The Word Remains: Festival of the Reformation

front-cover400px-max“The Reformation, my friends, what was it? We know what the Church looked like before it, but what was it really? Judge whether this is true. I say, it was a time when the Lord went into His temple, braided a whip of cords, and cleansed His courts.

“Yes, the Reformation was a cleansing of the temple. Or is that not so? Where now do we have all that indulgence nonsense, masses for the dead, sacrifices of the mass, works-righteousness, and all the endless supply of worthless trinkets? That whole business was overthrown and swept out. The Word of the Lord drove into it like a punishing whip and put an end to the spiritual torment, the heavy yoke laid on by men and yet not humanly possible, but unbearable. The Word of the Lord burst in and overturned the chaos of self-interest, the marketplace of self- and works-righteousness. And the one who remained in the temple was the Lord with His apostles and disciples, with His sweet Gospel.”

-an excerpt from The Word Remains: Selected Writings on the Church Year and the Christian Life by Wilhelm Löhe (pp. 36-37)

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What resources are there to learn Gregorian chant?

lh_mockuprender_800px300dpiMore from our interview with editor and translator Matthew Carver: “Basic instruction in Gregorian chant was not in view in this volume for a couple reasons: there are already great resources for it, and Liber Hymnorum was envisioned as a sort of supplement to other Lutheran chant resources already in use. That being said, anyone who knows how to read modern notation can use the music in the English section as a basis for learning all the Latin hymns and chants without knowledge of Gregorian chant, since they are (with few exceptions) largely the same, despite their different looks. So to keep down the size and price of the volume while simultaneously providing as many of these hymns and chants as possible, I’ve left instruction in Gregorian chant to others.

“First, if you have The Brotherhood Prayer Book and its accompanying CD, you already have a good introduction to Gregorian chant that will give you all you need to sing from the Latin section of Liber Hymnorum. (A Liber Hymnorum CD is also in the works!) There are several online resources, too, such as “An Idiot’s Guide to Square Notes” and the Corpus Christi Watershed site, which includes instruction and audio examples in How to Read and Sing Gregorian Chant. There is an active group on Facebook called “Gregorian Chant is for Everyone” as well as a group devoted to The Brotherhood Prayer Book (“Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood”), where questions concerning chant can be answered. In short, there is little to keep people from learning to sing from Gregorian notation—in fact, once you get the basics from one of these resources, you find it really is simpler, more flexible, and more forgiving than standard modern notation!

“As far as Latin pronunciation is concerned, we’ve normalized the old Reformation-period spelling so that it can be pronounced according to the classical method or the Roman or German ecclesiastical (church Latin) method, though for the sake of rhyme the latter is preferred. Some instructions in pronouncing churchly Latin can be found here, and there is a good comparative table in the Wikipedia article “Latin regional pronunciation.”  Students of Latin may find it best to use the accent familiar to them from their curriculum. In any case, when singing with others, it is wise to agree on the method of pronunciation beforehand!”

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Pr. Rob Paul reviews Liber Hymnorum

lh_mockuprender_800px300dpiLiber Hymnorum is yet another example of Mr. Matthew Carver’s ability and propensity to deliver to our generation the great, lost treasures of the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s past. Mr. Carver and Emmanuel Press have done the churches and schools of the Church a great service by editing and publishing such a fine volume of hymns.

“The Liber consists of a significant introduction, two sections of hymns, and significant indices for hymn enthusiasts and scholars alike. The introduction details not only the contents and thought behind the volume, but also provides significant information about the hymns and hymn books of the early Lutheran Church. Each hymn comes from the Lutheran books of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Here readers are introduced to the names of Lucas Lossius and Matthäus Ludecus, among others. Liber Hymnorum promises to provide not only a wealth of resources for the scholar of Lutheran hymnody and Latin hymnody, but also a useful volume for the classical schools, choirs, teachers, and pastors of our Church.

“With regards to the hymnal itself, first, there are English hymns for use during the week, the Church Year, for feasts and festivals, and for general and seasonal use. Second, the same hymns are presented in their original Latin texts. The English portion of the hymnal provides the tunes of the hymns in modern music notation. This provides a level of accessibility to these hymns of the Church that has not existed before. Many hymns will be new; however, some popular favorites are represented in this volume (In Dulci Jubilo, “Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word,” “Creator of the Stars of Night,” and “Savior of the Nations Come,” among others). The Liber also exposes the Church to the wide breadth of hymns written for specific times and occasions that have been hidden from the Church’s use for so long.

“In the Latin portion, these hymns are presented in Gregorian notation. Since the same hymns are presented in modern music notation earlier in the hymnal, these tones are now more accessible for the musically inclined. One thing that is lacking is an explanation of neumes – that is, Gregorian notation – or at least references that direct novices towards more material if they are interested. The Brotherhood Prayer Book is referenced in the introduction, and it contains such material. But for use in schools, if pastors and teachers wish to educate on Gregorian notation, a supplement to this hymnal is necessary.

