The church of Christ, in every age
beset by change but Spirit-led,
must claim and test its heritage
and keep on rising from the dead.
This is the first stanza of Hymn 421, which we will sing during the worship service on Sunday morning. The poet, Fred Pratt Green, a 20th-century British Methodist minister, penned a number of remarkable hymns that appear in our hymnal. Although all five stanzas of this particular hymn teach, challenge, and inspire us in many ways, it is the last verse of stanza one that got my attention this week, since it makes me think of renewal (keep on rising from the dead). And thinking of renewal leads me to pondering the premise of our choral concert this Sunday evening: A Celebration of Hymns Stemming from the Protestant Reformation.
It was the need for renewal in the church that led Luther and Calvin to promote congregational singing in the 16th century. Sunday evening’s hymn singing will begin with “A Mighty Fortress” a vanguard of Lutheran worship and music. This will be followed by settings of two hymn tunes (“Rendez a Dieu” and “Toulon”) that originated with John Calvin and his followers. The middle section of the concert consists of hymns from four seasons of the church: Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. And the final sung hymn will be a stirring treatment of “Old 113th.” The concert will conclude with an organ setting of “Now Thank We All our God” performed by guest organist, John Bohl.
The singing of hymns, old and new, helps us to renew and restore. Join us on Sunday evening for a concert that will give you a new perspective on some beloved hymns of the church.
Renew your people with your love,
Renew us every day;
With hearts renewed, in all our work.
Our lives shall sing your praise. (Stanza 7 of Hymn 195)