A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Discovering the power of Luther’s original lyrics

Leading the way not just in word, but in song, was Martin Luther. He wrote nearly forty hymns, many of which he composed not only the words but even the music. His most famous, of course, “A Mighty Fortress,” often is called “The Battle Hymn of the Reformation.”   The Reformers didn’t just protest; they... Continue Reading

The Reformation: classical music’s punk moment

The great cultural and religious schism of the 16th century democratised music and participation, creating the template for modern classical music.

Luther certainly developed a practice in which music took on a more highly charged value, consolidating the drama and struggles of belief within the mind of the believer rather than in the multi-sensory panoply of traditional Catholic practice. It is perhaps no surprise that Bach once related the presence of God and his grace specifically... Continue Reading

7 Reasons God Commands Us To Sing To Him

Have you ever wondered why God commands us to sing to Him?

“We have so many incredible things to be thankful for and sing about – we’ve been forgiven, justified, and adopted as God’s own children and made joint-heirs with Christ. We’ve been rescued from eternal destruction. We’ve been given eternal life. Jesus SAVED us! That’s something to sing about.”   Have you ever wondered why God... Continue Reading

The Gospel is Like an Old Hymn

The classic hymns, like the gospel they help us exult in, are much bigger than they appear

“I think many of the old hymns, the ones that have endured–and plenty of the newer hymns too, actually–tap into a deeper reality than a lot of the more explicitly emotive stuff. In a strange way, the old gospel hymns affect us more emotionally by not dealing primarily with how we feel.”   The gospel... Continue Reading

Luther’s Theology: Music as Servant of the Word

Using the gospel as his grid, Luther retained, replaced, or revamped various elements from the mass

Having ensconced the Bible at the pinnacle of worship, Luther sees an intimate connection between music and the Word: “Thus it was not without reason that the fathers and prophets wanted nothing else to be associated as closely with the Word of God as music. Therefore, we have so many hymns and Psalms where message... Continue Reading

Who Killed The Contemporary Christian Music Industry?

The descent of CCM is a reflection of America's waning interest in Christianity as a whole.

The birth of CCM can be traced back to the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s, and was shepherded through its infancy by God-fearing hippies like Larry Norman. But it didn’t really take off until more than a decade later, as a result of early pioneers like Andrae Crouch and Amy Grant. Grant was especially... Continue Reading

Five Reasons Preachers Should Listen to Hip Hop

This particular style of music has some unique benefits for preaching

“The more important the truths we share the more they deserve to be said in a beautiful way. Why would you display an expensive painting in a cheap frame? Preaching shouldn’t be merely about helping our audience know something, but helping them feel something, helping them see something.”   In his book The Artist’s Way of... Continue Reading

Facing Death & Finding Life – Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) is the prominent blind hymnwriter of the nineteenth century

Twice when the invitation was given at the close of the service, she went forward, seeking peace from her inner spiritual struggles, but found none. Finally on November 20 she went to the altar alone. As she prayed, the congregation began to sing Isaac Watts’ grand old hymn, “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed?”  ... Continue Reading

The History Behind ‘Silent Night’

The lyrics to Silent Night were written by Josef Mohr

“Today, Silent Night is perhaps the most famous Christmas carol in history. It has been translated into most languages, and the Bing Crosby version is the third-bestselling single in history. A rebuilt Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf is now a cultural landmark (a replica can be found in Frankenmuth, Michigan).”   This year, my home has been warmed by... Continue Reading

Let’s Sing the Songs Jesus Sang

Heilman wants to put all 150 Psalms — in their entirety — to music

“About 10 years ago, while I was on a mission trip, I got a compulsion to put Psalm 1 to music,” he said. He liked the tune, how the words were straight Scripture, and that it was different from the typical modern worship song. “I got this delusional idea to try to do them all,”... Continue Reading