Hymns of Our Faith

  “Hymns of our Faith” was originally produced to help the children of the Alleluia Choir memorize their hymns. Out of that project has grown a take-home guide for the entire family. Below are helps for using these hymns. Do not just listen to the hymn, but sing them out loud in the house, the car, the shower (one of the best places!). References are as given in ELW (Evangelical Lutheran Worship), our new “red” hymnbook. Click on the title to listen to the hymn. These hymns were sung by our Alleluia and Youth choirs. Eric and Tina Persson served as recording engineers and Susan Lindvall as accompanist.

All Glory, Laud, and Honor #344

A bit of history: Probably written in 818 by Theodulph, a monk in Florence, Italy. He was in France for most of his life on the order of Charlemagne.
The story behind the song: Theodulph was imprisoned in 818 for conspiring against King Louis. This hymn was probably written while in prison. The legend is that as King Louis passed the prison in the Palm Sunday procession and Theodulph sang this hymn from his window, the king was so delighted that Theodulph was immediately freed.
The best time to use this song: Palm Sunday and Holy Week.
Other creative uses:  Have the children sing the refrain while someone else sings the verses. Since it was originally used as a song during a processional, have the family sing and process to your own altar in the house.

All Creatures Worship God Most High #835

A bit of history: Composed in 1225 by St. Francis of Assisi.
The story behind the hymn: Very ill and temporarily blind, Francis took refuge from the summer heat in a straw hut at San Damiano. His discomfort was increased by a swarm of field mice which also occupied the hut. Under these circumstances, he wrote this magnificent hymn praising God for all his creatures.
The best time to use this hymn: Springtime in Minnesota!
Other creative uses: This hymn calls for original artwork of all the creatures listed in the hymn. How many can you find and draw? Hang them around the house as you sing this hymn.

All Praise to Thee #565

A bit of history: Bishop Thomas Ken wrote this evening hymn for his students at Winchester College around 1674.
The story behind the hymn: Ken included this hymn with a hymn for morning in his “Manual of prayers for the Use of the Scholars of Winchester College”. He said, “Be sure to sing the Morning and Evening Hymn in your chamber devoutly, remembering that the Psalmist, upon happy experience, assures you that it is a good thing to tell of the loving kindness of the Lord early in the morning and of his truth in the night season”.
The best time to use this hymn: This is probably stating the obvious, but before bedtime is a good time to use this hymn.
Other creative uses: This tune works especially well when sung in a round. Our hymnal gives you direction as how to sing it this way.

Children of the Heavenly Father #781

A bit of history: Carolina Sandell Berg, better known as Lina Sandell, began writing hymns early in her life and had a thick notebook of them by the time she was 13. Her life was beset by considerable illness and suffering. She wrote 2,000 hymns by the time she died at the age of 71.
The story behind the hymn: This hymn is about gathering safely under the refuge of God’s care and protection. It is the baptism hymn in Sweden, which is quite astonishing since it does not say anything about baptism.
The best time to use this hymn: Sing this with your children (or any child) as a prayer of thanksgiving for the protection that God provides.
Other creative uses: Are you Swedish or have Swedish relatives? This is the baptismal hymn in Sweden, so try singing it in Swedish! The words are printed in our hymnal. If you would like to hear it sung in Swedish, go to iTunes and type in the tune name Tryggare Kan ingen Vara. There are quite a few recordings available. Good luck!

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come #693

A bit of history: Henry Alford , the author of this hymn, was a parish pastor in England during the 19th century. In addition to his pastoral duties, he founded a choir, wrote keyboard and vocal music, played the organ, and painted.
The story behind the hymn: The hymn was written with a harvest festival in mind, when Alford was a pastor in the rural parish of Wymeswold, England. To the harvest celebration, he joined the parable of the weeds among the wheat in Matthew 13: 24-30 and 36-43 and the parable of the growing seed in Mark 4: 26-29.
The best time to use this hymn: Any time during the fall and especially on Thanksgiving Day.
Other creative uses: Sometimes a hymn takes on a new meaning when you read it as poetry rather than sing it. Try reading it this way and see what new meanings you discover.

Come, Thou Almighty King #408

A bit of history: Composed around 1757, but the true author is unknown.
The story behind the hymn: This hymn was discovered in a collection untitled “A Hymn to the Trinity”. At the end of the first verse, the writer refers to God as “Ancient of Days,” a biblical metaphor from the book of Daniel. This is not intended to suggest that God ages. Instead, it conveys the qualities of wisdom and venerability that one who is “advanced in days” would possess.
The best time to use this hymn: As a beginning song to your spoken or sung prayers.
Other creative uses: Do you play an instrument? Flute? Violin? Trumpet? Play along with the singers which will “help us thy name to sing”.

For the Beauty of the Earth #879

A bit of history: Written by Folliott Sanford Pierpoint in 1864. It was originally a communion hymn.
The story behind the hymn: Pierpoint wrote this one day in late spring near his native city of Bath, England, when violets and primroses were in full bloom and all the earth seemed to rejoice. He climbed up a hill and sat down to rest and meditate. The panorama before him inspired him to write these beautiful lines.
The best time to use this hymn: Thanksgiving, but also as a table prayer.
Other creative uses: Create your own artwork from all the ideas within the verses.

Go tell It on the Mountain #290

A bit of history: A Negro spiritual.
The story behind the hymn: The hymn (spiritual) was collected and published by John Wesley Work, Jr., a descendant of an ex-slave and a leader in the movement to preserve study and perform Negro spirituals.
The best time to use this hymn: Any time during Christmas. Remember, Christmas actually begins on Dec. 25 and goes for 12 days.
Other creative uses: Have someone sing the verses as a solo with all singing the refrain.