“Finally, the indices provide novices and scholars alike with resources concerning the tones used throughout the hymnal. The indices also contain comprehensive lists of the authors, composers, and sources contained in the book.

Liber Hymnorum looks to be a volume worthy of any classical Lutheran school, Latin student, music student, Lutheran pastor or musician, or even the avid layperson. What once was inaccessible to most is now available to many in a great and friendly format. The Liber is a useable hymnal with great potential. It is my hope that classical Lutheran schools, church youth and adult choirs, pastors and laity alike will take advantage of this resource in order to better understand and embrace the rich heritage Lutherans have in the Latin hymnody presented in Liber Hymnorum.”

-Rev. Robert W. Paul, Pastor and Headmaster, Immanuel Lutheran Church and School, Roswell, NM; Board Member of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education (CCLE)

*In our next post, Matthew Carver will answer the question, “What resources are there to help learn Gregorian chant?” Like us on Facebook or sign up for email updates on the right sidebar.

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Pless endorses The Word Remains by Wilhelm Löhe

front-cover-600px“Wilhelm Loehe (1808-1872) was one of the church fathers of the 19th century, to use the description of Hermann Sasse. His pastoral wisdom combined with a zeal for Lutheran missions marked Loehe’s life and work. In this collection, the voice of Pastor Loehe speaks across the years into our own time and place. Insightful, brief commentaries on the days and seasons of the church year along with pithy sayings on the Christian life will provide readers with much to kindle their hearts and minds for meditation and prayer. This is a devotional classic which will continue to edify and enlighten both pastors and laity.”  -Prof John T. Pless

*Purchase The Word Remains along with Liber Hymnorum: The Latin Hymns of the Lutheran Church — and save 10% on both!

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Now Available! Liber Hymnorum

lh_mockuprender_800px300dpiWe are pleased to announce that Liber Hymnorum: The Latin Hymns of the Lutheran Church is now available for purchase! On that page, you can also have a look at the inside, including the Table of Contents and a sample of hymns in English and Latin.

Throughout the past week we have been posting excerpts from our interview with editor and translator Matthew Carver. Now for the final installment: “This book is unique in several ways. For one, it is uncommon for any modern hymnal, and especially a Lutheran one, to be printed in Latin, which is unfortunate since music assists learning. With the increase in classical education today, this is an important aspect. Another rare aspect is that it presents the old forms of the ancient hymn melodies as they were known in early Reformation Germany. With many anglophone enthusiasts of ancient hymns being more familiar with the forms of the melodies from Rome and Sarum (England), the differences in these forms will be quite interesting. This book is also unique in its inclusion of later Latin hymns by several Reformation authors (translated, what is more, into the appropriate meter).”


“Liber Hymnorum is yet another example of Mr. Matthew Carver’s ability and propensity to deliver to our generation the great, lost treasures of the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s past. Mr. Carver and Emmanuel Press have done the churches and schools of the Church a great service by editing and publishing such a fine volume of hymns.”
-Pr. Rob Paul, Headmaster, Immanuel Lutheran Church and School, Roswell, NM

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A quick note about purchasing Liber Hymnorum

Today we received word from our printer that Liber Hymnorum is ready! We’re heading to Ohio tomorrow to pick up the books so that we can have them available at the “Lutheranism and the Classics” conference in Fort Wayne. This has really been down to the wire, but we are thrilled that we can debut Liber Hymnorum with author Matthew Carver in person. The book will be released on this website on Friday, September 30. If you want to know when the page is live, like us on Facebook or sign up for email updates on the right sidebar.

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How can Liber Hymnorum be used in a classical education or homeschool setting?

lh_mockuprender_800px300dpi“It is particularly with classical Latin teachers and homeschoolers in mind that the Latin (with normalized spelling) has been included, though it will also be of interest to scholars as well. The Church’s Latin, especially as found in its best hymnody in addition to the Latin psalter, is an important part of a well-rounded Latin course, since it gives students a sound example of a medieval Latin embraced by every age of the Latin-speaking church and filled with Christian content. The effort to sing a few stanzas every day will reward any student with improved familiarity with Latin poetry, and the melodies will serve as a mnemonic device, making the texts easier to learn by heart. Older students can also find in the Latin hymns models for their own composition practice. The Gregorian notation, too, with its modes and clefs, is an important part of music history. Nevertheless, the modern notation provided in the English section can be used to play and teach the Latin hymns.”
-From our interview with author, editor, and translator Matthew Carver (see previous posts for more Q & A)


Liber Hymnorum will be a powerful resource in our house. As a liturgical Lutheran, I am thankful to have another devotional tool, especially one with simple, beautiful melodies and meaningful text. I am humbled and pleased that this hymnal can emphasize our continuity of faith over generations and centuries!…This will be a great resource for liturgical Lutherans, families, catechizers, homeschoolers, Latin students, and anyone interested in history, theology, Lutheranism, or the Reformation.”
-An excerpt from the forthcoming review by Deaconess Mary J. Moerbe, homeschooling mother of six, Lutheran author and speaker, who encourages Lutheran writing at

We hope to have Liber Hymnorum available for purchase on Friday, September 30! We are waiting for the final word from our printer before going live. To stay informed, like us on Facebook or sign up for (occasional) email updates on the right sidebar.

