Worship & Music Ministry

What's Going On This Month

What's up at St. Mark Lutheran Church? In addition to our Saturday and Sunday services, choir, and hand bells, we've got some special things coming up. You can find more information about these 'happenings' on the Events page.

Our Hymns - A Little of the Backstory

The origins for some of the Hymns scheduled for this month are presented here. Some will be sung at one of our services. Others are suggestions to be sung as a personal 'Hymn Sing' on Sunday. Occasionally, additional worship-related musical information will be presented.

Shall We Gather at the River -- Robert Lowry (1826–1899)

"Shall We Gather at the River?" or simply "At the River" are the popular names for the traditional Christian hymn titled "Hanson Place," written by American poet and gospel music composer Robert Lowry. It was written in 1864 and is now in the public domain. The title "Hanson Place" is a reference to the original Hanson Place Baptist Church in Brooklyn, where Lowry, as a Baptist minister, sometimes served.


The song was often employed in Western soundtracks, particularly those of director John Ford (being one of his favorite hymns) and it features in many of Ford's most famous films. In Sweden, the 1876 hymn to the same melody O, hur saligt att få vandra ("O, how blessed it is to walk") became one of the most popular songs of the widespread Swedish revivalist movement. A drinking song to the same melody, Jag har aldrig vart på snusen, partly mocking the religious message of the Swedish original, is one of the most popular drinking songs at Swedish universities.


In Germany, the melody of the hymn became a well-known christmas carol named Welchen Jubel, welche Freude ("What rejoice, o what a joy") with the lyrics of Ernst Gebhardt (1832-1899).


In 1937, the tune was adopted in Japan to a popular enka song Tabakoya no Musume (The Girl at the Tobacconist's). This enka song was soon parodied into juvenile song which goes, … there isn't any wind, but [they still go] swing swing swing". The parodied version of the song remains popular among Japanese children and adults to this day.


The University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia, uses the same melody in its official song.


The British band Groove Armada's single "At the River" features a trombone part derived from "Shall We Gather at the River?", played by band member Andy Cato.


I Know that My Redeemer Lives – Samuel Medley – (1738-1799)

Samuel Medley, the author of the lyrics to “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” was born in England, just north of London, in 1738. Although he was raised by a family of faithful Christians, Medley chose not to practice religion during much of his youth. However, in 1759 he witnessed a miracle, and it changed the course of his life.


Medley, who at that time was a member of the British navy, was aboard a ship that was engaged in heavy battle with a French ship. The fierce battle left his leg severely wounded. The wound worsened as time went on, and one day the ship’s doctor declared that the leg must be amputated to save Medley’s life. The doctor explained that if there was no improvement by the next day, he would be forced to amputate.


Medley spent that night pondering his family’s Christian teachings and praying fervently that his life and leg would be spared. The next morning, the doctor examined the leg and found that it had miraculously improved so much that amputation was unnecessary.


The miraculous healing was the catalyst for Medley’s decision to live a Christ-centered life. He went on to preach many sermons and write several religious texts.


“I Know That My Redeemer Lives” was included in Emma Smith’s 1835 hymnal as seven short verses. Later, the short verses were combined to give us the current version.


Crown Him with Many Crowns – Matthew Bridges (1800-1894) & Godfrey Thring (1823-1903)

The lyrics to this 1851 hymn were written by Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring and are sung to the tune 'Diademata' by Sir George Job Elvey. The full song features twelve verses with two very different theological perspectives.


The original six stanzas were written by Bridges who was a Catholic, and were based upon Revelations 19:12, “...and on His head were many crowns.” His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. Revelations 19:12


Then Thring wrote six new verses because he didn't necessarily agree with the message of the popular hymn. The Anglican clergymen was concerned that Protestant congregations were singing Catholic theology.


Now, the different verses are mixed and matched with three of the six more popular verses being written by Bridges, and three written by Thring.


O God of Every Nation – William Reid, Jr. (1923-2007)

In 1958 William W. Reid, Jr. submitted this hymn text to a contest sponsored by the Hymn Society of America in conjunction with the Department of International Affairs of the National Council of Churches. The text won first place and was sung at the opening session of the Fifth World Order Study Conference held in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 13-21, 1958. It was published in the Hymn Society's Twelve New World Order Hymns (1958). "O God of Every Nation" is a beautiful prayer for God's shalom to reign over the whole world; for truth, love, and justice to preside over human affairs; and for an end to Warfare with its "trust in bombs that shower destruction.” As war and rumors of War continue to plague our world; the final stanza holds before us the vision of a new heaven and earth in which "Christ shall rule victorious." Liturgical Use: In times of war or when you want to express your solidarity with others who are in war torn areas; peace services and similar occasions that stress Christian servanthood and social responsibilities; Advent.

After graduating from Oberlin College and Seminary and Yale Divinity School William W. Reid, Jr. served for more than fifty years as pastor in the Wyoming Conference in rural and inner-city Methodist churches. He served on the Executive Committee of The Hymn Society of America. He was involved in social issues, serving as a councilman and county commissioner. His hymns are widely published in hymnals of many denominations.


Join the Fun

Make Wednesday night your music night

Consider joining one or both of these music ministries

with instrument and/or song.

A place in the choir...

We have revved up the old Victrola and start singing on a regular basis in the balcony or on the floor and occasionally ringing those bells and chimes. 

Don’t you want to be part of this incredible, fun ministry? It is our position that we present the word of the Lord in prayerful song to open the hearts, minds and ears of the congregation in order for them to receive the message of the day. We are just one instrument to deliver the good news of the love of Christ. The more instruments, the louder the band. The louder the band, the better they hear! 

Please consider joining us.  On Wednesdays, hand bells begin from 6pm-7pm and the Trinity Choir Choir from 7pm-8pm.

See Melinda or any member of the choirs for more information.  It could be the best hour or two you spend with us!

Selahammahlekoth: Samuel 1 23:28

Chushanrishathaim: Judges 3:8-10. King of Mesopotamia

Mahershalalhashbaz: Isaiah 8:1, 8:3