BY Anna Christman Horvath
A song is a prayer, an outpouring because the emotion can no longer be contained. It is a distillation of thoughts with a heartbeat pounding underneath. We sing with our voices or our God-given instruments (pen and brush included).
I encourage you to search carefully to find the songs that exist on nearly every page of this issue. In some cases they are hymns, both traditional and new. On other pages we find songs of Old Testament figures Hannah, Daniel, David and Isaiah. New Testament figures Mary and Simeon also bring their voices to this issue. Medieval and Victorian poets as well as contemporary composers are represented. The singing stretches across time and space to reach us in our living rooms today.
In “The Cultural Significance of the Lutheran Congregational Hymn in Its Eternal Truth,” J.P. Koehler writes:
“The first song is the promise in Paradise: ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.’ Since then every really great master of art in the world, even if he is heathen, as is most frequently the case, has sought to answer these questions of sin, death, judgment and salvation.”
We celebrate Christmas by singing of the fulfillment of God’s promise to send his Son and crush the serpent’s head, as noted by Floyd Brand in the last paragraph of “A Good Christmas” on page 19. We hear it in the carol “Tomorrow shall be my dancing day,” recorded on the album reviewed by Ms. Hanke and containing the lyric, “Thus was I knit to man’s nature.” We see it on the cover and read it in the numerous versions of “Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen.” And we can carry it in our hearts until they overflow and out of our mouth spills a song:
O sing unto the LORD a new song:
sing unto the LORD, all the earth.
Sing unto the LORD, bless his name;
shew forth his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the heathen,
his wonders among all people.
For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised:
he is to be feared above all gods.