Category Archives: Singing

God’s Word Belongs in the Home Where We Live — A pastoral letter of Pastor Rolf Preus

Editor’s Note:

You can download a PDF flyer version of this pastoral letter here.

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God’s Word Belongs in the Home Where We Live
A pastoral letter of Pastor Rolf Preus – March 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

As we ponder Christ’s passion during this holy season, it is good for us to consider our life of worship. God gives and we receive.  Then we give and God receives.  First God gives. Only after we have received from God the forgiveness of our sins may we give him anything at all.  First God makes us his dear children by washing us in the blood of the Lamb.  Then we can come to him as dear children come to their dear Father.

We go to church.  That’s a given.  That’s where God gives us his gospel and sacraments.  That’s where we give him our praise and thanksgiving. But is it only at the formal services with our congregation held in a church building on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings that this takes place? By no means! God’s Word belongs in the home where we live.  If the pure Word of God is what makes our congregation a Christian church, the pure Word of God will make our home a Christian home.

The Christian father is the pastor of his family. After giving Moses his Law, God said to him and through him to all Israel:  “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) The Bible says nothing about Sunday schools, Christian Day schools, vacation Bible schools, or any other kind of school established for religious instruction of the young. The Bible talks about families headed by fathers. St. Paul writes, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) Fathers should lead their families in daily worship. If the father is unable to do so or if there is no father, then the mother should do it.

What am I talking about? What is family worship? It is an abbreviated form of the public service of the congregation. It includes reading from the Bible, saying the liturgy, singing hymns, and praying prayers.

With older families or couples whose children are grown and gone from the home, the reading from the Bible can be directly from the Holy Scriptures. The New King James is a good translation that I recommend. For families with younger children, there are some good Bible story books for children available from Concordia Publishing House. I particularly recommend, A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories. It is very good.

We recite from memory the liturgy at church. I would guess that most of us know by heart the words of the Gloria in Excelsis, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei, both the Apostle’s and the Nicene creeds, and the Lord’s Prayer. For family devotions, I recommend saying at each devotion the Ten Commandments (without their meanings), the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. These are a solid foundation for our lives as Christians.

Good, doctrinally sound, Christ-centered hymns are a wonderful feature of family devotions. I was blessed with a father who loved the good Lutheran hymns and taught them to his family around the dinner table. I grew up knowing the best hymns in the hymnal – the great hymns of such authors as Martin Luther, Paul Gerhardt, Thomas Kingo, etc. If you have a hard time deciding what hymns to sing, singing the hymn of the day from the previous Sunday service might be a good idea. I have several copies of various Lutheran hymnals in my house. If you don’t, I would recommend buying a few copies (depending on the size of your family) of the hymnal we are currently using: Lutheran Service Book. It is available from Concordia Publishing House.

We gather to pray. The greatest of prayers is the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught it to us and we pray it every time we gather for worship in his name.  here are other fine prayers in the Catechism, such as Luther’s morning and evening prayers.

There are also a number of good devotional books available. Trinity has an excellent library – the best I have seen at any congregation I have served. There are some fine books you can borrow, and decide if you would like to buy for yourselves.

Home devotions don’t last more than ten minutes, unless you get into a theological conversation at the end and keep visiting around the table. I recommend having devotions after supper. If the phone rings during devotions, you either ignore it or answer it by saying, “We’re having devotions now. Would you call back in ten minutes?” Here is a sample form for you to consider for your family worship:

  • Invocation: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”
  • Recitation of the Ten Commandments
  • Recitation of the Creed
  • Reading from the Bible/Bible story book
  • Singing of hymn
  • Closing with Lord’s Prayer

My dad died twenty years ago this past November. I thank God for a faithful Christian father who led the family devotions throughout my childhood. Bring God’s Word into your homes.  Place the hearing, learning, confessing, and singing of God’s Word above every other pursuit in life. Do it! You won’t regret it. If you have any practical (or impractical!) questions about home devotions, give me a call and bend my ear.  I’ll do what I can to help.

Your brother in Christ,
Pastor Preus

Video – Mom leads two young children in opening of daily devotions – “Hey, I can do that!”

For many of us, video is such a good way to learn not only how to do things, but more basically, that we can do it.

The thought of fixing our home’s propane furnace intimidated me. But we have YouTube. Seeing it done did two things for me:

1.   It got me over the psychological hump of being fearful I could not do it.

2.   It let me understand some of the terminology and procedures described in written instructions.

These benefits, and more, also happen when we see video of things like Morning Prayer in the home. That is why it is such a blessing that member of our Facebook group, Melissa Sutton, has given us this video of leading her two young children in daily opening devotions.

In this video, you will see a nice, simple order for opening devotions in the home . You will see Melissa and her children incorporate some American Sign Language signs, and some signs the kids made up. Isn’t that neat? The kids make up their own signs!

If you haven’t tried leading devotions with your children, see if, after you watch this video, one of your reactions isn’t, “Hey, I can do that!

