Critical reviews (by Lutheran pastors and church musicians) of books and other resources for Christian worship, preaching, and church music from a perspective rooted in Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions and good common sense. LHP Quarterly Book Review asks, "Is it worth the money to buy, the time to read, the shelf space to store, and the effort to teach?"
Feed: Father Hollywood Posted on: Sunday, August 25, 2013 7:26 PM Author: Rev. Larry Beane Subject: Gerhardt, the Cross, and the Art of the Hymn
The past two weeks, we have sung glorious hymns written by the Blessed Rev. Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), whose works are filled with unmuted Christian joy in spite of his horrific experiences and life in this fallen world.
Gerhardt understood the Theology of the Cross, not through theoretical considerations, but in profound and relentless suffering of the effects of the fallen world: war, plague, and persecution. And yet, his corpus of hymns are always upbeat and confident, bursting at the seams with hope and faith, with trust and delight in Christ.
"In his last will and testament Paul Gerhardt reminds his only son, still living after his other children had died: 'Do good to people, even if they cannot pay you back because...' The reader expects that the sentence will continue with: 'God will repay you.' However, Paul Gerhardt frustrates that expectation by continuing: '...because for what human beings cannot repay, the Creator of heaven and earth has already repaid long ago when he created you, when he gave you his only Son, and when he accepted and received you in holy baptism as his child and heir.'" (Oswald Beyer, "Justification as Basis and Boundary for Theology").
What a treasure we have in our tradition of hymnody, centered on the cross and grounded in the real world in which we live and struggle and ultimately overcome by virtue of Christ, His cross, His grace, and the Gospel that is proclaimed in sermon and in song!