was an American organist, composer, conductor and teacher. He is especially remembered for his expressive recordings of the organ classics and his own lighter compositions for the instrument. After early studies in the piano and the organ he entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. During World War II, while serving as a bandmaster with the 28th Infantry Division, Richard Purvis was captured and held as a prisoner of war for six months. After the war an appointment to St Mark’s Lutheran Church took him back to his native city, and in 1947 he was appointed to Grace Cathedral, where he helped to form a cathedral school for boys, thus continuing the all-male choir tradition. Purvis’s long and distinguished career was marked by elegant service playing, conducting and composition. After his retirement in 1971 he continued to perform and compose.

Of his pieces today’s Voluntary is one of my favorites. It is easy to imagine the procession moving along, and the harmonic treatment of the familiar melody is full of character.

Closing Voluntary: “How Brightly Shines the Morning Star,” Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)

The hymn text and tune name of the popular Epiphany hymn “How Brightly Shines the Morning Star” that Philipp Nicolai penned in 1597 and published two years later with his adaptation of a preexisting tune. To say it was a hit in Lutheran circles is an understatement! Nicolai’s original arrangement is still found, but the J.S. Bach version is much more popular today. Immediately, Nicolai’s version took off with German composers in cantatas and other vocal forms, notably Dietrich Buxtehude, Praetorius and Pachelbel. Johann Pachelbel was a German composer, organist, and teacher who brought the south German organ schools to their peak. He composed a large body of sacred and secular music, and his contributions to the development of the chorale prelude and fugue have earned him a place among the most important composers.

Hymn of the Day: “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” ELW 620
Text: John Newton (1725-1807)
Text: ST. PETER, Alexander R. Reinagle (1799-1877)

John Newton wrote this hymn and published it in his Olney Hymns in 1779 under the title “The Name of Christ.” It was included in the first book of that collection, which was titled “On Select Texts of Scripture.” Song of Solomon 1:3 was the text on which this hymn in seven stanzas was based.

Two of the original seven stanzas are always included: the first (“How sweet the name…”) and the original fifth (“Jesus! My Shepherd, …”). The original fourth stanza (“By thee my prayers…”) is nearly always omitted in modern hymnals, except when all seven stanzas are included. Hymnals vary as to which of the remaining four stanzas are omitted.

The opening line of the original fifth stanza has been a problem for hymnal editors because of Newton's use of the word “Husband” (the original version was “Jesus! My Shepherd, Husband, Friend”). His word choice makes sense if viewed in light of the long tradition of reading Song of Solomon as an allegory for the love between Christ and the Church, His Bride. However, hymnal editors have generally found it awkward for congregational use, and have found a substitute word for “husband.” Common choices are “guardian” or “brother.”

The first stanzas of the hymn focus on the soothing power of the name of Jesus. The stanza beginning “Jesus, my shepherd, guardian, friend” is a list of some of Christ's other names. The remaining stanzas speak of the relationship between Christ and the Christian.

Alexander R. Reinagle, not to be confused with his uncle Alexander Reinagle (1756-1809) also a composer, was organist at the Church of St. Peter's in the East in London from 1822 to 1853. His tune ST. PETER was named for that church and was first published in Reinagle's Psalm Tunes for Voice and Piano Forte in 1830. He later harmonized it for Hymns Ancient and Modern in 1861.


Hymn of the Day: “I Am So Glad Each Christmas Eve” ELW 271
Text: Marie Wexelsen, (1832- 1911), tr. Peter A. Sveeggen, (1881-1959)
Tune: JEG ER SÅ GLAD Peder Knudsen, (1819-1863)

First printed with nine stanzas in the Ketil, en Julegave for de Smaa (Christiania,1860), this Norwegian Christmas hymn by Marie Wexelsen exudes a profound child-like simplicity without being childish. Its title was "Barnets Julesang" ("The child's Christmas song"). The author published her poem with the initials I. L. (Inger Lycke). Her full name was Inger Marie Lycke Wexelsen. The poem was first printed in a hymnal in Landstads reviderte salmebok(Oslo, 1926).  It was translated by Peter A. Sveeggen and included in The Concordia Hymnal (1932) with seven stanzas. The first began, "How glad I am each Christmas Eve.” Marie Wexelsen was the niece of Wilhelm A. Wexels, the great Danish-Norwegian preacher and hymn writer. Born on a farm in Ostre Toten, Norway, she began writing poetry when she was twenty. Later she worked as a teacher and published a few books for children. She stayed with her parents till they died. After that she lived in Christiania, Hamar, and Trondheim, where she died. She never married.

Peter Sveeggen was born in South Dakota and graduated from the University of Minnesota (MA, 1909). He taught at the University of Minnesota, at Decorah High School in Decorah, Iowa, at Ellsworth College in Iowa Falls, lowa, and at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where from 1915 to 1952 he chaired the English department. 

The tune was composed by Peder Knudsen, the son of a parish singer at Viga in Gudbrandsdalen, Norway. As a youth he studied the violin and other instruments and came to the attention of Johann Behrens, a musician in Oslo who helped him get the post of choral director in Holmestrand. In 1854 he became civic music director and school music administrator in Kragerö. From 1859 until he died in 1863, he was the organist and choirmaster in Alesund. It was there that he wrote this melody.

Hymn of the Day: “Let Our Gladness Have No End” ELW 291
Text: Bohemian carol, 15th cen.
Tune: NARODIL SE KRISTUS PAN Bohemian carol, 15th cen.

This anonymous Bohemian carol probably dates from the fifteenth century. Tobias Zavorska included it in his Kancional (1602). The translator, like the author, is unknown. Recalling the story of the rose of Jesse and the Word made flesh, it rejoices with hallelujahs that cannot be delayed and interrupt the narrative after every line. A reflective refrain gives singers a chance to catch their breath.

The tune, like the text, also probably dates from the fifteenth century and is anonymous. It appeared with different texts in The Concordia Hymnal (1932) with "Be ye joyful" and the tune named BE YE JOYFUL and in The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) with "Christ the Lord to us is born." The tune is delightful, and the raised fourth (B natural) gives it a festive folk color.

Hymn of the Day: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” ELW 257
Text: Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum, Köln, 1710; tr. composite
Tune: VENI, EMMANUEL, French Processional, 15th century

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is set to the tune VENI, EMMANUEL, adapted from the chant by Thomas Helmore. This haunting and pleading tune beautifully supports the words of longing found in the text, and compliments the sense of hope in the refrain.  

The text is based on a series of Antiphons (a short sentence sung or recited before or after a psalm or canticle) appointed for the last days of Advent. Each of these “O Antiphons” begin with “O” and describe the coming Savior using imagery from the Old Testament prophecies which foretold of Jesus’ coming, based on Isaiah’s prophecies. The antiphons refer to the different ancient titles given to the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Dayspring), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), O Emmanuel (O With Us is God). These are powerful words for a powerful time of year. December 21st, the darkest day of the year, is when we pray for the morning star to come and enlighten us. Additionally, the first letters of the Latin titles (S.A.R.C.O.R.E.) taken backwards form the Latin phrase ero cras, tomorrow I will come.

Today, each verse of this beautiful hymn will be preceded by the “O” Antiphon chanted by the choir.

Choral Opening Voluntary  “O Come Redeemer of the Earth” Brian L. Hanson

Brian Hanson is Assistant Professor of History at Bethlehem College in Minneapolis.
He has a PhD in History from the University of St. Andrews. He is also a professional
musician and a published composer of choral anthems. He was the recipient of the 2009
John Ness Beck Foundation prize for his anthem, Jesus, Lover of My Soul

O Come, Redeemer of the earth,
and manifest Your virgin birth.
Let every age in wonder fall:
such birth befits the God of all.

Begotten of no human will
But of the Spirit, You are still
the Word of God in flesh arrayed,
The promised fruit to man displayed.  

O, Morning Star, come end our night.
Cast out our sin and shed Your light.
The darkness of our mortal state 
with endless beams illuminate!

All praise, eternal Son, above
whose advent shows Your matchless love, 
whom with the Father, we adore,
and Holy Ghost forevermore. Amen.

Anthem Following The Prayer Of The Day: “O Comfort Now My People” Thomas Pavlechko (1962) 

Based on the composer's own hymn-tune Eastern Sky. The text is a paraphrase of Isaiah
40:1-11. Delightfully mysterious and dark. 

Thom is currently on the staff of Christ the King Catholic Church, Highland/University
Park, Dallas, as director of music and principal organist, where he oversees the music
program of the 6,000-member parish, directs their two fully-professional choirs, the 12
voice Vigil Schola and the 26-voice Christ the King Singers. There are eight organists in
Pavlechko’s family, among them, his mother and great grandfather. He earned his music
degrees from the Dana School of Music of Youngstown State University and the
University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, both in his native Ohio.
Pavlechko has composed over 25 choral works, over 85 hymns, and over 1,000 Psalm
settings, including today’s setting of Psalm 80, all in print with nine publishers
throughout North America, the United Kingdom and Australia. Pavlechko is also co-
editor of the new Episcopal worship planning resource, Liturgical Music for the Revised
Common Lectionary with Church Publishing. 

O comfort, now my people, says the Lord, your God.
Speak gently to Jerusalem and cry now unto her.
Her warfare is accomplished, her penalty is paid.
A voice cries in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way!”

So ev’ry valley shall be raised, all mountains, hills, made low,
As desert flow’rs rejoice and praise, and springs of water flow;
Uneven ground, a level field, rough lands become a plain.
The glory of the Lord revealed, God’s children see again.

All humankind is grass and reeds, like flowers of the field;
They wither at the gentlest breeze, their feeble lives to yield.
Yet eyes are opened, ears unstopped, the lame leap like a deer,
And speechless tongues all sing for joy, the weak no longer fear.

For waters in the wild break forth, the desert flows with streams;
The burning sand becomes a pool, the thirsty ground a spring. 
Their highway is the holy way God’s chosen walk along.
The ransomed of the Lord return with gladness, joy and song.

Anthem Following The First Lesson: “There Is No Rose” Mark Sedio (1954) 

This is a new setting of a medieval text in which a rose represents the Virgin Mary. The
text was found in a manuscript roll of carols copied out in the early 15th century,
and now found in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. 

Mark Sedio serves as Cantor at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis. In
addition he has held teaching positions both at Augsburg University and Luther Seminary.
Sedio is an active recitalist, clinician, conductor and composer, having presented hymn
festivals and workshops throughout North America and Europe. Over 125 of his
compositions for organ, piano, choral and instrumental ensembles are available from a
number of publishers. A number of his hymn tunes, texts and harmonization appear in
various denominational hymnals and supplements. A love of foreign language acquisition
and linguistics combined with interest in folk music and styles has led to a keen interest
in global church music.

There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu:

For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space:
Res miranda (a marvelous thing)

By that rose we may well see
That he is God in person three:
Pares forma (Of equal form)

The angels sung the shepherds to:
“Gaudeamus. Gloria in excelsis Deo"
(Let us rejoice! Glory to God on high!)

Leave we all this worldly mirth
And follow we this joyful birth:
Transeamus (Let us go across)

Anthem Following The Second Lesson: “Lo! He Comes, An Infant Stranger” Simon Mold (1957) 

This text is by Richard Mant (1776 – 1848), an English churchman who became a bishop in Ireland. He was a prolific writer, his major work being a History of the Church of Ireland. His prose works were numerous, and although now somewhat obsolete, they were useful and popular in their day.

Simon Mold was born in Buxton, UK, and following success as a treble soloist in the north west of England became a chorister at Peterborough Cathedral under the legendary Dr. Stanley Vann. After reading English Language and Medieval Literature at Durham University, where he was a cathedral choral scholar, Simon embarked upon a teaching career principally in the south of England, and sang in several cathedral choirs. Upon retirement from teaching he joined Leicester Cathedral Choir just in time to take part in the memorable Richard III Reinterment ceremonies in 2015. His interest in composition began at Peterborough where he directed a performance of one of his own choral pieces in the cathedral while still a boy chorister, and subsequently Simon’s music has been widely published, performed, recorded and broadcast. Simon has additionally been a regular contributor to various musical and literary magazines, and has written widely on diverse aspects of music, language and literature. A verse collection, Poetry of the Peak, was published in 2019. 

Lo! He comes, an infant stranger, Of a lowly mother born,
Swathed and cradled in a manger, Of His pristine glory shorn!
Lo! He comes, the great Creator, Calling all the world to own Him,
the Judge and Lord of nature, Seated on His Father's throne!

Lo! He comes, constrained to borrow shelter from yon stabled shed;
He who shall, through years of sorrow Have not where to lay His head!
Lo! He comes, all grief expelling From the hearts that Him receive!
He to each with Him a dwelling In His Father's house will give.

Man of human flesh partaking, Offspring of the Virgin's womb,
Who, the hopeless wand'rer seeking, Deigned in lowly guise to come!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Praise to Christ, incarnate word!
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Praise, O Praise ye Him, the living Lord!

Offertory Anthem: “Unexpected and Mysterious” Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

We are called to ponder mystery and await the coming Christ.” With these words, Jeannette Lindholm (1961) begins the
final stanza of her Advent hymn “Unexpected and Mysterious.”  The words offer invitation and challenge. What does it
mean to ponder mystery? How do the hymns we sing serve as one way to embrace the unexpected mystery of God come
among us in Jesus? The fact that Lindholm took up the art of hymn writing is less of a mystery. Music and hymns
surrounded her throughout her childhood in Minnesota. Her mother and grandmother played the piano. “I grew up singing
hymns, she said. This nurturing in music was accompanied by an early love of poetry, culminating in doctoral studies in
women in literature. Lindholm’s interest in the topic and the Bible can be seen in “Unexpected and Mysterious,” written in
1996, early in her career. At the center of this hymn is the story of Mary and Elizabeth as recorded in Luke. Lindholm has
always been drawn to this story for the way the two women relate to one another. “Elizabeth embodies so much grace to
Mary,” she said. “They embodied grace for each other.” When we consider Mary and song, it makes perfect sense to think
first of her song, the Magnificat. But, Lindholm noted, “Mary does not sing this song until after her encounter with
Elizabeth.” We wonder if Elizabeth’s affirmation encouraged Mary in her song.

Robert Buckley Farlee is a graduate of Christ Seminary-Seminex, St. Louis, Missouri. He also serves on the worship
editorial staff at Augsburg Fortress Publishers, and was deeply involved in the recent publication of Evangelical Lutheran

Unexpected and mysterious
is the gentle word of grace.
Everloving and sustaining
is the peace of God's embrace.
If we falter in our courage
and we doubt what we have known,
God is faithful to console us
as a mother tends her own.

In a momentary meeting
of eternity and time,
Mary learned that she would carry
both the mortal and divine.
Then she learned of God's compassion,
of Elizabeth's great joy,
and she ran to greet the woman
who would recognize her boy.

We are called to ponder myst'ry
and await the coming Christ,
to embody God's compassion
for each fragile human life.
God is with us in our longing
to bring healing to the earth,
while we watch with joy and wonder
for the promised Savior's birth.

Text: Jeannette M. Lindholm, b. 1961
Text © 2002 Jeannette M. Lindholm, admin. Augsburg Fortress.

Communion Anthem  “Song of the Advents” Russell Schulz-Widmar (1944) 

This is a new setting of a hymn text by Godfrey Thring (1823-1903). Thring wrote many hymns and published several hymnals, including Hymns Congregational (1866), Hymns and Sacred Lyrics (1874), and the respect­ed A Church of England Hymn Book Adapted to the Daily Services of the Church. The text has passed into numerous hymn-books in Great Britain and America, and is one of the most widely used of Thring's compositions. In the American Baptist Praise Book, 1871, it is given in an abridged form, beginning with stanza iii., "Jesus comes to souls rejoicing." The text is slightly modified throughout.

Russell Schulz-Widmar is a composer, author, and conductor, and a former Professor of Liturgical Music at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. For much of his career he lived in Austin, Texas and upon retirement he has divided his time between Berlin, Germany and Dallas, Texas. 

Jesus came, adored by angels,
came with peace from realms on high;
Jesus came for our redemption,
lowly came on earth to die:
Alleluia, alleluia!
came in deep humility.

Jesus comes again in mercy,
when our hearts are bowed with care;
Jesus comes again in answer
to our earnest heartfelt prayer;
Alleluia, alleluia!
comes to save us from despair.

Jesus comes to hearts rejoicing,
bringing news of sins forgiven;
Jesus comes in sounds of gladness,
leading souls redeemed to heaven;
Alleluia, alleluia!
now the gate of death is riven.

4 Jesus comes on clouds triumphant,
when the heavens shall pass away;
Jesus comes again in glory;
let us then our homage pay:
Alleluia, alleluia!
till the dawn of endless day.

Closing Voluntary: "Toccata on 'Veni Emmanuel'" Adolphus Hailstork (1941)

Adolphus Hailstork is an American composer and educator. His works blend musical ideas from both the African American and European traditions. He is currently working on his Fourth Symphony, and A KNEE ON A NECK (tribute to George Floyd) for chorus and orchestra.

