We've mentioned many times in previous posts how important music is to the Lutheran tradition and how it breaks down barriers and unites us in one voice with our neighbor despite any differences we may have. All of these things are true on any given Sunday but I believe they are especially true on Christmas. All over the world and with all the saints in heaven on this Holy night we are singing some of the same hymns and probably singing some of those same hymns at the same time. My family is spread all over the country and while my preference would be for us to be all together in the same room on the 24th I know that we are together in faith and song. Very cool.
In the planning of the music this year I wanted to create a Holy atmosphere and surround you with Christmas carols. Thank you to our dear GA choir who will be providing a prelude of carols at the 6:00 PM service, thank you to our guest artists Mary Bowen and Angi Purinton for providing special music and thank you to you for coming to GA this Christmas and singing these popular hymns with me.
I want to leave you with one, fun tidbit. I discovered a new hymn to me in the 'red book'. "From heaven above" (ELW #268) is a carol written by Martin Luther in which he based the refrain on a sixteenth-century singing game. (It was customary during this time and for years to come for composers to 'lift' popular folk tunes and use them again in new music compositions.) "From heaven above" sets up a riddle to be solved. Within the nativity story, who would have proclaimed this text?
From heaven above to earth I come to bear good news to every home! Glad tidings of great joy I bring to all the world, and gladly sing.
In the hymn, the stanzas in quotation marks become the words of the angels rejoicing at Jesus' birth, while the other stanzas offer commentary and prayers. May our music on Christmas be like this hymn and may we be angels rejoicing, commenting and praying.