The topic of this year’s Reformation Hymn Festival is taken from Dr. T. David Gordon’s October 26 sermon title, “Luther’s Reformation of Congregational Praise.” The primary importance of congregational worship and corporate praise of our God is clear, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6). Looking back on Luther’s passion for composing hymns and songs (both text and music) based on the Scriptures, we find a depth and spiritual weight that has been inspiring church musicians and congregants alike for the past 500 years. Please join us next Sunday evening for a powerful look back at Luther’s inspiring work through congregational hymns, choral and instrumental worship, Scripture reading, and the preaching of God’s Word.
Martin Luther (1483–1546) was a passionate theologian and musician. He often wrote of music’s power and importance in the Christian life. “I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God.” He also described the inspiring nature of music in worship, “Music is God’s greatest gift. It has often so stimulated and stirred me that I felt the desire to preach.” Luther viewed music from the perspective of purposeful, passionate, and scripturally-based congregational worship. In an exhortation from the hymn, “Dear Christians, One and All Rejoice,” Luther writes, “Dear Christians, one and all rejoice, with exultation springing, and with united heart and voice and holy rapture singing, proclaim the wonders God hath done, how his right arm the victory won; right dearly it hath cost him.” With this perspective on congregational praise, it is no wonder he contributed so many finely-composed hymns!
The prelude will feature the Westminster Brass in a rousing rendition of what is perhaps Luther’s most famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The prelude will also feature two lesser known Luther hymns, “Thou, Who Art Three in Unity” and “Happy the Man Who Feareth God” (based on Psalm 128). These will be sung by the Tenth Men’s Choir and women of the Tenth Church Choir.
The service will continue to highlight the hymnody of Martin Luther through congregational singing of some of Luther’s best known hymns. The Tenth Church Choir will also contribute arrangements of works by Luther that are less familiar but no less powerful. The service will begin with a spirited call to worship mentioned previously, “Dear Christians, One and All Rejoice,” featuring the Tenth Church Choir and Westminster Brass. A more introspective offertory anthem, “Come, God Creator, Holy Ghost,” reveals the significant influence of medieval chant in Luther’s melodic writing. This same tune (veni creator spiritus) is the basis for the closing postlude, an organ work by J. S. Bach (1685–1750), who himself was a devout student of Lutheran theology and dedicated his life to offering his gifts as a composer, organist, and kapellmeister (orchestra conductor) to the glory of God’s holy name; a legacy, like Luther’s, that still remains a significant influence in church music today.
The sermon will be given by Dr. T. David Gordon, professor of religion and Greek at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania. We hope that you will invite family and friends for what promises to be an encouraging and inspiring evening of worship at Tenth.
Please mark your calendar for the next Concert Series program, the Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols Services, December 23 and 24, at 7:15 PM. Always a highlight of the Concert Series, the Christmas Eve Services will feature the Tenth Church Choir, Westminster Brass, and Tenth Chamber Players as they perform selections from Handel’s Messiah and a variety of Christmas anthems and carols. There will also be Scripture readings and a brief homily by Dr. Liam Goligher.
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