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Notes From the Director of Music – Reformation Day

On Reformation Day (October 30, 2016) we begin a yearlong celebration of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary.  Throughout the year you will see this theme in various parts of worship.  Prayers, scripture, liturgies, and hymns will all reflect our celebration of Martin Luther’s movement to reform the church.

In regard to hymnody, people often expect to be singing traditional German hymns/chorales while celebrating the Reformation.  However, the Reformation is not simply a time to celebrate our German heritage.  It is also a time to remember our calling to be a church that is always being made new.

Hymns like A Mighty Fortress, Built on a Rock, and The Church’s One Foundation certainly have their place as we celebrate the ideals our church was founded on, but we will spend the year focusing on hymns that reflect the idea of always being made new.  Rise, O Church, like Christ Arisen, Canticle of the Turning, and Listen, God is Calling are all examples of this.

Rise, O Church, like Christ Arisen is an anniversary hymn (originally commissioned for the fiftieth anniversary of a Lutheran church in Roseville, MN) that reminds us of our place in the world.  It is based on a lecture of Michael Joncas in which he said, “God invited us here (to the Eucharistic meal); who are we, not to become merciful?”

Rise, O Church, like Christ Arisen is packed with an abundance wonderful imagery of the church’s place in today’s society.  I particularly love the language used in stanza four.  Each phrase is beautiful on its own.  Service be our sure vocation (let us remember that our mission is work in service of others, bringing God’s kingdom here to earth).  Courage be our daily breath (remember each morning to pray to God and continue in service knowing that He has your back).  Mercy be our destination (be kind to the lowliest of God’s children for theirs is the kingdom of heaven).  Alleluia, alleluia, rise, O church, a living faith  (Go forward in His name and live out the gospel).

Rise, O church, like Christ arisen,

from this meal of love and grace;

may we through such love envision

whose we are, and whose, our praise.

Alleluia, alleluia;

God, the wonder of our days.

Throughout our yearlong celebration of the Reformation we will also be including inserts in the bulletin from time to time that discuss various concepts of the Reformation and how we apply it today our lives today.  Our Lutheran heritage is a wonderful foundation for our faith and worthy to be celebrated!  I hope you enjoy the 500th anniversary celebration of the Reformation and are able to apply it to your faith today as we strive to be a church that is always being made new.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Jeremy Shoop, Director of Music Ministries

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