Matthew on Monday…
It may sound "a bit much" to the ears of modern American church-goers, who busy themselves about their business through the week, going to-and-fro, hither-and-thither. These days, mid-week services themselves seem to be regarded as a bother, and this Holy Week, when we Lutherans generally have two mid-week services, attendance can really but in times of yore, for each day of the week leading up to the most important Festival of the Church Calendar, The Festival of Christ's Resurrection, there were appointed lessons to be read, telling the story of Christ's Passion from the perspective of each Gospel writer.
"But especially in sacred song has the Lutheran Church a grand distinctive element of her worship. 'The Lutheran Church,' says Schaff, 'draws the fine arts into the service of religion, and has produced a body of hymns and chorals, which, in richness, power, and unction, surpasses the hymnology of all other churches in the world.' 'In divine worship,' says Goebel, 'we reach glorious features of pre-eminence. The hymns of the Church are the people's confession, and have wrought more than the preaching. In the Lutheran Church alone, German hymnology attained a bloom truly amazing. The words of holy song were heard everywhere, and sometimes, as with a single stroke, won whole cities for the Gospel'" (Krauth, C. (1871). Conservative Reformation and its Theology. Philadelphia: Lippincott. pp. 152-154)
And this musical character extended to the liturgy as well, especially given that, prior to the Enlightenment, congregational singing was generally a cappella (Kretzmann, P. (1921). Christian Art: In the place and in the form of Lutheran Worship. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House. pp. 405-410 – and I urge the reader to find these pages and absorb them thoroughly). The main task of church musicians was not to apply themselves to the accompaniment of worshipers in the congregation as they sung hymns, but to use instrumental music to accompany the liturgy, and move it forward. One of the main tasks of church composers, therefore, was compose liturgical music that would accompany the liturgy and the proclamation of the Gospel. We see this in the fairly popular recording of Praetorius - Lutheran Mass for Christmas Morning, mentioned above, but more so in the various Baroque compositions of Christ's Passion. In these compositions, the Gospel accounts are not spoken, but sung or chanted. In this way, in this musical way, 17th Century Lutheran churchgoers would have the account of Christ's Passion delivered to their ears during Holy Week.