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.

Jesus, Priceless Treasure – Johann Franck (1618-1677)

Jesus told a story about a man who found treasure buried in a field. The man sold all he had to but that field. A merchant found a pearl of great price an sold his fortune to claim it. That, Jesus said, is what the kingdom of God is all about – giving up everything to gain eternity.

 A rich man came to Jesus and asked what he had to do in order to gain eternal life. Jesus told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor, the he could come and follow Jesus. The point is obvious: Nothing must stand between us and our Savior. He is worth everything.

Such a complete sacrifice scares most of us. We cling to our possessions and relationships and habits. We can’t imagine life without them. We assume that a life totally sold out to Jesus would be dry and joyless. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus is our “purest pleasure.” Possessions rust and wear out, but Jesus gives joy forever.

One Year Book of Hymns

Come, Christians, Join to Sing – Christian Bateman (1813-1889)

This hymn was originally written as a Sunday school song wit the title “Come, Children, Join to Sing.” But since adults, too, found great joy in the song, the title was changed.

After studying to become a minister in a Moravian church, Christian Bateman pastored at several Congregational churches in England and Scotland and finally ended up in the church of England. It was as if his whole career welcomed all believers, of all denominations, the “join to sing, Alleluia! Amen!”

The words alleluia and amen are both from the Bible. We find alleluia (or hallelujah) frequently in the Psalms. It means “Praise the Lord!” We find amen at the end of prayers and at the beginning of some of Jesus’ statements. Whenever He says, “Truly, truly I say to you” in the original language it’s Amen, amen I say to you” Amen means “Assuredly, “indeed,” or so be it.”

The One Year Book of Hymns

Faith of Our Fathers – Frederick William Faber (1814-1863)

Whether you turn to the Old Testament and see how God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans or turn to the New Testament and see how God stopped Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, the Bible is filled with things that actually happened. Our Christian faith is rooted in history.

Frederick Faber felt the new religious movements that seemed so popular in his day were dangerous. He felt that there was too much emphasis on the experience of the movement. After three years as an Anglican minister, he left the church and joined the Roman Catholic church. He appreciated the continuity with the past that he found there, and he respected the martyrs who had given their lives for Christ. But as a Roman Catholic, he missed the singing he had enjoyed as an Anglican. So, he wrote hymns to help fill the void. Today, Christians of all denominations sing Faber’s hymns, grateful to God for the faith of our spiritual ancestors.

One Year Book of Hymns

At Calvary – William Reed Newell (1868-1956)

William R. Newel was best known as a Bible teacher, commentator, pastor, and professor, but not as a hymn writer. Yet while on his way to teach a class at Moody Bible Institute one day, the words of this hymn began to form in his mind. He didn’t want to forget these ideas, so he went into an unoccupied classroom and scribbled the words on the back of an envelope. A few minutes later he gave the words to Daniel B. Towner, the director of music at the school. Within an hour Towner had composed music for them.

The first three stanzas tell the testimony of the Christian; the final stanza praises God for the greatness of divine love, the depth of grace, and the breadth of mercy. Since Newell is best known for a commentary on the book of Romans, it is no surprise that the last stanza bears a resemblance to Romans 11:33, “oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”

Calvary can be discussed theologically and examined biblically, but sometimes it is best to do what D. Newel did – simply marvel at it.

The One Year Book of Hymns

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross – Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)


This is another Fanny Crosby/William H. Doan collaboration… But with this hymn, Doane’s tune came first and Crosby’s words came later. When hymns are composed this way, the words sometimes seem stilted and unnatural,, but not here. Crosby was masterful at hearing the message in the music. She would often say, “That tune sys to me…” and then write a stirring test.


Interestingly, the subject here is nearness. Once again, the focus is the cross of Christ. Crosby realized that the cross is the central point of history. Without the cross, there is no salvation, no eternal life, no hope. Even in Crosby’s time, some scholars and preachers were beginning to focus on the moral teaching of Jesus,, the virtue and goodness that He modeled for us. This was all well and good, but they were also seriously downplaying Jesus’ sacrificial crucifixion. But Crosby echoed the apostle Paul, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

One Year Book of Hymns

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!

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.