1517 – 2017 This year is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This milestone anniversary is being referred to as Reformation 500. It is a time to take a look back at the the beginnings of Reformation, Martin Luther, the man and the impact of his 95 theses and views of music in worship. We will celebrate our Lutheran heritage and perhaps, we will grow in understanding of the Reformation, Luther’s teachings and hymns.
Have you taken time to look back at your childhood, to ponder the things that influenced your life the most and look forward to what the future might be like?
I do. When I look back on my childhood years, especially the times I spent in church – you remember the Mayflower? Well, I didn’t live THAT far back.
My parents, younger brother and I attended church just about every Sunday, with rare exceptions: “deathly ill” or away from home. If we were visiting our grandparents, we went to their church. All of mom’s sisters played organ for their churches, I especially loved watching Aunt Claudia playing the organ. I could not wait to get on that organ. Mom and Aunt Claudia were good enough to take to to church just to play the organ while they would sit in the pews and catch up on the latest news.
Back to my childhood church experiences, believe it or not, I was talkative when I was a young. It was hard to sit still and be quiet during the sermons, but then again, having experienced on more than one occasion, daddy’s “coming to Jesus” sessions which included five to six “leather to rear” contacts made quite an impression, pardon my pun, the importance of being on my best behavior during church. I will admit, that 38-inch leather strap led to me having the reputation of being one of the best behaved children in church.
I learned the pew hymnal provided the respite I felt I so desperately needed to sit without talking, for what I considered a tortuous period of time. The pew hymnal, like the ELW, contained a lot of interested stuff other than the hymns. I favored the hymnal’s last section where the years 1966-2000 were listed with the specific dates of important church commemorations such as Palm Sunday, Easter, Trinity Sunday, etc. I kept myself busy determining how how old I would be for this year and that and actually calculated an easy way to determine my age based on the last digit of every year. FYI, the last year listed, 2000, was the biggie for me…. for I would be old! Take 2000, take 6 away from one digit and add the number 1 to another…… if you are in the mood for some math, you could calculate how old I will be on the next birthday. And if you come up with the answer 14 + 17 + 31, you are off a couple of years.
When you were a kid, did you ever imagine what your life would be like in, let’s say, 40 years? or what the world would be like in 100 years? 200? There was a popular song in the late 60s or early 70s, something about “in the year 2525, 5555…… I wonder if Martin Luther during 1517, Martin Luther wondered what life would be like in the future?
October 31, 1517… Martin Luther is nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Could he have known the impact his 95 Theses would have on the Western world hundreds of years later?
Sunday, October 31, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Reformation 500. I have, along with a couple of the choir, have started the “brainstorming” process to prepare and plan the music for Reformation 500, especially the hymns Martin Luther wrote which are in the ELW. Lutheran hymns has had a tremendous influence on other Protestant church music as well as the music of many major composers.
Martin Luther said, “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. One of my personal favorites Martin Luther’s quotes!
Martin Luther was born into a musical family. As a boy, he joined a boys’ choir and became proficient with the flute. Later, he became an Augustinian monk and struggled to meet the demands of a holy God. It is said that “he fasted until his cheeks caved in.” He confessed his sins for hours at a time. But he soon began to see that man could not, even at his best, satisfy the almighty God.
Through his study of the Bible, he found that a person can only be saved through the blood of Jesus Christ; not through the purchase of indulgences, which were widely sold in the Catholic Church of his day. For purposes of discussion, he wrote a paper with ninety-five points and tacked it to the church door at Wittenberg. Those theses started the Protestant Reformation.
Luther became known in particular for three things: the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, the belief that Scripture should be translated into the people’s language, and the birth of congregational singing. He felt that music was of God, not of man. And he was determined to restore congregational singing in the German language to the Church.
So strong were his beliefs about music and worship that he wrote these fiery words: “Next to the word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our hearts, minds and spirits. A person who does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs!” Whoa, Martin didn’t temper those words!
His passionate beliefs led Luther to write both words and music for several hymns, including “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” Luther’s first hymnal was published in 1524. It contained eight hymns, four written by himself. Later hymnals were also published for congregational use. He urged people to use the hymns at home and encouraged parochial schools to teach them to their students.
Working with skilled musicians, Luther also created new music for church choirs, organ, and other instruments during his life. And after his death in 1546, the first line of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” was inscribed on his tomb.
New choir members are welcome any time of year. Presently, we need all voices: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. We have a couple of members who are recovering from surgery, illness, etc. We miss their presence, but rejoice they are doing well in their recovery journey. With Ash Wednesday a month away and Easter on April 16th, more singers would be a blessings.
Would you pray-fully consider joining us? A full choir loft on Easter morning accompanied by brass quartet, organ and possibly tympani drums would make our Easter services even more special.
Interested? Want to know more? Or do you know of someone, who may be interested in join the choir. You can choose to contact me,
T-Y-M-P-A-N-I! (also referred to as “kettledrums”) With a generous gift to Mount Horeb’s music ministry, the long wished for tympani drums will become a reality soon! We are so excited to be getting these tympani drums to enhance our special music for Easter, Reformation, Christmas Eve and more.
Mt. Horeb Hand Bell Ensemble rehearses Sundays from 4:00 – 5:00. Currently, there are around 12 people who play hand bells. Jim Lindler is their wonderful and talented hand bell director,. He and I are so proud of Mount Horeb’s Hand Bell Ensemble – they are fantastic! If you did not have the pleasure of hearing them play Christmas Eve, you will have the chance to hear they play soon. They will be playing Easter too.
Lots going on in Mount Horeb’s rehearsal rooms and nothing would be happening without our dedicated men and women. Still we could use more volunteers, like you. God Bless, Susan