Worship & Music Ministry

What's Going On This Month

What's up at St. Mark Lutheran Church? In addition to our Saturday and Sunday services, choir, and hand bells, we've got some special things coming up. You can find more information about these 'happenings' on the Events page.

Our Hymns - A Little of the Backstory

The origins for some of the Hymns scheduled for this month are presented here. Some will be sung at one of our services. Others are suggestions to be sung as a personal 'Hymn Sing' on Sunday. Occasionally, additional worship-related musical information will be presented.

O Lord, Now Let Your Servant – Early Christian Canticle


The Nunc dimittis, also known as the Song of Simeon or the Canticle of Simeon, is a canticle taken from the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verses 29 through 32. Its Latin name comes from its incipit, the opening words, of the Vulgate translation of the passage, meaning "Now you dismiss". Since the 4th century it has been used in services of evening worship such as Compline, Vespers, and Evensong.


From the English (Book of Common Prayer, 1662), [the opening words are] Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel. The King James Version (1611) contains the same text as the Book of Common Prayer, except for the last line (Luke 2:32), which simply reads "A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel."


The Nunc Dimittis is the traditional 'Gospel Canticle' of Night Prayer (Compline), just as Benedictus and Magnificat are the traditional Gospel Canticles of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer respectively. Hence the Nunc Dimittis is found in the liturgical night office of many western denominations, including Evening Prayer (or Evensong) in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer of 1662, Compline (A Late Evening Service) in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer of 1928, and the Night Prayer service in the Anglican Common Worship, as well as both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran service of Compline. In eastern tradition the canticle is found in Eastern Orthodox Vespers. One of the most well-known settings in England is a plainchant theme of Thomas Tallis.


The feast day, Mariae Reinigung, was observed in the Lutheran Church at J. S. Bach's time. He composed several cantatas for the occasion, including Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin, BWV 125, a chorale cantata on Martin Luther's paraphrase of the canticle, and Ich habe genug, BWV 82.


In many Lutheran orders of service the Nunc Dimittis may be sung following the reception of the Eucharist. A 1530 rhymed version by Johannes Anglicus [de], "Im Frieden dein, o Herre mein", with a melody by Wolfgang Dachstein, was written in Strasbourg for that purpose.


Many composers have set the text to music, usually coupled in the Anglican church with the Magnificat, as both the Magnificat and the Nunc dimittis are sung (or said) during the Anglican service of Evening Prayer according to the Book of Common Prayer, 1662, in which the older offices of Vespers (Evening Prayer) and Compline (Night Prayer) were deliberately merged into one service, with both Gospel Canticles employed. In Common Worship, it is listed among "Canticles for Use at Funeral and Memorial Services".


O Love How Deep – possibly Thomas à Kempis (1380–1471)

The hymn “O Love, How Deep” provides the opportunity for congregations to sing the story of salvation from the birth through the ascension of Christ—a rare scope for a hymn. The incipit (the opening line of a poem) appears to be drawn from Ephesians 3:17-18 (NIV*): “How wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

The original anonymous poem consists of 23 stanzas in 92 lines with rhymed couplets of aabb. Most hymnals include only six stanzas. The United Methodist Hymnal includes a translation of stanzas 2 and 9-12, plus an unidentified concluding doxological stanza. The translator from a fifteenth-century Latin creedal and devotional poem began with the second stanza “O amor quam exstaticus.”

The Latin was found in a fifteenth-century Karlsruhe (Germany) manuscript and printed in a volume in 1853. Some have attributed the text to Thomas à Kempis (b. c. 1380 – d. 1471), the fifteenth-century German monk who is generally said to have authored the important devotional work, The Imitation of Christ (c. 1427), because of the similarity in tone and theme of the two sources and the similarity between the handwriting of the Latin poem and that of à Kempis.

The English translation comes to us through the efforts of Benjamin Webb (1819-1885), an Anglican clergyman who served as a curate in several parishes in England. Webb was the editor of two journals, The Ecclesiologist (1842-1868) and the Church Quarterly Review (1881-1885). His connections with the Oxford Movement’s John Mason Neale (1818-1866), a movement that provided English translations of Greek, Latin, and German texts, led to a collaboration with Neale on two volumes, An Essay on Symbolism and A Translation of Durandus. These scholarly publications influenced his contributions to two important English hymnals, The Hymnal Noted (1854) and The Hymnary (1872).

The hymn begins with sheer wonder and ecstasy at the mystery of the Incarnation. A distinctive feature of the hymn is the almost incessant repetition of the two words, “for us” in stanzas 2-5—twelve times! The effect is to stress that every event and action of Christ’s life was done for the benefit of humankind. The willingness of God to take on human form in Jesus was for the sake of all humanity. Thus, the theology of the great kenosis (self-emptying) hymn found in Philippians 2:5-11 permeates the text.

The tune DEO GRACIAS is also from the fifteenth century. It was originally a victory song, “Our King went forth to Normandy,” in celebration of Henry V’s conquest over the French at Agincourt in 1415. In some hymnals, the melody is called AGINCOURT. If sung in a lively rhythmical manner, this melody carries the story of the life of Christ in a triumphal manner.

(source: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-o-love-how-deep)

Here I Am Lord – Dan Schutte (1947—current)


Love it or hate it, most Catholics could probably sing “Here I Am, Lord” from memory after hearing it so many times.

Dan Schutte, the song’s composer, never imagined the song would become so popular.


Mr. Schutte was a 31-year-old Jesuit studying theology in Berkeley, Calif., when one of his friends asked him to write a song for an upcoming diaconate ordination Mass.


