Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Best of Lutheran Song...

I have long thought that the Advent section of our hymnal is one of the best, the strongest, and the most powerful.  Not a few have admitted that the wonderful Advent hymns of Lutheranism have been among the greatest of the musical treasures bequeathed to the Church.  I have a certain fondness for the Scandinavian texts and tunes.  Perhaps the legacy of a long dark winter has produced some of the brightest and best of the poets and melodies of the entire church year.

I was struck by a comment by a follower of this blog.  He was Lutheran and now is Orthodox.  Of all the things that he left behind on the ferry to another shore, he laments most of all Advent and the lost of the beautiful Advent hymns.

In his own words:   What I miss most about Lutheranism are the Advent hymns, esp. Wachtet auf [Wake Awake, for Night Is Flying], Macht hoch die Tuer [Lift Up Your Heads or Fling Wide the Gates], and Nun kommt der Heiden Heiland {Savior of the Nations, Come] (among others) and a magnificent pipe organ to sing them with.

Let me add to his list of those wonderful Advent hymns:

Once He Came in Blessing
O Lord, How Shall I Meet Thee
O Bride of Christ, Rejoice
The Night Will Soon Be Ending
Prepare the Royal Highway
On Jordan's Bank the Baptist's Cry
When All the World Was Cursed
Comfort, Comfort, Ye My People
Come, Thou Precious Ransom, Come
Let the Earth Now Praise the Lord
Arise, O Christian People
O Savior, Rend the Heavens' Wide
Rejoice, Rejoice Believers and Let Your Lights Appear

It is no sacrifice to withhold the Christmas hymns and carols until the Eve or the Nativity of our Lord and its twelve days.  In fact, most of those Christmas tunes cannot hold a candle to these noble Advent texts and melodies!


Anonymous said...

Yes missed 3 great ones! LSB 348, 349, 357! The King Shall Come; Hark the Glad Sound; O Come, O Come

Terry Maher said...

How wonderful those Advent hymns are too to set apart the tone of December as Advent from the tone of December all around us. As the world is filled with secular Christmas songs to get us all buying for "Christmas", which is over in one day, then the tree comes down or maybe is left up through New Years and parties and football, the church repents and prepares, for a three-fold celebration, of Christ's historical coming, his coming in faith to believers, and his future coming, that lasts 12 days (plus or minus if you're a New Roman) then pushes on to his earthly ministry and Death and Resurrection. The world's ends as ours is just getting rolling!

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

Not to be unkind, but I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for anyone bemoaning what they left behind in Lutheranism. Tough, grow up get over it and quit your sniffling to the very people you've chosen to no longer be in fellowship with; enjoy the smells and bells.

James said...

"Tough, grow up get over it and quit your sniffling to the very people you've chosen to no longer be in fellowship with; enjoy the smells and bells."

I am often disappointed at the harshness of comments by some Lutheran pastors toward non-Lutheran Christians - even in this apparent case when a former Lutheran becomes Orthodox. Is this now Orthodox Christian not "a brother or sister in Christ?" You can disagree with the decision to leave the Lutheran church, but do it with kind heart.

Anonymous said...

The Good News is that only Christians
will be in heaven, so we should get
along with them now. Why? Since we
will be living with them forever in
the heavenly mansions. The New
Testament only knows Christians who
believe that Christ died for them
to forgive their sins and give them
the free gift of eternal life.
Ultimately, there is only Christian
faith and Christ is our only Lord
and Savior. Rejoice in Him.

Chris said...

Rev. Allen,

The hymnody of the Lutheran church for the Advent season can't even hold a candle to what we have in the Greek church with our hymns and chants. Why do people like you and McCain frequently feel the need to lambaste those who have left (like myself), label us with monikers such as traitors and insults related to a certain level of intelligence? Maybe it is because you realize that Lutheranism is part of the problem and you have no solution? So when no solution presents itself, insult and demagoguery are the only avenues left. Glad you were never my pastor.

Terry Maher said...

Rock on Pastor Bergstrazer!

Puzzles me too why if someone has chosen to break fellowship with us for something seen as better, why the constant coming back to hang around and talk about it?

Veiled proselytising? An unacknowledged realisation that Orthodoxy is part of the problem too as it turns out, and not a solution?

