"Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs."
- - Psalm 100:2
The Bible tells us over and over again about the importance of music and hymns in worship, both in the Old and New Testaments. This has been continued down through the ages to the present day. Lutheran hymnody is rich with hymns from various ethnic backgrounds including: German, English, Welsh, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Dutch, French, Greek, Icelandic, Latin, Marathi, and Syriac as well as numerous American contributions. As we sing our hymns, let us keep in mind the words of Hebrews 13:15: "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess His Name."
As a congregation, Mighty Fortress has decided to use the 1941 Lutheran Hymnal, most commonly used in the past (and also currently) by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Church of the Lutheran Confession, along with various other smaller Lutheran bodies. This hymnal has had differing covers over the years. The hymnals currently published have a simple gold cross on the cover, and will have either a red or blue binding (special gift editions were also available with either a black or white binding). Eariler editions have the words "The Lutheran Hymnal" printed on the cover instead of the gold cross (see the examples pictured above). Regardless of the cover, the hymnal is exactly the same inside. The Lutheran Hymnal effectively carries forth a liturgical and hymnological heritage all the way from the days of early Lutheranism. Above all, the hymnal is both doctrinally and theologically sound.
Even though The Lutheran Hymnal is in our pews, we aren't limited to only its use. We will, from time-to-time, use hymns from other sources, such as the 1958 Service Book and Hymnal, which we have also used as a hymnal in our congregation. In addition to this, we have the book entitled "With One Voice," a hymnal supplement that was produced by Augsburg-Fortress a number of years ago. All things considered, we attempt to provide a wide variety of hymns that people both know and love.
If you might be from a non-Lutheran Christian tradition, you need not feel intimidated or apprehensive. You will find a lot of hymns and texts that you will remember from your own background and tradition.
The following article gives a bit of background and history of The Lutheran Hymnal.
The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH) is one of the official hymnals of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Published in 1941 by Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis, Missouri, it was the LCMS' second official English-language hymnal, succeeding the 1912 Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book. Development of TLH began in 1929 as a collaborative effort of the churches of the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America and became the common hymnal for both the LCMS and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS). Containing 668 chorales, hymns, carols, and chants, plus the liturgy for the Common Service, Matins, Vespers, the propers, collects and prayers, the suffrages, canticles, psalms, and miscellaneous tables, TLH became an extremely popular and beloved worship resource in the Lutheran church in North America, and attempts to succeed it in more recent years have often met with strong resistance.
The first attempt to replace TLH began in 1965, when the LCMS began work on the Lutheran Book of Worship and invited other Lutheran denominations in North America to participate in its creation. As a result of disagreement and compromise with the other churches involved in LBW's production, the LCMS objected to some of its content, and Lutheran Book of Worship was published in 1978 without the endorsement of the very church body that initiated its production. An LCMS revision of LBW was quickly published in 1982 under the title Lutheran Worship. Lutheran Worship (LW) was intended to replace TLH as the official hymnal of the LCMS; however, many congregations were still unsatisfied with the final product, leading them to continue using TLH. According to a 1999 survey by the LCMS' Commission on Worship, approximately 36% of the synod's congregations were still using TLH as their main hymnal, and even more were continuing to use it in combination with LW and/or other hymnals and hymnal supplements. An even newer hymnal, Lutheran Service Book (2006), has restored many of the former hymnal's features in the hope that more widespread use can be achieved. In the WELS, TLH was effectively replaced by Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal in 1993, and few congregations continue to use it on a regular basis.
The Lutheran Hymnal is commonly referred to by many to as the "Red hymnal," in contrast with LW, the "Blue hymnal." However, the "Red hymnal" moniker is somewhat misleading. The initial editions of TLH were in fact bound in blue, and the hymnal has been simultaneously available in both red and blue cover versions for much of its history. Although the red cover version is now more common, many congregations' pew racks are filled with blue-covered copies of the "red" hymnal. Generally, members of these congregations refer to TLH simply as "the old hymnal." The widespread use of Lutheran Service Book (LSB) has begun the process of resolving the LCMS' hymnal controversy, as initial reviews have been generally quite favorable. Concordia Publishing House has announced that all TLH-related supplemental materials, including specialized accompaniment editions and the agenda, will go out of print when current supplies are depleted, but plans to continue to produce the pew edition for the foreseeable future. TLH remains an officially sanctioned hymnal of the synod, and it is unlikely that the synod will ever formally decommission it as an official hymnal.
reprinted from Wikipedia.org