Singing is part of the lifeblood of the church. It always has been. In the Old Testament, believers joined voices to sing the Psalms before the Lord everywhere from the shores of the Red Sea to His temple in Jerusalem. So also in the early church, Paul encourages the Christians to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16). These hymns are, first and foremost, the Word of God put to music, and secondly, a confession of thanksgiving and praise back to the Giver of all good gifts. Singing has certainly been a major part of the life of the Lutheran church. The Reformer himself, Martin Luther, wrote a number of hymns, as did countless others after him. These sacred songs embody the confession of the Gospel as the free grace of God in Christ. They teach the faithful, encourage the weak, give hope to the grieving.
Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing was published years ago, but has been updated to reflect the Lutheran Service Book and now includes a Foreword by the well-known hymn writer, Steve Starke. In this forty page booklet, I introduce and discuss five criteria that I believe are an essential part of what makes a hymn worthy of being on the lips of the Christian church. These criteria are:
- A Lutheran hymn aims not to create the right atmosphere or mood for worship, but serves as a vehicle for the Spirit-filled Word of God.
- A Lutheran hymn is not entertainment but proclamation.
- A Lutheran hymn is shaped by the theology of the cross.
- A Lutheran hymn is not bound merely to paraphrase the biblical text; rather, it interprets the Scriptures in reference to Christ.
- A Lutheran hymn is bound to no culture save the culture of the church catholic.
In the Foreword, Stephen Starke comments:
Chad Bird’s Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing offers clear criteria in defending Lutheran hymns as well as showing the reader why such hymns remain important now and for the future. He writes in a clear, understandable manner. I believe the booklet’s content will be a blessing to all those who seek to understand the great importance of why Lutherans sing what they sing when they gather for worship.
To read part of the opening chapter, check out this blog post. To purchase your print copy, click on the link here for CreateSpace or Amazon. It is also available as a Kindle edition here. If you wish to purchase bulk copies at a reduced rate for your congregation, Bible Class group, Board of Elders or Deacons, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Thank you very much for your interest!