Just as the hymnal is a key resource in a congregation, it also is important in the lives of students at Martin Luther College (MLC), New Ulm, Minn., the synod’s college of ministry. The new Christian Worship hymnal coming out this fall is no exception.
“MLC has already been using elements from the new hymnal for the past two years in campus worship,” says Adrian Smith, professor of music at MLC. This includes incorporating different songs of the liturgy, new hymns, alternate accompaniments, and psalms from the new psalter into daily morning and evening chapel services. “We introduce these new materials to our student body so that when they get out into the ministry, they’ve already heard these things and have seen how you can use them in your own congregation,” says Smith.
Students not only experience these new resources in worship but also participate in the services, whether through accompanying on piano or organ, singing in choirs, playing in instrumental groups, or speaking liturgy as a worship leader. “Ultimately all these experiences are to prepare students to do these same things in their ministry and in our churches,” says Smith.
The new hymnal will also be incorporated into classroom courses and instruction. Students will learn new hymns and orders of worship in their keyboard lessons, and two courses—“Teaching religion” and “Lutheran worship”—will dig further into hymnody and liturgy to prepare future called workers to lead as teachers in the classroom and worship leaders in the congregation. “As a minister of the gospel, you need to know and understand the connection that worship has to Scripture,” says Smith.
Besides learning about the new hymnal, MLC students are part of the process to introduce it to WELS congregations. MLC’s College Choir, which Smith directs, recorded videos featuring hymn settings from the new hymnal for the upcoming National Hymnal Week (see sidebar). Next year’s choir tours also will present music related to new hymns and psalms in Christian Worship.
Smith, who served on the Psalmody Committee for the WELS Hymnal Project, is excited about getting the new hymnal onto MLC’s campus. He says, “I can’t wait to share this with my students so they know they have a solid resource that contains great material that they can give their students—music to grow into and to learn.”
Learn more about Christian Worship: Hymnal in this month’s WELS Connection and at christianworship.com.
Volume 108, Number 8
Issue: August 2021