Hymn of the Day "Awake, Awake, and Greet the New Morn” ELW 242
Text: Marty Haugen (1950)
Tune: REJOICE, REJOICE, Marty Haugen

Marty Haugen the author of this hymn and composer of its tune, explains how they were written. "In 1982," he says, "my family decided to exchange 'non-material' gifts for Christmas. I drew the name of my aunt, Marie Smedsrud (whose husband, Gordon, was at that time campus pastor at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa). 'Awake, Awake' was written as my gift to her that Christmas." Haugen originally wrote it "as a Christmas hymn... but, as there is more room in our repertoire for Advent carols than Christmas carols, it soon was changed." In 1983 it was published as a Christmas anthem entitled "Rejoice, Rejoice." In Worship- Third Edition (1986) it became an Advent hymn, a call to wake up and greet the dawning of a new day. The opening words were changed to "Awake! Awake," and the third line of the first stanza was changed from "now he is born" to "soon he is born."

Marty Haugen is a prolific liturgical composer with many songs included in hymnals across the liturgical spectrum of North American hymnals and beyond, with many songs translated into different languages. He was raised in the American Lutheran Church, received a BA in psychology from Luther College, yet found his first position as a church musician in a Roman Catholic parish at a time when the Roman Catholic Church was undergoing profound liturgical and musical changes after Vatican II. Finding a vocation in that parish to provide accessible songs for worship, he continued to compose and to study, receiving an MA in pastoral studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota. A number of liturgical settings were prepared for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and more than 400 of his compositions are available from several publishers, especially GIA Publications, who also produced some 30 recordings of his songs. He is composer-in-residence at Mayflower Community Congregational Church in Minneapolis and continues to compose and travel to speak and teach at worship events around the world

The tune “Awake, Awake” was intended to be a variation upon traditional carols that can be sung on either organ or guitar. It takes its title from the original anthem that Haugen wrote. It propels the text's wake-up calls by its sprightly opening leaps, from which the rest of the tune evolves.

Offertory Anthem: “Prepare the Way, O Zion” Robert Lau (1943)

Robert Lau has composed a choral setting of the Swedish hymn tune, “Bereden väg för Herran” with its dancing tune, a text calling for the highway to be made straight and offering peace, freedom, justice, truth and love.

Prepare the way, O Zion,
your Christ is drawing near!
Let every hill and valley
a level way appear.
Greet One who comes in glory,
foretold in sacred story.

O blest is Christ who came
in God’s most holy name.

He brings God’s rule, O Zion;
he comes from heaven above.
His rule is peace and freedom,
and justice, truth, and love.
Lift high your praise resounding,
for grace and joy abounding. [Refrain]

Fling wide your gates, O Zion;
your Savior’s rule embrace,
and tidings of salvation
proclaim in every place.
All lands will bow rejoicing,
their adoration voicing. [Refrain]

Opening Voluntary: “Meditation on ‘St. Thomas,’ (Lo, He Comes)” Charles Callahan (1951)

Charles Callahan is a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Callahan is well-known as an award-winning composer, organist, choral conductor, pianist, and teacher. He is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, Pa., and The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.

Closing Voluntary: “Consolation” (The King Shall Come) David N. Johnson (1922-1987)

CONSOLATION is a folk tune that has some resemblance to the traditional English tune for "Old King Cole." The tune appeared anonymously as MORNING SONG in Part II of John Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music (1813). In 1816 it was credited to "Mr. Dean," which some scholars believe was a misprinted reference to Elkanah K. Dare, a composer who contributed more than a dozen tunes to Wyeth's Repository. In the original harmonization the melody was in the tenor. To keep everyone on their toes, the tune is also known as KENTUCKY HARMONY, its title in Ananias Davisson's Kentucky Harmony (1816), where it was paired with the text "Once More, My Soul, the Rising Day."

David N. Johnson was an American organist, composer, educator, choral clinician, and lecturer. He studied organ and composition at Curtis Institute of Music. Johnson's Trumpet Tune in D (1962) is the opening and closing theme for the weekly radio show With Heart and Voice. Johnson's Trumpet Tune in D was also the first of two processionals used for the 1971 wedding of Tricia Nixon.

Hymn of the Day: “Comfort, Comfort Now My People” ELW 256
Text: John Olearius (1611-1684), tr. Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)
Tune: FREU DICH SEHR or GENEVAN 42, Claude Goudimel (1505-1572), Louis Bourgeois (1510-1561)

Born into a family of Lutheran theologians, Olearius received his education at the University of Wittenberg and later taught theology there. He was ordained a Lutheran pastor and appointed court preacher to Duke August of Sachsen-Weissenfels in Halle and later to Duke Johann Adolph in Weissenfels. Olearius wrote a commentary on the entire Bible, published various devotional books, and produced a translation of the Imitatio Christi by Thomas a Kempis. In the history of church music Olearius is mainly remembered for his hymn collection, the Geistliche Singe-Kunst, which was widely used in Lutheran churches.

It was one of the largest and most important German hymn-books of the 17th century. The first edition contained 302 hymns by Olearius himself, and marked "D. J. O." They may best be described as useful, being for times and seasons previously unprovided for, and filling up many gaps in the various sections of the German hymn-books. They are mostly short, many of only two verses, simple and easy of comprehension, often happy in expression and engaging, as is today’s Hymn of the Day, and embodying in a concise form the leading ideas of the season or subject. Many were speedily adopted into German hymn-books, and a considerable number are still in use.

The music of Claude Goudimel was first published in Paris, and by 1551 he was composing harmonizations for some Genevan psalm tunes, initially for use by both Roman Catholics and Protestants.

In both his early and later years Louis Bourgeois wrote French songs to entertain the rich, but in the history of church music he is known especially for his contribution to the Genevan Psalter.

Louis Bourgeois composed or adapted this tune for Psalm 42 for the Genevan psalter. The 1564 harmonization by Claude Goudimel originally placed the melody in the tenor. An alternate harmonization with descants by Johann Crüger can be found in the Psalter Hymnal.

Organists will find preludes to this tune under GENEVAN 42 in Dutch works or under FREU DICH SEHR in German works.

Offertory Anthem: “In Night’s Dim Shadows” Robert Lehman (1960)

This is a beautiful strophic setting of the Advent text by Charles Coffin (1676-1749). Robert Lehman is an American conductor, organist, harpsichordist and composer. He has served on the staff of several distinguished churches, including the Washington National Cathedral (of which he is a Fellow), the Princeton University Chapel, and Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, New York City.

In night’s dim shadows lying,
Our limbs fast lock’d in sleep,
to thee, with faithful sighing,
Our souls their vigil keep.

Desire of every nation,
Hear, Lord, our piteous cry;
Thou Word, the world’s salvation,
Uplift us where we lie.

Lord, be thine Advent hasten’d,
Lest sin thy people mar;
The gates which Adam fasten’d —
The gates of heav’n, unbar.

Son, to thine endless merit,
Redeemer, Saviour, Friend,
With Sire and Holy Spirit
Be praises without end. Amen.

Opening Voluntary: “Freu dich sehr, O miene Seele” Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933)

Sigfrid Karg-Elert was a German composer in the early twentieth century, best known for his compositions for pipe organ and reed organ. His 66 Chorale Improvisations for organ, Op. 65, were composed between 1906 and 1908, and first published in six volumes in 1909. The composition was dedicated to "the great organist Alexandre Guilmant". Today’s Opening Voluntary,“Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele,” ("Comfort, Comfort Ye”) Opus 65, No. 5, is from the series. It is a succinct piece in a lilting 3/4 meter marked “Alla Sarabanda” and a good example of Karg-Elert’s text-painting abilities, which are extensive and never timid. In this piece, he is rather quiet and reflective. Notable composers who influenced his work include Johann Sebastian Bach, Edvard Grieg (a personal friend and mentor), Claude Debussy, Alexander Scriabin and Arnold Schoenberg.

Closing Voluntary “Besancon” (People Look East), Wayne L. Wold (1954)

This engaging carol, published in 52 hymnals with various texts, is a French traditional tune, harmonized by Martin Shaw (1875-1958).

Wayne Wold is professor and College organist at Hood College. He is an active composer, author, performer, church musician and clinician, and serves as the director of Music Ministry at First Lutheran Church in Ellicott City, Maryland.

He is also editor and frequent author of a monthly column entitled “Musicians on the Side” in the journal The American Organist. He served on the editorial committee for the hymnal Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

Hymn of the Day: #902, "Come Now, O God"
Text: David Bjorlin, (1984)
Tune: LOST IN THE NIGHT Finnish Folk Tune

The tune lost in the night was David Bjorlin’s inspiration for this Advent hymn of lamentation. Referencing Isaiah 7:10-17, Isaiah 64:1-9, and Matthew 1:18-25, this text was published as part of Bjorlin’s collected poetry, Protest of Praise, of which he says, “True praise is always a protest against all that curses or denigrates the Creator’s world.” In “Come, now, O God,” we can name and make ours the messianic expectations of the Old Testament prophets. They remind us that true protest is, at its core, the courage to envision the world not as it is, but as it can be.

Offertory Anthem: “Thou Shalt Know Him When He Comes”, Mark Sirett (1952)

Mark Sirett is one of Canada’s leading choral composers, fully versed in the craft of choral writing and always bringing something original to his compositions and arrangements. His award-winning works have been performed, recorded and broadcast by leading ensembles worldwide, including Chanticleer, VocalEssence and Elora Singers.

Thou shalt know him when he comes,
Not by any din of drums,
Nor his manners, nor his airs,
Nor by any thing he wears.

Thou shalt know him when he comes,
Not by a crown nor by a gown,
But his coming known shall be,
By the holy harmony
Which his coming makes in thee.
Thou shalt know him when he comes.

Amen. Amen.

Opening Voluntary: “Nun komm , der Heiden Heiland” and CLOSING VOLUNTARY “Wachet Auf” Paul Manz (1919-2009)

Paul Otto Manz was an American composer for choir and organ. As a performer, Manz was most famous for his celebrated hymn festivals. Instead of playing traditional organ recitals, Manz would generally lead a "festival" of hymns from the organ, in which he introduced each hymn with one of his famously creative organ improvisations based on the hymn tune in question. The congregation would then sing the hymn with his accompaniment. Many volumes of these neo-Baroque chorale prelude improvisations have been written out and published and are among his most famous organ works, played by church organists throughout the world. Today’s Voluntaries are two of those improvisations.

Hym of the Day: “Holy God, Holy and Glorious” ELW 637
Text: Susan R. Briehl (1952)
Tune: NELSON, Robert Buckley Farlee (1950)

In 1993 Paul Nelson was appointed director for worship in the Division for Congregational Ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He died
on October 28, 2000, after a lengthy disease for which he received a blood and bone marrow transplant. Susan Briehl wrote this hymn text two or three weeks
before he died. Here is how she describes it:

I wrote "Holy God, holy and glorious" not as a hymn text, but as a gift to our friend Paul Nelson as he grew mysteriously weaker and weaker. A theologian of the cross to the end, Paul proclaimed Christ to me and to many in his dying, just as he had in his living. Later, when he invited me to pray the intercessions at his funeral I drew images from this poem for the prayers. Because it was not intended as a hymn I am especially grateful to Robert Buckley Farlee, who was willing to work with this odd meter. The hymn sings what Martin Luther called a theology of the cross. God's glory and majesty are hidden under their opposites. The eternal Word becomes frail flesh in Jesus in whose life, suffering, death, and resurrection we behold God. God's strength is revealed in weakness, God's beauty in what humans despise, God's wisdom in foolishness, and God's life in death.

Organ Voluntaries  “Nun danket alle Gott” Jeffrey Honoré (1956) and Toccata “Nu la oss takke Gud” Egil Hovland (1924-2013)

For the Voluntaries today I offer two contrasting settings of the tune “Now Thank We All Our God.”  The German hymn text was written by Martin Rinkart in 1636 as a table grace for his family. Johann Crüger, published the melody in the 1647 edition of his Praxis pietatis melica. Catherine Winkworth translated the hymn into English.

Jeffrey Honoré has placed Cruger’s melody, delicately ornamented, over a gentle, quiet accompaniment, creating a reflective setting that is very peaceful.  Honoré graduated magna cum laude with a degree in music from the University of Wisconsin. He taught high school choral music in Ripon, Wisconsin. Since 1984, he has worked full time as a pastoral musician in the Catholic tradition, serving parishes in Milwaukee and Phoenix. He also has been the director of the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Choir since the mid-1990s. He remains active in handbell, choral, and organ writing, mainly for the church.

In this exuberant toccata by Norwegian composer Egil Hovland, the hymn tune sounds out in canon between the top notes of rapid finger figurations and the bass notes of the pedal.

Hovland (1924-2013) was born in Råde. He studied at the Oslo conservatory with Arild Sandvold and Bjarne Brustad, in Copenhagen with Vagn Holmboe, at Tanglewood with Aaron Copland, and in Florence with Luigi Dallapiccola. He was the organist and choir leader in Fredrikstad from 1949 until his death. His many works include two symphonies, a concerto for trumpet and strings, Music for Ten Instruments, a set of variations for two pianos, and a lament for orchestra. His sacred works include a Norwegian Te Deum, a Gloria, a Magnificat, and numerous works for organ. He was one of the most noted church composers of Norway.

Offertory Anthem  “Welcome Table” Mark Hayes

This is a setting of the African American spiritual "I’m a-Goin'-a Eat at the Welcome Table” arranged by Mark Hayes. Even though this song sings of feasting at the Lord’s table, it is not about the sacramental table alone. We sing this song in hope of the time when, “some of these days,” all will be welcomed to the feast of the Lord at both earthly and heavenly tables.

I'm a-goin'-a eat at the welcome table,
I'm a-goin'-a eat at the welcome table,
some of these days.

I'm a-goin'-a feast on milk and honey,
I'm a-goin'-a feast on milk and honey,
some of these days.

I'm a-goin'-a wade 'cross Jordan's river,
I'm a-goin'-a wade 'cross Jordan's river,
some of these days.

Hymn of the Day: “When Our World Is Rent by Violence” ACS 1052
Text: David Bjorlin (1984)
Tune: FORTUNATUS NEW Carl F. Schalk, (1929-2021)

The music of lament is not always slow and mournful. Sometimes it can be agitated and despairing. Hymnwriter David Bjorlin, a pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, gives us a text in the great tradition of sung lament that goes back to the Psalms. The painful naming of afflictions that beset our world is joined to prayers for justice and relief. The musical urgency of Carl Schalk’s sturdy hymn tune gives strong voice to this plea for justice, mercy, and peace.

Opening Voluntary “Chant de Paix” Jean Langlais (1907-1991) 

Jean Langlais was a blind French composer of modern classical music, organist, and improviser. He was born in La Fontenelle, a small village near Mont St Michel, France. He became blind when he was only two years old, and was sent to study at the National Institute for the Young Blind in Paris, where he began to study the organ. From there, he progressed to the Paris Conservatoire, obtaining prizes in organ, which he studied with Marcel Dupré, composition, which he studied with Paul Dukas, and improvisation, which he studied with André Marchal.

After graduating, he returned to the National Institute for the Young Blind to teach, and also taught at the Schola Cantorum from 1961 to 1976. However, it was as an organist that he made his name, following in the steps of César Franck and Charles Tournemire as Organist Titulaire at the Basilica of Sainte Clotilde in Paris in 1945, a post in which he remained until 1987. He was much in demand as a concert organist, and toured widely across Europe and the United States.

Outside music, Langlais was a colorful and charismatic character, for many years living with both his first wife and his mistress (later to become his second wife), and fathering a child at the age of 73.

Langlais died in Paris aged 84, and was survived by his second wife Marie-Louise Jaquet-Langlais.

Offertory Anthem “Lost in the Night” Hal H. Hopson. 

This anthem is based on a Finnish folk tune most often paired with this text which appears in 8 hymnals. This is a haunting hymn of longing for morning to come and vanquish the dark night's despair. It comes from the Scandinavian Lutheran heritage through Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). The basis of the hymn is a Finnish love song. The last line can be translated "Are you coming soon?" It can be found in The Covenant Hymnal (1996) at #769 with an English translation that begins "Hide not your face." No other tune in Evangelical Lutheran Worship starts like this one, with an upward minor sixth--which, when coupled to this text, helps to explain the haunting quality.

Hal H. Hopson (1933) is a prolific composer, arranger, clinician, teacher and promoter of congregational song, with more than 1300 published works, especially of hymn and psalm arrangements, choir anthems, and creative ideas for choral and organ music in worship.

Lost in the night do the people yet languish 
Longing for morning the darkness to vanquish, 
Plaintively sighing with hearts full of anguish, 
Will not day come soon? Will not day come soon? 

Must we be vainly awaiting the morrow? 
Shall those who have light no light let us borrow, 
Giving no heed to our burden of sorrow? 
Will you help us soon? Will you help us soon? 

Sorrowing wand’rers, in darkness yet dwelling, 
Dawned has the day of a radiance excelling, 
Death’s deepest shadows forever dispelling. 
Christ is coming soon! Christ is coming soon! 

Light o’er the land of the needy is beaming; 
Rivers of life through its deserts are streaming, 
Bringing all peoples a Savior redeeming. 
Come and save us soon! Come and save us soon!

