Lutheran Music Overview

This section is a brief look at the music we sing and hear in the Lutheran service, why, and where it comes from…even if you have attended services often, you may be surprised at some of the information below…enjoy!

Most often provided by the organist, the prelude may set the tone for the entire service. Music selected is often meditative, and may contain the melodies of familiar hymn tunes.

The hymns in Lutheran worship are selected to enhance the appreciation of the lessons of each Sunday. They often tie in with other music in the service, and are selected both from the Lutheran Book of Worship, and the Hymnal Supplement. Hymns from other sources may be included in the service as inserts in the bulletin. We sing a variety of hymnody, from chorale-melodies of the time of Luther to music through the present day. You will notice that we almost always sing all the verses of the hymns, as the meaning of the text is not complete unless that is done.

From the Greek, “Kyrie eleison”, or “Lord, have mercy” is an ancient series of petitions and responses sung or spoken by the congregation. The Kyrie is the first prayer of the gathered congregation. The Kyrie is not a confession of our sins but an expression of our emptiness without God and our need for him to be present and fill us with his grace. The Kyrie is the heartfelt cry for mercy that our Lord and King hear us and help us in our necessities and troubles. We use settings of this text found in the Lutheran Book of Worship.

Not a traditional hymn, but a longer text set to a joyous modern melody. The cry for mercy and acknowledgment of God’s gracious peace is answered in the traditional Hymn of Praise, the Gloria in Excelsis. The Lord has had mercy upon us—he has sent his Son to meet our need. Confident that the Lord is merciful, we join the whole Church and all the angels in singing Glory to God. Contemporary settings of the Divine Service offer a second option for the Hymn of Praise, “Worthy is Christ,” often referred to as “This Is the Feast.” If you are new to the Lutheran service, it is probably the most complex item you will be asked to sing. It is, however, learned through repetition, and is a stirring way to praise God.

These responses precede and follow the Gospel reading. They highlight the importance of the position of the Gospel reading, coming as it does after the 1st lesson and 2nd lesson. The congregation stands for the reading of the Gospel stating “Glory to You, O Lord” and at the conclusion of the reading the congregation replies “Praise to you, O Christ”.

This is the hymn of the day and is chosen to illustrate the theme or themes of the Sermon.It is a congregational hymn that is centered on the theme of the lectionary texts for a given Sunday divine service.

This is a special music selection carefully selected to relate to the appointed lessons for the day. Often, the music is based upon familiar melodies, and is likely to be from a variety of musical styles. This is not always part of each worship service.

This music is our congregational preparation for the Service of Holy Communion, and is of a different nature than that of the Hymn of Praise.

This music, easily learned, is part of the continuing dialog between minister and congregation.

These hymns sometimes reflect themes of the day, but are most often melodies and texts that concern The Lord’s Supper. During some seasons of the year, instrumental music is heard instead of hymns.

A joyous conclusion to the Service of Holy Communion, this canticle of praise and thanks is the last part of the liturgy that we sing before the closing hymn.

Like the opening hymn, this music reflects the themes of the day’s lessons.  It is may be referred to as the “sending hymn” in that it is a special blessing given to the congregation as they leave the sanctuary.

Instrumental music which brings the service to a close. Although not part of the service proper, as is the prelude, this music is also chosen to go with the day’s hymns, if possible. It may also be of a purely festive nature, depending on the season of the Church Year.