Official Publication of the LMS-USA
Volume 14, Number 1
In this Issue:
Cultures, Chorales, and Catechesis
by Daniel Zager
This article was originally published in the Concordia theological Quarterly (Vol. 64:2, April 2000); used by permission. View this article
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Information on Concordia Thelogical Quarterly
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Hymns of the Lenten Season
by Rev. Ralph Spears
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his Cross daily and follow me! Luke 9:23
The hymns that we sing during Lent are some of the most detailed, memorable and meaningful of the entire hymnal, engendering worship of the same description. These compositions or songs come from all styles – from the very earliest through some of the more recent vintage – so they can be a history lesson, in themselves, of piety and theology from the several ages of Christian worship!
What is your favorite Hymn? What ever your answer, it is special to you in a very personal way. Is it a Lenten Hymn? Likely you might answer – ‘yes’ because it meets some of the criteria above. So then what is a Lenten hymn? Most hymnals have a section that lists those hymns. Since Lent is a focus on Christ’s Passion as a preparation for Easter these songs feature the Cross in the title or first line, or mention the passion experience - prominently. [As you may notice the subject of the Cross is seen to move across the pages of time with remarkable consistency in the way it was viewed.]
In The Cross Of Christ I Glory, O Sacred Head Now Wounded, Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (from Galatians 6-14) and of course the hymn whose popularity has stretched from the Nineteenth Century even to the present, The Old Rugged Cross are some that come easily to mind.
One of the very oldest reflects a vivid Latin verse style from Venantius Fortunatus a 6th Century monk who has contributed several hymns to our hymnals, sung to a Plainsong melody or what we would call Gregorian Chant; is known by its Latin opening, Pange Lingua or Sing My Tongue The Glorious Battle. The first verse continues;
Sing the ending of the fray;
Now above the Cross the trophy
Sound the loud triumphant lay;
Tell how Christ the world’s Redeemer
As a victim won the day.
In the style of the early contemplative mystics, even the horrors of the Cross are highly romanticized as a “noble tree” - “Sweetest wood” and “sweetest iron; sweetest weight is hung on thee!”
O Christ Our King Creator Lord would seem to be a product of the piety of late 18th or early 19th Century. Actually its orgins are rooted more than a thousand years earlier in the 6th Century with St. Gregory a contemporary of Fortunatus. Gregory was called “The Great” for among other things influencing the music of the Church (from which Gregorian chant gets its name and one of the truly great Popes.) To the tune of Grace Church, this hymn has been a staple of Lenten Hymnody. Notice its treatment of the Cross in such a comforting treatment;
In Thy dear Cross a grace is found,
It flows from every steaming wound,
Whose power our inbred sin controls,
Breaks the firm bond, and frees our souls.
Were You There When They Crucified My Lord? a 19th Century African American spiritual makes no such pretense. In asking the question – it begs the questions of viewing the stark reality of that scene much like Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of The Christ just a couple of years ago. The emotional reaction in music, “Oh------Sometimes it causes me to tremble” is a simple but highly effective and a favorite of days gone by.
In that mode is the plain but expressive hymn from the pen of John Bowring (most often sung to the melody of Ithamar Conkey) and the highly emotional period of the great awakening which twice impacted our country and its hymnody. However, its treatment of the Cross borrows as well from a then long Christian tradition of Salvation in its limbs;
In the Cross of Christ I glory
Towering o’er the wrecks of time.
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime!
Sanctification a late 19th Century theme, finds its way into the last verse;
Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the Cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that through all time abide.
Next is a perennial favorite of great English writer, Isaac Watts, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, most often sung now to the tune of Lowell Mason, he from the time of the second Great Awakening while Watts wrote his many hymn texts from the period of the first Great Awakening; although it touched America more than England. This text, in part paraphrases Paul’s pronouncement on the Cross in Galatians, “Far be it from he to boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!” – which for Paul was saying a lot.
But the hymn that is hands down favorite, and not even found in most liturgical hymnals, is one that was a favorite of my Grandmother and many another, The Old Rugged Cross, a hymn quite often attempted as a solo is emotionally dramatic if not a bit maudlin. . . . "On a hill far away stands an Old Rugged Cross” then described as a symbol of suffering and shame. But apart from the sentimentality which makes this song either revered or avoided – there is a perhaps surprising consistency with all other of the above hymns and their simple but effective theology of the Cross. Clinging to the Old Rugged Cross is a suggestion made by St. Paul and a certain theme as a Lenten exercise. Before this song ends – it reflects a bit on the Book of Revelation – that the individual Christian might himself – wear the Cross as a Crown of their life.
We could not review Lenten Hymns without mentioning the King of Chorales as it has been called, O Sacred Head Now Wounded, which boasts the greatest lyricists and musicians who could be assembled for any hymn writing task. The list begins with Bernard of Clairvaux who was influential almost beyond measure in the 12th Century Latin Church just after the time that it broke with the Eastern Rite or Orthodox branch of Christendom. A writer, thinker or theologian, shaper of religious orders, advisor to Popes, some would say nearly a Pope himself, Bernard also has many hymns ascribed to him. Most if not all, reflect on Jesus in a very intimate, personal way; Jesus Joy of Loving Hearts, Jesus King Most Wonderful, and a general favorite, Jesus The Very Thought of Thee - "with sweetness fills the breast" (especially as it is sung to the melody St. Agnes written by the prolific, John Bacchus Dykes of the 19th Century). The words to O Sacred Head were then picked up and edited by none other than likely the greatest Lutheran Confessional writer of hymns, Paul Gerhardt of the Second Protestant Reformation time period. The words of this hymn have had an enormous impact on so many folks over the years including this writer!