— Tr. Olav Lee (1859-1943) alt.

Closing Voluntary: “LAUDES DOMINI” (When Morning Gilds the Skies) Robert A. Hobby (1962)

Robert Hobby is an organist, choir director, clinician and composer based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Hymn of the Day: “For All the Saints,” ELW 422
Text: William W. How (1823-1807)
Tune: SINE NOMINE, Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).

Ralph Vaughan Williams composed SINE NOMINE for this text and published it in the English Hymnal in 1906. Vaughan Williams wrote two harmonizations- one for unison stanzas and one for choral stanzas. The tune's title means "without name" and follows the Renaissance tradition of naming certain compositions "Sine Nomine" if they were not settings for preexisting tunes.

Equipped with a "walking" bass, SINE NOMINE is a glorious marching tune for this great text. Many consider this tune to be among the finest of twentieth-century hymn tunes. Allowing the "alleluia" phrase to enter before our expectation of it is a typical and very effective Vaughan Williams touch.

"For All the Saints" is considered to be William W. How's finest hymn text. Originally in eleven stanzas, it was published in Earl Nelson's Hymns for Saints' Days (1864) with the heading, "Saints' Day Hymn.

Offertory Anthem: “REQUIEM,” Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)

Puccini wrote this short Requiem – actually the setting of the antiphon to the Introit of the Mass for the Dead – as a commission for the publisher Giulio Ricordi for the fourth anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Verdi (1905).

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Opening Voluntary: “Den Store Hvide Flok,“ John Ferguson (1941)

DEN STORE HVIDE FLOK (also known as BEHOLD A HOST and GREAT WHITE HOST) is a seventeenth-century Norwegian folk tune from Heddal that Ludvig Lineman published in his Aeldre og nyere norske fjeldmelodier (Oslo, 1853). The harmonization in the hymnal is from Edvard Grieg's Opus 30, #10, for male chorus.

John Ferguson is an American organist, teacher and composer. He became the Elliot & Klara Stockdahl Johnson professor of organ and church music at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, and later became the conductor of the St. Olaf Cantorei

Closing Voluntary: “Vineyard Haven” ("Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart”), Robert J. Powell (1932)

Today we can indulge ourselves when singing E. H. Plumptre’s text "Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart" to the familiar tune, MARION, with its appealing melodic contour and an effective refrain line, followed by Robert J. Powell’s stately organ setting of another one of our great twentieth-century hymn tunes, VINYARD HAVEN, composed by Richard Dirksen in 1974 for the text "Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart" as a processional choral anthem for the installation of Presiding Bishop John Maury Allin at the Washington (D.C.) Cathedral, also known as the National Cathedral. VINEYARD HAVEN was first published as a hymn tune in Ecumenical Praise. Dirksen wrote that the quality of rejoicing was intended to foreshadow the raising of "such 'Hosannas' forever in [God's] presence and with the company of heaven in the life eternal." The tune is named after the town on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where the Very Reverend Francis B. Sayre, Jr., who was then Dean of Washington Cathedral, had his permanent home.

Robert J. Powell earned his Bachelor of Music in Organ and Composition from Louisiana State University in 1954 and his Master of Sacred Music from Union Theological Seminary School of Sacred Music, New York in 1958. He holds Certificates of Fellow (FAGO) and Choirmaster (ChM) from the American Guild of Organists and is a member of American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers( ASCAP). He has received the Standard Music Award from ASCAP for the last 35 years.

MOTET #3: Jesu, Meine Freude, BWV 227, Johann Sebastain Bach

All of Bach’s six authenticated motets were written between 1723 and 1727 for St Thomas’ Church, Leipzig, where Bach was appointed as director of music in 1723. During this period, Bach composed most of his cantatas, and it seems likely that for ordinary Sunday services he used existing motets from the seventeenth century tradition, reserving his own motet compositions for special occasions.
Four of his six motets were written for the funeral services of prominent members of the St Thomas’ congregation. Jesu, Meine Freude (BWV 227), the longest, most musically complex and earliest of the six, was written in 1723 for the funeral of Johanna Maria Käsin, the wife of Leipzig’s postmaster. It is a beautifully constructed motet, one of the few works by Bach for five-part mixed choir. Unique in its complex symmetrical structure juxtaposing hymn text and Bible text, the motet has been regarded as one of Bach's greatest achievements in the genre. Musicologist and Bach scholar Christoph Wolff suggested that the motet may have been composed for education in both choral singing and theology. It was the first of his motets to be recorded, in 1927.

Motet BWV 227 Jesu Meine Freude

1. Jesu, meine Freude
Jesus, priceless treasure
My heart’s delight,
Jesus, my joy,
Ah how long, ah how long
Must my heart be fearful,
Longing for you.
Lamb of God, my bridegroom,
Besides you there is on earth
Nothing else dearer to me.

3. Unter deinem Schirmen
Beneath your protection
I am free from the raging
Of all enemies.
Let Satan nose around,
Let the enemy be exasperated,
Jesus stands by me.
Lightnings flash and thunders crash,
Even though sin and hell terrify,
Jesus will protect me.

4. Denn das Gesetz
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death
(Romans 8:2)

7. Weg mit alle Schätzen
Away with all treasures!
You are my delight,
Jesus, my desire!
Away with all vain honors,
I do not want to hear of you,
Remain unknown to me!
Sorrow, need, the cross, shame, and death,
However much I must suffer
That will never separate me from Jesus.

8. So aber Christus in euch ist
But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of
righteousness (Romans 8:10).

9. Gute Nacht, o Wesen
Good night, earthly existence.
What the world has to offer
Does not please me at all.
Good night, you sins.
Stay far away,
Come no more into the Light!
Good night, arrogance and show!
To everything about you, sinful existence,
I say good night.

11. Weicht, ihr Trauergeister
Be gone, you spirits of sorrow,
For my Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in.
For those who love God
Even their grief
Must become pure delight.
Here I may have scorn and derision,
Nonetheless, even in suffering you remain
Jesus, priceless treasure.

-Gordon Lathrop

Closing Voluntary: “Ein feste Burg” Flor Peeters (1903-1986)

Flor Peeters is, at least among church musicians, the most famous Belgian composer of the 20th century. The most salient feature of his style is its abundant optimism. Influenced by Gregorian chant, Belgian folk music and classical forms, Peeters created music with bright tonalities, enhanced by added notes, that is part of a fabric that freely alternates rhythmically active counterpoint with more introspective lyrical passages. He wrote many kinds of liturgical music including Masses, latin motets, and English anthems.

Hymn of the Day: “Lord Jesus, think on me” (ELW 599)
Text: Synaceus of Cyrene
Tune: SOUTHWELL, William Damen (1540-1591)

This text was written in the early fifth century by Synesius, who lived in Cyrene, North Africa (present-day Libya), during a time that his city was suffering from war and natural disasters. The first stanza, pleading for forgiveness, sounds as if the tax collector could sing it, and later stanzas refer in metaphoric ways to the chaos of Synesius’ society. 

— Gail Ramshaw

Damon was a foreign composer resident in England. He arrived around 1566 as a servant of Sir Thomas Sackville. In 1576 he became a recorder player at the Court of Elizabeth I. He was described as having been born in "Luke" and "Lewklande" and, on the assumption that these names refer to Luik or Liège, it has been inferred that he was a Walloon. However contemporary London records describe him as an Italian and a later reference refers to him having been born in "Luke in Italy", i.e. Lucca. His unanglicised name may have been Gulielmo (or Gulielmus) Damano.

Offertory Anthem: “Though All the World Below” Robert Lehman 

The tune, Captain Kidd, takes its name from a ballad about the notorious pirate. A somewhat related tune called HONOR TO THE HILLS was published in The Christian Harmony in 1805. It was first published under the name “Captain Kidd” in 1818.  Further versions appear in shape note tune books, including The Southern Harmony in 1835.

Through all the world below, 
God is seen all around; 
Search hills and valleys through, 
There he's found. 
The growing of the corn, 
The lily and the thorn, 
The pleasant and forlorn, 
All declare God is there, 
In the meadows dressed in green, 
There he's seen.

See springs of water rise, 
Fountains flow, rivers run; 
The mist below the skies 
Hides the sun; 
Then down the rain doth pour 
The ocean it doth roar, 
And dash against the shore, 
All to praise, in their lays, 
That God that ne'er declines 
His designs.

The sun, to my surprise, 
Speaks of God as he flies: 
The comets in their blaze Give him praise; 
The shining of the stars 
The moon as it appears, 
His sacred name declares; 
See them shine, all divine! 
The shades in silence prove 
God's above.

Opening Voluntary: “Prelude” Henry Sumsion (1899-1995) 

Herbert Whitton Sumsion CBE was an English musician who was organist of Gloucester Cathedral from 1928 to 1967. Through his leadership role with the Three Choirs Festival, Sumsion maintained close associations with major figures in England's 20th-century musical renaissance, including Edward Elgar, Herbert Howells, Gerald Finzi, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Although Sumsion is known primarily as a cathedral musician, his professional career spanned more than 60 years and encompassed composing, conducting, performing, accompanying, and teaching. His compositions include works for choir and organ, as well as lesser-known chamber and orchestral works.

Closing Voluntary: “Now Let Us All Loudly” Heely Willan

This is a setting of the hymn tune “Now Let Us All Loudly,” (Nun preiset alle) by Matthäus Apelles von Löwenstern.  Löwenstern’s hymns, thirty in all, are of very varied worth, many being written in imitation of antique verse forms, and on the mottoes of the princes under whom he had served. In the original editions they were accompanied with melodies by himself. When or where they were first published (cir. 1644) is not clear.

Hymn of the Day: “There Is a Longing in Our Hearts” (ACS 1078)
Text: Anne Quigley, b. 1955
Tune: Anne Quigley

This hymn illustrates two sides of human longing for God: it yearns for God’s reign of healing, wholeness, justice, and freedom as it calls for God’s presence within suffering. The musical setting has a steady forward motion, as if to encourage its singers to have confidence in a God who hears and answers prayer. “There is a longing in our hearts” may function as a call to prayer or as the prayers of the worshiping assembly; it can also gather the assembly to worship or call it to confession.

Opening Voluntary: “Pastorale,” Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933)

Sigfrid Karg-Elert regarded himself as an outsider. Notable influences in his work include composers Johann Sebastian Bach (he often used the BACH motif in Bach's honor), Edvard Grieg, Claude Debussy, Max Reger, Alexander Scriabin, and early Arnold Schoenberg. In general terms, his musical style can be characterized as being late-romantic with impressionistic and expressionistic tendencies. His profound knowledge of music theory allowed him to stretch the limits of traditional harmony without losing tonal coherence.

Choir Anthem: “Jesus Is Calling” Aaron David Miller

Aaron David Miller is noted for his highly imaginative and creative style, found in his performances, improvisations and compositions. In this piece, he brings to life this much loved text with integrity and beauty.

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me; see, on the portals he's waiting and watching, watching for you and for me.

Refrain: Come home, come home; you who are weary come home; earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, calling, O sinner, come home!

2 Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading, pleading for you and for me? Why should we linger and heed not his mercies, mercies for you and for me? [Refrain]

3 Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing, passing from you and from me; shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming, coming for you and for me. [Refrain]

4 O for the wonderful love he has promised, promised for you and for me! Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon, pardon for you and for me. [Refrain]

— Will Thompson (1847-1909)

Closing Voluntary: “What God Ordains Is Always Good,” Paul Manz (1919-2009)

Paul Manz long served the church as recitalist, composer, teacher and leader in worship. He was Cantor Emeritus at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Luke, Chicago, Illinois; as well as Cantor Emeritus of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was the director of the newly established Paul Manz Institute of Church Music, and was Professor Emeritus of Church Music at Christ Seminary Seminex at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. His musical compositions are internationally known. His organ works are extensively used in worship services, recitals and in teaching.

Hymn of the Day: "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing", ELW 886
Text: Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Tune: AZMON, Adapter: Lowell Mason (1792-1872); Composer: C. G. Gläser (1828)

In 1739, for the first anniversary of his conversion, Charles Wesley wrote an eighteen-stanza text beginning "Glory to God, and praise and love." It was published in Hymns and Sacred Poems (1740), a hymnal compiled by Wesley and his brother John. The familiar hymn "Oh, for a Thousand Tongues" comes from stanzas 1 and 7-12 of this longer text (this pattern already occurs in Richard Conyers's Collection of Psalms and Hymns 1772). Stanza 7 is the doxology stanza that began the original hymn. Wesley acquired the title phrase of this text from Peter Böhler, a Moravian, who said to Wesley, "If I had a thousand tongues, I would praise Christ with them all" (Böhler was actually quoting from Johann Mentzner's German hymn "O dass ich tausend Zungen hätte”). Through this jubilant, partly autobiographical text Wesley exalts his Redeemer and Lord. With its many biblical allusions it has become a great favorite of many Christians.

Lowell Mason adapted AZMON from a melody composed by Carl G. Gläser in 1828. Mason published a duple-meter version in his Modern Psalmist (1839) but changed it to triple meter in his later publications. Mason used (often obscure) biblical names for his tune titles; Azmon, a city south of Canaan, appears in Numbers 34:4-5.

Offertory Anthem: Be Joyful in the Lord, Kathryn Smith Bowers (1948-2020)

Before retirement in 2010 Dr. Bowers served as director of choral studies and coordinator of music education at Webster University for 26 years. During a 24-year-tenure she led the Webster Chorale and Choral Society, in addition to the highly regarded St. Louis Summer Sings series.

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with a song.

Know this, the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and speak good of His name.

For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His faithfulness endures to all generations.

Opening Voluntary: Liturgical Prelude #1, George Oldroyd (1886- 1951)

George Oldroyd was an English organist, composer and teacher of Anglican church music. He composed numerous settings of the mass, but is best remembered for his Mass of the Quiet Hour composed in 1928. It is still part of the repertoire of many English cathedrals and parish churches. Other works include the part song, 'Lute book lullaby', organ works including the Liturgical Prelude played today and pieces for piano and for violin. Oldroyd was an authority on counterpoint, and published The Technique And Spirit Of Fugue: An Historical Study.

Closing Voluntary: Fanfare, Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988)

Kenneth Leighton was a chorister at Wakefield Cathedral and studied at Queen's College, Oxford, graduating with both BA in Classics and BMus having studied with Bernard Rose. In 1955 he was appointed Lecturer in Music at the University of Edinburgh where he was made Senior Lecturer, Reader, and then Reid Professor of Music in October 1970.

Kenneth Leighton was one of the most distinguished of the British post-war composers; over 100 compositions are published, many of which were written to commission, and his work is frequently performed and broadcast both in Britain and in other countries. As a pianist Kenneth Leighton was a frequent recitalist and broadcaster, both as a soloist and in chamber music. He recorded his piano music for the British Music Society and conducted many performances and broadcasts of his own music.

Hymn of the Day: "Founded on Faith", ACS 1048
Text: Paul D. Weber, b. 1949
Tune: FOUNDED ON FAITH, Paul D. Weber

This hymn by Lutheran pastor and church music professor emeritus Paul Weber encapsulates all the facets of the church. It is founded on faith and sustained by grace. It is the place where the gospel is proclaimed and where the sacraments of baptism and communion are administered. It is where we learn and pray and grow in gifts of the Spirit, which we then carry out into the world to serve God and our neighbors in justice and peace. In the Central States Synod of the ELCA, it was the winning hymn to celebrate the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation.

Offertory Anthem: From Hymn of Praise: #5 - “I waited for the Lord,” Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise), Op. 52, is an 11-movement "Symphony-Cantata on Words of the Holy Bible for Soloists, Choir and Orchestra" by Felix Mendelssohn. It was composed in 1840, along with the less-known Festgesang "Gutenberg Cantata", to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the invention of Johannes Gutenberg's movable type printing system.

After the composer's death it was published as his Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major, a naming and a numbering that are not his. The work lasts almost twice as long as any of Mendelssohn's purely instrumental symphonies.

I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined to me and heard my supplication.
Blessed is the man whose hope is in the Lord!
Blessed is the man whose hope is in him! (Psalm 40)

Opening Voluntary: “Pastorale” Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933)

Sigfrid Karg-Elert regarded himself as an outsider. Notable influences in his work include composers Johann Sebastian Bach (he often used the BACH motif in Bach's honour), Edvard Grieg, Claude Debussy, Max Reger, Alexander Scriabin, and early Arnold Schoenberg. In general terms, his musical style can be characterised as being late-romantic with impressionistic and expressionistic tendencies. His profound knowledge of music theory allowed him to stretch the limits of traditional harmony without losing tonal coherence.


Hymn of the Day: The Canticle of the Turning, ELW 723
Text: Rory Cooney (1952)
Tune: Irish traditional, Rory Cooney, arr.

