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About Sunday’s Music – Ninth Sunday after Trinity

Kyrie! God Father… O Lord Jesus… O God the Holy Ghost Today’s PRELUDE is three settings of the chorale (hymn) on the Kyrie, “Kyrie! God Father in Heaven Above” (942).

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) wrote three larger (with pedal) settings of the Kyrie chorale, and three smaller settings (without pedal) in his collection Clavier Übung III (“keyboard exercise”).

The larger and smaller settings of chorales in this collection, which also includes the six catechism chorales, are thought to signify the Large and Small Catechisms of Luther, as Bach confessed the Christian faith as expressed in the Book of Concord, the Confessions of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church.

There are naturally three settings of the Kyrie chorale reflecting the three verses of the hymn, one for each person of the Holy Trinity.

The Kyrie Eleison (“Lord, have mercy”) is always appropriate throughout our lives as Christians as we face challenges of life under the cross. For this reason, the Kyrie is part of our prayer in the Divine Service, the Daily Office, daily prayer at home, and any time we face tribulation and temptation.

The first setting of the Kyrie by Bach has the melody in the right hand; the second setting in the left hand; and the third setting in the pedal.

Therefore You alone, my Savior, Shall be all in all to me. The HYMN OF THE DAY, “One Thing’s Needful” (536) was first described, when printed in the 1697 Geistreiches Gesangbuch of Halle, as “Concerning the denial of self and the world, St. Luke 10.42” (But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her).

Author Johann H. Schröder (1667-1699) uses a unique metric structure for his text, desiring to move away from the smooth meters of earlier hymns. Originally ten stanzas, the first four focused on Jesus’ visit with Mary and Martha, followed by focus on 1 Corinthians 1.30 (But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption).

The tune is by Adam Krieger (1634-1666), a student of noted Lutheran composers Samuel Scheidt and Heinrich Schütz.

The stanzas omitted from Lutheran Service Book:

2. Wilt thou find this one thing needful, Turn from all created things
Unto Jesus and be heedful, Of the blessed joy He brings.
For where God and man both in one are united,
With God’s perfect fullness the heart is delighted;
There, there, is the worthiest lot and the best,
My One and my All and my Joy and my Rest.

4. Thus my longings, heavenward tending, Jesus, rest alone on Thee
Help me, thus on Thee depending; Savior come and dwell in me.
Although all the world should forsake and forget Thee,
In love I will follow Thee, ne’er will I quit Thee.
Lord Jesus, both spirit and life is Thy Word;
And is there a joy which Thou dost not afford?

7. Let my soul, in full exemption, Wake up in Thy likeness now;
Thou art made to me Redemption, My Sanctification Thou.
Whatever I need for my journey to heaven,
In Thee, O my Savior, is unto me given;
Oh, let me all perishing pleasure forego,
And Thy life, O Jesus, alone let me know.

8. Where should else my hopes be centered? Grace o’erwhelms me with its flood;
Thou, my Savior, once hast entered, Holiest heaven through Thy blood
Eternal redemption for sinners there finding,
From hell’s dark dominion my spirit unbinding,
To me perfect freedom Thy entrance has brought,
And childlike to cry, “Abba, Father,” I’m taught.

9. Christ Himself, my Shepherd feeds me, Peace and joy my spirit fill;
In a pasture green He leads me, Forth beside the waters still.
Oh, naught to my soul is so sweet and reviving
As thus unto Jesus alone to be living;
True happiness this, and this only, supplies,
Through faith on my Savior to fasten mine eyes.

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