WELS Hymnal Project

Essential (and Easy) to Remember

If you’ve ever been in a touring choir, do you still remember the songs? When you consider all of the rehearsals, the services, and the concerts, each song a choir sings in a given year is repeated a staggering number of times. Even after many years have passed, it’s amazing how you can listen to an old recording, and every note and syllable is still there. In large part, that’s the beauty and the blessing of God’s gift of music.

For many years now, the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Chorus has sung a setting of “The Church’s One Foundation” (Christian Worship #538) as part of its annual program. It’s also the song in which the children of the local congregation are invited to sing with the choir. Many of us remember fondly how we watched young children from all over the country nervously walk up to the front of the church and take their place in front of the choir. We remember fondly how the pastor of the congregation would sometimes come up to the front, find his old spot, and sing along with us. Many of us now remember fondly how our own sons and daughters have had the chance to walk up to the front when the Seminary Chorus came to town.

But as much as those fond memories are all blessings in their own right, the fact that the words of that great hymn are so deeply ingrained in our memories is a blessing far greater.

Eventually the relatively carefree days of the Seminary were replaced by the sometimes stressful days of the parish. And if your pastor is anything like me, he sometimes thinks, “How can a man like me possibly serve in this role? If only these people knew my weaknesses. If only they knew my sins. What if all of this collapses on my watch?” And when he does, it’s good for him to remember...

The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is his new creation by water and the Word.
From heav’n he came and sought her to be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died.

If your pastor is anything like me, he sometimes thinks, “Is any of this making a difference? In spite of all of our efforts, examples of visible success seem few and far between. Nothing seems to be working.” And when he does, it’s good for him to remember…

Elect from ev’ry nation, yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation: One Lord, one faith, one birth.
One holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses, with ev’ry grace endued.

And if your pastor is anything like me, he sometimes thinks, “How will this tiny group of Christians possibly survive? We face so many challenges and limitations. The enemy seems to be getting stronger every day.” And when he does, it’s good for him to remember…

The Church shall never perish. Her dear Lord, to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish, is with her to the end.
Though there be those that hate her and strive to see her fail.
Against both foe and traitor she ever shall prevail.

With everything that can discourage the members of Christ's Church as we await his return, it's truly a blessing that hymns like this one make such essential truths so easy to remember.

Share Your Thoughts

As mentioned in our last update, this is the first of eight hymns that will be highlighted between now and the end of the year. We'd love to hear your thoughts. Comment below on why this hymn is near and dear to your heart. Or, share your appreciation for any hymn by creating a post on your own social media account(s). Feel free to tag your friends or use the hashtag #lovehymns to encourage others to participate. We will collect the responses throughout the week and then share what people have been saying.

About Jonathan Bauer

Rev. Jonathan Bauer is a member of the Executive Committee and has served on the Communications Committee for the WELS Hymnal Project. He serves as pastor of Good News Lutheran Church in Mount Horeb, WI. He is a member of the Institute for Worship and Outreach and has been a presenter for Schools of Worship Enrichment and at the WELS National Worship Conference.


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