“I sort of had to catch my breath, because he was knocking on my door on Wednesday and I knew the ordination was on Saturday,” Mr. Schutte, who has since left the Jesuits, told America.


His friend wanted the song to include the images of the word of God, the light of Christ and the bread and wine—images that would eventually appear at the ends of the verses: “Who will bear my light to them?” “Who will speak my word to them?”


At the time, Mr. Schutte had no idea how to work the images into the song. He recalled thinking, “Gosh, I don’t know what to do with that.”


On top of the short notice, Mr. Schutte had been suffering from the flu for several days. He sat at his desk with his guitar and a blank sheet of staff paper in front of him, praying, “God, if I’m going to do this for my friend, you’re going to have to help me.”


Mr. Schutte said he often uses Scripture as the basis of his songs, so as he thought about the idea of vocation for the ordination Mass, he turned to the stories of the prophets, like Jeremiah, who asked God to give him the right words to say.

“In all those stories, all of those people God was calling to be prophets have expressed in one way or another their humanness or their self-doubt,” Mr. Schutte said.


That, combined with feedback from the other St. Louis Jesuits—a group of young Jesuit songwriters who popularized folk-influenced liturgical music in the 1970s—was why Mr. Schutte changed the lyrics from a confident “Here I am, Lord; here I stand, Lord” to the self-doubting final version: “Here I am, Lord; is it I, Lord?”


Mr. Schutte sketched out “Here I Am, Lord” over the course of two days. On Friday evening, he walked to his friend’s house to deliver the song, pencil in hand, scribbling edits along the way.


“At that point,” he told me, “I really had no sense that the song would be any good, and I was actually very nervous.”

Mr. Schutte said he does not remember much from the diaconate ordination, except that people seemed to relate to the song.


“I couldn’t figure it out,” Mr. Schutte said. “If only they knew the story of the last two days of my life trying to make this work!”


Mr. Schutte says he has not received much negative feedback for the song. “I have other pieces they do that for!” Mr. Schutte laughed. He composed a number of other popular Catholic songs, including “City of God,” “Only This I Want,” “Blest Be the Lord” and “Though the Mountains May Fall.”


Mr. Schutte said the positive reception of “Here I Am, Lord” has continued consistently since the song’s premiere in 1979 and its publication in 1981.

(source: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/10/12/here-i-am-lord-little-known-story-behind-catholic-hit)

All My Hope on God is Founded -- Joachim Neander (1650-1680)


The original words "Meine Hoffnung stehet feste" were written in around 1680 by Joachim Neander. In 1899 these were translated into English by Robert Bridges, who would later become British Poet Laureate. He was, at the time, living in the Berkshire village of Yattendon, where he was choir master for the parish church of St Peter and St Paul. Disappointed with the range of hymns available, he made his own collection which he entitled the Yattendon Hymnal and included this hymn, number 69.


In 1671 he became a private tutor in Heidelberg, and in 1674 he became a teacher in a Latin school in Düsseldorf, one step before becoming a minister. While living there, he liked to go to the nearby valley of the Düssel river, nature being the inspiration for his poems. He also held gatherings and services in the valley, at which he gave sermons. The Neandertal (originally Neanderthal, from German Thal for "valley," now spelled Tal, though both t and th represent a t-sound) was renamed in his honor (Neander's Valley) in the early 19th century, and became famous in 1856 when the remains of the Neanderthal Man were found there.


The original tune was a German chorale melody named Meine Hoffnung (from its German text). This tune was also used as the principal choice for the Methodist Hymns and Psalms book of 1983.


In 1930, Dr Thomas Percival (TP) Fielden, director of music at Charterhouse School, sent Bridges' text to a friend, composer Herbert Howells, requesting Howells compose a new setting of the hymn for use at the school. Howells received the request by post one morning, in the middle of breakfast. Almost immediately a tune suggested itself to him and the hymn was apparently composed on the spot (in the composer's words) "while I was chewing bacon and sausage." The completed setting, titled A Hymn Tune for Charterhouse, was sent to Fielden, and became a regularly used hymn at the school.


Fielden was one of the editors of The Clarendon Hymn Book, and when that book was published in 1936 he chose to include the hymn. Howells' son Michael had died in childhood the previous year, and in tribute Howells rechristened the tune Michael. The hymn's popularity increased in consequence as it became more widely known, though its use remained largely confined to public (independent) school use in Britain for the next thirty years or so.


Its popularity began to spread in 1969 when it was included in the "100 Hymns for Today" supplement of the Hymns Ancient and Modern, one of the standard Church of England hymnbooks of its day. The Methodist church included it (albeit as second choice) in the 1983 Hymns and Psalms, and it was the main choice in the 1986 New English Hymnal. It has subsequently appeared in many hymnbooks across the English-speaking world.


Join the Fun

Make Wednesday night your music night

Consider joining one or both of these music ministries

with instrument and/or song.

A place in the choir...

We have revved up the old Victrola and start singing on a regular basis in the balcony or on the floor and occasionally ringing those bells and chimes. 

Don’t you want to be part of this incredible, fun ministry? It is our position that we present the word of the Lord in prayerful song to open the hearts, minds and ears of the congregation in order for them to receive the message of the day. We are just one instrument to deliver the good news of the love of Christ. The more instruments, the louder the band. The louder the band, the better they hear! 

Please consider joining us.  On Wednesdays, hand bells begin from 6pm-7pm and the Trinity Choir Choir from 7pm-8pm.

See Melinda or any member of the choirs for more information.  It could be the best hour or two you spend with us!

Polish – Szczesliwego Nowego Roku

Portuguese – Feliz Ano Novo

Russian – S novym godom