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 includes two settings of this hymn. The first is by Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706). Pachelbel represents the finest of the south German organ school for his contributions in chorale preludes during the Baroque period. His composition played today is part of this tradition.
The second setting is by Friedrich Wilhelm Zachau (or Zachow) (1663-1712). He served as kantor at the Market Church in Halle. He is known for his composition of cantatas and for being a music instructor, especially of Georg Friedic Handel.
Rogate Sunday: The Latin names for the Sundays in Easter are from the first word of the Introit, with the exception of today.
Rogate comes from the Latin rogare which means “to ask,” a reference to the strong theme of prayer in the Propers for today. In ancient practice, the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday prior to the Ascension of Our Lord were known as Rogation Days. These days of early summer were times of special prayer for the protection of the crops. The Major Rogation was on April 25, also the Feast of St. Mark. The rite used in the ancient church was derived from the litanies of St. Mamertus of Vienne (d. 470), when that region (then called Gaul) was threatened by volcanic activity. The Introit for Rogate, “With the voice of singing declare ye, and tell this: utter it even to the end of the earth…” is from Isaiah 48.20, a joyful proclamation of the freedom of Israel from the Babylonian captivity, and of God’s gracious deliverance of His people. The Gospel for Rogate, like those for the preceding Sundays—Cantate and Jubilate, all point to the Ascension, and hence point the eyes of the faithful to our risen Lord’s eternal reign in heaven.