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Music for St. Michael, Archangel (Sept 29)

Lord God, We Sing Thy Praise   Martin Luther set the Te Deum Laudamus (Latin: “To Thee, O God, We Praise”) in German in a rhymed metrical setting for two groups in alternation. (This is what it means to sing something antiphonally.)  Luther wrote his setting in 1529, based on a plainsong chant tune.  The Te Deum is the canticle sung on Sundays and festivals in the Office of Matins.

Composers have set Luther’s Te Deum setting for organ, voices, and instruments.  Johann Sebastian Bach composed an organ setting (BWV 725) of Luther’s German Te Deum which serves as today’s PRELUDE.  It is played on two contrasting registrations on separate manuals to illustrate the antiphonal style of Luther’s composition.

But watchful is the angel band   The HYMN OF THE DAY “Lord God, to Thee We Give All Praise,” was a Latin hymn by Philipp Melanchthon, the chief author of the Augsburg Confession. It was translated into German by Paul Eber.  The tune is a modern setting by the Rev. Thomas Lock, kantor of Trinity—Denver, named in memory of Steven Wiest, who served as a pastor in Milwaukee.

“Music helps us to see what is unseen.  Through Word and song, we see the holy angels: that watchful band that guard us in this life and attend us as we die (stanza 7).  As we busily go, they are forgotten, but they do not forget us. They protect toddling children, those who travel, grow weak, who are tempted, who are dying, and many others.

The hymn shows them in two dimensions, before the Father in heaven, and here on earth in daily life.  Stanzas 1–3 teach that they are created and are attending the Christian Church on earth.  This makes clear their work for human beings as seen as they attended even to our Lord Jesus in birth, time of danger, and Resurrection.

Stanzas 4–6 depict another angel, who is not from eternity, but also one of the creation, the devil.  He is not equal to Jesus but fallen and angry (4), always causing trouble in both Church and State (5), and as St. Peter writes is looking to harm Christians like a roaring lion.

He cannot and will not win, as we are blessed to see in Revelation the angels fight for us in heaven.  Today we can join our voices with theirs in praise of God (8) because Satan has been conquered by the blood of Christ.” –Rev. Adrian Sherrill, Trinity—Denver

The lessons are Daniel 10.10-14; 12.1-3; Revelation 12.7-12; and St. Matthew 18.1-11.

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