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise # 834

A bit of history: Based on 1Timothy 1: 17.
The story behind the song: The Rev. Walter Chalmers Smith published this hymn in 1867 in Wales. He wrote a great deal of poetry and hymns expressing thoughts and feelings that he could not fully express in his pulpit.
The best time to use this song: Any time you desire a hymn of praise and adoration.
Other creative uses: As you sing, count the many adjectives that describe God.

Jesus Christ Is Risen Today #365

A bit of history: Based on an old Latin text from the 14th century.
The story behind the hymn: The text first appears in English around 1708. It contained three verses. The fourth verse was added by Charles Wesley in 1740.
The best time to use this hymn: Easter, of course, but continue using it throughout the 40 days after Easter.
Other creative uses: Teach the children the “Alleluias,” then have the adults sing the verse with just the kids singing “Alleluia.”

Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee #836

A bit of history:  Inspired by the Berkshire Mountains; presented to President James Garfield at breakfast one morning in 1907 when the author, Henry van Dyke, was on a preaching visit at Williams College.
The story behind the hymn:  When van Dyke was later asked about this hymn, he replied, “These verses are simple expressions of common Christian feelings and desires in this present time. It is a hymn of trust and joy and hope.”
The best time to use this hymn:   Any time one needs a hymn of trust, joy and hope.

A Mighty Fortress #504

A bit of history:  Text by Martin Luther is based on Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength.”
The story behind the hymn: This hymn was written during the Protestant Reformation in Germany around 1529. Times were hard for Luther and his associates, and this hymn gave them comfort. In difficulty and danger, Luther would often resort to this song, saying “Come, Phillip, let us sing the 46th Psalm”.  This is one of the great hymns of the Church and deserves its widespread popularity. By 1900 there were over 80 translations in 53 languages.
The best time to use this hymn: Reformation Sunday, which is the last Sunday in October, but also anytime you feel that your faith is being tested.
Other creative uses: How is your German? Try singing this in German (you can access the text on the Internet). Add a tambourine or hand drum for a real Renaissance feel.

Now Thank We All Our God #840

A bit of history: Written by the Rev. Martin Rinkart in 1636 while serving a Lutheran church in Eilenberg, Germany.
The story behind the hymn: Rinkart served his parish at the height of the Thirty Years’ War. Eilenberg was a walled city and many refugees streamed in to seek protection. Inside the walls, there was nothing but plague, famine, and fear. Many people died, including many pastors. Rinkert was one of the last pastors alive near the end of the war. Some days he conducted as many as 50 funerals. Rinkert composed this hymn for the survivors of Eilenberg. It has been sung around the world ever since.
The best time to use this hymn: Thanksgiving Day is always good, but don’t limit it to just one day out of the year. Think of other times that you are especially thankful.
Other creative uses: Rinkart originally wrote the text as a table prayer. Try using it this way at your next meal.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel #257

A bit of history: Dates from the 9th century. The tune is from the 15th century but was recently discovered in the late 1960s in Portugal.
The story behind the hymn: The hymn is based on early songs from the 9th century. These short songs all began with “O”, addressing the Messiah with one of his scriptural titles such as Emmanuel, Wisdom, Dayspring, etc. There are a total of seven of these short songs which correspond to the number of verses of the hymn.
The best time to use this song: Any time during Advent.
Other creative uses: Have the children learn the refrain first, then learn the whole verse. Sing this each Sunday in Advent as you light your Advent wreath. Perhaps a child could process into a darkened room with a lit candle while the family sings this hymn.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty #858

A bit of history: Written by Joachim Neander in 1665. It is based on Psalms 103 and 150.
The story behind the hymn: Neander grew up in a family of pastors, but did not embrace the Christian faith until later in his youth. He would often take long walks near his home in Hochdal, Germany. He frequently composed hymns as he strolled. He wrote this hymn when he was 30, the year he died.
The best time to use this hymn: Any time when a praise song is appropriate, such as after a good day at school, a completed project, or a good score on a test.
Other creative uses: Look up Psalms 103 and 150 and find the references that are used in the hymn.

O God Our Help in Ages Past #632

The story behind the hymn: This is a paraphrase of Psalm 90, which is often used in funeral services. In fact, it was played on the radio by the BBC as soon as WWII was declared, and was later sung at the funeral service of Winston Churchill.
The best time to use this hymn: When life gets you down, this first verse can be a real comfort.
Other creative uses: Look up Psalm 90 in the Bible (or the hymnal) and see what Watts has paraphrased. Read part of the psalm and sing the hymn.
A bit of history: The text was written by the father of English hymnody, Isaac Watts. Watts wrote over 600 hymns and psalm paraphrases. “Joy to the World” is another Watts hymn.

This Is My Father’s World #824

A bit of history: Written by Maltbie D. Babcock, a Presbyterian minster of many gifts— scholastic dramatic, and athletic—as well as poetic and musical talents.
The story behind the hymn: The author of this hymn enjoyed hiking in an area called “the escarpment,” an ancient upthrust ledge near the city. Heading out on such walks, he often proclaimed, “I am going out to see my Father’s world”. And from his vantage point on the escarpment, he had a beautiful view of God’s creation, indeed; from the greens of farms and orchards to the blues of Lake Ontario. It’s said that these walks inspired the words to the hymn.
The best time to use this hymn: During your morning or evening walk, or any time you are in God’s creation.
Other creative uses: What does he mean by “all nature sings”? Can you find examples?