Dear Christian, Rejoice!

Dear Christian, Rejoice!

This year at Holy Trinity, the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation has been at the forefront of our minds. We have heard guest speakers throughout the year, studied the Reformation in Bible studies, watched movies about Martin Luther, and I’m sure the topic has been discussed at length in our homes! We are proud of our Lutheran heritage as we should be, and after all, the 500th anniversary only comes once. To all of us, this is a big deal! As a music director, this is a time of great preparation for me and all the musicians at Holy Trinity. Not only are we preparing for several special services, but we feel the immense weight of our Lutheran musical heritage.

The history of music in the Christian church took a dramatic shift during the Reformation, mostly in thanks to the leadership of Martin Luther. Luther was a musician and a lover of music, and he had some very unique views on the intersection of music and our faith life, which set him up to begin our rich musical history as Lutherans. Chief among his beliefs on music and faith was the idea that music was a gift from God, given in perfection in the Garden of Eden. When combined with the powerful word of God, music had the ability to achieve miraculous fruits; creating a joyful heart, driving away Satan, and imprinting our faith onto our heart and mind.

To Martin Luther, if the faith of the believer is real, he MUST need to sing it!

Certainly this influenced Luther’s desire to write German hymns for his parishioners. The hymns he and other Lutheran theologians wrote were created to teach the faith in a simple and enjoyable way. The first Lutheran hymnal, literally called “Eight Christian Songs” was published in Wittenberg in 1524. Etlich Cristlich lider was distributed in Europe, and Luther’s adversaries complained that people were singing his doctrines into their hearts! Because of its popularity, another edition was published in the same year, this time with 26 hymns!

The first hymn in Etlich Cristlich lider was “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice”, the 10-stanza hymn which tells the story of our justification in Christ. 500 years later, we are still singing this hymn, still proclaiming what God has done for us in Christ. The hymn invites you, the Christian, to rejoice in what God has done for us, and to proclaim it in lyric and song. Then in 9 sequential stanzas, it tells the story of our previous state of sin, the Incarnation of Jesus, His death, His resurrection, His ascension into Heaven, and a final exhortation to follow the teachings of Jesus. It is a masterful hymn, being concise while so clearly stating the basic tenants of the Christian faith. The tune is easy to learn and is enjoyable to sing.

This hymn points us back to the great and joyous truth that was resurrected in the Reformation- we are justified by faith in Christ Jesus. That is the great heritage of our Lutheran faith, and how blessed and privileged we are to have inherited this from our ancestors. Even more blessed to us is the inheritance of eternal life, which we have received through our Lord Jesus Christ. In the age to come, the church’s song will continue on in the new heaven and earth. Even now, we sing with those who have gone before us, as we’re all united in the body of Christ.

The truths that Martin Luther wrote about in his hymnody are still applicable to us 500 years later. God’s word is everlasting, and His promises are forever. So dear Christian, rejoice! God’s promise is for you. Sing this great and glorious message in church, outside of church, and in your hearts. May the good news carry on for another 500 years, or until Christ comes again.

Written By: Alisha Schimm, DPM

 Join us on Tuesday, October 31st at 7:15 for our Reformation Hymn Sing Service on the historic 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, as we sing the hymns of Martin Luther and hear his last Reformation Sermon.
Refreshments will be served following the service.