That's who the comment was about, not non-Lutheran Christians generally. And hey, in the fellowship of the next world, all of this will be gone, as Melanchthon said before he went. We'll even not be anonymous!

Wanna come back, let's talk. Meanwhile, enjoy the smells and bells.

BrotherBoris said...

I originally wrote what I did on an Orthodox forum, on a thread where people were commenting about what they missed about their former churches they had left.

I happened to mention that I missed the Advent season in the Lutheran church and the accompanying hymns that go with it. I think I've already grown up quite a bit, and I've never sniffled about it, as the Rev.Bergstrazer suggests.

I am really quite amused by the suggestion that I 'grow up.' My conversations here with Pastor Peters have always been quite grown up, polite, civil and charitable. Some converts, when they leave their former church and embrace a new one, can only demonize their past. Often they do this to show what "true" converts they are to their new way of thinking. This is also quite typical, in my experience, of former Roman Catholics that become Protestants. Often they feel that they have to bash everything within the Catholic tradition in order to be a faithful Protestant. I have also met fellow Orthodox who are the same way about their Protestant past: they demonize it.
I think the demonization process actually makes things easily and requires less thinking. I think that's why so many fall for it. It give you cut and dried boundaries and neat, tidy categories. Everything before the conversion is evil. Everything after the conversion is good, true, pure and wholesome. You get the idea.

I think one reason I stir up such strong feelings on this blog is that people cannot pigeon-hole me, and that bothers them. One thing I am always mindful of on Pastor Peter's blog is that it is HIS blog, first of all. Since Pastor Peters is an LCMS pastor, I am always careful to remember that fact. I never post things that criticize, mock or belittle the Lutheran faith. I am also careful to treat the Lutheran clergy on this blog with respect and courtesy. I think I do that admirably.

My major reason for coming here is the quality of Pastor Peters writing and his deep and profound insights into the cultural issues of our day. I really enjoy reading his columns. I look forward to them. He challenges me. He makes me think. And I like his taste in music too.

Any fool could convert from Lutheranism to Russian Orthodoxy and then go about bashing Lutheranism. But that's not my style. I've been around way too many fanatics and zealots in my lifetime, and I find them all intolerable. What I find more positive, beneficial and challenging, is to compare the Lutheranism of my upbringing to the Orthodoxy I embrace now, and note the areas of commonality. I realize this angers some, but that it not my problem. It doesn't anger me. Nor does it apparently anger Pastor Peters, or he would ban me from his blog.

James said...


I certainly appreciate your charitable and thoughtful comments. As one raised in the LCMS who married an Orthodox woman, I have deep admiration for both traditions.

I thank Pastor Peters for his thought provoking posts about Lutheranism, other denominations, and topics of the day. He writes with a kind spirit and is a great example for those considering the LCMS. Sadly, I can't say the same about others (apparently LCMS) who comment on his blog. Mean spirited is the only way to describe them. It makes one considering the LCMS to consider otherwise.

I wish BrotherBoris well in the Orthodox church. It's nice to know he has heartfelt admiration for his Lutheran roots and Advent hymns.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

Mean spirited? Well, I guess if the shoe fits. I am a poor miserable sinner in sore need of a savior-always have been. And I post often enough on this blog to now and then expect a pile-on over something I've said. In my own defense I never questioned whether the Orthodox are brothers in Christ that was an assumption made by someone else (that of course was not mean spirited?). My point is that it seems to be a peculiarity of those who make the big splash from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy to act like girlfriends who won't go away. They're the ones who broke up with us, (and had every reason in the world to do so) and a week later they're back acting like nothing happened wanting to hang out. Yeah I take this stuff seriously, how would you like to be a circuit counselor, DP, or vacancy pastor picking up the pieces in a congregation after their pastor who for a decade or more has asked the confimands "do you intend to continue steadfast in this comfession and Church and to suffer all, even death rather than fall away from it?" Does exactly that? I'm all for charity, and I think it is charitable and loving to say 'if you're going to go go; don't look back.' Spare the rest of us the regrets.

James said...

Pastor Bergstrazer,

Your comments speak for themselves. I don't need to comment further.

May you have a joyful Advent and Christmas as we anticipate the birth of the Christ child.

