Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Well said. . .

A confessional church is a singing church. As she sings, she makes her good confession, a confession both in word and music. As the sainted Martin Franzmann once said, “Theology is doxology. Theology must sing” (Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets: Sermons by Martin Franzmann [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1994], p. 92). Theology cannot remain mute words safely bedded down between the covers of a book; it must leap off the printed page, exit the mouth, and fill the air with holy sound. Theology must be given a voice. The lips, not the pen, are the best instruments of theological expression. Although doctrinal books, commentaries, journals, and essays serve well as mediums of confession, they all play second fiddle to that which is articulated within the liturgy. The dogmatics of Francis Pieper must salute the hymns of Paul Gerhardt.

Please read the whole post by Chad Bird here. . .

Perhaps the greatest misunderstanding of hymnody lies in the mistaken idea that we sing because we like to sing and we sing what we like to sing.  Singing is, especially in the Lutheran Church, confessing.  The sound of a congregation singing the great hymns of the faith is not the sound of a people doing what they want or like but Christians witnessing to the world in the most profound and joyful way what it is that they believe, confess, and teach.

I had a cartoon for years that showed a Pastor heading over to the hymnboard and pulling a slot machine like lever.  The numbers swirled until a new set of hymn numbers was set.  Unfortunately that is both the common perception of those outside the sphere of worship planning and the dreaded reality of pastors who don't have a clue what they are preaching about until the last minute and who view the hymns as so much window dressing (dare I say scene stealers) from the main focus of his preaching.  How wrong they are.  When done well, the hymns, lessons, and liturgy form a unified whole into which the sermon is woven so that when people leave the church singing the hymns of the service they are also singing the lessons and sermon (and therefore confessing their faith in song).  When done poorly, everything is disconnected and they all stick out as not belonging to each other nor heading in the same direction.  People who leave such a worship service often know something is wrong, though they do not know what, and people who leave one when all is done well know that something is right, though, again, they may not be able to identify what is the right that makes it all fit.

Franzmann, himself the noble author of some of the most profound words put to melody by a modern hymn writer, has it exactly right -- theology must sing! 

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