“The distinction between the Law and the Gospel is a special brilliant light, which serves to the end that God’s Word may be rightly divided, and the Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles may be properly explained and understood.” – Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, V
The Law of God is Good and Wise (579, Entrance Hymn) and The Gospel Shows the Father’s Grace (580, Hymn of the Day) are a set of hymns expounding the unique Lutheran distinction of Law and Gospel. They can be sung in alternation. They were published in 1863 in the Ohio Synod’s Collection of Hymns.
Author Matthias Loy (1828-1915) wrote this pair of hymns. Loy was a professor of theology at Capital University-Columbus, Ohio, editor of the Lutheran Standard and president of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Ohio (1860-1878, 1880-1892). In addition to writing, he also translated hymns, nine of which are in our hymnal. Loy was instrumental in the formation of the Synodical Conference in 1872, which the Ohio Synod did not ultimately join.
The Father’s love shield me this day. The DISTRIBUTION HYMN, “O Blessed, Holy Trinity” (876) is by Martin Behm (1557-1622), pastor in Lauben and Breslau, Germany. He was especially known for his extensive preaching on the Psalms. He wrote over 500 hymns that were published in three volumes.
The tune is by Nikolaus Herman (1480-1561), cantor at Joachimsthal, Bohemia, a town noted for embracing the Reformation, and fostering church music and the arts. Herman worked to increase familiarity with plainsong chant, and he was both the author of hymn texts as well as composer of hymn tunes.
Today’s VOLUNTARY is on “O Heilige Dreifaltigkeit,” the tune by Herman used in Lutheran Service Book for Behm’s text. The setting is by German composer Johannes Matthias Michel (b. 1962). He is director of church music at the Christuskirche Mannheim, region cantor of Mannheim and state cantor of Nordbaden.