Reformation Music: A Late-Comer’s Guide

So you have just over a month before Reformation Sunday 500, and you’re wondering how you can help your church make the most of it. Perhaps you weren’t able to plan ahead, so now you feel like you’re scrambling.

I can empathize. That’s my story at the moment. I’m the music director at my church. With the recent birth of my daughter, I haven’t been able to prepare for this historic month as I would have liked.

If you’re in this boat with me, might I make a few statements to help ease your troubled mind?

  • October 2017 is not a magical month. Your people can be impacted by the significance of the Reformation just as well in November.
  • October has 5 Sundays. It feels like a bonus week. You can still do something significant without being quite ready on October 1.
  • Church Works Media has simple, affordable resources that can help (keep reading for links).
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Here’s what I’m planning music-wise:

  • I’ve ordered and downloaded the “Reformation Hymn” choral octavo. We’re rehearsing it hard for a couple of weeks and planning to use it to introduce the song to the congregation on October 8.
  • To simplify things, I’m not having the sopranos do the descant part near the end (but we’re going to keep working on it for the 29th).
  • I will give the congregation the free music CWM offers for “Reformation Hymn” on October 8, but we’ll start to sing it together as a congregation on October 15. That will still give us two Sundays to rehearse it together.
  • On Reformation Sunday, October 29, I’ll bring the choral arrangement back (with the high descant), but the congregation will join in. We’ll be one big choir!
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You certainly don’t have to do it my way, but it may give you some ideas. Here are some other ideas:

  • Work on the octavo for the whole month with your choir and present it on Reformation Sunday. (This may also be a great way to embellish the song if your congregation already knows it.)
  • Simplify things even further by using the octavo as a piano accompaniment, but having the choir just sing the melody (as a way to introduce the song to your congregation).
  • If you can, consider buying Gospel Meditations on the Reformation for your church members. It will help them connect personally to the significance of the Reformation. It’s a 31-day devotional, but there is no rule that says they have to start on October 1. It will still be just as edifying if they start in mid-October, or if they start on Reformation Sunday itself and read it through the month of November!
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So take heart, late-comers! There’s still time to make year 500 one of particular encouragement and edification for your people.

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