“The placement and purpose of a hymn that unites the proclamation of the scripture texts and preaching for the day with the spirit of the season and the contextual character of each assembly is a Reformation inheritance.” –Mark Mummert
As a part of a centrally located proclamation of the gospel, each Sunday, we sing a hymn that most closely matches the themes in the texts. This Hymn of the Day, which immediately follows the sermon, is the congregation’s response to the task of proclaiming the gospel found in the readings for the day. Singing this hymn together, set next to the solo proclamation of the preacher, establishes a two-fold event within our worship service. The voice of one and the voices of all, the spoken word and the sung word, prose and poetry are all set next to one another, juxtaposed. Working together, we proclaim all that God has done in a multitude of ways.
The above quote, taken from the 2017 Sundays and Seasons resource book, describes this way we Lutherans have designed our worship services as unique. Indeed, when you visit non-Lutheran places of worship, you may find this centrally located hymn still exists, but with another title, Sermon Hymn. Such a title is limiting and misleading, implying that the hymn serves the sermon rather than the themes for the day.
On the contrary, here at St. Peter’s and in other Lutheran churches across the world, worship planners strive to choose a song for this moment in worship that is inviting for the Spirit to work in, through, and on us.
Planning this way is truly a great gift to the people. As our readings on Sunday morning are interpretable and applicable in a number of situations, so it is helpful to have a number of images from which to draw when worshiping. Hopefully, at this centrally located moment of dual proclamation, one message will pick up where another falls short. That is to say, if the Hymn of the Day does not quite communicate the spirit of the day for some, the preaching might, and vice versa.
To that end, beginning in Advent of this year, we will be including brief commentaries connecting the Hymn of the Day to that day’s readings along with our Sunday Previews posted here and in our bulletin. The hope is that they will help prepare us to proclaim and receive God’s word during this moment in worship.