Through the Church the Song Goes On
A Hymn Festival in Celebration of
the 25th Anniversary of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians
In 2011, ALCM celebrated its 25th anniversary. During those 25 years ALCM has engaged in the work of empowering people to join the song of the Church. It is appropriate that, at this moment in our history, we sing about it and give thanks. To honor ALCM’s 25 years of growth and influence within the Lutheran community, the hymn festival “Through the Church the Song Goes On” was created.
The goal of this hymn festival was to ignite the Church with at least 25 experiences of the same hymn festival, to provide opportunity to share stories of ALCM’s accomplishments, and to encourage financial support and partnership to expand scholarship and mentoring programs for our youngest musicians.
Although ALCM’s 25th anniversary has passed, these resources continue to be offered for creating local hymn festivals.
Instrumental and choral resources related to the hymns (rev. 9/15/11)
In thinking about the mission of the ALCM and its members, the last part of stanza three of the hymn “Holy God, We Praise Your Name” comes to mind. Each week the members of the ALCM are doing and engaging in music for the Lutheran Church, but without the Church—without people—we would simply be waving our arms and playing organs to empty rooms. It is not through musicians that the song goes on, but the entire church, the Body of Christ. For 25 years the ALCM has engaged in the work of empowering people to join the song of the Church. It is appropriate that at this moment in our history, we sing about it and give thanks.
This hymn festival was structured around a snapshot of what the Church does when it sings: prayer, praise, proclamation, lament, and tasting the feast to come. This is not an exclusive list of what we do in worship, nor is it necessarily ordered in a systematic theological flow, but it gives us an opportunity to sing the story of who we are as church and remember the work we do for building up the Body of Christ.
The challenge of crafting a hymn festival for the ALCM is multifold. Music and hymns were selected that are readily accessible to musicians across the various denominations. Finding music that we hold in common as American Lutherans is more difficult in this age of deepening divisions between ELCA, LC-MS, WELS, etc. However, united around a common theme of worship, these hymns – some new, but most well-known – can attempt to give voice to a shared musical language of worship and song. A new hymn text by Susan Palo Cherwien was commissioned reflecting the theme of this hymn festival. The hymn text by Herman Stuempfle and tune by Carolyn Jennings commissioned for the 10th anniversary hymn festival was specifically included. (Voices Raised to You)
The individuals chosen to be invited to write reflections and in essence “speak” to the ALCM are those who were influential in laying the groundwork for our inception 25 years ago and who have been leaders in the pan-denominational Lutheran musical landscape during this time. Clearly, not everyone who was influential in the ALCM’s 25-year growth can be included, but this representative listing hopefully shows the depth and breadth of our collective theological, poetic, and musical identity.
This hymn festival was designed as being easily adaptable to a variety of settings with a variety of musical forces and skill-sets. A comprehensive listing of existing print resources from respective denominational publishers is provided for arrangements and settings of the festival’s hymns. Also, ALCM members are invited to provide and submit newly-composed material ranging from simple re-harmonizations, choral stanzas, or chorale preludes to full concertato settings, which will be shared and made available for download from the ALCM website.
Reflections in Word format and Reflections in PDF format
Mark Bangert, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Lorraine Brugh, ALCM President, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN
Gerry Evenrud, Minneapolis, MN
Victor Gebauer, St. Paul, MN
Carlos Messerli, River Forest, IL
Paul Westermeyer, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
Commissioned Hymn Text
Susan Palo Cherwien, St. Louis Park, MN
Prayers and Blessing
Susan Briehl, Spokane, WA
Choral & Instrumental Resources (Rev. 9/15/11)
Daniel Schwandt, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago