Ask, and you will receive that your joy may be full. It is fitting on Rogate Sunday to sing Luther’s (1483-1546) catechism hymn on the Our Father, “Our Father, Who From Heaven Above” (766). Setting the teachings of the Small Catechism to music, we both learn and confess Christian teaching on prayer, and the role of prayer in our lives.
With this hymn in 1539, Luther continued his project of writing a hymn for each of the six chief parts of Christian doctrine. (The first four were written in 1523-1524; the last, on baptism, “To Jordan Came the Christ Our Lord,” in 1541.) The tune was an existing tune which he revised for use with his text.
Luther strongly encouraged the use of music to teach the Christian faith, writing over 40 hymns and encouraging others to do so. With this hymn, Luther unpacks Jesus’ words: “Whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give you.” Prayer is given so that we may plead to the Father through the Son for the needs of our neighbors, friends, community, and the entire world. We live in Christ’s forgiveness and share it with others.
The PRELUDE is a setting of this hymn by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), kantor of St. Mary Church in Lübeck, Germany. Born in Denmark to German parents, his father was also an organist. Buxtehude was an influence on later composers including Handel, Telemann, and Bach.
Buxtehude’s setting has three movements. The first is ornamented with numerous trills in the accompaniment under the melody. The second is played on two manuals, one hand simply playing the melody and the other a countermelody. The third has three independent lines, the right hand playing the highly ornamented melody, with the left-hand and pedal playing not just accompaniment, but which have their own musical interest as well.