Saturday, October 1, 2011

FW: Adolph Koeberle on Justification and Lutheran Hymns


On Hymnody…


Feed: Lutheran Hymn Revival
Posted on: Thursday, September 29, 2011 7:18 PM
Author: (Amberg)
Subject: Adolph Koeberle on Justification and Lutheran Hymns


‎"We can see how, in the evangelical consciousness, the salvation that is produced by God alone and that consists in reconciliation with God, is not limited to the theological ideas of a small group of hymns that would be collected under the rubric, "Justification and the State of Grace," but that it permeates the whole round of Christian thinking. The certainty of possessing peace with God is a sort of cantus firmus* that is re-echoed everywhere, here in the hymns of the high festivals and of the holy ministrations, on through those dealing with faith and life to the hope of the resurrection of the dead, which finds its basis in this justifying act of God."

From The Quest for Holiness, trans. John C. Mattes (Augsburg: Minneapolis, 1938), p. 61.

* "fixed chant" - An existing melody used as the basis for a polyphonic composition.

Because my sinful flesh is prone to despair, I am struck hard when I see the apathy of Lutherans toward Lutheran hymns.  I must confess that this must partly arise from some selfishness in my heart to be soothed hearing my brothers and sisters sing the divine doctrine with the same love for it that I feel.

But we can't force people to feel what we feel.  Just as it breaks a pastor's heart to see his parishioners skip church Sunday after Sunday, and yet their attendance ought not be the result of coercion from the law, so the Lutheran hymn is in the position of the unrequited lover.

She has more to give than all the music of the Papists and the Reformed, and yet the daughters of Zion insist on singing Samaritan songs.  What comfort they lose is lost to them, whom we pray attend more to the basics of the Creed sparsely found in the songs of the sectarians than to the obsession of the functions of our own worship that plagues most modern music that purports to be Christian.

But what pervades the "evangelical consciousness" (one might also add the evangelical conscience) is an obsession with the Gospel, the certainty of a peace with God that is outside of our reaction to it or our disposition to receive it.  Whether we sing of prayer or thanksgiving, or of miracles or of the works of the Church, Lutherans cannot forget Zion and the river that makes her glad.  She cannot forget that her highest worship is receiving what her Lord gives her: the forgiveness of her own sin, a reconciled Father, yes, peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also have access to sing to Him - and what shall we sing, but that the mercy of our Lord endures forever?

God grant us to sing again what we have so long neglected.  I don't desire to revive merely one segment of Christian hymnody known as "Lutheran," but what constitutes true Christian hymnody, which who but the Lutherans have taught us at its sweetest, at is purest, at is most comforting, as it is the most faithful to the Word of God?

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