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.

All My Hope on God is Founded - Joachim Neander (1650-1680)

"All My Hope on God is Founded" is a well-known hymn, originally German, which was translated into English in 1899 and which established itself in the latter part of the twentieth century.

The original words "Meine Hoffnung stehet feste" were written in around 1680 by Joachim Neander.

In 1899 these were translated into English by Robert Bridges, who would later become British Poet Laureate.

The original tune was a German chorale melody named Meine Hoffnung (from its German text). This tune was also used as the principal choice for the Methodist Hymns and Psalms book of 1983.

In 1930, Dr Thomas Percival (TP) Fielden, director of music at Charterhouse School, sent Bridges' text to a friend, composer Herbert Howells, requesting Howells compose a new setting of the hymn for use at the school. Howells received the request by post one morning, in the middle of breakfast. Almost immediately a tune suggested itself to him and the hymn was apparently composed on the spot (in the composer's words) "while I was chewing bacon and sausage." The completed setting, titled A Hymn Tune for Charterhouse, was sent to Fielden, and became a regularly used hymn at the school.

Fielden was one of the editors of The Clarendon Hymn Book, and when that book was published in 1936 he chose to include the hymn. Howells' son Michael had died in childhood the previous year, and in tribute Howells rechristened the tune Michael. The hymn's popularity increased in consequence as it became more widely known, though its use remained largely confined to public (independent) school use in Britain for the next thirty years or so.

Its popularity began to spread in 1969 when it was included in the "100 Hymns for Today" supplement of the Hymns Ancient and Modern, one of the standard Church of England hymnbooks of its day. The Methodist church included it (albeit as second choice) in the 1983 Hymns and Psalms, and it was the main choice in the 1986 New English Hymnal. It has subsequently appeared in many hymnbooks across the English-speaking world.


Rise Up, O Saints of God – William P. Merrill (1867-1954)

William Merrill was a Presbyterian pastor who served several churches during his lifetime—most notably Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City, where he served from 1911 until his retirement in 1938.

Merrill wrote several hymns during his lifetime, to include “Rise Up, O Men of God.”  He wrote it to support a burgeoning men’s movement within the church.


This hymn encourages men to rise up, to “have done with lesser things,” and to serve the King of kings...

It calls them to “bring in the day of brotherhood” — one of the strong emphases of Merrill’s ministry.

It reminds them that the church faces great challenges, and calls them to “rise up and make her great!”


And finally, it says:

Lift high the cross of Christ,

Tread where his feet have trod;

As brothers of the Son of Man,

Rise up, O men of god!


This song’s emphasis on men’s ministry obviously fails the litmus test of inclusive language, so some people would change men to saints—and others would drop the song entirely.


But we need to remember that men have an important place in the church—and it is appropriate to challenge men to fill that place.


Those who are concerned with inclusive language might ask, “But how can we ask women to sing a song that excludes them?”  But this song doesn’t exclude anyone.  It calls men to an active faith.  Is there something wrong with that?


I believe that it is fully appropriate for women to sing this song.  Women need men to share the burden of leadership in the church—and that is what this song asks men to do.

https://www.sermonwriter.com/hymn-stories/rise-o-men-god/ (Richard Niell Donovan)

God of Grace, God of Glory – Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969)

“God of grace and God of glory” was written in 1930 by Harry Emerson Fosdick for the dedication of the famous Riverside Church in New York City.


Fosdick served as a chaplain during World War I and then was pastor of First Presbyterian Church in New York City. From this congregation he was called to pastor Park Avenue Baptist Church, which was renamed Riverside Church.


As we sing this hymn, perhaps it is helpful to remind ourselves of the events that shaped the “hour” and the “days” that provide the context for this great hymn.


“God of grace and God of glory” was written while the United States was in the throes of the Great Depression between the two World Wars. Fosdick was a champion of the social gospel, a movement that recognized the plight of the poor, especially in the urban Northeast during the Industrial Revolution.


Fosdick was perhaps the most vocal proponent of the social gospel of his time—a position that brought both wide acclaim and broad disdain.


The hymn was written in the summer of 1930. It took shape as he reflected on the construction of the new building, and was first sung as the processional hymn at the opening service on Oct. 5, 1930, and again at the dedication on Feb. 8, 1931.


The language of the hymn is ultimately that of petition. “Grant us wisdom, grant us courage” concludes each stanza with the effect of a refrain. A petition begins stanza three with “Cure thy children’s warring madness,/ bend our pride to thy control.” The final stanza, equally prophetic, begins with “Save us from weak resignation/ to the evils we deplore.”


