There are no words which can adequately describe the experience of attending the WELS National Conference on Worship, Music, and the Arts. The best I could do would be to encourage you to view online the two services which were held on the Martin Luther College campus in the Chapel of the Christ. Of course, it’s not quite like being there, but maybe it gives you some idea.
The theme of this year’s conference was handing down the Lutheran heritage to the next generation. WELS President Mark Schroeder, who was just re-elected to another term today, wrote in his introductory letter to the conference:
Lutherans have been blessed with a rich heritage—an astounding array of spiritual treasures, passed down to us over the centuries through faithful Christians who have gone before us. It’s a biblical heritage that grounds us firmly on the Words of Scripture. It’s a confessional and theological heritage that connects us to faithful confessors and to the church of all ages. And it’s a liturgical heritage that respects our roots and values commitment to worship that focuses on the proclamation of the gospel in all its beauty.
We Lutherans today are the beneficiaries and recipients of such a rich heritage. But blessings such as those we’ve received bring with them a solemn responsibility. Our heritage is one to be treasured for ourselves to be sure, but it is also one that we will want to pass along to the next generation of Lutheran Christians. By treasuring this heritage for ourselves, we keep the gospel of Jesus Christ as the focus of our worship and of our efforts to bring the good news of Christ to a fallen world. By passing this heritage to the next generation, we take our place in a long line of faithful witnesses, as “one generation commends [God’s] works to another” (Psalm 145:4).
Throughout the week, this theme was expressed in several ways, most notably in the keynote address, in the 48 voice children’s choir assembled for the conference, and in a number of the presentations.
It was under this theme that I presented the topic of “Hymns in the Life of Church, School, and Home.” I maintain that the church’s song—especially her hymns—provides us with a vehicle for passing the faith on to the next generation. This happens when these songs not only provide musical accompaniment for the proclamation of the gospel in corporate worship, but especially when these hymns accompany the lives of the church’s members. It starts with children at a very young age; when hymns are learned young and learned well, they provide for a lifetime of comfort and strength.
I have created a web page with all kinds of information related to this topic. There you can find links to all the books, presentations, CDs, etc that I referred to in my presentation. On the page you can also view the slides I used. Keep in mind that the slides are not the presentation itself; they were mainly used to illustrate the stories I used to make various points. If you click through the slides you will see various images, videos, and audio clips. Over the next several days I hope to post a few of the stories to which those slides refer.