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About Sunday’s Music – Exaudi

Our help is ever, Lord, in Thee, Who madest earth and heaven!   Martin Luther (1483-1546) knew the Psalms by heart from his time in the monastery.  He wrote hymns to confess and teach the faith and spread the newly-rediscovered Gospel in the Reformation.  He used the Psalms as the basis and inspiration for some of his hymns.  Luther’s theological writings also show his familiarity with the Psalms.

Luther envisioned a plan to write a hymn for each of the 150 Psalms.  He encouraged other pastors to follow his example and write hymns on the Psalms.  None of them followed his request.  However, Luther did write paraphrases of five Psalms:

  • 12 ‚ÄúO Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold‚ÄĚ (The Lutheran Hymnal¬†260)
  • 14 ‚ÄúAlthough the Fools Say with Their Mouth‚ÄĚ
  • 46 ‚ÄúA Mighty Fortress is Our God‚ÄĚ (656)
  • 124 ‚ÄúI God Had Not Been on Our Side‚ÄĚ (The Lutheran Hymnal¬†267)
  • 130 ‚ÄúFrom Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee‚ÄĚ (607)

The HYMN OF THE DAY is Luther’s paraphrase of Psalm 124.  It was written in 1524.  The tune is by Luther’s kantor, Johann Walter (1496-1570).

Had Christ, who once was slain, Not burst His three-day prison, Our Faith had been in vain: But now has Christ arisen!¬†¬†¬†‚ÄúThis Joyful Eastertide‚ÄĚ (482) was written by George Woodward¬†(1848-1934),¬†a priest in the Church of England.¬†¬†He served in London, Norfolk, and Suffolk.¬†¬†It was published in a collection¬†Carols for Easter and Ascension¬†in 1894.¬†¬†The tune is a Dutch melody from the seventeenth century first used for setting the Psalms to music in¬†David‚Äôs Psalmen¬†in 1685.

The PRELUDE is based on this hymn by Jan Bender¬†(1909-1994),¬†a composition student of Hugo Distler¬†(1908-1942).¬†¬†Born in the Netherlands, Bender served as organist and kantor in German churches in L√ľbeck, Aurich, Ostfriesland, and L√ľneberg from 1934 to 1960.¬†¬†He concluded his career as professor at Concordia University‚ÄĒSeward, Nebraska (1960-1965) and Wittenberg University‚ÄĒSpringfield, Ohio (1965-1976).

In festal spirit, song, and word, To Jesus, our victorious Lord, All praise and thanks be rendered.¬†¬†‚ÄúLo! Judah‚Äôs Lion Wins the Strife,‚ÄĚ today‚Äôs ENTRANCE HYMN, is part of a larger Easter composition from Bohemia around 1660.¬†¬†The tune is also Bohemian.¬†¬†Bohemia is a region that roughly corresponds to modern Czech Republic.¬†¬†This triumphant tune and text recalls Christ‚Äôs fulfillment of Old Testament accounts (Judah‚Äôs Lion) and figures (Samson and David).

¬†‚ÄúJudah‚Äôs Lion‚ÄĚ recalls Jacob‚Äôs blessing of Judah, calling him a lion‚Äôs cub (Genesis 49.9).¬†¬†The lion signifies might and bravery, fulfilled in David, and ultimately in Christ, the Messiah.¬†¬†The Lord describes his might and bravery as a lion in Hosea 5.14, when the rebellious nations of Israel and Judah rightly feared Assyria‚Äôs might, they overlooked the Lord‚ÄĒthe real power they should have feared.¬†¬†The Lord is the lion who leads, gathers, and defends Israel (Hosea 11.10).¬†¬†In Revelation, Christ‚ÄĒwhile depicted as a Lamb‚ÄĒis described as ‚Äúthe Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and loose its seven seals‚ÄĚ (5.5).

Jesus is ‚ÄúJudah‚Äôs Lion‚ÄĚ who has defeated Satan to win the strife over sin and death.¬†¬†He reigns over death to give us life.¬†¬†Oh, let us sing His praises!

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