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About Sunday’s Music – Third Sunday after Trinity

I trust, O Lord, your promise true.   Described as “a presentation of the Christian life in a nutshell,” the HYMN OF THE DAY, “I Trust, O Christ, in You Alone” (972, insert) was first published in 1542 in the Gesangbuch in Magdeburg.

This hymn was written by Johannes Schneesing (d. 1567), pastor in Friemar, Germany.  He authored a catechism for the children of his parish, where he also taught them through the singing of hymns.

The hymn makes a clear confession of the Gospel in the Christian life.  Plagued by our sin and guilt, we pray: “O grant me true contrition; And by Your death upon the tree, Your pardon and remission.”  We stand, freed from sin, before the Father’s throne because of Christ’s atonement.  The forgiveness we receive through His Word keeps us each hour of life.   The tune was written for this text by an anonymous composer.

The PRELUDE is based on this hymn by Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748).   Walther compiled the first German-language musical encyclopedia Musicalisches Lexicon, published in 1732.  It was a magnificent compilation of music and musicians with over 3000 entries.

Walther belonged to a family of musicians, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) being both his contemporary and his cousin.  Walther made a significant contribution to church music, writing over 130 organ compositions based on Lutheran hymn tunes.  These are known as “chorale preludes.” (“Chorale” is the German word for “hymn”).

Neumeister Collection: Bach’s Lost Compositions   The VOLUNTARY is a setting of the hymn of the day by J. S. Bach from the Neumeister-Sammlung.  This collection was copied by Johann Gottfried Neumeister (1756-1840) after 1790.  One of Bach’s pupils, Johann Christian Kittel, gave the manuscript to Christian Heinrich Rinck (1770-1846).  Rinck’s library was purchased by Lowell Mason in 1852.  At Mason’s death in 1873, the collection was willed to Yale University.

The collection remained unknown for over a century until it was rediscovered and published in 1985.  The 31 compositions were added to the Bach’s works catalog as BWV 1090-1120.  The compositions are from Bach’s early writing, and include a number of chorales that were apparently planned but not included in the Orgelbüchlein.  The discovery and publication of these forgotten compositions was a great development in Bach scholarship.  The collection had a total of 82 organ compositions, including works by Johann Michael Bach, Johann Christoph Bach, Friedrich Zachow, Johann Pachelbel, Daniel Erich, Georg Sorge, and five anonymous compositions.

Let me know Your gracious pardon   The ENTRANCE HYMN, “Lord to You I Make Confession” (608), is by Johann Franck (1618-1677).  He studied at Königsberg with two hymnwriters, Simon Dach and Heinrich Held.

This text is a fine Christian prayer for repentance and forgiveness, with tune by Johann Crüger, a kantor who wrote or arranged over 120 chorale tunes.  It is our prayer each day, and certainly at the beginning of the Divine Service as we enter Our Lord’s presence: “Let me know Your gracious pardon, Cleanse me from iniquity.  Let Your Spirit leave me never; Make me only Yours forever.”

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