This paraphrase of the Magnificat by Rory Cooney has a wild flair about it that cries out the radical nature of this canticle. "Let the king beware," for justice will ultimately bring down every tyrant. Cooney saps he "simply wanted to write a setting of the canticle that attempted to capture the revolutionary spirit of the gospel, of a God who pulls down the mighty from their thrones and raises up the lowly.”
Rory Cooney was born in Delaware, Ohio, and studied at St. Mary's Seminary in Santa Barbara, California, St. Mary's Seminary in Perryville, Missouri (BA.liberal studies, 1973), and the Corpus Christi Center for Advanced Liturgical Studies in Phoenix, Arizona (Certificate, 1987). Since 1994 he has been the director of liturgy and music at St. Anne Catholic Community in Barrington, Illinois. Composer of fifteen recorded collections of liturgical music, he has composed over 250 songs, gives workshops on music in the liturgy, has contributed in various institutes to initiation rites and issues of reconciliation, and writes on practical and pastoral aspects
of church music.

STAR OF COUNTY DOWN gives the text the wild flair it needs. The stanzas even get out of hand with syllables flying out of control by differing from stanza to stanza. They suggest a soloist and the whole assembly on the refrain, even though the power of the stanzas beckons everyone to join there too. Here is what Cooney says about his choice of this tune.

“As a Catholic musician, I wanted to have the music be accessible to assembly singing and ensemble playing. Irish folk music, with its narrative milieu of longing for freedom and a sort of "bloom where you're planted" joie de vivre in the midst of penury and oppression, seemed to me to be a natural fit. STAR OF COUNTY DOWN, as far as I know, is a quasi-nationalistic song whose lyrics are about a plot to win over a beautiful girl. The tune is rhythmic and well-known, though, and sung by crowds at rugby matches and the like, so fit the bill for my needs.

Choir Offertory: "Be Thou My Vision" Arnold B. Sherman (1948)

There’s only one tune associated with this text, and that’s SLANE, aptly named for the location at which St. Patrick is said to have defied the orders of King Logaire. This tune comes from an Irish folk song of the same name, and was combined with the hymn text by Welsh composer David Evans in the 1927 edition of the Church Hymnary of the Church of Scotland.

According to mythology, when St. Patrick was a missionary in Ireland in the 5th century, King Logaire of Tara decreed that no one was allowed to light any fires until a pagan festival was begun by the lighting of a fire on Slane Hill. In a move of defiance against this pagan ritual, St. Patrick did light a fire, and, rather than execute him, the king was so impressed by his devotion that he let Patrick continue his missionary work. Three centuries later, a monk named Dallan Forgaill wrote the Irish poem, “Rop tú mo Baile” ("Be Thou my Vision), to remember and honor the faith of St. Patrick. Forgaill was martyred by pirates, but his poetry lived on as a part of the Irish monastic tradition for centuries until, in the early 20th century, Mary Elizabeth Byrne translated the poem into English, and in 1912, Eleanor Hull versified the text into what is now a well-loved hymn and prayer that at every moment of our lives, God would be our vision above all else.

Currently living in Tyler, Texas, Arnold Sherman is a free-lance composer and co-founder of Red River Music. His undergraduate work in music education was done at Montgomery College, Rockville, Maryland, and Baylor University, Waco, Texas. Arnold is the founder and Director of the East Texas Handbell Ensemble.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Riches I heed not, nor vain empty praise;
thou mine inheritance, now and always.
Thou and thou only, first in my heart,
Ruler of heaven, my treasure thou art.

True Light of heaven, when vict’ry is won
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heav’n’s Sun!
Heart of my heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Opening Voluntary: "Adagio" from Sonata #2 in C Minor, Felix Mendelssohn

Another offering from Mendelssohn’s 2nd Organ Sonata, the contrasting middle movement, with its gently floating melody that is both sweet and melancholic.

Closing Voluntary: "Wareham" (The Church of Christ, in Every Age), Emma Lou Diemer (1927)

William Knapp (1698-1768) composed WAREHAM, so named for his birthplace. A glover by trade, Knapp served as the parish clerk at St. James's Church in Poole and was organist in both Wareham and Poole. WAREHAM’s slightly simplified form appears in nearly all modern hymnals. The tune is easy to sing because of its almost continuous stepwise motion and smooth melodic contour.

Emma Lou Diemer is a native of Kansas City, MO. She received her composition degrees from Yale and Eastman. Her music has been published since 1957 and ranges from hymns and songs to large chamber and orchestral works.

Hymn of the Day: “God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending” ELW 678
Text: Robert Lansing Edwards (1915- 2006)

For its fortieth anniversary celebration the Department of Stewardship and Benevolence of the National Council of Churches in the U.S.A., in cooperation with the Hymn Society of America (now of the United States and Canada) asked for new hymns on stewardship. From about 450 submissions a committee chose ten and published them in a little pamphlet called Ten New Stewardship Hymns (1961). This one by Robert L. Edwards (August 15, 1915-January 15, 2006) was included. Edwards recalls writing the text "in the White Mountains of New Hampshire while we were summering at our cottage in the tiny town of Randolph. It had four stanzas. Like Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) and Evangelical Lutheran Worship, most hymnals have used the first three with alterations and updated language.

Robert Lansing Edwards was born in Auburn, NY on 5 August 1915. He graduated from Princeton University in 1937. He earned an MA in history from Harvard University in 1938, and a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological University in 1949. He was minister at First Congregational Church, Litchfield, Conn. for 7 years and was minister at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford, Conn. from 1956 until 1980. He was active in establishing low income senior housing, in prison ministry and with other community endeavors. He wrote several hymn texts as well as four books including Of Singular Genius, Of Singular Grace, a biography of Horace Bushnell, a famous pastor from Hartford; and his autobiography My Moment in History.

C. Hubert H. Parry's RUSTINGTON first appeared in the Westminster Abbey Hymn Book (London, 1897). It was first published in the Westminster Abbey Hymn Book (1897) as a setting for Benjamin Webb's "Praise the Rock of Our Salvation." The tune is named for the village in Sussex, England, where Parry lived for some years and where he died. This is such a distinguished melody and pairs well with this text.

Opening Voluntary: “Toplady” Al Roberts

This hymn text, “Rock of Ages” is usually sung to TOPLADY by Thomas Hastings. Written for this text, TOPLADY was first published in Spiritual Songs for Social Worship, edited by Hastings and Lowell Mason, in 1832. The tune's name comes from the author of the text, Augustus Toplady.

Offertory: From the Rising of the Sun” F. A. Gore Ouseley (1825-1889)

Sir Frederick Arthur Gore Ouseley is a neglected but fascinating character in nineteenth century church music. A precious child, at the age of five, he exclaimed “Only look, Papa blows his nose in G!” His short anthem “From the rising of the sun” has a hymn-like character and the words speak clearly to the listener. The text is from the Book of Malachi.

From the rising of the sun
unto the going down of the same
my name shall be great, among the Gentiles;
and in ev'ry place incense shall be offer'd up unto my name:
for my name shall be great among the heathen,
thus saith the Lord!

Closing Voluntary: “Hornpipe in D” John S. Dixon (1957)

The hornpipe is a dance form played and danced in Britain (and elsewhere) from the late 17th century until the present day. It is said that hornpipe as a dance began on English sailing vessels. This is a fun, active piece.

Born in London, England, John S. Dixon was classically trained in piano and organ. During his school years he was active in music in the Anglican church, and was a founding member of The Southend Boys Choir, one of Britain's foremost youth choirs. He earned degrees from The Queen's College, Oxford University, and Harvard Business School. His composing has flourished since moving to America in 1988, largely through his involvement in the music ministry at Providence Presbyterian Church in Virginia Beach, where he is currently organist and composer-in-residence. He has written hundreds of pieces for church and secular use.

Hymn of the Day: “Amazing Grace” ELW 779
Text: John Newton (1725–1807)
Tune: New Britain, W. Walker, Southern Harmony (1835)

The hymn text “Amazing Grace” was written in 1773 by John Newton. Originally a master of a slave-trading ship, he left that life to become an Anglican priest and a tireless abolitionist. Some people resist referring to themselves in stanza 1 as “a wretch,” but we Lutherans join him in acknowledging our sin and praising God for grace, grace, and more grace. We hope that persons who are blind will not be offended when we liken our own situation to theirs.  (Gail Ramshaw)

NEW BRITAIN (also known as AMAZING GRACE because of its close association with this hymn text) was originally a folk tune, probably sung slowly with grace notes and melodic embellishments. Typical of the Appalachian tunes from the southern United States, NEW BRITAIN is pentatonic with melodic figures that outline triads. It was first published as a hymn tune in shape notes in Columbian Harmony (1829) to the text "Arise, my soul, my joyful pow'rs" and first set to the "Amazing Grace" text in William Walker's Southern Harmony (1835).  

Choir Anthem: “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”  Repository of Sacred Music. 

Though this hymn has been attributed to Selina the Countess of Huntingdon, John Julian says "conclusively" that the author was Robert Robinson (1735-1790). He was born in Norfolk, England. His father died when he was eight, and his mother wanted him to become an Anglican priest. There was not enough money for his education, so at the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to a barber and hairdresser in London. He heard George Whitefield preach in 1755, began a period of spiritual searching, attended the meetings of John Wesley, professed his faith in 1758, and became a minister at the Calvinistic Methodist Tabernacle at Mildenhall in Norfolk. Very soon he organized an Independent congregation at Norwich, in 1759 was baptized by John Dunkham, and began to preach at the Stoneyard Baptist Church in Cambridge, where he was the pastor from 1761 until the end of his life. He accepted that call on the condition that the congregation would practice open communion. Self-taught, he became known for his preaching, counsel, concern for others' views, and religious liberty. His willingness to discuss made him vulnerable to questions about his orthodoxy, which he defended. He left a record of conflicts about hymnody in his congregation, learned Latin and French, wrote widely, and in 1781 was commissioned to make a study of the English Baptists. He edited William Barton's Psalms (1768) and wrote thirteen hymns. 

Come, thou Fount of ev'ry blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
While the hope of endless glory
fills my heart with joy and love,
teach me ever to adore thee;
may I still thy goodness prove.

Here I raise my Ebenezer:
"Hither by thy help I've come";
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wand'ring from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be;
let that grace now like a fetter
bind my wand'ring heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above.

Opening Voluntary: “Prelude on “Amazing Grace’” David Lasky 

Since 1981, David Lasky has been Organist and Director of Music at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church in Leominster, Massachusetts, and resides in Hartland, Vermont. In addition to his work as a composer, Mr. Lasky has performed as an organ soloist and in ensembles throughout Massachusetts, and has given recitals at Washington National Cathedral and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and at Saint Mary Cathedral in Lafayette, Indiana. He has taught classes and workshops on improvisation and service playing for the American Guild of Organists and for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

Closing Voluntary: “Cortège,” Gordon Young (1919-1998)

Gordon Young was an American organist and composer of both organ and choral works. He was born in McPherson, Kansas and educated at Southwestern College (Winfield, Kansas) and the Curtis Institute (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) where he was a student of Alexander McCurdy. After serving churches in Philadelphia and Kansas where he also worked as a radio organist and newspaper critic, Young became the music director at First Presbyterian Church in Detroit. There he was a visible and important presence in the American church music scene. He also taught organ on the faculty of Wayne State University. Young published voluminously, and his organ and choral works were in the catalogs of most major American publishers. Numerous works of his were also issued in the Netherlands, where his music has remained very popular. Cortège is part of his collection of Eleven Organ Pieces, published in 1962.

Hymn of the Day: “Beloved God’s Chosen” ELW 648
TEXT: Susan Palo Cherwien (1953-2021)
TUNE: ANDREW’S SONG, Robert A. Hobby (1962)

Susan Palo Cherwien wrote this "versification of Colossians 3:12-16" in response to a commission by First Lutheran Church, Freeport, Illinois, to honor Twila K. Schock on the occasion of the rededication of the church's pipe organ." In deceptively simple yet elegant language it summarizes the verses in Colossians by enclosing the thankful peace of singing within the community's raiment of love.

Robert A. Hobby wrote ANDREW'S SONG in response to a request from Augsburg Fortress for a tune that would go with this hymn in Cherwien's book O Blessed Spring. Hobby says he "eagerly accepted the invitation" since "the portion of the Colossians 3 text which this hymn paraphrases was read at my wedding." Following Calvin Hampton and David Hurd he felt the hymn "called for a warm, ballad-like treatment…. My efforts resulted in a rather pianistic setting, with slow harmony under the melody and a simple interlude to offer a pause between stanzas." This interlude is included in the Accompaniment Edition of Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Hobby says he chose ANDREW'S SONG to name the tune "as a tribute to the English composer Andrew Carter who has so graciously offered me compositional coaching for a number of years."

Opening Voluntary: “UNION SEMINARY,” James Biery (1956)

James Biery is an American organist, composer and conductor who is Minister of Music at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church (Presbyterian) in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, where he directs the choirs, plays the 66-rank Klais organ and oversees the music program of the church. Prior to this appointment Biery was music director for Cathedrals in St. Paul, Minnesota and Hartford, Connecticut.

Biery’s setting of UNION SEMINARY is in 3 parts, or ABA. The A sections are based on a melody that he constructed from the hymn tune. He has changed the rhythm slightly, and has built the melody on the inverted form of the original tune. The middle section, combining the tune in its original key and rhythm with the tune a fifth below and a half-note apart, creates a delightfully off-center canon. Enjoy!

Closing Voluntary: “Earth and All Stars,” Wayne L. Wold (1954)

Currently Professor, College Organist, and Chair of the Music Department at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and Director of Music Ministry at First Lutheran Church in Ellicott City, Maryland, Wayne L. Wold wrote this setting on “Earth and All Stars,” a tune composed by David N. Johnson (1922-1987) for the text of the same name by Herbert Brokering. (Some hymnals title the tune DEXTER.) It first appeared with the text in Twelve Folksongs and Spirituals (1968) and the next year was included as one of the tunes for this hymn in Contemporary Worship 1: Hymns (1969). It works with the text, "Alleluia! Jesus is risen," but it fits its namesake better for two reasons. First, the stanzas there have an inner refrain, "Sing to the Lord a new song." Second, the melismas on the word "Lord" in the inner refrain and on "mar" of "marvelous" in the refrain itself disappear here so that the tune loses some of its cascading exuberance. The melody in the refrain still grows out of what preceded it and presses higher to a climax, but the syllabic shape of the text clips its wings a bit. Comparing the meters of #377 and #731 illustrates this at a glance.

Gathering Hymn: "Look Who Gathers", ACS 977
Text: Thomas H. Troeger (1945)
Tune: COPELAND, Michael Corzine (1947)

This hymn imagines the assembly gathered for worship, bringing their whole lives with them—their joy and their pain. The text was commissioned by the First Presbyterian Church of Tallahassee, Florida, to honor its pastor, Brant S. Copeland, and was first sung there in October 2000. The tune was created specifically for this text. There might be some who feel unworthy because of their sin, but Jesus assures them they are welcome: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

Opening Voluntary: “Schmucke Dich” (Deck Thyself, My Soul) J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

This text is often considered the best and most popular of the Lutheran chorales for the Lord's Supper. The dominant tone is one of deep joy enhanced by a sense of awe. We express joy and praise for "this wondrous banquet" (st. 1), and we show reverence in receiving Christ (st. 2). Thankful for "heavenly food" and drink (st. 3), we rejoice in Christ's love for us and in its power to unite us (st. 4).

Johann Cruger composed the hymn tune specifically for the text. Johann S. Bach used this tune in his Cantata 180; he and many other composers have written organ preludes on the melody.

Closing Voluntary: “When Morning Gilds the Skies” Robert Lind (1940)

Robert Lind studied at North Park College and the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, majoring in organ, composition, and music theory. At the age of 20, he worked with Leo Sowerby and became his assistant at the Cathedral of St. James, Chicago. He succeeded Dr. Sowerby as Organist-Choirmaster at the cathedral two years later. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era, Mr. Lind entered the publishing world, while continuing to serve various churches in the Chicago area. He is currently Organist at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Schaumburg, Illinois.

Joseph Barnby (1838-1896) composed the tune, LAUDES DOMINI (“When Morning Gilds the Skies”) for this anonymous German text, a litany of praise to Christ, translated by Edward Caswall (1814- 1878). Tune and text were published together in the 1868 Appendix to Hymns Ancient and Modern and they have been inseparable ever since. The tune's Latin title, which means "the praises of the Lord," is derived from the litany refrain “may Jesus Christ be praised”.

Caswall's translations of Latin hymns from the Roman Breviary and other sources have a wider circulation in modern hymnals than those of any other translator. This is owing to his general faithfulness to the originals, and the purity of his rhythm, the latter feature specially adapting his hymns to music, and for congregational purposes. His original compositions, although marked by considerable poetical ability, are not extensive in their use, their doctrinal teaching being against their general adoption outside the Roman communion.

Hymn of the Day: “O Christ, the Healer” ELW 610

In 1967, in England, "at a late state in their deliberations the Working Party on Hymns and Songs… felt there was a major sphere of healing (in which mental healing was the prior necessity) not covered." Fred Pratt Green "spent most of the night--in bed--struggling with this theme and produced a first draft by the following morning." In discussions the working party made modifications. Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) omitted the third stanza, substituted "recognize for "diagnose," and changed the last line to "shall reach and prosper humankind." Evangelical Lutheran Worship followed Lutheran Book of Worship, but used Green's last line, "shall reach the whole of humankind.”