BrotherBoris said...

James: Thank you for your kind words. I've met some wonderful Lutheran clergy over the years, and I have a very high opinion of them. I have friends in the LCMS, WELS, ELS and the AALC. I attended two different Lutheran colleges. I also served as an organist in one WELS parish and two LCMS parishes over the years. There is an LCMS pastor in town here that is extremely friendly toward us Orthodox. I like him. My priest often goes out for lunch with him. In fact, one year when the local LCMS church had a music festival of sorts, they invited the choir from my Russian Orthodox Church to sing at the event. We were graciously and kindly received and given great hospitality. And before some folks get the vapors over this, please remember it was not a worship service. It was a concert, and many musical groups from various Christian traditions were invited to sing and present their music.

I don't argue theology or doctrine with any of my Lutheran friends. We have kind of an unspoken gentlemen's agreement about that. We do talk about the things we have in common, and the various problems our churches face. And I am very frank and open about the shortcomings of the Orthodox Church and they are the same way about the Lutheran Church. We don't try to put on airs or pretend that everything is perfect because it isn't.

But the bottom line is we respect each other as human beings, and we value the friendship we have with each other.

Like I've said in previous posts, I've dealt with many fanatics and finger-pointers before. In my younger days, you might even say I was a fanatic and a finger-pointer. I found that approach eventually left me alone. Totally alone and smug in my self-righteousness and in the "joy" of knowing I was right. I could be nasty and sharp-tongued in religious debates. And what did I gain by that? Nothing. Absolutely nothing but feeding my pride. As I got older, I mellowed and decided to take my Dad's wise advice about attracting more flies with honey than with the piss and vinegar I was spewing.

And you know what? Dad was right. It worked.

A blessed Christmas to all.

And a special Fröhliche Weihnachten to Terry!

Terry Maher said...

Vielen Dank, Brother Boris! Sie auch! I think if anyone gets banned from this blog it will be me way before you, BB.

And, rock on again Pastor Bergstrazer!

Damned if I can find Pastor B in the least questioning that brothers in Christ exist outside LCMS or that Orthodox are among them, or out to bash Othodoxy or the Othodox, or to nix cordial relations with Othodox.

My experience of converting to a church other than the one I was raised in is, that here in confessional Lutheranism is the real deal laid out cleanly and clearly and without a bunch of junk intertwined with it exactly what my former church post AND pre Vatican II hemmed and hawed, stammered and stuttered, puked and farted to say, and so was really no conversion at all any more than this is a new church -- I became catholic as Catholic could not be but was supposed to be.

For which reason too, there would be no reason whatever for me to hang around Catholic blogs or parishes like, well, the ex-girlfriend who won't go away.

The one Catholic blog I used to post on, was not because it's Catholic and I used to be, but because I am Lutheran and the author used to be and ought to have known better.

Pastor Peters said...

I have great respect for those who leave Lutheranism and who do not feel compelled to trash from whence they came at every opportunity. If they are good converts, they will see the good they left behind as well as the good they sought by leaving. Whether I agree with their choice is not at issue. I have been happy to have a number of folks who have made their way into and out of Lutherans post here. Generally, we have been charitable and respectful of one another - even thought we might disagree. That is a good thing. So Brother Boris and others like him are most welcome to read and comment. Like Terry, I tend to comment on the blogs of those in other church bodies only when I think they are mischaracterizing Lutherans. Hence, a while back, I made a couple of comments on a Roman Catholic blog in which a picture of some goofy female Swedish bishops was posted as evidence of the loopiness of Lutherans as a whole. I merely pointed out that they were no more representative of Lutherans than the Roman Catholics who defiled the Mass were representative of Rome. I do not believe I was rude although I did suggest that the poster knew better before he made the comment.

Anonymous said...

"The Good News is that only Christians
will be in heaven, so we should get
along with them now."

Really? So all those noble names from the Old Testament that Christ descended to free after his resurrection, Moses, Abraham, etc. won't be in heaven? Jesus seems to say otherwise.

I would be very careful about judging who will be there and who won't.

Anonymous said...

hemmed and hawed, stammered and stuttered, puked and farted


Anonymous said...

Yeah, assuming one can find a "confessional" congregation.

It's not like they're found at every corner of main street.