Of course, we don’t all have to do it the same way. Melissa shows us a good way. There are others. When our grandchildren visit and stay over, we use the format that Dr. Martin Luther provided in the Small Catechism for Evening Prayer and Morning Prayer. It is very simple, toadaly doable.

In coming days, we also will get the chance to see Melissa with her children in the closing of devotions and in memory work.

 

Video — The Lord’s Prayer played and sung by composer & cantor Phillip Magness

The Lord’s Prayer

Setting by Phillip Magness

Played and sung by Phillip Magness for the Wednesday Catechetical Service, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Broken Arrow, OK, September 24, 2014

From the Sing the Faith Songbook (Catechism Songs), Concordia Publishing House

 

Sing the Faith – Easy, Fun Way for Your Children (and You) To Learn the Catechism

No, seriously. Get Sing the Faith: the Small Catechism Set to Music.  As good as this is, the sales should be so brisk that CPH would have a difficult time keeping enough in stock.

The description of this product at the CPH.org website is not hype. It’s no brag, just fact.

How can that be? Because of an old, tried, and true principle of pedagogy (the knowledge or study of how people learn). “Words paired with music are more easily learned and remembered.” That’s what CPH says, and it’s true.

With Sing the Faith, the words of the Small Catechism are set to original tunes in order to teach and aid memory of these important words.

Each of the 67 upbeat songs covers a portion of the Ten Commandments, Apostles’ Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Confession, the Office of the Keys, the Lord’s Supper, and prayers.

Sing at home, in the car, at school or at Sunday School. Sing here, there, and everywhere.

But enough with the sales pitch, even though, as I said, it’s no brag, just fact. Here are user comments from Amazon, that track with what my family has experienced.

My son struggles so much with memory work! This has helped TREMENDOUSLY! The elders enjoy him singing these songs to them! 🙂

This is that best teaching tool for the catechism for all ages and the music actually sounds good and is catchy worth a purchase and great for car rides with young children.

I like it, it works for me. We are trying to teach our daughter the Small Catechism and this seems like it will work. She likes the tunes. I hear there is also an accompaniment book that goes along with it. Might not be necessary, but if you are teaching the tunes, it could help.

Every point has its own song. Each commandment has its own verse and song. It’s cheap, get it and try it.

Want to memorize something lengthy and detailed? Put it to music and sing it. Better yet, before you know it, your 6 year old child is learning the catechism by heart, because as the ancients knew, anything put to rhythm and a tune is far easier to retain. This album is a brilliant idea, and it is working to help my homeschooler learn the material far faster than I would have ever hoped.

Usually when items are put to music (especially in Christian circles they are…”hoaky.” Maybe too “broadway” or a little too “sugary” for my tastes. While all these cuts are sung by children, and when I first listened to it I wasn’t sure, but the quality of the melodies (as well as the harmonies) convinced me not only to pick it up, but also to advise the parents of my confirmation students to pick it up as well. The next step will be figuring out ways we can include parts of it in our worship service (yes, there is a songbook, too). Highly recommended.

It’s true, the children’s voices singing in these recordings do at first make the songs seem juvenile, but the second time through, when you start singing along, you realize, it was only the youth of the voices, not the composition or arrangement of the music, that made you feel that way the first time through. From the second time on, you realize that this is music you will like to sing even into old age. This is adult music too. This music spans generations. A genius is behind this, and I think I know who.† And that is going to give you the blessed words of the Catechism even when you have become infirm in other ways.

Here’s an entertaining comment that CPH.org has the integrity to let stand on its site:

Great resource – in a convenient 1980’s format.

This really does help kids learn the small catechism by heart. Catechumens who listen to this learn it more quickly, more completely, and more permanently than catechumens who do not. However, few homes even own CD players today. The only one in our house is on an old laptop. I’ve had to rip it to mp3 so the kids can listen on their tablets. CPH should offer it as a download. And they should think about offering a bulk-price so a church can buy it once, and then give the mp3 files to families in their church without worrying about extra payments. This format is almost unusable. You may as well sell the Lutheran Confessions in cuneiform. I pay for the CD and the shipping, to avoid copyright issues, then rip it and give it to families on SD cards so they can actually listen. Downloadable could make this the go-to method for learning the catechism. CD’s reminds me of a quaint bygone era. But they don’t help me teach the faith. (Make it available on MP3, and the rating goes from 3/5 to 6/5) UPDATE: Apparently, it’s available on Amazon as an mp3 download.

Do note, the reason that commenter was critical is that, if only he could have bought these recordings in Mp3 format, he would have rated them 6 out of 5!! This is an A+ product. The criticism was, for such a fantastic product, the CD format is an obstacle. Maybe if a few hundred more of us encouraged them along that line … ? In the meantime, we can get over the obstacle, as the commenter noted.

At Amazon, there are snippets as samples. At CPH.org, they have all the complete tracks available to sample.

A favorite section of mine is the Third article.

The Third Article


Meaning One


Meaning Two


Meaning Three


Do yourself and everyone around you a favor. Get this and use it.

________________________

Phillip Magness of Liturgy Solutions