The Formation and Function of WELS Hymnals: What can we discover about worship from the story of our hymnals?
Zabell, Jon F.
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The publication of the Christian Worship Supplement provides the opportunity to reflect on the important roles that hymnals play in the story of the Lutheran church and the WELS, especially regarding worship. Since the fall into sin, humanity can no longer worship God for the right reason; worshipping out of thanks for God loves us. So, God sent his Son to redeem us from sin's curse. We are reminded of this grace as we look to the Word and Sacrament, through which the Holy Spirit holds Jesus before our eyes. We confess these truths within our hymns and liturgy; the importance of which was aided by the LCMS as well as early WELS leaders, synod president John Bading and seminary president Adolph Hoenecke, to make hymnals a key part of public confessions. Thus, it was a long journey for the WELS to adopt the Gesangbuch to The Lutheran Hymnal and, now, Christian Worship. The hymns and liturgy within the hymnal bring the synod together to confess the common faith. Such an art form points back to the rich past of those who struggled with sin and afflictions. We connect with the Christians of the past in the same human struggles that we now go through. Meanwhile, this Supplement also encapsulates the importance of communicating the gospel message to and serving the next generation. And in anticipation of the next hymnal in 2023, it is a blessing to recognize that the gospel message has been and continues to be preached and sung in the pulpits, classrooms, homes, hearts, and hymnals.