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About Sunday’s Music – Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

Blessed, oh, blessed are they forever, Whose help is from the Lord Most High.  The HYMN OF THE DAY, “Praise the Almighty” (797), is based on Psalm 146.  It is the prayer of the paralytic and those who, in faith, carried him to Jesus.  “Blessed are they forever, who in hope to Christ draw nigh. To all who trust in Him, our Lord, Will aid and counsel now afford. Alleluia!”  It is our prayer, of penitent sinners, for mercy crying. To all who trust in Him—“Their faithful God He will remain.”  Thanks be to God!  “He helps his children in distress! Alleluia!”

Originally in eight stanzas, our version has stanzas 1-3, 5, and 8 of the original.  It was written by Johann D. Herrnschmidt (1675-1723) and published in the 1714 Neues geistreiches Gesangbuch.  He served as professor at Halle University.  It was translated into English by Alfred Brauer for the 1925 Australian Lutheran Hymn Book.

The anonymous tune was published sometime around 1665, but since has become inseparably united with “Praise the Almighty.”  Lutheran hymnologist W. G. Polack (1890-1950) described this as “one of the most brilliant gems in our chorale treasury.”

Kyrie, God Father in heaven above,

                        Kyrie, O Christ, our King,

                                    Kyrie, O God the Holy Ghost.

The Kyrie Eleison (Greek: Lord, have mercy), the first Ordinary of the Divine Service, is a prayer to Our Lord for the needs and concerns of our earthly life: for our friends and loved ones, for ourselves, for our community, for the troubles of the world.

The DISTRIBUTION HYMN, “Kyrie, God Father in Heaven Above” (942), offers a Trinitarian exposition on the Kyrie.  The tune is from a medieval setting of the Mass, Kyrie, fons bonitatis.  The German text is from the sixteenth century.  An important part of the core of Lutheran hymnody, it is often associated with Luther’s hymns.

The CHORAL VOLUNTARY is from Johann Sebastian Bach’s (1685-1750) Cantata 79, “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild,” (“God the Lord is Sun and Shield”).  It was originally performed October 31, 1725. Today we hear the second movement, an alto aria with accompaniment originally for oboe, today played on the flute.

God is ever Sun and Shield, Therefore we our praises bringing,

Join with grateful hearts in singing, Thanks for all His tender care.

He will still protect and bless us, Though our foes may sore distress us,

Sharpened arrows they may wield. God is still our Sun and Shield. (based on Psalm 84.11)

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