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To Know Christ and to Make Him Known

Sept. 27, 2020: Chorale Prelude on Herzlich tut mich erfreuen by J. Brahms and Hymn 455 “O love of God, how strong and true”

Music Message for September 27, 2020 from Danny
(If you do not see the music icons/links within this post, please click on the Sep. 27, 2020 title/link above.)

Chorale Prelude on Herzlich tut mich erfreuen by Johannes Brahms


Hymn 455: “O love of God, how strong and true”

For this week, I chose to record one of my favorite summertime pieces.  (I’m not sure exactly why, but I usually don’t think of this piece until summer is already gone or just about over.)  Anyway, the piece is Johannes Brahms’s Chorale Prelude on the old Lutheran hymn Herzlich tut mich erfreuen.  Like a lot of the old Lutheran hymns, this hymn that this piece is based on is another one that isn’t in most hymnals nowadays (oh, except the tune is used with an Easter text in the old ELCA hymnal).  I always thought that it was too bad though that Herzlich tut mich erfreuen isn’t done at any of the churches that I’ve played at–because the words are so beautiful. Here is a translation from the German for the first verse. (The words and music for this hymn are by Johann Walter in the sixteenth century, and the English translation is by music critic Michel-Dmitri Calvocoressi who translated the hymn at the turn of the twentieth century.)

My faithful heart rejoices;
The summer comes at last,
When God, all things reviving,
Shall bring Eternity.
The Heav’n and Earth in splendor
Will He afresh create,
And all of us, His creatures,
Shall pure and flawless be.

Compared to the amount of piano music that he wrote, Brahms didn’t compose very much music for the church organ at all (although he did grow up as a Lutheran).  Everything that he did write for organ is really special though.  There are ten other very beautiful chorale preludes as well a very interesting fugue—which I’m planning to learn someday.  Anyway, here is my recording of the organ piece for the week—the Chorale Prelude on Herzlich tut mich erfreuen by Johannes Brahms.  Thanks for listening!


And then for a hymn this week, I decided to do Hymn 455 “O Love of God, how strong and true,” which also has beautiful words—awesome and uplifting ones.  Many thanks to Terry Moffett for suggesting this hymn to me a few weeks ago! I probably wouldn’t have thought of doing this one, but it sure is lovely.  The tune is by twentieth-century organist Vernon Griffiths (I’ll include an organ piece by him another week), and the words are by the Scottish hymn writer Horatius Bonar in the nineteenth century—here they are (though these are only four of the stanzas of the original hymn) if you’d like to sing along as you listen.  Thanks everybody!

1. O love of God, how strong and true,
Eternal and yet ever new;
Uncomprehended and unbought,
Beyond all knowledge and all thought.

2. O wide embracing, wondrous Love,
We read thee in the sky above;
We read thee in the earth below,
In seas that swell and streams that flow.

3. We read thee best in him who came
To bear for us the cross of shame,
Sent by the Father from on high,
Our life to live, our death to die.

4. We read thy power to bless and save
E’en in the darkness of the grave;
Still more in resurrection light
We read the fullness of thy might.