This Sunday’s readings and music will reflect our concept of God and how our ideas and images of God will change over our lifetimes. Isaiah 45 and Psalm 96 ascribe glory and honor to God while being in awe of the power and judgement of God. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians remarks on his appreciation for their steadfast faith and example while in difficult circumstances. In Matthew 22, Jesus is “put to the test” when asked about paying taxes to the emperor, and he amazes them by challenging their idea of God and who God is. We will also be challenged to broaden our own concept of God!
Our Processional hymn will be Sing praise to God who reigns above written by Johann Jakob Schutz in 1675. This hymn extols the greatness of God in giving all good things to God’s people, and calls on us to continue to give God the praise that is richly deserved. Deuteronomy 32:3 was the basis for this hymn of praise: “For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God!” Using a variety of metaphors for God and for God’s works, this text overflows with proclamations of God’s loving care for each of us. (hymnary.org)
Our Sequence hymn will be Earth and All Stars written by Herbert Brokering (1926-2009). Brokering wrote this text for the 90th anniversary of St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, in 1964. It was published in David Johnson's Twelve Folksongs and Spirituals in 1968 and in the Lutheran hymnal Contemporary Worship I in 1969. About his writing of the text Brokering says: “I tried to gather into a hymn of praise the many facets of life which emerge in the life of community. So there are the references to building, nature, learning, family, war, festivity. Seasons, emotions, death and resurrection, bread, wine, water, wind, sun, spirit. . . have made great impressions on my imagination.” The hymn invites us to join with a whole host of natural and cultural phenomena to "sing to the Lord a new song!" The text alludes to Psalm 96:1 in each stanza and to Psalm 98:1 in the refrain. But Brokering presents a modern list of natural, manufactured, and inanimate things that join in praising the Lord: planets in cosmic order (st. 1); weather and vegetation (st. 2); musical instruments (st. 3); technology and building (st. 4); learning and athletics (st. 5); wisdom, and all of God's people (st. 6). A new alternate opening stanza has been written since this hymn was published in our blue Hymnal 1982, which avoids the original text concerning Victory and War. St. Martin’s Choir will sing the new stanza followed by the congregation joining in the remaining stanzas in the blue hymnal. (Psalter Hymnal Handbook, hymnary.org)
St. Martin’s Choir will sing a new arrangement of the ancient hymn, Singt dem Herren, by Michael Praetorius (1571-1621). It’s titled Sing a New Song and was arranged by Mark Schweizer for St. James Music Press. The hymn was written to be sung in a Canon and you will hear first the melody in unison with the text: Sing a new song, Sing to God with a voice of triumph, Make his praises known to all the nations; Sing the honor of his name. Then it will be sung in a 2 part canon by the soprano/alto and tenor/bass sections. Finally we will mix it up and sing it in 3 parts. This is a joyful arrangement also reflecting our Psalm 96.
Our Communion hymn is the same one that we sang last week, Gather Us In, in honor of the Ingathering of our pledges to St. Martin’s. Our final hymn is an African American Spiritual with a joyous beat titled I’m gonna live so God can use me. It describes our joy in deciding to follow Jesus and to become a part of the Kingdom of God. It also reflects our stewardship to our own St. Martin’s as we ask God for ways that we can be of use to our own church and community.