George Weigel had some advice about hymns used in the Mass. What he wrote for Roman Catholic ears is food for Lutheran ones, as well.
Music Directors and Pastors: As a general rule, sing
all the verses of a processional or recessional hymn. Good hymns have a
textual integrity that is lost when we sing hymn-excerpts rather than
hymns. It doesn’t take that much more time to sing all six verses of
“For All the Saints” or all four verses of “Crown Him with Many Crowns”;
cutting such great texts by two-thirds or one-half inevitably sends the
signal that music in the liturgy is filler—and
there is no room for
filler in the sacred liturgy. [emphasis mine]
On New Year's Day, not exactly the highest attended Sunday of the year (at least I hope not), we sang all stanzas of "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come" during the distribution. Well, let me rephrase that. The distribution was completed by stanza 5 or 6 at each service but we kept on. We had a cantor give the folks a break by singing stanzas 5 and 11 but we sang them all. People used to say something to me about singing all the stanzas but hardly anyone does anymore -- because they know how ever many stanzas that hymn has, that is how many we will sing. Period.
So, if you won't listen to a nobody like me, listen to George Weigel -- acclaimed columnist, well published author, and esteemed commentator on things religious and cultural. Sing em all, boys. Sing em all!!