Fosdick wrote the text to be sung to the stately REGENT SQUARE (usually sung to “Angels from the realms of glory”). Methodist hymnologist and hymnal editor Robert G. McCuthan, however, first paired it with the Welsh tune CWM RHONDDA for the 1935 Methodist Hymnal. It was an immediate success and the new coupling has been almost universally adopted.

Hymnologist William Reynolds says Fosdick disapproved strongly of the new pairing. When Dr. Young asked the poet why he continued to oppose the use of CWM RHONDDA with his text, Fosdick replied, “My views are well known—you Methodists have always been a bunch of wise guys.”


The author notes: That discussion notwithstanding, [the tempo played by many organists] take the hymn much too fast at the beginning, forcing the congregation to race through the prophetic petitions that conclude each stanza. The Welsh tune demands an appropriately stately tempo (think “processional,” not “horse race”) that gives the congregation time to absorb the challenges offered by the poet.

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-god-of-grace-and-god-of-glory (C. Michael Hawn)

Many and Great - Joseph Renville (1779-1846)

"Many and Great" is perhaps the only Native American hymn to be sung broadly in North America beyond its original Dakota culture.

The author and composer of the text and tune, Joseph Renville (1779-1846), was an Indian guide and fur trader of French-Dakota lineage. He received a Roman Catholic education in the French language. In addition to serving as a guide, he also became a British captain in the War of 1812. Having founded the Columbia Fur Company in 1822, he sold it to the larger American Fur Company in 1827.

The tune name LAC QUI PARLE (lake that speaks) comes from a long, narrow lake running northwest to southeast near the present border of Minnesota and South Dakota. From a settlement at the southeast foot of the lake, Renville made annual treks to Fort Snelling at Mendota at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, near what is now Minneapolis and St. Paul.

In 1835 Maj. Taliaherro, an agent at the fort, persuaded Renville to permit a missionary presence at Lac qui Parle, perhaps as a way to deal with the ongoing conflicts between the Ojibway and Dakota in the region.

These missionaries, according to scholar Monte Mason, organist and musical director at the Episcopal St. Martin's by the Lake, Minnetonka Beach, Minn., "took part in an experiment in cross-culturalism the likes of which the prairies had not seen."

According to Mr. Mason, the results of the encounter between the missionaries included a Dakota/English dictionary, Dakota translations of the Bible, a Dakota grammar, a Dakota translation of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, a Dakota newspaper and school curriculum, and most important for our purposes, a Dakota hymnal, Dakota Odowan (Dakota Song), produced by the missionaries -- minister Stephen Riggs, physician John Williamson and composer James Murray.

Dakota Odowan is still used today. It contains primarily 19th-century English hymnody in translation, hymns that the Presbyterian missionaries would have known.

A words-only edition appeared in 1841, and a music edition appeared sometime after 1854. A more recent printing in 1969 confirms the hymnal's continued use and includes photographs of the Dakota community.

Mr. Mason notes that "six of the 108 hymns are of Dakota derivation and the missionary journals proclaim they were written by Joseph Renville himself." Additional research indicates that these six hymns may have been arranged from pre-existing Dakota sources by Renville.

Raymond Glover, editor of The Hymnal 1982 Companion (Episcopal), suggests that the melody is a funeral song to be sung in procession, existing before the text was written. What is beyond dispute is that Joseph Renville was a significant political and economic presence in this community, a bridge-builder between cultures, and a partner with Protestant missionaries in the expansion of Christianity in the region.

Carlton Young, editor of The United Methodist Hymnal, notes that the original hymn had seven stanzas and is a paraphrase of the creation hymn in Jeremiah 10:12-13: "He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures." (KJV)

The original text, beginning with "Wakantanka taku nitawu," was paraphrased in 1929 by Philip Frazer (1892-1964) for a national YWCA meeting in 1930. Correspondence from Mr. Frazier's wife, Suzie, with United Methodist hymnologist Fred Gaely, indicates that Mr. Frazier prepared the paraphrase "because for years this hymn had appeared in camp songbooks and young people had been singing the Indian words, not knowing what they meant, but they loved to sing it for the lovely native tune."

The more recent, simple setting gives prominence to the majestic melody and allows the singer to focus on the power and majesty of God through this text.

This truly "American" hymn should be in every congregation's repertoire.

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-many-and-great (C. Michael Hawn)

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!

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."