Want to Reach Young People? Give Them 16th Century Hymnody!

A couple of mid-week observations:

First, at choir rehearsal tonight the children’s choir raised the roof with the stanza of the hymn “Salvation Unto Us Has Come” that they are singing on Reformation Sunday. None of the kids had ever heard the hymn before last week, but they sing it as well or better than many who have sung the hymn their entire lives. There’s just something about those rhythmic 16th century German hymns that kids really grab onto. The same thing happens when we sing Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God”.  I think it’s the fact that the melodies are singable, are in bar form (which means that the first few measures of music repeat themselves), and they allow you to sing them in an energetic, unrestrained way that kids love. What I really love about it is what the kids are singing. It’s not another chorus of “God is my super cool friend” or “Every move I make, I make in you. LALALLALALALALA”, but they are singing this:

Let me not doubt but truly see Your Word cannot be broken: Your call rings out, “Come unto Me!”  No falsehood have You spoken. Baptized into Your precious name, My faith cannot be put to shame, And I shall never perish.

A second, unrelated, thing I noticed this week was how ancient some parts of our old TLH liturgy are.  I had a recording of gregorian chant playing the other day while I was working and I suddenly found myself singing along. It was the preface to holy communion in the olde Lutheran Hymnal. I had no idea that some musical parts of that service were 1000 years old. That’s pretty cool stuff!

By the way, don’t tell the kids that the songs they like are from the 16th century.  They might find out that it’s not “cool” to like that sort of thing.






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