This pentatonic tune comes from William Walker's The Southern Harmony (1835), where it was paired with Anne Steele's "So fades the lovely blooming flow'r."

Closing Voluntary: Toccata: Grosser Gott, Matthew H. Corl (1965)

Matthew H. Corl is a graduate of Westminster Choir College, where he received the Bachelor of Music degree in Church Music in 1987. He also studied organ at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD, and served as director of music and organist at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Trenton, NJ. Since 1987 Matthew has been organist and associate director of music at First United Methodist in Lakeland, FL, where he directs vocal and handbell ensembles for children and youth. Matthew has been a clinician for workshops and a published composer of works for organ, choir, handbells and instrumental ensembles.

GROSSER GOTT was set to the German versification in the Katholisches Gesangbuch. The German text is a paraphrase of the "Te Deum.” Variants of the tune abound; the version found in the Psalter Hymnal came from Johann Schicht's Allgemeines Choralbuch (1819), and the harmonization came from Conrad Kocher's setting in his Zions Harfe (1855).

Hym of the Day: “Thy Strong Word” ELW 511
Text: Martin H. Franzmann, 1907–1976
Tune: EBENEZER, Thomas J. Williams, 1869–1944; arr. Richard W. Hillert, (1923)

Here we encounter a prophetic response to the word of God by Martin Franzmann. This hymn is not about God's word as gentle living rain or tender love, but about the aspects of the word of God that cleave the darkness, break the light of salvation, bespeak us righteous, break forth wisdom from the cross, and explode into alleluia. It was written in 1954 for Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, at the request of Walter Buszin, professor of liturgics at the time, who asked for a processional commencement hymn to the tune EBENEZER. Franzmann wrote four stanzas related to light in the seminary's motto, "Anothen to Phos"- "Light from Above." They were first sung at the chapel service on October 7, 1954. 

For commencement the hymn was not long enough, so Franzmann requested to add another stanza and then yet another until the six-stanza version was completed in 1959. It appeared in the Worship Supplement (1969). Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) kept "thy," "thee," and "thine," made the language inclusive (two instances: in 2, "Lo, on men" to "Lo, on those" and in 6, "Men and" to "mortals"), and changed "life-breathing" in stanza 2 to "life- giving." Evangelical Lutheran Worship kept the version from Lutheran Book of Worship but changed "life-giving" back to "life-breathing."

Ralph Vaughan Williams classed EBENEZER with the world's finest one hundred tunes.  Although among the less usual Welsh ones in a minor key, formally it is quite usual: AABA with B moving to the relative major. The triplet is less usual though not unknown to the Welsh. Alan Luff says that "in the Welsh idiom, the triplet is sung heavily and deliberately and there is no great care taken to distinguish between it and the dotted figure elsewhere in the tune.” He also suggests that in Wales this "is a most unsuitable tune for these words. It takes up too much of the 'doubt and sorrow' and not the ‘shining light.'  EBENEZER (also called TON-Y-BOTEL ["tune in a bottle"] because of a story with no foundation that it had been found in a bottle that washed up on the coast of North Wales) was composed by the organist and choirmaster Thomas J. Williams in 1890 or 1896, first for an anthem and then turned into a hymn tune. "At the time the anthem was written Williams was a member of a chapel in Rhos, Pontardawe, called 'Ebenezer.' Thomas John Williams was born in Wales and became an insurance man. He studied music in Cardiff with David Evans, wrote hymn tunes and anthems, and served Zion Church and Calfaria Church in Llanelly as organist and choirmaster. Richard Hillert "prepared the keyboard setting from the harmonization written by the composer." 

Opening Voluntary: “All Praise to God,” Craig Phillips (1961)

Craig Phillips is a distinguished and popular American composer and organist and Director of Music at All Saints’ Church, Beverly Hills. His choral and organ music is heard Sunday by Sunday in churches and cathedrals across the United States, and many of his works have been performed in concert throughout North America, Europe and Asia. He was named the American Guild of Organists Distinguished Composer for 2012 — the seventeenth recipient of this special award. Dr. Phillips joins an illustrious list that includes past honorees Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem, Daniel Pinkham, Stephen Paulus and David Hurd. 

Closing Voluntary: “Thy Strong Word Did Cleave the Darkness,” Healey Willan (1880-1968) 

Healey Willan was an Anglo-Canadian organist and composer, best known for his church music compositions. This quote he used to describe himself suggests he had quite a sense of humor: "English by birth; Canadian by adoption; Irish by extraction; Scotch by absorption." Willan was able to make his livelihood as a composer, an encouraging detail not lost on the young Canadian musicians who followed him.

Today's closing voluntary comes from Willan's three collections of Hymn Preludes, 30 in all, published in 1957. These pieces are based on a well-known hymn or chorale tune.  Full and festive, the basic structure is that of a short introduction followed by the phrases of the tune alternating with interludes and offering a richness of harmonic beauty typical of Willan’s compositions.

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, Luke 12:32-40

Certain phrases from the scriptures tend to ring out with clarity and poignancy depending on the changes and chances of life and where we happen to find ourselves on any given occasion. Today such a ringing phrase may well be, “Do not be afraid, little flock,” which are Jesus’ words to his disciples recorded by Luke in today’s gospel reading.

“Do not be afraid, little flock.” Yes, we do know fear. Times of transition and tumult tend to provoke anxieties. This is my last Sunday with you as pastor. Beginning today you as a congregation embark on a new chapter in your life together. I commence a journey to a new call in Phoenix. All of this with plenty of fear-inducing unknowns.

But there’s more. Who knows what’s going to happen with the next twists and turns of the pandemic and inflation and the war in Ukraine and tensions with China and national politics at home and drought and floods and fires and other extremes that seem to be part of the new normal of climate change? Any one of these crises can make for sleepless nights. And yet the list of that which provokes fear goes on and on.

These are troubled times to be sure. But Jesus tells us not to be afraid. This exhortation joins a great heavenly chorus offered by other divine messengers to fear not. Recalling moments in the beginning of Luke’s gospel, an angel of the Lord tells Zechariah, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.” (Luke 1:13) And then the angel Gabriel announces to Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” (Luke 1:30-31) And so the story in Luke goes.

In these biblical passages, the reason for us not to be afraid is always connected to a promise from God. Each announcement has as a focal point on a conjunction, the word “for,” which serves as a fulcrum tipping into the next phrase of promise, in the case of today’s word from Jesus, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give the dominion [of God] to you.”

Jesus in Luke promises his followers the very dominion of God as the reason for us not to fear. This is good news that serves to relieve our fears.

We see a similar promise made in today’s first reading when the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram, [for] I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”
After contesting this promise that he and his wife had not been given their hoped-for heir, the Lord showed Abram the countless stars and offered this further promise: “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them…. So shall your descendants be.”

According to the account in Genesis, “Abram believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.” That is to say, Abram trusted the divine word of promise, and the Lord considered or regarded this trusting response as righteousness, being in right relationship, good standing, with God.

This is another phrase from the scriptures that has echoed importantly in Lutheran history and rings out with divine truth in our ears. “And the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness” became part of the scriptural inspiration for the centrality of the teaching of justification by faith, that our trust in God’s gracious promises unites us to God’s mercy and love and forgiveness and blessing which we simply but profoundly await with confidence and receive with gratitude.

This reality also inspired the author of the letter to the Hebrews who expounds on the nature of faith evidenced in the history of the Jewish people. The author of this letter suggests that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith, trust in the trustworthiness of God, is what propels us into an unknown future without fear, or at least less fear….

The phrase “by faith” is used repeatedly in the passage that is today’s second reading.
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance… not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time… living in tents…. By faith [Abraham] received the power of procreation, even though he was too old…” (Hebrews 11:8-11)

The phrase “by faith” becomes a kind of mantra that describes the nature of the pilgrimage journeys of God’s chosen and faithful people, beginning with Abraham and Sarah, and on until our present day.

So it is that by faith we also venture on, like the people of old, not knowing exactly what will confront us.

In fact, we as individuals may not reach the promised destinations, as the author to the letter to the Hebrews concludes after listing the examples of faithfulness of the greats of the Hebrew tradition: “All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them.” But their heirs did receive the fulfillment of the promises from the God who is faithful and keeps the holy word.
Thus, let us claim and reclaim what is and has been so central to our Lutheran understanding of the gospel, the good news: Sola fide. Faith alone. Faith, not fear.
Let this also be our mantra going forward, even as we part ways.

By faith, you and I now commence journeys apart from each other.

By faith, you enter into the process to call your next pastor.

By faith, I venture Westward to make a new home closer to my son and to take on a new call.

By faith, we endure the craziness of these times in nation and world doing what we can to proclaim in word and deed a different way of God’s justice, mercy, and commonwealth.

By faith, we sell our possessions and give alms, as instructed by Jesus in Luke’s gospel for today, to assist those in need, ravaged by all manner of calamities around us.

Likewise, inspired by Jesus in Luke, by faith, we are dressed for action with lamps lit, ever watchful for the coming of the promised coming one.

And still more, by faith, we make purses that do not wear out, ever focused on the heavenly unfailing treasure which we are called to enjoy even now in this age.

For the dominion of God has in fact been given to us in the inheritance which is the church and its ministries, we who are the body of Christ. Here in this place we are given the very dominion of God, where Jesus is Lord. Christ himself is that dominion. We are given the gift of this dominion, this lordship, when Christ is made known to us in the proclamation of the word, in the waters of baptism, and the breaking of the bread, in the announcement of forgiveness, in the mutual conversation and consolation that occurs among us in community .

Indeed, Christ our master, as in the story from today’s gospel, returns to us week after week and invites us to sit down to eat, and Christ himself serves us with the gift of his very self, such that the dominion of God is so close to us that we can taste it.

Thus, in Christ, and as heirs of Christ’s dominion, by faith and in faith, we have confidence to bid each other adieu and then to continue on our ways by faith to do the work that God continues to entrust to us.

I am moved to conclude with these additional Christ-focused and encouraging words from the author to the letter to the Hebrews: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

May these words ever inspire us, reassure us, encourage us, move us, and propel us into God’s promised future in Christ. Thanks be to God. And thank you. Amen.


Hymn of the Day: “Faith Begins by Letting Go,” ACS 1004
Text: Carl P. Daw Jr, (1944)
Tune: RATISBON, J. G. Werner, Choralbuch, 1815

This text by Carl Daw, an Episcopal priest and former director of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, examines the life of faith. The beginning of the faith journey can feel risky and insecure, even though we trust in God. In the second stanza, faith is likened to an enduring plant whose roots of memory are kept alive in the hope of future fruit. Finally, faith matures in the third stanza, allowing us to reach beyond ourselves and to recognize God even in the ordinary things of life.

Choir Anthem: “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” Peter Lutkin (1858 -1931)

The words of “The LORD Bless You and Keep You’ come entirely from Numbers 6:24-26 (RSV), well known as the priestly blessing and the Aaronic benediction. Martin Bucer and John Calvin introduced the Aaronic blessing to Reformed worship after the example set by Martin Luther's Formula Missae.

Although it appears in at least 47 hymnals this music is more an anthem than a hymn; it was called a "Farewell Anthem with Sevenfold Amen." The popularity of this song can be attributed in part to its use for many years at the end of the weekly radio broadcasts of the Back to God Hour, an international ministry of the Christian Reformed Church.

Orphaned at an early age, Peter Lutkin was raised in Chicago and had his early musical training in the choir school of the St. James Episcopal Cathedral. He studied under prominent organ teachers in Chicago, continued his education in Europe, and earned a doctorate in music from Syracuse University. Lutkin was one of the founders of the American Guild of Organists. He also established the Chicago North Shore Festivals and founded the Northwestern University School of Music, of which he was the first dean. At several different times Lutkin was president of the Music Teacher's National Association. A composer of organ and choral music, he served on the editorial committees for both the Methodist Hymnal (1905) and the Episcopal Hymnal (1918).

The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord lift His countenance upon you,
And give you peace, and give you peace,
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious unto you, be gracious,
The Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.

Opening Voluntary: Cantilène, Gabriel Pierné (1863-1937)

Gabriel Pierné has been called the most complete French musician of the late Romantic/early twentieth century era. Pierné’s compositional style can be described as very traditional and classical in form while possessing a modern spirit. He was able to eloquently balance his own personal language with the elements of both discipline and instinct. Evidence of his studies with both Massenet and Franck are very apparent. From Massenet he acquired a sense of melody and lightness, while from Franck he developed a sense of structure and consciousness of art, and an inspiration for religious music. Though much of his music is overshadowed by other French composers from his day, it is because his time was devoted primarily to conducting.

Cantilène is the second of Trois Pieces, Op. 29.

Closing Voluntary: “Allegro maestoso e vivace” from Sonata #2 in C Minor by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy born and widely known as Felix Mendelssohn was a German composer, pianist, organist and conductor. As a composer he was one of the most influential of the German Romantic period. As an organist, Mendelssohn was well known and respected for his diversified organ improvisations with seemingly endless varieties of new ideas, and this added new dimensions to what one normally heard played on the organ at the time. As one might expect, these qualities are evident in the organ sonatas, which were commissioned in1844 as a set of voluntaries, or preludes, and published in 1845. In fact, all of the music in these Sonatas was composed between August,1844, and January,1845, so it is not surprising to find certain general characteristics appearing, almost like a recurring theme, throughout all six sonatas, which unifies the whole collection.

Week of the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Dear Friends in Christ:

This is my final Midweek Message to you as your pastor. What started as an outreach effort to make possible some form of contact with you as members during the pandemic shut-down when we could not meet much at all in person has continued for these two plus years as a regular weekly offering. I am glad to have had this occasion to engage in an epistolary form of ministry, which has its own roots in the letters of the New Testament. Now some final words.

This has been a most unusual time, to say the least, to have been in ministry together. I could be tempted to reduce this call to having been the “pandemic pastorate,” given how heavily the global health crisis has weighed on us all and colored so much of what we have been doing in all aspects of our lives. But that kind of reductionism would not be a fair and complete picture of what we have shared. For we have had, in my estimation, many very lovely occasions indeed which express the richness and fullness of Christian community when we are gathered around Christ in word and sacraments.

It has been a privilege to have proclaimed the gospel to you, first via video and then eventually in person on Sundays. You are attentive and engaged hearers of God’s word, and you have kept me on my toes, as it were, as a preacher, because I know from your feedback that you truly have been listening. And we have worshiped so faithfully together, employing a full range of the many resources available to us from our wider church in the service of the praise of almighty God when Christ in fact ministers to us through the word and the sacraments. Likewise, it’s been a joy to have been a teacher in your midst, for again, you are engaged and thoughtful participant disciples, students of our Lord. In many settings we’ve had rich conversations indeed, learning together and growing thereby in faith. These experiences have been a two-way street, for I have learned a great deal from you even as I have attempted to serve as your teacher! Moreover, it’s been a privilege to have walked with you in times when you’ve been in need of pastoral care and of prayer. I have truly enjoyed hearing stories of your life’s journeys and adventures when we’ve been in holy conversation together. Resurrection Church has remarkably gifted and dedicated lay leaders and staff members. I have consistently been impressed with the expertise you have brought to our life together pertaining especially, for example, to the administrative concerns of the church. I do believe that Resurrection Church persists in being an attractive and compelling congregation for qualified pastors seeking a call, even as this setting also presents challenges, as do most all congregations these days, given the tumultuous and ever-changing circumstances in nation and world.

What is left for me to say but thousand, thousand thanks? Thousand thanks to you and to God for the privilege of having served in this season as your pastor. In this mortal life, we never know what time is allotted to us. That’s true in all of our comings and goings, and it’s certainly true also concerning longevity in ministry. The fact that we have only been together for two years and some months does not detract from my cherishing our time together. Words begin to fail at moments like these. I pray that I have been faithful in upholding my side of the bargain in preaching the gospel, in presiding at worship, in teaching, and in offering care and leadership for such as time as this.

I know that it’s also true that I will not have occasion to say goodbye to many of you in person given the nature of summer travel and commitments on your parts. May these words, then, serve as a heartfelt goodbye for those whom I will not see this coming Sunday when our worship will include a rite for the conclusion of this ministry call and when we otherwise say personal goodbyes during the social time following in the parish hall.

Turning now to matters of transition, I have put into the hands of congregation leaders a document that lists particular matters that I had attended to as pastor so that it will be clear going forward who will do what in the coming season without my presence and before there may be an interim or another called pastor to lead and to serve. This document is offered in the service of making the transition as smooth as possible and so that matters of concern have less of a chance of falling through the cracks.

Also, please know that a call committee is being constituted even now and that preparations are being made in the bishop’s office to provide names of pastoral candidates as soon as possible. And Gordon Lathrop has devoted significant time and energy to lining up pastors to preach and preside each Sunday well into the autumn season. It’s also true that other pastors are at the ready to be on call for pastoral care needs. All of this will be further described in the weekly announcements messages that will continue to go out via Constant Contact.

