Wednesday evening, LSM hosted its annual Hymn Festival. The night was filled with community, theological insight, and, of course, hymns!
The program, entitled “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice!”, was centered around the concept of the church year. As we progressed through the program, we cycled through hymns that related to the major seasons of the liturgical year, beginning with Advent and ending with Pentecost and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, the theme song of the night, “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice!”, was interspersed throughout the program, performed in different variations and interpretations.
Many types of instrumentation were utilized during the evening. The Reverend Dr. Paul D. Weber, who serves as the director of the Chapel Choir, and the Reverend Michael Costello, LSM’s Chaplain, served as cantors for the service. Dr. Kenneth Miller, on the organ, and the Chapel Choir, comprised of around 25 LSM students, led the congregation in the hymns. Additionally, many students, faculty members, and local musicians participated in the wonderful instrumental ensemble, including percussion, strings, woodwinds, and brass. Perhaps one of the nicest additions were seven children singers from the local Immanuel Lutheran Church. These children were heavily integrated into the program.
While there were many memorable moments from Wednesday evening’s Hymn Festival, perhaps one of the high points was the performance of “A Mighty Fortress”, the well-known “Reformation theme." Dr. Miller introduced the hymn with a spectacular organ prelude, which led to an explosive full instrumental and choral opening set by Dr. Weber. This setting had everything, from the original tune of Luther’s hymn to a childlike interpretation that utilized the children’s choir on hand. Sharing the experience of triumphantly singing this hymn with an audience of enthusiastic participants is something that will stick with the LSM students for a very long time.
The beauty of the Hymn Festival is that it is more than a standard concert, where music is presented by the students to the audience; the audience is an active participant, singing the hymns throughout the program. Hymn Festival truly characterizes the mission of LSM, which is to transform lives and connect people through faith and music. Students were able to sing and play some of Martin Luther’s greatest hymn while experiencing an enormous sense of community as everyone in the chapel sang together.