But back a few years for the composer of the Chorale melody that is the noble bearer of the noble text. Hans Leo Haussler, born a few years after the passing of Luther, one of the Reformation’s great composers; crafted that simple and singable melody. But it was Johann Sebastian Bach, a century after Haussler who made such use and theological significance of his melody, that it became the figure most used by this greatest of composers. Bach holds a workshop on harmonization - so to speak -within the St. Matthew Passion on these lines molding, modulating and shaping the original melody to say subtlety many nuances within such the range of emotion of the Passion of Christ. Another great German Lenten hymn is employed by Bach in the opening of this great work, O Lamb Of God Most Holy, originally by Hans Leo Haussler, sung by the Boy Choir over the double chorus which describes the scene of the Crucifixion. Lamb of God has been used by many liturgical settings as well.
The old master, Bach, even uses O Sacred Head at the very end of his Christmas Oratorio in counterpoint with the theme of joy at the Incarnation to foreshadow the Cross.
It is indeed the King of Chorales and the anchor of all Lenten Hymns effectively drawing our focus to the Lenten discipline of the Cross and what it means for us.
‘If we would come after Christ, might they take up our Cross in song and follow HIM!’?
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Educating Pastors for the Challenges of Tomorrow
by Pr. Robert W. Hotes
Challenges for the Present and the Future.
In order to adequately serve the people of God in the Christian communities, pastors must be trained and educated in order to be teachers and leaders(3 Tim1-7). Preparing men to serve congregations is an important part of the functions of the LMS-USA as a synod. To address this function, the LMS-USA has developed a multi-tiered program of studies that is designed to make pastoral preparation available to candidates with various backgrounds. While a call to ordained service comes from God through the calling congregation, synods like the LMS-USA haves a responsibility to work for the community of congregations in ensuring appropriate pastoral preparation. The approach to pastoral studies designed by the LMS ministerium Pastor/President Ralph Spears, aims at enabling that outcome.
The LMS-USA Program: A Multifaceted Approach
With the establishment of St. Timothy’s Seminary, LMS-USA has the developed a facility for pastoral studies that is, in essence, a seminary without walls. The offices of the seminary are physically located at Chetek, Wisconsin, under the direct supervision of LMS-USA Synod President Pr. John Erickson. Saint Timothy’s is under the guidance of a Board of Regents, led by Dr. Orv Langhaugh.
As candidates for pastoral ordination, seminarians may be selected for study following three main pathways. In each case the seminarian is under the close supervision of a mentor or pastoral preceptor, who ensures that the required skills, knowledge, and understandings in light of Lutheran orthodoxy are acquired. The Board of Regents approves all programs of study. In all cases students who are engaged in pastoral functions are considered vicars and not called as pastors prior to ordination.
For those mature students who have already received an appropriate college or university, independent study under the supervision of his local pastor may be deemed adequate. The Board of Regents may approve a course of independent study in exceptional cases.
Coordination with the Independent Lutheran Theological Education Project (ILTEP)
Due to the requirements of the contemporary Lutheran pastor’s role, formal seminary training is an advantage to be desired. To facilitate such training, the Board of Regents of Saint Timothy Seminary and the LMS Ministerium as approved links with two major seminary’s through the Independent Lutheran Theological Project (ILTEP). Through a consortium of independent Lutheran bodies, ILTEP has designed a program of studies that ensures that seminarians will acquire skills and knowledge required to function as pastors within orthodox Lutheran congregations. Articulation agreements through ILTEP allow LMS-USA seminarians to receive M.Div. degrees from recognized and accredited seminaries. Currently ILTEP is articulating residential programs through Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio and external (on-line) programs thought Trinity Seminary based in Indiana. The partner seminaries were chosen with the content of the courses offered in mind, as well as with consideration for the systems of delivery and the quality of instruction. A bloc of confessional Lutheran courses taught by confessional Lutheran educators forms the core of the curriculum. At a suitable point in the individual seminarian’s progress, he will be placed in a vicarage for practical experience.
ILTEP is incorporated as a not-for profit entity in the state of Wisconsin. Their offices and classrooms are located on land adjoining the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. Members of the ILTEP faculty and staff recently presented the details of the program at the January 2007 Ministerium meeting in Indianapolis.
LMS Independence is Maintained
While LMS intends to offer the opportunity to work within ILTEP structure to seminarians, the Synod reserves the right to arrange for other educational venues for prospective clergy. These venues or modalities may include independent studies programs supervised by LMS pastors and placement in other seminaries as appropriate. The Rev’d Dr. Robert Hotes is currently coordinating the seminary effort under direction of the Synod. While joining with other orthodox Lutheran bodies in the ILTEP cooperative program, LMS retains the option to design programs that meet the individual needs of seminarians and the congregations they will serve. ?
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