You will note, if you’re present this Sunday for the rite for the conclusion of a call at the end of worship, that my first name will be employed in that rite, and not the title pastor. Beginning at that moment, I should be known to you as Jonathan, a baptized child of God, and not the one who serves as your pastor. It will be essential going forward that appropriate boundaries be maintained in the service of making the way for whoever next will be known to you as pastor. Which is to say, beginning with the end of worship this Sunday, I will no longer be available to you to serve in any pastoral capacity, and I will be steadfast going forward in maintaining those boundaries, again for the sake of honoring the leadership of the one who will succeed me as pastor in this place.

In conclusion, I will forever hold you and this place close to my heart as I give thanks to you and to God for this particular call which now becomes part of the richly textured fabric of my three decades of leadership and service in public ministry. And I will be praying for you as a congregation, especially for the Spirit’s guidance in soon bringing to you your next pastor as you are led into God’s promised future.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And thanks be to God.

In Christ,

Pastor Jonathan Linman

Hymn of the Day: “Hope of the World” ACS 1085 Text:
Georgia Harkness, 1891–1974, alt.
Music: Trente quatre pseaumes de David, Geneva, 1551; arr. Claude Goudimel, 1514–1572

Although she was repeatedly denied admission as a seminary student, Georgia Harkness became the first woman to teach theology at an American seminary. She was ordained by the Methodist Church in 1926, but along with all women in that denomination, she was unable to serve as a minister until 1956. This text was the winning entry from a field of more than five hundred submissions in a hymn contest for the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1954, whose theme was “Jesus Christ, Hope of the World.” The tune name comes from the first line of Psalm 12, “Give help, O Lord.”

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, Luke 12:13-21

A theme that stands out in today’s readings, both the Gospel and the reading from Ecclesiastes, is that when it comes to human reality, all things come to an end. Endings happen in many ways, with pointed focus finally on death.

The lists of varied endings can be long. We are on the brink of the conclusion of my pastorate here at Resurrection. Decades of relative stability for the privileged in our country seem to be giving way to a new period of chronic instability. We’re all getting older. The pandemic has brought all of this into sharper and poignant relief. And the list goes on concerning the claims of human mortality and finitude.

We see this theme in the parable of Jesus that Luke records that we just heard. The rich man’s land produced an overabundance of crops and goods, so he tore down his barns to build larger ones, and having done so was prepared to sit back, relax, and to eat, drink, and be merry. Except that on that very day, his life would end in death.

Most of us here live with the great privilege of abundance, if not to say overabundance. While this wealth can occasion a life of comparative leisure and opportunity, the work, the toil required to produce and maintain abundance can itself also become a source of great burden for us.

We get a palpable sense of that in today’s first reading from Ecclesiastes where the teacher exclaims: “What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23) And a chasing after wind.

And then our lives of overburdened abundance come to an end, sometimes quite abruptly and unexpectedly.

This is the reality of the human condition. We are mortal. We will die. This is the weight of our sinful finitude that can feel so very heavy, and which we go to great lengths to guard against, to keep at bay, even to deny. Here I am reminded of Ernest Becker’s classic work, The Denial of Death, where Becker posits that human society is organized in such a way as to keep the reality of death out of our conscious awareness. Published in 1973, it’s still a classic; because Becker’s insights remain true. No matter how cleverly we try, death catches up with us, and our various worldly possessions and achievements do not change that reality.

Martin Luther summed it up well when on his deathbed his reported last words were these: “We are beggars. This is true.”

Luke reports that Jesus told the parable about the rich man to make the point that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. This teaching moment came in response to a request by a person in the crowd asking Jesus to convince his brother to divide the family inheritance with him. Luke says that Jesus concluded the parable about the folly of abundance only to lose it all to death with these words: “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Where does this leave us? So far, both the gospel reading and the passage from Ecclesiastes make for quite the downer that gives us no relief. This bad news is summed up again in the words of the teacher in Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities. All is vanity.” Vanity as in futile, empty, worthless, short-lived, and without meaning.

Is there any good news today? Most certainly, and thanks be to God for three lectionary readings and not just one or two.

Today’s appointed gospel reading leaves us hanging and wondering what it might mean to be rich toward God. Being rich toward God seems to hold the promise of good news. And indeed, we can find that good news in today’s second reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians where the apostle elaborates on what it might mean for us to be rich toward God.

Here’s what Paul writes: “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.” In short, Christ is the source of divine richness.

And we have in fact been raised with Christ, even as we have died with Christ. And for us, it is baptism where this all happens. Drowned in the waters of this life-giving flood, we emerge from the torrent with new life in Christ, having been baptized into his own death and resurrection.

There are lots of veiled references to baptism in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, and we have some of that in today’s reading. Paul exhorts the hearers to “put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly,” that is, to be rid of the ways of the old Adam, of sin.

This suggests the renunciations that are integral to our baptismal rites when those to be baptized renounce the forces that defy God and the powers of this world that rebel against God and the ways of sin that draw us from God (cf. Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 229).

It's important to note that our struggle is not so much about heavenly things being up there and earthly ways being down here in a clean, cosmic, spatial dichotomy. No, these heavenly and earthly forces contend right here where we live, all the time. Baptismal life is a struggle in the Spirit against the forces of sin and death.

Thus, Paul in Colossians also points also points to baptism when he writes that we have “stripped off the old self with its practices and [our having] clothed [ourselves] with the new self,” which is our new life in Christ. Indeed, at baptism, we are clothed in the brilliance of Christ often symbolized by the white gowns worn by the baptized.

But when it’s all said and done, the only death that ultimately matters has already occurred on the cross of Christ. In that light of Christ’s resurrected new life our own mortal end in death is relativized and pales in comparison, and our own death in the baptismal waters is arguably more significant in the divine, grandest scheme of things than the end that is coming to us all in our own personal deaths.

For, as Paul concludes in today’s passage from Colossians, “Christ is all and in all!” Christ is the cure to that which ails us; Christ is our life beyond mortality, beyond death. Christ is the antidote to the cry of vanity of vanities and Christ is the end of our futile chasing after the wind. Christ imparts to us the richness of God. This is good news indeed.

So, let’s return for a moment to Luther’s dying moments. Reportedly a friend asked Luther when he was stricken ill and was close to death: “Do you want to die standing firm on Christ and the doctrine you have taught?” Luther answered with an emphatic, “Yes!”

And we answer our own “Yes!” whenever we reaffirm and give thanks for our own baptisms into Christ.

In Christ, then, we can relax, eat, drink and be merry with faith renewed and with meaning and purpose, not futility. In fact, it’s at this table where we do truly relax, eat, drink, and are merry in thanksgiving to God for Christ’s gracious abundance, the only abundance that really matters.

And in this Spirit, we are freed from bondage to our many possessions and their claims on us. We are freed to give it all away, not storing up riches for ourselves, but using our abundance to help and to feed others because in Christ we are made rich toward God.

When it’s all said and done, the only inheritance of any ultimate significance is that which we inherit from Christ. Thus, our freedom to give it all away, not giving up our hearts to despair, but finding joy and meaning in our loving service to others.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

Week of the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

In last week’s message, I shared a summary of that which I believe we have accomplished together in mission and ministry with special attention to: getting through the initial crisis of the pandemic; the nature of worship during this season; and faith formation at Resurrection during the time that we have shared. This week, I will focus on our responses to other crises in our wider society and how we addressed them in our congregation’s witness as well as calling attention to our shared visions for mission and the faithful stewardship of our building in welcoming The Village School as a tenant in much of our educational wing.

Before I turn to these themes, though, I want to return to the matter Christian education and faith formation to report to you that as part of the whole fabric of transition at Resurrection Church, our Youth Ministry Director, Amanda Lindamood, will also be departing in early August as a member of our staff. Amanda has done excellent work with creative programming for our youth, including confirmation instruction. Amanda has also been especially effective in heralding a vision of faith formation that is intergenerational and holistic, and she consistently called our attention to matters of social justice that are integral dimensions of our life of faith. Amanda and I have worked together effectively as a team and I thank her for her work here and dedication to this congregation.

During the summer of 2020, amidst the pandemic crisis, our wider society was also riveted by concerns about racial justice. In response to this wider public outcry, our Congregation Council voted to place Black Lives Matter signs on church property as a public witness in support of anti-racism and toward promoting racial justice. Because of concerns about the BLM organization, the placing of signs provoked a critical response among some members of our congregation. I believe that ultimately, we used this crisis as an opportunity for learning and growth on more than one front. One dimension is that we did in fact take up the matter of racial justice in our life together, when a group of committed members of the congregation devoted over a year to the study of Pastor Lenny Duncan’s book, Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S. Our working through this book, under Amanda’s leadership, became the occasion to really begin to grapple with racism. Over the course of these many months, those who participated began to learn more fully how to engage controversial issues thoughtfully and with a sense of personal vulnerability. I pray that this time together will continue to serve as leaven for how Resurrection may continue to engage matters of social controversy as an expression of our public witness.

An outgrowth of the Duncan book group was the emergence of the Social Justice Learning Group, led by Charlie and Judy Hughes. Once a month, between ten and twenty members gather after worship to discuss various matters of social justice, facilitated by our own members who have expertise on what is being examined. I find this development very encouraging, and I pray that the Social Justice Learning Group will continue to meet to bear fruit not just in learning but also in taking action to promote a vision of God’s justice for the world.

Another fruit of our beginnings with more directly taking on matters of justice is our new Creation Care Team, under the leadership of Monica Hirschberg, which also meets monthly to promote habits locally in our congregation that make for more environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.

Still another outcome of the crisis concerning the Black Lives Matter signs is the insight that we do well as a congregation to be more widely collaborative when engaging matters of controversy. Members were concerned that the Congregation Council did not consult the wider membership before making the decision to place the BLM signs on church property. Since that time, we have endeavored to widen the circles of conversation when responding to concerns that could provoke controversy.

Yet another fruit of all of this was the decision to replace the BLM signs with a new set of banners above the Washington Blvd. entrance to the church focusing on Micah 6:8 and the charge to “Do justice; love kindness; and walk humbly with God.” Most assess that this witness, rooted in scripture, expresses commitments most can agree on even as it gives words to the kind of identity this congregation aspires to.

Moving on to the stewardship of our building, Resurrection is blessed with a substantial campus that is well-maintained. Like many ELCA congregations, our building was built during an era which called for more space than we currently need. In fact, much of our educational wing is not just underutilized, parts of it are not currently utilized at all. It has been sad to say goodbye to our preschool which had operated in our facility for over twenty years. Likewise, the Clothes Closet was a casualty of the pandemic and this season when volunteers are oversubscribed at home, at work and at church, diminishing our capacity to offer programs. Moreover, the Finnish Language Schools now operate in large measure online. Thus, our facility is crying out for faithful, fruitful utilization. Therefore, it was a gift when The Village School approached us about the possibility of renting a large portion of our educational wing to host their pre-K through 8th grade independent, non-profit, private school. In addition to providing needed rental income to the congregation and making faithful use of our facility which is ideal for this school, The Village School’s presence in our building holds promise to increase the visibility of our congregation in the wider community, an important feature of our public witness which I pray will bear fruit for Resurrection under the leadership of the pastor who will be called in the coming months to lead and to serve toward God’s promised future.

A side benefit to The Village School’s coming was that preparing our spaces for the school inspired a major “Spring Cleaning” of our whole building. A dedicated team of member volunteers expended huge amounts of “sweat equity” in going through our many rooms and storage closets to remove items that we no longer use or have no use for. Many items were donated to other schools. Much also found its way to Goodwill. And even after new homes were found for many things, still when it was all said and done, there were four truckloads of things that simply had to be discarded. As I have written previously, the dynamics of purging our spaces – at home and at church – have the effect of renewing our relationship with our physical surroundings. I believe that such spring cleaning has set the stage for discerning and deciding how Resurrection’s building may in the future serve this congregation’s mission and ministry.

When it’s all said and done, there is a sense in which my pastorate of two plus years has been an “unintentional interim pastorate,” which I believe has further prepared the congregation for whatever is next in mission. Certainly, the pandemic inhibited forward movement into God’s promised future. But our time together has not been wasted time. Another feature of this season focused on crafting the shared statements of vision related to most aspects of our life together. These vision statements emerged in part from the consultant-led congregational study that was undertaken during the interim period after Pastor Ickert’s retirement. While these vision statements may change in the future under the leadership of a new pastor in discerning conversation with congregation leaders, having such statements gives you all a sense of direction and focus, a sense of what is aspired to in Christian community here. Many congregations undertake their activity in a rather ad hoc manner without much attention to where they actually feel called to end up. The shared statements of vision provide a much-needed sense of direction during these tumultuous times in church and world when we are otherwise prone to be blown about by the many crises and opportunities that claim our attention.

To be sure, there was much on my “to do” list as Resurrection’s pastor that was not accomplished. However, our time together has been intense and fruitful in many ways as we have sought to be faithful with the mission and ministry God has entrusted to us for such a time as this. I pray that this message and that from last week provide a good sense of the big picture of what we have in fact accomplished together under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit.

With abiding appreciation yet again in Christ Jesus for the opportunities to lead and to serve at Resurrection Church,

Pastor Jonathan Linman

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Luke 11:1-13

Luke records that Jesus’ disciples wanted instruction in prayer. I suspect that we could all use some teaching about prayer, especially in a world that so desperately needs it. 

So, let’s take a closer look at what we heard just now from the gospel. Luke records that Jesus taught the disciples what to pray when he offered a version of the words that we know as the Lord’s Prayer. So far so good. We can handle that, and in fact pray the words of this prayer weekly, if not daily. 

But Luke also reports that Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, that is, in what manner or disposition. 

To make this point about the attitude we bring to prayer, Luke records Jesus telling a story about a friend visiting a friend at the midnight hour – precisely when many of our most desperate prayers are offered up – asking for bread to be hospitable to another friend who just showed up for a visit. Luke’s Jesus makes the point that it was not the friendship that got the request for bread fulfilled, but the persistence of the friend’s request is what made the difference. 

Jesus in Luke thus advocates for persistence in prayer. What does persistence mean? The New Testament Greek suggests immodesty, or importunity, boldness, pestering, nerve, gall, audacity. That’s the attitude we are instructed to bring to pray.

We get a good sense of such audacity when engaging with God in today’s first reading from Genesis where Abraham negotiates boldly with the Lord concerning the fate of the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham’s audacious dealing with the Lord results in the Lord changing the mind in favor of mercy rather than punishment if in fact there are ten remaining righteous persons in Sodom. 

Listen again for the audacity in Abraham’s manner – when he rightly acknowledged his proper place with humility but nonetheless forthrightly, boldly bargained with the Lord. Abraham says when addressing the Lord:

  • “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you!” 
  • “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.” 
  • “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more.” 

Thus, the story from Genesis gives us a good sense of what persistence in prayer might look like and feel like. 

Yet, such persistence, such nerve, such audacity is often hard for us to do without a sense of guilt or feeling that we’ve done something wrong. Who are we to nudge God? Moreover, we may fear God’s wrath if we step out of line in terms of what we might deem a properly respectful attitude of prayer. That is, don’t pray with an attitude! Lest we incur God’s wrath. 

And then there’s the inclination to try to protect God from our insolence. That’s more common when we humans try to vilify others for what we of faith may perceive as blasphemous attitudes toward God. 

Friends, such fears are the stuff of the old sinful Adam’s ongoing claims on us in my estimation. In my read of today’s lessons such seeking decorum in prayer is not what Jesus in Luke or Abraham in Genesis seem to call for! Jesus and Abraham call for a spirit of shamelessness. 

But how do we overcome our hesitancy to pray shamelessly? Let’s let the Apostle Paul speak to us about the true source of our confidence – our faith, our trust – that allows us to pray boldly. Here are Paul’s words from today’s second reading in Colossians: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” 

Paul suggests that it is our rootedness in Christ, which begins at baptism, that establishes our faith, our trust, our living our lives in him, he who is the tree of life from the cross, Christ the vine, we the branches. With such rootedness in him, in word and sacraments, Christ continues to teach us and we abound in thanksgiving. In short, Christ is the source of the faith that is also the source of our shameless persistence in prayer. 

In Christ, we need not fear offending God. God does not need to be protected. God in Christ can handle anything we bring. So, just say it; just pray it with boldness. God in Christ will sort it out, even if we feel we’re stepping out of line. 

And if we do step out of line, that too God will set aside, nailing it to the cross, our trespasses ever being forgiven again and again for Christ’s sake. The record written against is erased, ever wiped clean. Thus, we can sin boldly, as Luther said, but believe more boldly still.

Moreover, Christ feeds us with his very self when we come to him at this very table begging for bread at our existential midnight hours so that we might be fed to also feed the hungry who are in our midst in our fearful world. 

Jesus continued his teaching on prayer in Luke. Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” 

But we know that we often do not get receive exactly what we asked for. And we know that when we search, we often discover surprises that we did not intend to find. And we know that when a door is opened to us, we may be quite surprised by what and by who we might find on the other side of the open door. 

Luke also reports that Jesus invoked good parenting in relation to the nature of God’s response to God’s children at prayer: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask!”

Every good parent knows that we cannot give to our children everything they ask for. That’s simply not good parenting. But good parents do give good gifts to their children. 

And the good gift we receive in answer to our shameless asking, searching, and knocking is the Holy Spirit, the very life and breath of God, ultimately everything we need, our very life in God. 

