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.

Summer has Given Way to Autumn


Wouldn’t it be Les Miserables without our choirs? Thanks to Melinda, our talented Director of Music, and Martha, our awesome organist plus, for providing a summer full of music, topping it off with the Barbershop Chorus!


But…another summer has come to an end and the choirs are getting anxious to lead from the balcony (or the floor) once more. There is always room for anyone wishing to serve our church through leadership in song. Attendance at all rehearsals is not required. Even missing a service once in a while will not lock you out. All we want to do is share the word of the Lord through song and hopefully lead you into joy by His grace.


TrebleBells meet on Wednesdays 6:00pm in the choir room. Singers meet at 7:00pm, also on Wednesdays. We do what we can with such a small number, but welcome anyone who wants to give us a try. We are not perfect, but then, who is? Practice makes a TON of fun. And we are so excited to see a youth group blooming that there will be a few Sundays which combine us and maybe even the bells. Their ringing is so random.  Haha.


If you or someone you know, that may not be affiliated with a church, would be interested in the awesome time of fellowship and occasional music making, please see Melinda or one of the other ringers and they will assure you of the joy in ringing. Or, see a member of the choir for assurance in the joy of singing. Hope to see you!

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.

Awake, my soul, and with the Sun - Thomas Ken (1637-1711)


Bishop Thomas Ken wrote this hymn to remind the students of Winchester College of their daily duties: “Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise to pay thy morning sacrifice.” While his students may not always have appreciated these admonitions, they probably echoed the conclusion – the well-known doxology. In fact, Ken ended three different hymns with this concluding stanza. In his private devotions, Ken used all the stanzas of this hymn (he wrote thirteen), accompanying himself on the lute.


The bishop has a checkered career, caused mostly by the fact he wasn’t intimidated by royalty and condemned immorality when he saw it. He died in poverty, leaving behind only an old lute and an old horse. But he did manage to pass along some memorable hymns and a doxology that is sung in churches around the world. He was buried early in the morning as the sun was beginning to rise. Those present sang all thirteen stanzas of this hymn, “Awake My Soul,” concluding Ken’s life as he concluded each of his songs – Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”

The One Year Book of Hymns​​​​​​​

All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night – Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

 

In 1673, Anglican Bishop Thomas Ken wrote a Manual of Prayers for the students at Winchester College. The book contained a hymn for the morning, one for the evening, and one for midnight. Students were admonished to sing the morning and evening hymns devoutly – though apparently the midnight hymn was seldom used!  All three hymns conclude with the same stanza “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” – the most-sung hymn lyrics in the English language.

 

Thomas Ken knew well that some days are difficult to end with a doxology of praise. Orphaned as a boy, he was adopted by a noted scholar and author. He was ordained in the Church of England and became chaplain to Princess Mary of Orange. But when he spoke against the immorality of the royal court, he soon found himself without a job. Later he was imprisoned in the Tower of London by James II for refusing to read the king’s Declaration of Indulgence. Still, it is said that Bishop Ken continued to use his morning and evening hymns in his personal devotions.

The One Year Book of Hymns

O Jesus, I have promised – John Ernest Bode (1816-1874)

 

In Hebrews 10:23 there is an important parenthetical clause that reads, “He who promised is faithful.” In other words, there is no question that He will do what He says. There is a question, however, whether we will what we say, and yet God invites us to make promises to Him. When John Bode served the parish of Castle Camps, near Cambridge, England, in the middle of the nineteenth century, he had the privilege of officiating at the confirmation of his daughter and two sons. This hymn was written specifically for this occasion, and originally the first line was “O Jesus, we have promised” because all three children were making this dedication of themselves to the Lord.

 

While Bode wrote the hymn for young people and referred to the alluring temptations of the world, its message applies to Christians of any age. As the second stanza declares, “My foes are ever near me, around me and within.” It is easy to blame our problems on external influences, but often our greatest foe is within.

One Year Book of Hymns

How Sweet the Name Jesus Sounds – John Newton (1725-1807)


At the age of eighty, John Newton was quite deaf and almost blind, but he continued to preach. For his final messages, Newton brought in an aide to the pulpit. The aide would read the next point of Newton’s sermon outline, and Newton would then expound on that point.


One particular Sunday, not long before Newton’s death, the assistant read the first point and Newton said to the congregation, “Jesus Christ is precious.” He paused and waited until the aide read the second point. Newton said again, “Jesus Christ is precious.”


The aide reminded Newton that he had already said that. “Yes, I said it twice,” the aged pastor replied, “and I’ll say it again! Jesus Christ is precious.” Then he asked the congregation to sing the hymn he had written many years before, “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds.”

The One Year Book of Hymns

Where cross the crowded ways of life – Frank Mason North (1850-1935)

 

“I’m not a hymn writer,” Frank Mason North protested when he was asked to write a hymn on a missionary theme for the Methodist hymnal. He was a New York City man. He had been born there and had served as a pastor there. In 1903 he was an officer of both the New York City Mission and the National City Evangelical Mission.

 

North realized that the city was a great mission field. Since most missionary hymns talked about Greenland’s icy mountains or the heathen who lived in distant lands, he took up the challenge. He decided to write about the city a he saw it, about “haunts of wretchedness” and “shadowed thresholds dark with fears.” He wrote of Wall Street-like paths that “hide the lures of greed.”

 

North’s stirring words were published first by the Methodist City Missionary Society and later appeared in the Methodist hymnal. Let us listen to this challenge to bring Christ’s loving presence to the streets of our cities.

The One Year Book of Hymns

Join the Fun

Make Thursday night your music night​​​​​​​

Consider joining one or both of these music ministries

with instrument and/or song.

A place in the choir...

133We are getting ready to rev 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 September 13th, hand bells begin from 6pm-7pm and the Trinity Choir Choir also begins September 13th, 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!

1953 - Stuart Hine - How Great Thou Art

​​​​​​​1966 - Duke Ellington - Come Sunday