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How would Liber Hymnorum be used devotionally?

lh_mockuprender_800px300dpiMatthew Carver: “Liber Hymnorum is arranged according to the church year, with the “de tempore” (times and seasons) in the front and “de sancto” (saints and festivals) in the back of each section. This makes use in home or church fairly simple and straightforward. Christians, through these hymns, find expression for their own spiritual sentiments in response to God’s gifts each hour and day and reflect on the themes of the season or feast, tying in with what happens at church.  The prayer service hymns (hymns of the daily office, or Liturgy of the Hours) especially can and should be used by Christians at home as well as in those churches where Matins and Vespers are offered. A regular course and use of these ancient hymns anchors the mind and heart to the hours, days, seasons, and all time as God arranges it.

“The melodies are given in standard notation (resembling the stemless chants found in our modern hymnals) as well as the original Gregorian notation. For those able to read Gregorian notation (a worthy endeavor; not as hard as it looks!), the Latin hymns are completely underlaid, so there is no guesswork in which syllable goes on which note, leaving the mind freer to contemplate the spiritual depths of the text (or at least, to grasp the basic meaning of the Latin!).”

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Liber Hymnorum: Why are these hymns important?

lh_mockuprender_800px300dpiMatthew Carver: “These hymns are important, first, because they are the Church’s hymns. They have been used by God’s people for centuries, have stood the test of time, and have been carefully tended and passed on for the use of every generation. In them we find our own prayers, praises, and thanks to the Triune God joined with those of the saints of every age. This collection, in particular, is also important because it features the peculiar forms of the melodies as they ‘grew up’ and took on their own ‘accent’ in the bosom of the medieval church of Germany. A lot of people familiar with ancient hymns are nevertheless unaware of the rich multiplicity of ancient hymn tunes from the times before later scholars normalized, and yet sadly erased, many of these beautiful peculiarities. Thus we are at the same time given a window into the musical culture of the early Lutheran period in Germany.”


An endorsement from Dr. Robin Leaver, Visiting Professor, Yale University; Honorary Professor, Queen’s University: “Many Lutherans have forgotten – or do not know – that Latin hymns were not banished when Luther created his sturdy German hymns, but both continued side by side in the liturgical and devotional life of the early Lutheran churches. A simplistic equation has often been presented: Latin hymns are Catholic; vernacular hymns are Lutheran. But the sensitivity towards some Latin hymns was not linguistic but theological. Since the Reformation was nurtured and promoted by Latin schools, Latin hymns – corrected if necessary, as well as newly written – continued to be sung by the Latin scholars. This singing was often in alternation, with scholars singing each stanza in Latin and the parishioners following with the same stanza in German. This valuable collection, which is based on early Lutheran sources, on the one hand, witnesses to the historic Lutheran tradition of Latin hymnody, and on the other, is a practical collection of Latin hymns with English translations. The Latin hymns can be sung in seminaries and conferences where Latin is known and the vernacular versions sung from time to time in parishes. And there is also the possibility of experiencing the early Lutheran tradition of singing the alternate stanzas of a hymn in Latin and the vernacular. Matthew Carver is in our debt for drawing our attention to this neglected liturgical tradition and for making these texts, translations, and music accessible.”

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More details about Liber Hymnorum

lh_mockuprender_800px300dpiWe are still finalizing the release date for Liber Hymnorum, but we do have a few more details to share. It is a hardcover book, 342 pages, 6″ x 9″, selling for $35.00.

Over the course of the next week, we plan to provide excerpts, more of the interview with author Matthew Carver, and additional endorsements. Today, we offer you his answer to our question regarding the translation and settings:

“The translation came about mainly in two ways. First, since most of the ancient hymns for the prayer services were unchanged when Lutherans incorporated them into their hymnals, I took a similar approach and used the familiar translations we have of those hymns, written by some of the great poets and translators of the 19th and 20th century, such as Edward Caswall, J. D. Chambers, and J. M. Neale. Above all, I tried, where possible, to use those translations which are familiar to Lutherans (and Christians generally) through books such as the English Hymnal and The Brotherhood Prayer Book. At the same time, some of the collection represents an alteration or accommodation to pure Lutheran doctrine. For these, I started with the familiar translations and tweaked those parts which the Lutherans had tweaked, which were not many, to be fair, since the majority of the most ancient hymns appointed for use in the church are doctrinally pure. Additionally, there are several Reformation-period hymns written in Latin by the learned poets and teachers of the day, such as Philip Melanchthon. These were composed to ancient meters and set to ancient melodies (the only new melody here is that for the Latin version of Luther’s “Erhalt uns Herr bei deinem Wort”). And while some of these have been translated into German and from German into English, they have not, before now, been translated directly into English verse to be sung to the same melody. These Reformation-period hymns are thus presented here for the first time for church and devotional use.”

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