The hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” is called the Battle Hymn of the Reformation. Written by Martin Luther, it has been called “the greatest hymn of the greatest man in the greatest period of Germany history.” By 1900 it had been translated into 53 languages, and a recent estimate counts that number at over 200 languages.
Lent is the season of preparation for Easter. The purpose of Lent is not to dwell on the sufferings of our Savior, but rather to prepare ourselves for a celebration of his resurrection. Lent is a time for repentance and prayer and for renewal of our Baptisms.
The hymn "How Lovely Shines the Morning Star" (hymn #167 in our Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary) is one of the monuments of Lutheran hymns and is called the Queen of Chorales. It was used so extensively at weddings, that the idea really became common that if this hymn were not sung at the wedding, the persons were not properly married.
After confessing our sins and receiving assurance of our forgiveness, the Rite II liturgy in our Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary continues with the Introit, the Kyrie Eleison, and the Gloria in Excelsis. In these steps we enter in to the presence of the Lord for worship, ask for his help in earthly needs, and praise him with the song of the angels.
Epiphany is the second oldest festival of the Christian church year. Only the Easter season is older. The Festival of Epiphany is always January 6th and marks the start of the next church year season (thus the 12 days of the Christmas season end on 1/5). Yet the Epiphany season is an extension of the Christmas season.
There is a wide gulf between God in his holiness and us in our sinfulness. We put on clean clothes in the morning to come to church, but more importantly we need a clean heart in the presence of the Lord. So at the very beginning of our worship services, we need to lay our sins on Jesus and be assured that God does not condemn us for our sins, but forgives and forgets. We need to “lay down our burdens at the doorway before entering upon the praises of God.”
Hymn #466 in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (“We Praise Thee, O God, Our Redeemer”) was originally written as a prayer of thanksgiving in the Netherlands after the English defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588.