Thus it is that Paul writes in Romans: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes [for us] with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)

The Spirit is always at prayer for us, making possible our own prayers. Which is to say, when the Spirit arrived at Pentecost as recorded in the second chapter of Acts, the Spirit gave all the needed good gifts – namely, proclamation of God’s mighty deeds of power in raising Jesus from the dead, repentance, baptism, devotion to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers (cf. Acts 2:37-42).

What more do we need as God’s beloved children when it’s all said and done?
What we experience here each Sunday is ultimately what we are asking and searching for and why we are knocking. It is life itself, the life of Christ and participation in the life of our Trinitarian God.

Meanwhile, the Spirit also gives us our prayers of intercession. And think about it. These, our prayers each Sunday are audacious. Every Sunday we pray sometimes desperately and with lament for the needs of a sorry church and world. We pray for peace, for justice, for the relief of suffering. And so often those prayers don’t seem to result in the peace and justice and relief that we cry out for. And yet we continue to pray without fail, Sunday after Sunday, year after year, decade after decade. That’s persistence in prayer. 

Finally, our prayers of intercession lean in to fulfillment when we act on the fact that our prayers set the agenda for the church in mission. What we pray for is what we’re called to do in our ministries in daily life. When we pray for peace, we then seek to work for peace. When we pray for justice, we do our part in working for justice. When we pray for an end to suffering, we offer a helping hand in one way or another to those in need. 

The disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray.” I pray that you now have a better sense of what Jesus in Luke taught, and that your life of prayer might be emboldened with a Spirit of shameless persistence in the freedom of the gospel. Amen.

Hymn of the Day “Lord, teach us how to pray aright” ELW 745
Text: James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Tune: SONG 67, Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)

Written in 1818, and first printed on a broadsheet with Montgomery's "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire;“ “What shall we ask of God in prayer?" and "Thou, God, art a consuming fire ;" for use in the Nonconformist Sunday Schools in Sheffield. This hymn, in full or abridged, is in numerous collections. The variations of text which are found have arisen in a great measure from some editors copying from Cotterill's Selection of 1819, and others from the Christian Psalmist of 1825.

SONG 67 was published as a setting for Psalm 1 in Edmund Prys's Welsh Llyfr y Psalmau (1621). Erik Routley suggests that the tune should be ascribed to Prys. Orlando Gibbons supplied a new bass line for the melody when it was published with a number of his own tunes in George Withers's Hymnes and Songs of the Church (1623). There it was a setting for the sixty-seventh song (thus the title), a paraphrase of Acts 1:12-26. The tune originally had "gathering" (long) notes at the beginning of each of the four phrases. A rather sturdy tune, SONG 67 is built on a few melodic motives.

Week of the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

As my time with you as your Pastor begins to draw to a close, I believe it is important for us to consider what we have accomplished together in the mission that God entrusted to us over the course of these two years and some months.

This season of the church’s history that we have shared has been marked and marred by the realities of the global pandemic. The pandemic was declared shortly after I accepted the call to Resurrection Church in March of 2020, and the pandemic continues even now midway through 2022. While the pandemic’s strictures have inhibited and even prohibited anything approaching a normal churchly routine, certainly one of our major accomplishments is that we have in fact creatively endeavored to be and to do church amidst all of the unprecedented upheaval of these years. This is no small achievement!

While our routines were severely constricted by the pandemic, we nonetheless managed to engage in the usual dimensions of congregational life – worshiping, enjoying occasions for socializing, offering pastoral care, doing the administrative work of the church, and attending to social ministry through generous giving to local and national and international organizations which seek to help those most in need. These expressions of congregational life were not in the fullness of what we are used to, but they did not totally disappear amidst the pandemic.

Central to our life together, of course, is the Sunday worshiping assembly. From March of 2020 until July of 2021 – 16 months – we did not meet for worship in person in our nave, which removed the foundational pillar of what it is to be and to do church. And yet, we found our way, first with the creation of resources for worship at home, not seeking to replicate remotely what we do in the nave on Sundays, but promoting worshipful devotion at home among those with whom we live. This also soon included the crafting of videos intended to complement worship at home, featuring sermons which I recorded often from the dining room of the parsonage, and members reading the appointed lectionary passages and leading prayers from their homes, and Barbara and choir members leading congregational song, even choir anthems which were woven together digitally, creating a unified sound from multiple individual voices, and all of this edited into a seamless whole by our youthful videographers.

Then there was our worship outdoors in conjunction with the bi-weekly gathering of food items for the hungry and food insecure. What started as brief, informal prayer evolved into more complete forms of worship outdoors offered weekly. We started on the Potomac Street side of the church, where our Memorial Garden became a focal point, for example, for abbreviated liturgies during the Three Days of Holy Week. We eventually moved to the Powhatan Street side of the church where the parsonage deck served as chancel, the new brick patio as choir loft, the fence between the parsonage and church yards served as altar rail and the church yard became a nave surrounding our community garden. Here we celebrated the Eucharist for the first time in over a year on the Day of Pentecost in 2021. Finally, on July 4, 2021 we moved back indoors for Sunday worship, masked and physically-distanced, practices which we maintain to this day.

The move indoors also began the initiative of live-streaming our Sunday worship for those unable to be with us in person, increasing our presence in the world of cyberspace. Before the pandemic, Resurrection Church’s footprint in the digital world was modest, focused on our website. Because of the various worship videos which are still available on YouTube, our congregation’s presence online is now more substantial. Some, in fact, have begun to find their way to our congregation because of that presence.

Additionally, our worship and music practices did not remain static during these pandemic years. We engaged in a discernment process which resulted in hiring as our regular Director Music, Barbara Verdile, who had served as our interim organist and choir director. We also purchased, through the generosity of anonymous donors and Memorial funds, and are regularly making use of the new supplement to Evangelical Lutheran Worship, All Creation Sings. Resurrection Church remains uniquely current among other ELCA congregations in my experience in its full use of the many resources for worship available from our wider church. This is truly a hallmark of our life together.

Moving on to other aspects of our life together – who would ever have predicted before the pandemic that Zoom would become such a feature of our congregational life? And yet it has. Even as we have returned to worshiping in person in doors on Sundays, so much of the rest of our congregational life is still undertaken via Zoom – committee and Council meetings, and even our annual meetings, bible studies, as well as midweek worship during Advent and Lent. Such Zoom practices don’t seem to be going away. It may be that Zoom is now a feature of our life together. The Zoom platform has arguably increased numbers who attend bible study and midweek worship. It’s not the same as being in person, but increased participation because of Zoom is a dynamic that we should not discount. Zoom also makes life easier in terms of commuting to and from church, especially for brief meetings. We’ve even begun experimenting with hybrid forms of gathering, with some in person at the church and others participating at home.

Another central aspect of church life is Christian education and faith formation. What started as a pandemic-induced attempt regularly to reach out to members, these weekly Midweek Messages have become one of the significant expressions of my teaching ministry as a pastor. Early on when I began crafting these reflections, I wondered if I would have topics enough to write about each week. But as time wore on, I have found it a marvel that I have never lacked for topics and themes of various sorts to address! I pray that those who have read these messages have found them to be edifying, helpful, and perhaps sometimes inspiring and important to our life together.

Then there have been the various bible studies via Zoom, addressing several different topics over the course of our time together. A major focus of our faith formation efforts has been our attempts to convene all ages together – for bible study via Zoom, and then also monthly outdoors at the parsonage for various creative programs. Children’s Ministry Director, Angie Brook, and Youth Ministry Director, Amanda Lindamood, have continued creatively their ministries, again, largely online in these years. My prayer is that approaches to Christian education and faith formation which include all ages of people together would continue in future months and years, for one might argue that it takes a village to raise up mature persons of faith.

I could go on, and in fact, I will next week when I intend to summarize other hallmarks of our life together as a congregation during my brief pastorate. But I pray that these summarizing thoughts begin to give you a sense of the bigger picture of what we have accomplished together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

With abiding appreciation in Christ Jesus for the opportunities to lead and to serve at Resurrection Church,

Pastor Jonathan Linman

Hymn of the Day: “Come and Seek the Ways of Wisdom” ACS 971
Text: Ruth Duck (1947)
Tune: MADELEINE, Donna Kasbohm, (1933)

Drawing upon Hebrew Bible and New Testament traditions, “Come and seek the ways of Wisdom” explores personifications of God as Wisdom. Following the Hebrew Bible’s portrayal of Wisdom as feminine and the New Testament’s description of Wisdom as Sophia, the hymn text uses feminine pronouns throughout as it describes God as Wisdom. The three stanzas allude to traditional characterizations of the Trinity through the lens of Wisdom: she dances as she creates the earth, she is Christ the Word made flesh, and she liberates and leads as the Holy Spirit. A light and rhythmic musical setting brings Wisdom’s dance to life.

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Luke 10:38-42

The gospel writer Luke gives us some of the more beloved, well-known, and provocative accounts of events in Jesus’ life and ministry. One of those, of course, is the story we heard today, the encounter with Mary and Martha.

Martha was distracted by her many tasks. Doesn’t that accurately describe our own age, hitting the nail on the head of what so often ails us? Distracted by many tasks.

With our various devices pinging us constantly with calls, texts, emails, social media notifications and more, how can we help but be chronically distracted by many things? It takes enormous discipline to keep this constant bombardment at bay. More often perhaps we succumb to it. The distractions endemic in our age wear away at our sense of well-being and mental health. It can weigh so heavily.

I have generally read the story of Mary and Martha as an indictment of being overly active or busy. But engaging this passage anew this week, what leaps off the page for me is not Martha the activist, but Martha who was distracted amidst her many tasks. That is to say, it’s not the tasks themselves, but the distraction that’s at issue. And then, too, the worry that accompanies the distraction.

Luke reports what I take as Jesus’ compassionate observation of Martha’s trouble: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things…”

We know from experience that we can be quite actively engaged in our work without distraction and worry. Artists and other creative people – and anybody really – can discover themselves to be in the flow of active, creative engagement, being so engrossed in their activity that they lose a sense of time. That’s being quite fully present and contentedly so. Creative flow is the opposite of worry and distraction.

But these days worry and distraction seem to be more the order of the day than being fully present to and with what and who is before us. In fact, there are powers that be which capitalize on keeping us worried and distracted.

Who will save us from this plight? Of course, we know the answer. The one who saves us is the very one whom Mary encountered, when she was sitting at his feet, listening to what he had to say, the one who addressed Martha with understanding words and this other message that Luke reports: “Martha…. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

The better part which Mary gravitated to and which was not taken from her is Jesus himself. For as Paul assures us in Romans 8, “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We can make our lists of that which distracts and worries us, but just the same, nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ. That is to say, Christ will not be taken from us.

And here’s further good news for us in our worrisome age of distraction: what Mary enjoyed at Jesus’ feet listening to what he was saying is what we’re doing right now, namely, metaphorically sitting here in this place at Jesus’ feet as we are gathered around him in word and sacrament – listening with rapt attention to Christ’s teaching and the teaching about Christ in gospel proclamation, soaking in the life-giving baptismal waters, reclining, as it were, with our Lord at the table. All in this place comparatively free of distractions in contrast with the usual routines of the other days of our week.

Consider this: what is it that we see and encounter here? The story of Abraham sitting at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day by the oaks of Mamre may help us understand what we see here in this place, especially when we apply the Christian imagination to this story from Genesis, our first reading.

The heat of the day may have been for Abraham of old the midday time of siesta, a sabbath rest within the day. It’s amidst such a pause in the day that Abraham looked up and saw three men standing near him which became for Abraham a holy encounter, centered on a feast for the mysterious guests who then delivered the promise to Abraham and to Sarah that they would have their desired heir, a son, on whom all the promises of God hinge.

Seen through Christian lenses, we might liken Abraham to Mary, sitting for holy encounter. Indeed, this passage from Genesis was the inspiration for one of the most famous and compelling icons of the Orthodox church tradition, Rublev’s the “Hospitality of Abraham,” or of the Trinity. In the Christian imagination, the three men, later described in Genesis as angels, come to represent the three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, seated in an arc around a table at which they feast as in the story from Abraham. The oak tree is in the background of the icon.

That tree may be imagined as the tree of life, the cross of Christ. Christ is the central figure of the three in the icon seated at the table, evocative perhaps of our Eucharistic table, where we share in the life of the Trinity. Sarah prepared cakes of choice flour – our sacramental bread. Abraham had sacrificed a calf, tender and good – suggestive of Christ’s own having been offered up on the cross.

In the Christian imagination, this is what we can fancy that Abraham saw in this holy encounter, resting in the heat of the day. And this is what we also see here in this place, when we sit in our version of sabbath rest in the presence of God in Christ, and in the inspiration of the Spirit.

Beyond what we might see in our holy encounter here, what message is it that we hear when we sit as Jesus’ feet in this place? It might include the echoes of the word of the apostle Paul as we heard in today’s second reading from Colossians. Listen again to this wonderful hymn to Christ from the very earliest Christian community, poetry that also sounds like a creed: “Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in Christ all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all things have been created through him and for him. Christ himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Christ is the head of the body, the church; Christ is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Christ to reconcile to God’s own self all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20)

Abraham resting under the oaks of Mamre. Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. Paul in a time apart writing a letter to the church extolling the wonders of Christ. We doing likewise here, our sabbath rest gathered around word and sacraments.

All of this is the antidote to our worry and distraction, freeing us to attend to the one needful thing, namely Christ our Lord, who will not be taken from us.

And from this hour of rest at the feet of Jesus, comparatively free of worry and distraction, with our faith here renewed, we return to engagement with the world in the work to which God has called us, namely, to do the tasks of the servant, Martha, in the life-giving, creative flow of the energies of the Spirit.

And what is the work of Martha? To serve our neighbors in need in loving care as Christ loves us. And that we, like Paul, may extend the suffering of Christ through our own suffering for the sake of the world as we also proclaim the gospel in word and deed. Let it be so among us now and always. Amen. 

Week of the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Dear Friends in Christ:

At our recent meeting, the Congregation Council and I engaged in discerning conversation to determine together my last Sunday with you as pastor. Taking into account the multiple and often competing variables here, with the congregation in Phoenix, and with the complexities of a cross-country move, Sunday, August 7 was decided upon as my final Sunday. This day will come upon us quickly, but it is considered best practice in the church for pastors who announce their resignation to depart sooner rather than later. I announced that I had received a call from the congregation in Phoenix during the week of June 19 and then tendered my resignation as pastor on June 29. Approximately six weeks will have transpired between my resignation and my last Sunday. The common wisdom of current practice is for a resigning pastor to depart within a month or at most two months after the announcement of resignation. Thus, our timeline is in keeping with current practice in the wider church.

Also at our Council meeting, we agreed on a “to do” list of that which I and we will endeavor to accomplish together here for the sake of an orderly departure, efforts which will at their best prepare the congregation to receive its next called pastor. I pledge to do my level best to attend to the many details that will help set the stage for as smooth a transition as possible. Included on the to do list: working with other staff members and committee chairs on any outstanding items; the pastor’s exit interview with the bishop and her assistant for congregations in transition; my drafting a document listing pending matters which will be helpful to Council, an interim pastor, and the next called pastor; making certain that the church records are up to date; arranging for lay members to take on some of the administrative duties in the absence of an office administrator; crafting instruction documents to assist these lay members in their administrative efforts; attention to who will plan and lead worship and attend to pastoral care needs in my absence and, if needed, prior to the arrival of an interim pastor. Of special concern, of course, are the details related to the arrival of The Village School in our educational wing rooms. I am working closely with officials from the school and with our leaders to help to ensure as smooth a transition as possible into this new reality.

Moreover, the Council and I agreed that should need remain for me to be involved in administrative concerns even beyond the date of my formal departure, provision can be made for me to offer administrative help even remotely via Zoom, email, and phone calls until the end of August. There may be some poetic irony to that possibility, because I began my ministry among you remotely from Phoenix even before I moved to Arlington. How curious in these difficult pandemic days that I may also potentially conclude my ministry among you remotely and from Phoenix. The coming four weeks will reveal whether or not such involvements may be warranted.

Also at our last Congregational Council, Bishop Ortiz and her new assistant, Pastor Sarah Garrett Krey, were present via Zoom to outline a likely transition process toward calling a new pastor. The Bishop indicated that the current transition would not require a lengthy interim period. In fact, a new call committee will be convened prior to my departure, and work will begin on updating the congregation’s Ministry Site Profile also before my leave-taking. That timeline sets the stage for the possibility of receiving names of pastors to be interviewed perhaps beginning this fall.

As I mentioned in last week’s message, occasions of pastoral transition make for anxious times in congregational life. I hope that my outlining what is before us and the timelines will alleviate some of that anxiety, especially in my reporting that our leaders and I are committed to attending thoughtfully to the matters before us to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Further word is forthcoming about the events of Sunday, August 7 and how we will mark together at worship and following the conclusion of my pastorate at Resurrection Lutheran Church.

