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About Sunday’s Music – Sixth Sunday after Trinity

Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we also should walk in newness of life.  The Epistle points to our new life in Holy Baptism.

Christ’s Baptism to fulfill all righteousness gives Christians forgiveness of sins and the inheritance of heaven.  The ENTRANCE HYMN, “To Jordan Came the Christ, Our Lord” (406) recounts Christ’s baptism by John in the Jordan (St. Matthew 3.13-17).

This hymn by Martin Luther (1483-1546) was the last in his series of hymns on the six chief parts of the Catechism.  First published in 1541, it presents the biblical doctrine of Baptism as Luther expressed it in a sermon on Baptism in 1540, as well as the Large and Small Catechisms.

The tune was written earlier for Luther’s Psalm 67 hymn, “May God Bestow On Us His Grace” (823); it became associated exclusively with “To Jordan Came the Christ, Our Lord” soon after its publication.

Clavier Übung III   Today’s PRELUDE is a setting of Luther’s baptism hymn by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) from his collection Clavier Übung III.  The melody is played with the feet on the pedals, while the hands play motives evoking water flowing.

“Clavier Übung” means “keyboard practice,” and calls to mind similarly-named works of earlier composers. Parts I, II, and IV of Bach’s Clavier Übung were for harpsichord.  Part III was written for organ, and contains chorale preludes on Luther’s Catechism hymns, as well as hymns on the Kyrie hymn “Kyrie, God Father in Heaven Above” (942) and the Gloria hymn, “All Glory Be to God on High” (947). 

For each of the catechism hymns, Bach wrote both a smaller, simpler arrangement and a larger arrangement, perhaps reminding hearers of the Small and Large Catechisms.

Today’s VOLUNTARY is also from Clavier Übung III, the larger setting of the Creed hymn “We All Believe in One True God” (954).  It is a fugal setting with several motives, one of which is based on the first phrase of the hymn.

All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall… But Christ, the Second Adam, Came   The HYMN OF THE DAY, “All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall,” (562) is part of the core of Reformation hymnody by Lazarus Spengler (1479-1534).  It was printed in one of the earliest Lutheran hymnals, Geystliche gesangk Buckleyn in 1524.  It also has the distinction of being quoted in the Formula of Concord (1577) in the Solid Declaration I on original sin.

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