Friday, November 22, 2013

Church is Not a Spa

Okay.  I know that I’ve spent most of this blog time this year talking about hymnody.  And, even though my hymn of the month series is over, I am going to spend more time on it today.  In the past couple of weeks, I have talked to people numerous times who have mentioned that they like to sing music in church that makes them “feel good.”  What?  Where did we get this idea that worship is supposed to make you feel good?  If you want to feel good, go get a massage.  Feeling good is not what worship is about.  Worship is about Jesus.  It is all about Jesus and only about Jesus.  It is about Jesus coming to us in Word and Sacrament. 
In worship, I confess my sins and acknowledge that I am a “poor miserable sinner.”  There is nothing “happy clappy” or “feel good” about hearing or saying that I am an awful person.  But, it is necessary.  The gospel isn’t necessary unless I am a sinner.  God’s grace and mercy don’t matter unless I am no good on my own.  No, hearing the Law does not make it happy.  Hearing the Law does not make me feel  good.  Singing hymns that talk about sin do not make me feel good.  But they do make the wonderfulness of the Gospel even sweeter. 
With all of that being said, there are most certainly hymns that I love and hymns that bring me joy.  These hymns do that because they both remind me of my sinfulness and God’s grace and mercy for me.  These are hymns that are not about me but Jesus.  So, the next time someone tells you that they want to sing music in church that makes them feel good, tell them to go visit a spa and go to church for Word and Sacrament.  (Just kidding.  Don’t actually tell them that.  Just think it to yourself.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November Hymn of the Month - Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

I know I am a couple of days late with this post.  This will be the last hymn of the month post.  I have worked my way from the church year.  I started last December in the Advent season with "Creator of the Stars of Night."  Now the church year is ending.  Today we celebrated All Saints Day in church and will spend the next few weeks of the church year celebrating the church triumphant.  So, I believe that it is fitting to finish off this series with the hymn "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones."  This hymn is largely based off the first reading for All Saints Day, Revelation 7:9-15
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
As Christians, we can look forward to the resurrection and a new heaven and a new earth.  Today we sing with the great multitude in praise of our Holy Lord.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus!  Amen!

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright seraphs, cherubim, and thrones,
Raise the glad strain, Alleluia!
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
Virtues, archangels, angels' choirs,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou Bearer of the eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Ye holy Twelve, ye martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant, raise the song,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

O friend, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Alleluia! Alleluia!