May God in Christ continue to lead and guide us through these days together in the power of the Spirit,

Pastor Jonathan Linman


Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Luke 10:25-37

The question which the lawyer posed to test Jesus is a profound one: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus responded by asking the lawyer another question, and the lawyer ends up correctly answering his own question by summarizing the foundational law of the Hebrew people: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Very straightforward. Not unlike what we heard in today’s first reading from Deuteronomy, which also focuses on keeping the divine law. There it says, “Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away…”

Returning to the exchange between Jesus and the lawyer recorded in Luke, Jesus’ reply concerning the answer given summarizing the law is straightforward, but it’s also a zinger. Jesus said, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” Do this, and you will live. Simple, right? Straightforward? Yes. Easy? No.

When it comes to obeying God’s law, it’s easier said than done for us sinful mortals. Undoubtedly knowing this, the lawyer’s defensive reaction is that he wanted to “justify himself.” So do we.

Here, the plot thickens, revealing the sinful dynamics at play in the human heart and mind. The human tendency is to seek loopholes, easy ways out, approaches that help us to see and present ourselves in the best possible light without fully acknowledging our shortcomings.

So it is that the lawyer asks, “And who is my neighbor?” That’s when Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan, or perhaps more aptly, the Merciful Samaritan.

In response to the man robbed and left for dead, the religious authorities, the priest and the Levite, do nothing, passing by on the other side. That response of maintaining their safe distance was undoubtedly in keeping with religious laws concerning purity, prohibitions against getting sullied by contact with those who are unclean. And a bloodied man would likely have been religiously unclean for clergy types of the day. So, they kept their safe distance, maintaining religious purity, and went on their way.

But it was the Samaritan, the foreigner, who came to the aid of the gravely wounded man and not only that, this foreigner went far above and beyond the call of duty in response to the wounded, dying man’s needs.

Moved with pity, with compassion, a gut-wrenching compassion in the biblical Greek, the Samaritan drew near, got up close and personal, became vulnerable, and offered first aid, took the victim to an inn where he took further care of him, and then even gave money to the innkeeper to tend to the man, offering to pay whatever it took to nurse the wounded man back to health. In short, the Samaritan was first responder, ambulance driver, nurse, and insurance plan all wrapped up in one person. That’s what it is to go above and beyond the call of duty.

After telling the story, Jesus again questions the lawyer: “Which of these three, [the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan], then, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The lawyer replied, again rightly and obviously, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Jesus then said, “Go and do likewise.” And of course, we know from the nature of the story of the Good and merciful Samaritan that virtually none of us consistently does what the Samaritan did. More often than not, we commit the sins of omission of the priest and the Levite in passing by on the other side of all sorts and conditions of people in need. Thus, the story indicts the lawyer, and it indicts us by extension.

The over-the-top response of the Samaritan reveals the honest, truthful reality that we simply do not and cannot consistently and convincingly “go and do likewise” in showing life-giving, healing mercy to those most wounded and vulnerable.

Consider the state of our nation and world. Mercy is in short supply almost everywhere we turn, at least with the news stories that command our attention. Vengeance and cruelty and violence are more the spirit of our times. Yes, there are the merciful responses to our crises, but these are overshadowed by the enormity of the power of vengeance and cruelty which seem to be winning the day.

But of course, there’s also good news, because in Christ there always is. The parables of the gospels are almost always stories that point to Jesus, that reveal the nature of Christ and his mission and ministry.

So, considering the story of the Good Samaritan with a view to Christ Jesus, we may see Jesus as the Merciful Samaritan, he whose approaches to religious authority and leadership, religious teaching and practice, were foreign to the stated religious teaching and leaders of Jesus’ day.
Time and again, Luke and the other gospel writers reveal a Jesus who did as the Merciful Samaritan did in going the extra mile to care for the wounded and vulnerable. In short, Jesus did not pass by on the other side. Dying on the cross, ultimately to be raised from the dead, is anything but passing by on the other side!

Normally, we might likely focus on Jesus riding on the donkey as he enters triumphantly the holy city Jerusalem. But here in this story, we see the wounded man on the animal, and Jesus as a Samaritan, whose approach to religion is foreign even to his kindred people, guiding the wounded one to the inn for hospital care. And in this case, unlike Jesus’ birth when there was no place for the holy family to stay, there was room in the inn for the wounded.

Moreover, on the cross we see a wounded God in Christ paying and repaying whatever is needed, ultimately resulting in the healing, the restoration, the eternal life which the lawyer was seeking. In short, in the Good and merciful Samaritan, we see the fullness of Christ.

In Christ, turning again to our first reading in Deuteronomy, we hear the promise addressed not just to the people of old, but to us, the wounded, for whom Christ is merciful: “The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings,” that “the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, delighting in you.” In Christ, these words of promise are for us, too.

For Jesus Christ is the only one who is obedient to the extent of fulfilling the demands of the law. That is at the heart of the gospel, the good news.

In the light of Christ, we hear and see the other words of Deuteronomy in perhaps a different way. Listen again with Christ in mind: “Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it’ No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)

Indeed, Christ came down from heaven to be the word of God made flesh to dwell very near to us, full of grace and truth. In the waters of baptism, which bonds us to the baptism of his own death and resurrection, Christ has taken us to his bosom, carrying us over the stormy abyss of the seas of sin and mortality to the other side.
In the meal at this table, we take the word who is Christ into our very mouths in bread and wine, his body, his blood, that this word would dwell in our hearts for us to observe, in the power of Christ.

In short, it is Christ in us, working through us, and in spite of us, who fulfills for us the law of God’s justice.

Thus it is that Paul can say with confidence to the members of the church in Colossae whom he addresses in today’s second reading: “For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God.” (Colossians 1:4-6) For “God has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the dominion of the beloved Son of God, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.” (Colossians 1:13-14)

That is to say, it is Christ, the merciful one, who draws so near to us that he dwells among us in word and sacraments, who makes it possible to bear the fruit of mercy for the wounded and dying of our world full of robbers. It is God’s work in Christ, our hands in ministries of mercy for our neighbors.

Thus, in Christ, here in this place, and in every Christian place, we get to go and do likewise in being merciful neighbor to the wounded ones here and everywhere. Thanks be to God in Christ. Amen.

Hymn of the Day: “Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service” ELW 712
Text: Albert F. Bayly, 1901-1984
Tune: BEACH SPRING, The Sacred Harp, Philadelphia, 1844

Albert F. Bayly wrote this text in response to a Hymn Society of America search for new hymns on social welfare. It was chosen as the theme hymn for the Second National Conference on the Churches and Social Welfare held in Cleveland, Ohio, October 23-27, 1961. The Hymn Society published the text in Seven New Social Welfare Hymns (1961).

The text begins with recognition of Christ's ultimate sacrifice on the cross and then points to the continuing needs of the homeless, the hungry, the prisoners, and the mourners. Bayly's words remind us of modern refugees, AIDS patients, and famine victims who are as close as our doorstep or who are brought to our attention via the news media. The final two stanzas encourage us to move from Sunday worship to weekday service; such integrity in the Christian life is truly a liturgy of sacrifice, pleasing to God.

Albert F. Bayly was born in Bex­hill on Sea, Sus­sex, Eng­land. He received his ed­u­cat­ion at Lon­don Un­i­ver­si­ty (BA) and Mans­field Coll­ege, Ox­ford. Bayly was a Congregationalist (later United Reformed Church) minister from the late 1920s until his death in 1984. His life and ministry spanned the Depression of the 1930s, the Second World War, and the years of reconstruction which followed. Af­ter re­tir­ing in 1971, he moved to Spring­field, Chelms­ford, and was ac­tive in the local Unit­ed Re­formed Church. He wrote sev­er­al pageants on mis­sion themes, and li­bret­tos for can­ta­tas by W. L. Lloyd Web­ber.

Opening Voluntary: “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart” Joe Utterback (1944)

This tune, “Moorecambe,” was written in 1870 by Frederick C. Atkinson. The jazz musician, Joe Utterback has published nearly 400 works for piano, choir and organ. He beautifully captures this serene hymn tune with his jazz-inspired harmonies.

Closing Voluntary: “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” Rebecca Groom te Velde

Saint Patrick's Breastplate, a prayer of protection also known as The Deer's Cry, The Lorica of Saint Patrick or Saint Patrick's Hymn, is a lorica. In the Christian monastic tradition, a lorica is a prayer recited for protection in which the petitioner invokes all the power of God as a safeguard against evil in its many forms. The Latin word lōrīca originally meant "armor" or "breastplate." Both meanings come together in the practice of placing verbal inscriptions on the shields or armorial trappings of knights, who might recite them before going into battle. The original Old Irish lyrics of this hymn were traditionally attributed to Saint Patrick during his Irish ministry in the 5th century. In 1889 it was adapted into the hymn I Bind Unto Myself Today.

Rebecca Groom Te Velde is a third-generation professional organist, following both parents and her grandfather. In 1991 she assumed her present position as organist of First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, OK. She is an active performer, composer, clinician, and adjunct instructor of music at Oklahoma State University.

Offertory: “Unto Thee I Lift Up My Soul” Peter Cornelius (1824-1874)

In Britain to this day, Cornelius's best-known work is "The Three Kings", a song for voice and piano in which the soloist sings "Three Kings from Persian lands afar ...", while from the piano is heard the chorale tune of Philipp Nicolai, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern ("How brightly shines the morning star") underneath. During his last few years in Berlin, Cornelius wrote music criticism for several major Berlin journals and entered into friendships with Joseph von Eichendorff, Paul Heyse and Hans von Bülow. Despite his long-standing association with Wagner and Franz Liszt (the latter on occasion sought Cornelius's advice when it came to matters of orchestration), Cornelius's relations with the so-called "New German School" of composition were sometimes rocky.

Unto Thee I lift up my soul, let no enemy rise over me.
Thou wilt lead me in Thy truth, Thou the God of my salvation.
Thou rememberest not my sins, nor rememberest my transgressions,
Lord, in mercy think on me, for I trust in Thee.

Unto Thee I lift up my soul, all Thy judgments are before me;
Let The mercy come to me, let Thy kindness be my comfort.
For the entrance of Thy words giveth light and understanding.
Plead my causes, deliver me, for I trust in Thee.

Unto Thee I lift up my soul, make Thy face to shine upon me.
Let the beauty of the Lord, let Thy beauty be upon me.
Let Thy work appear to me, and Thy glory to my children.
Stablish Thou my handiwork, for I trust in Thee.

Week of the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Dear Friends in Christ:

Perhaps the initial shock of the announcement of my resignation as pastor at Resurrection to take another congregational call has begun to wear off, and the realities of this transition are now beginning to sink in more deeply. Even if there is general acknowledgement that my taking a call in Phoenix to be in close proximity to my son is understandable, that does not stop the human reality that this transition nonetheless evokes and provokes a wide variety of reactions and responses. The termination of my call here makes for significant upheaval in the life of our congregation. Understandably, many may be experiencing a full range of responses – shock, disappointment, sadness, anger, a sense of betrayal, anxiety, perhaps for some even relief, and more. It may also be that it would be appropriate to invoke some of the classic stages of grief in relation to our shared time of transition – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

Please know that I am still available to you for conversation about all of this as you desire. In fact, I am eager to have such holy conversation for the sake of making the most of our remaining days together. Further information is soon forthcoming about the actual date of my leave-taking and what the transition process will look like.

Resurrection Church has been in a state of transition for several years now. And just when life together seemed to be settling in to a new era of stability, my leaving reignites another period of transition. This is made all the more difficult by the realities of the pandemic and the upheaval it has caused for two years and counting. Moreover, national and international crises persist beyond the pandemic. Given so much change in nation and world, perhaps the last place we want still more change is in the church, which we yearn to be an oasis of stability amidst the storms of life.

It is also true that times of pastoral transition disrupt equilibrium in congregational systems. The pastor, as shepherd, has a coordinating role in creatively managing the natural tensions among members and groups within a congregation. When that coordinating role is removed from the system, then it’s natural for there to be some re-emergence of anxiety and perhaps even conflict. That’s true of every congregation, and of every human system.

Thus, the coming weeks and months call for renewed commitments to attending to the qualities that make for healthy Christian communal life. May the words of Paul guide our life together as we engage the rigors of this season of transition: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15)

Please know that you are not alone in whatever sense of upheaval my leave-taking is provoking. Many other congregations are in similar boats, even as the whole ecosystem of the wider church is amidst an era of far-reaching change. And I, too, am not immune from these realities. I have not known consistent circumstantial stability in my life since at least late 2017 when the bishop of Metro New York Synod, my then boss, had to resign because of misconduct. Since that time, it’s been one significant crisis-related transition after another, most especially Nathan’s stroke. I, too, yearn for a return of stability. But the current nature of our world simply may not provide it.

How we are moved to frame this time is crucial for our creatively and faithfully living through it. Thus, I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to see the time before us, when the circumstances of stability and predictability and good order seem to be or are in fact taken from us, as an invitation to still deeper faith in Christ, trusting that in Christ all shall be well, that all is well, recalling the wisdom of Julian of Norwich. May we all be drawn to falling anew into the loving, merciful arms of God in Christ by the nudging of the Spirit, whose embrace is the source of our ultimate stability, a foundational reality that cannot be taken from us, even when the stormy seas of life seem to prove otherwise.

Trustingly – even if haltingly so – in Christ,

Pastor Jonathan Linman

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

As the scriptural witness lives on and continues to form and inform our life together, Jesus continues to appoint us – you, and me – and all the baptized children of God to be sent on missionary journeys to the places Jesus intends to go just as he appointed the seventy in the days of old as we heard in today’s gospel from Luke.

You and I have been on such a missionary journey together for two years, and some months, and now we are parting ways – you remaining here, and I venturing westward for the congregational call in Phoenix to be near my son.

When our paths coincided back in 2019, we said in essence to each other, “Peace to this house!” And I believe that we have shared in that peace, the peace of Christ, during our sojourn together.

And you can be sure that in my leave-taking, I will not be wiping off any dust that clings to my feet in protest of you or of this place.

In keeping with the message from today’s gospel reading from Luke and Jesus’ instructions found therein, we have shared this journey with focus on proclamation in word and deed that the “dominion of God has come near to us.” And we have known the nearness of that dominion, I believe, in our life together.

Now there is another sending, me to Phoenix, and you to whatever is in store in the next chapter of your life together as Resurrection Lutheran Church.

To be sure, we enter into anxious times, both you and I. Thus, Jesus’ words recorded in Luke perhaps haunt us: “Go on our way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals….”

This sounds dangerous and quite austere and minimalist. Will there be enough for the journey? Can we rely on others to give us the provisions we need to survive, if not to thrive? Will there be an appropriate interim pastor available to you at this time? Will there be the pastoral candidates you need for such a time as this? I, too, am embarking on a call to a congregation that has its own share of challenges and struggles amidst a time of significant economic uncertainty and plenty of national and international crises to keep us awake at night.

It’s quite the leap of faith that we are undertaking in our different ways. And our provisions for the journey may at first seem scarce.
In these anxious, uncertain times that we share in our own ways, we may take some comfort in Isaiah’s prophetic words of promise and restoration from today’s first reading: “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for the city, all you love her; rejoice with Jerusalem in joy, all you who mourn over her – that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom. For thus says the Lord: I will extend prosperity to Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees….”

What lovely, comforting words: the promise of the restoration of the holy city and with abundance and with a loving embrace as from a mother for her children.

Throughout the many Christian centuries of reading the prophets like Isaiah through Christocentric lenses, seeing Christ in the prophetic word, the church, the body of Christ, has been viewed as a new manifestation of the holy city Jerusalem. This place, this assembly is our holy city.

Thus, when we hear with the ears of faith that we are promised to nurse as at a mother’s breast in this holy city, we may hear overtones of the Holy Supper, the Eucharist, when we eat and drink from the body of our saving mother, Christ.

When we hear that the prosperity of the holy city extends like a river, and that wealth is offered up like an overflowing stream, we might think of the waters of baptism which indeed give us life abundant, grace overflowing without end.

Then, just when we’re overcome with fears of scarcity – will we have what we need? – we come to our senses and realize anew that here in this place is in fact God’s abundance to feed us, to nurse us, to quench our thirst, with plenty left over for us to feed and nourish the nations.

That is good news indeed. Just what we need for times like these.

And if we become overconfident in our own doings as the returning seventy did when they were impressed that the spirits submitted to them in their healing and exorcisms, Christ is here in the word to remind us: “Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Indeed, our names are close to the heart of God ever since we were claimed as God’s children by name, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit in the overflowing waters of grace at the font.

And likewise, if we run into trouble in Christian community and there is conflict in the life together, as there clearly was at the church in Galatia which Paul was addressing in today’s second reading, the Spirit speaks through the words of the apostle to remind us: “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision [the controversy that captivated the church in Galatia] is anything; but a new creation [in Christ] is everything!”

Thus it is that in Christ, here in this place, Sunday after Sunday without fail, we are given what we need to be sent on our missionary journeys despite the nagging sense of austerity and scarcity and danger that the logic of the world imposes on us. For once again, in Christ, we have absolutely everything we ultimately need for the journey, whether the journey takes us here or there.

Thus, with our sometimes-feeble faith renewed, we go out on our way to feed the world with the same mother’s milk that we receive here from Christ in the word and in the sacraments ever proclaiming that the dominion of God has indeed come near to us in Christ. Thanks be to God. Amen.