"Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day."
There is but a single mention of music in Jesus' life: when he and his friends sang a hymn the night before he died. As a result of the directive of Pope Gregory, the Gregorian chant became an endorsed means of "lifting the soul to God." In a desire to spread music, monks invented modern music notation in the Middle Ages. Martin Luther said he would "like to see all the arts, especially music, used in the service of Him who gave and made them," and the Lutheran chorale became a hallmark of the Reformation. Johann Sebastian Bach (who was heavily influenced by Luther) began each of his works by writing, "JJ" — Jesu, Jusa, "Jesus, help me" on the manuscript. At the end of each piece he would write three letters — S.D.G (Soli Deo Gloria) — meaning "To the glory of God."
Nathan Soderblom wrote:
"The Passion music, which was created within the church and which experienced a new depth, a new richness, and a new intensity in the sixteenth century, constitutes in its way the most important addition that has ever been made to the sources of revelation in the Old and New Testaments. If you ask about a fifth gospel, I do not hesitate to name the interpretation of salvation history as it reached its acme in Johann Sebastian Bach."
Music has become one of the integral aspects of the way in which we most often worship God. It is certainly one of the important ways in which we pray.
As we move toward Holy Week, our singing continues to reflect our emphasis on prayer, especially the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray. Lent is a time when music accentuates the lifting up of our prayers. It is especially effective as we communicate our self-reflection in solemn and meditative melodies, leading us into our experience of the passion story.
We will sing joyous hosannas on Palm Sunday. We will be reminded of the promise that all who come in faith find forgiveness at the cross, as the choir sings the contemporary hymn "Behold the Lamb" on Maundy Thursday. Our choir will extol the wonder of Christ's glorious love as we sing a beautiful setting of "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" on Good Friday. And we will glorify and praise our risen Lord on Easter with a majestic arrangement of the contemporary hymn, "The Power of the Cross."
Glorious love as we sing a beautiful setting of “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” on Good Friday. And we will glorify and praise our risen Lord on Easter with a majestic arrangement of the contemporary hymn, “The Power of the Cross.” As we lift our voices together during Lent and in the coming Easter season, let us truly sing to the Lord, praise his name, and proclaim his salvation with joyful hearts. S.D.G.
Mark and Treva
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