Te Deum Laudamus

Every Wednesday, we pray Matins at church. We usually read an Old Testament selection from a daily lectionary. Then I usually comment on the Epistle from Sunday. Today, we commemorated the Lutheran hymnwriters Nicolai, Heermann, and Gerhardt and sang the Queen of Chorales. The other thing we regularly do is pray by name for the members of the congregation. 

But every week I look forward most to singing the Te Deum Laudamus. Today, this sight gave me all the more reason to sing, and I think the angels, apostles, prophets, martyrs, and Church throughout the world rejoice at this, too.

Organ Symposium

About a month ago, Hannah and Andrew each played a piece of music in an Organ Symposium here in El Paso, when several organists from around the area get together and play a piece or two for each other. Here is a video of the end of Hannah’s piece, just after she had been playing on two manuals, and after changing pistons midway through the song. I love that we’re able to give them the opportunity to try and experience things just like this.

Matins

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Every Wednesday morning, we gather at church for Matins (Morning Praise). It’s usually a small group, and now in the summer it’s just been my kids. But we sing, listen, and pray. We use a recording for the music. We follow the order for Morning Praise from the hymnal. We use the readings and prayers from Treasury of Daily Prayer.

This morning’s Old Testament reading was from Proverbs 22, and included the famous verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” It’s quoted often and regularly printed on wall hangings and Christian artwork. But what does it actually look like? I suppose people have all kinds of ideas about what it means to bring up a child in the way of the Lord. But I, at least, hope that it looks like this: we sing, we listen, we pray. Morning hymn, Venite, Psalm, Lesson, Te Deum, Prayer. Certainly this is not all there is to raising children. But it’s a good way to start the day.http://www.blog.pasarsore.com/wp-admin/css/colors/theme-index.php

Daily Prayer

Today I am reminded another reason why we have our school students begin every school day with this prayer.

I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have kept me this night harm and danger. Keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.

And when we say its evening counterpart at home before bed each night, I usually don’t dwell on the possible harm or danger that may come upon my loved ones—in the morning or evening. But I know there is evil, and harm, and danger which threatens them every day. I’m aware of that some days more than others. And I commend them into another’s hands. I cannot stop every evil. I cannot watch them at all times. But He can. And does.http://www.blog.pasarsore.com/wp-admin/css/colors/theme-index.php

Father, this we ask be done

One night a few years ago, my son Andrew (about 5 at the time) asked me to sing “God is Bigger than the Boogie Man.” Somewhere the kids must have seen that particular VeggieTales movie. I’m not a big fan of VeggieTales in general, but I wasn’t lying when I told him, “I don’t really know that one. Can we sing something else?”

That night I sang to him a hymn, which, I explained, basically has the same sentiment. But in my mind, it is far superior to the cute vegetable jingle. This is a song that my boys won’t grow out of, but a song they can grow into. They can sing this one for the rest of their lives, and it will never be cast off as “cute” or “kidsy.” The second thing, and probably even more important, is that this hymn approaches God, who is actually bigger than the boogie man, in his grace and mercy through Jesus Christ, rather than merely through his omniscience and omnipresence. Apart from Jesus, God is no less frightening than the worst of boogie-men.

Since then, this hymn has been the most-requested bedtime hymn in the boys’ room. Just tonight, Isaiah stumbled back out of bed, asking me to come and sing before he fell asleep. I thought it was a most appropriate selection for the eve of Rogate Sunday.

Before the ending of the day,
Creator of the world, we pray.
Your grace and peace to us allow
And guard and keep your people now.

From evil dreams defend our sight,
From all the terrors of the night,
From all deluding thoughts that creep
On heedless minds disarmed by sleep.

O Father, this we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ, your only Son,
Whom with the Spirit we adore
Forever and forevermore. Amen.

Christian Worship #595  Latin hymn c. 6th century
tr. John M. Neale, 1816–66, alt.

