Last Friday night Sara and I went to a Christmas concert here in El Paso called the "Navidad de Las Luminarias." It's an annual event put on by the Bruce Nehring Consort, "El Paso's Professional Singers and Chamber Players." It's a sacred music concert and is held at the chapel at Loretto Academy. It was really quite good, and I appreciated the selection of music. Here are my favorites:
- Das neugeborne Kindelein, BuxWV 13 (They sang it in English)
- Setting of "Wie Schön Leuchtet" by Johann Kuhnau
- A Bach organ setting of "Wachet Auf" (I couldn't find a recording)
I think this was the first time I've been to a sacred concert that was not a part of our church or schools. Like I said, I really enjoyed it and appreciated it. But I did notice that the pieces that were the most edifying, the deepest (and I think, the most beautiful) were the ones written by Lutherans. Lutheran pastors like Cyriakus Scheegaß (1546–1597) and Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608). Lutheran cantors like Johann Kuhnau and J.S. Bach. So much of this kind of music was created for the church by her servants, and while it's fun to listen to it today by "professional singers and chamber players," it makes me a little disappointed that many—including Lutherans—are completely unaware of the musical heritage of the Lutheran church. IIt would be a shame if we relegated this rich heritage to museums and community groups dedicated to furthering "the arts." Shouldn't such music be most and best used in places where it was originally conceived—where the music's original purpose of teaching and comforting the saints could continue even today?
That's not to say Lutherans no longer write and perform good, spiritually edifying music. There are many good things happening all over the place—though it's harder to find in outlying areas (like West Texas). There have also been a few wonderful efforts recently to encourage this very thing. One is the Singing the Faith DVD, which helps to teach people about this heritage and why it's important. The other, more recent project, is the DVD Children Making Music, which encourages us to pass our heritage on to the next generation. Ultimately, encouraging young musicians is the best way to make use of and carry on the rich music of the past and to encourage the development of similar music for our day—music written to carry the proclamation of the gospel, to sing the faith into the hearts of God's people.