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Music for Populus Zion-Second Sunday in Advent

In Yonder Home Shall Never Be Silent Music’s Voice!   The HYMN OF THE DAY, “The Bridegroom Soon Will Call Us” (The Lutheran Hymnal 67), is part of a much larger work by Johann Walter (1496-1570), the first kantor of the Lutheran Church.

Walter’s original hymn was published in 1552 in Wittenberg, and it was 34 stanzas.  The most popular version was published in 1628 and includes stanzas 31, 8, 9, 16, 18, 17, and 13 of the original.

This hymn makes a gracious transition from the theme of the End Times of the previous church year to Advent and the beginning of a new year.  The first stanza calls to mind the Gospel for the Last Sunday in the Church Year, the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, St. Matthew 25.1-13.  The stanzas paint a glorious picture of Heaven as we watch for Christ’s Second Coming, even as we prepare for the celebration of His Birth.

The music for Walter’s hymn is by Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) from his collection Musae Sioniae.  Praetorius served as a musician in Lüneberg and Wolfenbüttel, Germany.  His incomplete, three-volume Syntagma Musicum is considered one of the most remarkable examples of musical scholarship in existence.

Meet Lucas Lossius   The settings of the Introit that the choir is singing during Advent are by Lucas Lossius (1508-1582). While a student in Wittenberg in 1530-1532, Lossius met Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon.  After completing his studies, he became a teacher and rector at the school in Lüneberg, where he served for almost fifty years until his death.  He was the cantor responsible for liturgical music in the church and school.

Among his numerous publications contributing to theological and musical scholarship in the new Lutheran church was his Psalmodia hoc est Cantica sacra veleris ecclesiae selecta.  With a preface by Melanchthon, the work has four parts: 1- Latin texts and plainsong (Gregorian chant) of the antiphons, responsories, hymns, and sequences for Sundays and festivals; 2- the same for minor feasts; 3- chant settings for the Mass (Divine Service) and funerals; 4- Psalms and canticles with antiphons according to the eight Gregorian tones.  It was published in Nuremberg in 1553, with subsequent revisions in 1561, 1569, and 1579.

The Psalmodia… is a combination of two genres of medieval liturgical chant books: the Gradual (musical items for the Mass) and the Antiphonale (musical items for the Divine Office).

The early Lutherans (and Lutherans today!) strove to continue the ancient practices of the church: “And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other like things” (Apology XXIV).  Lossius’ work is significant because it prepared the ancient Gregorian chant for use in the Evangelical-Lutheran Church, free from medieval theological error and true to the style of the church catholic.

Today, fewer churches begin Sunday worship with the Introit; and not all of those churches use the historic text of the Introit.  Yet our singing the historic Introits joins us to a much greater fellowship of the church catholic, which has used these Introits for millennia.

We are privileged to have the Introits from Psalmodia… by Lossius as part of the rich heritage of Lutheran music.  I am grateful to my seminary classmate and colleague Rev. Sean C. Daenzer, pastor of Peace—Barney, and Trinity—Great Bend, ND, for transcribing the Introits from Reformation-era Gregorian notation to modern musical notation for ease of use.

The lessons are Malachi 4.1–6; Romans 15.4–13; and St. Luke 21.25–36.
The hymns are: 340 Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates
TLH 67 The Bridegroom Soon Will Call Us
355 O Savior, Rend the Heavens Wide
398 Hail to the Lord’s Anointed
515 Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers
336 Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending
Prelude: Partita on Savior of the Nations, Come -Johann Gottfried Walther
Voluntary: Rejoice, Rejoice Believers – Robert J. Powell

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