Saturday, March 13, 2010

Variations on Wondrous Love

We might call this week "Wondrous Love Sunday" at Bethany. For starters, we'll be singing the hymn as a congregation. But we'll be hearing it in two other forms as well. The choir will be singing Paul Christiansen's folk style arrangement of it, with Tim as our featured soloist. A different tune with the same title will also be the Meditative Prelude, this time composed by Paul Manz for a modern sound.

The hymn is a southern folk hymn from the 19th century, which is revealed both in its tune and text. The tune is a lilting, flowing melody that is easily memorable and singable. Meanwhile, the text is simple and repetivie. Rather than conveying doctrine or quoting a Biblical passage, the text simply ponders God's wondrous love. Again, I find that to be a more inspiring image during Lent - it's a season of love, not deprivation!

The spiritual origins of the text are particularly noticeable in the final verse, which I find particularly inspiring from a musical point of view: "And when from death I'm free, I'll sing on, I'll sing on...I'll sing God's love for me, and through eternity I'll sing on." It's a glimpse of the beautiful music of praise that the eternal choir sings and that we will someday join.

The bell choir will also be playing the prelude at both services this week. Their music always provides enjoyable variety to the service, so be sure to say good morning and thank the players who volunteer their time and talents! (And of course, keep in mind that all the musical groups at Bethany would always welcome your participation too.)


  1. Rev. Robert FerroMarch 15, 2010 at 8:59 AM

    "What Wondrous Love Is This" is one of my favorite hymns. Too bad it is #666 in the ELW. There ought to be a moratorium on using the number 666 for hymns (like not having a 13th floor in hotels), or reserve it for only those hymns that no church sings anyway.

  2. Yes, the promise of Easter, that we will be able to have a better existence. People might suggest what else we will do besides sing? Perhaps the best part will be that we will always have plenty of time for whatever we want to do!