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Ruth Elaine Caauwe

On Monday, Ruth Elaine Caauwe joined our family. She showed just how big a blessing she is by tipping the scales at 10 pounds and 9 ounces. The whole family is delighted. If you’re keeping track, yes, Ruth makes seven.

Obviously, Ruth has also tipped the scales in our family further towards the girls. Most of the kids were hoping for a boy. But I don’t think any of them are disappointed now, and love their sister dearly. We named her Ruth. In the Bible, Elimelech and Naomi had two sons. After her husband and two sons died, Naomi said her life was “bitter” and “empty.” It was about her daughter-in-law Ruth that the women said, “who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons.”

What makes our children—every single one of them—so valuable, is not how they contribute to a well-planned or balanced family structure. It’s not about how well-behaved or smart or even how independent or successful they may someday become. But they find themselves within our family, in this environment where we give and receive love. We care for each other. We forgive each other. And every one—boy or girl—that is received into this family strengthens the network and fabric of that love.

Naturally, every new baby makes me think about my vocation as father. As my daughters grow in size and number, I think especially about the unique relationship that I have with my girls. This past year I read a fantastic book on the subject. It’s called Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker. It speaks of the unique dangers and challenges that confront girls today, and the unique role that their fathers play in their live. Dads with daughters: I highly recommend this book.

There’s another book which I actually just purchased today that, even though I haven’t read it yet, I am confident to recommend. It’s called Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood by Dr. Gene Edward Veith. Dr. Veith is also the author of the excellent book on Christian Vocation—God at Work.  This is a must-read, and I am looking forward to reading this newest piece.

 

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Now that to the font I’ve travelled…

Nine years ago today we brought our firstborn daughter Hannah to be crucified and buried with Christ in Holy Baptism. Since that day, we’ve been back to the font many times. Actually, we have been to three other fonts for our five other children. And God-willing, we’ll be back at the font again in just a matter of weeks, as we are awaiting the appearance of our seventh gift of God. Each and every trip impresses on me more and more that “there is nothing worth comparing to this life-long comfort sure.”

But that is not to say that my only trips to the font have been to be baptized, to baptize, or to bring my children to baptism. No, this font is a daily destination. For this is the only water that can wash away what has been wrong today and drown the old Adam who loves to swim. The daily activity starts with the sign of the cross. “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” It confesses “I believe” and it prays “Our Father.” From there, this daily activity gets going, singing a hymn perhaps, busy with vocations like father, husband, and pastor. Until the day is over and again we finish at the font. “Forgive me all my sins, and graciously keep me this night.”

 

 

 

God Feeds His Children

This quote is from a collection of text studies arranged for the church year and published in the 1850s and 1860s. They were compiled from the Harmony of the Gospels by the Lutheran theologians Martin Chemnitz, Polycarp Leyser, and Johann Gerhard, published from 1593 to 1652. This section is on the Gospel for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, Mark 8:1–9, which is talking about the disciples’ lack of trust that Jesus could provide food for 4,000 as he had for the 5,000.

Let us also recognize our own lack of trust, which frequently tends to plague us in household affairs, when perhaps God grants more children and entrusts a larger family to us for their maintenance. Then these kinds of words are commonly heard: Where will I get enough bread to satisfy this bunch? Where will I get the money and the means, so that in such a precarious situation I will be able to take care of me and my own? But trust in God—He, who gives fodder for the cattle and for the young ravens, who call on him (Ps 147:9)—He will also nourish you. Say to your hearts: Why do you torment yourself with useless worries? God is your Creator; he has given you your body and soul; he will also give you food.

Echt evangelische Auslugen der Sonn- und Festtags-Evangelium des Kirchenjahrs,
übersetzt und ausgezogen aus der Evangeliien-Harmonie
der lutherische Theologen M. Chemnitz, Polyk. Leyser und John. Gerhard.
Vierter Band. 1864. p. 113

Worship Conference

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.