In the early years of the Reformation, Martin Luther expressed a desire that people should sing songs in their own language during worship. Since German hymns were lacking, he encouraged poets, clergy, and even a shoemaker to write new songs to fill the need. His encouragement began to bear fruit when the “Achtliederbuch” (“eight-hymn book”), officially titled Etlich Cristlich lider (Some Christian Hymns) was published in 1524. This first Lutheran hymnal celebrates its 500th anniversary this year.
Most of the eight hymns have fallen out of use, but three remain in Lutheran Service Book:
1. “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice,” LSB 556 (Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein), by Martin Luther
2. “Salvation unto Us Has Come,” LSB 555 (Es ist das Heil uns kommen her), by Paul Speratus
3. “From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee,” LSB 607 (Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir), by Martin Luther
This Lenten season, we are singing LSB 607 on Wednesdays at the Mission 12pm services, and we are using stanza 10 of LSB 555 as our Lenten Doxology at the Mission 5:30pm, 8:30am, and 11:00am weekend services. In addition, LSB 555 will be our Hymn of the Day at those same traditional services this coming weekend, February 24-25. The hymnal companion for Lutheran Service Book says that LSB 555 and 556 “encapsulate the doctrine and teaching at the heart of the Lutheran Reformation” and “proclaim that the sinner is justified by God’s grace through faith.” Five hundred years later, we are still singing about this chief doctrine of the Lutheran Reformation.
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