Song Festival 2018 – Healing of Body and Soul
On the 7th October 2018 at the Choir Festival in Kirchdorf, the choir sang the 2nd verse of the cantata, “Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr” (Lord, Thee I love with all my heart), by Dietrich Buxtehude:
Yea, Lord, ’twas Thy rich bounty gave
My body, soul, and all I have
In this poor life of labor.
Lord, grant that I in ev’ry place
May glorify Thy lavish grace
And help and serve my neighbour.
The author Martin Schalling makes a clear statement: Everything I have in this life is a gift from God. What a privilege to be one of the approximately 130 participating choir members who gather annually for this wonderfully uplifting event. After months of diligent rehearsing by the various church choirs of Synod, and a joint rehearsal the day before, all were ready to join in the numerous choral pieces and songs of praise.
The music arose in the worship of our Lord. The text in combination with the music of the following pieces, O for a thousand tongues to sing, Ehre und Preis from Bach and Nun jauchzt dem Herren alle Welt from Kaufmann emphasized just that.
In the hedonistic and egotistically orientated age in which we live, the following phrase from the text above seems completely out of place: “Lord, grant that I in ev’ry place may glorify Thy lavish grace and help and serve my neighbour.” Schalling invites us to serve our neighbour with our talents. A task that is not always easy to carry out. In his closing devotion, Pastor Roland Johannes highlighted this in the context of the different musical tasks within the church. Nevertheless, it is wonderful to continuously find people who are willing to commit themselves to such voluntary service. Again and again, the gracious Lord gives us his undeserved grace!
We want to express our thanks to our conductor, Mr Manfred Johannes, for 20 years of faithful service in the choir association. His dedication, musical ability and knowledge, as well as his enthusiasm have all contributed to many successful choir festivals. We bid him farewell with great gratitude! Mr Bernhard Böhmer was elected as the new principal director of the association, and Mr Gerald Niebuhr as deputy. We wish them the Lord’s blessings for their service ahead!
Pastor Michael Ahlers presented the sermon on the theme of the day, which made the audience smile and nevertheless encouraged some proper self-reflection. He posed the question, whether they would prefer broccoli or chocolate if they had the choice? Would they rather desire forgiveness of sins or healing of the physical body? The congregation was shown how their sinful nature constantly seeks instant gratification. But as baptized Christians, they should rather cast their eyes on eternal life and yearn for it.
Each piece in the programme formed part of a progression through the church year, and continually reminded us of God’s way of salvation. In the final chorus of the St Matthew Passion, Heinrich Schütz composed appropriate harmonies to the text “…you suffered distress, on the wood of the cross…” to demonstrate the salvation. We do not need physical healing as much as spiritual healing. The day ended with the majestic chorus “Worthy is the Lamb” from the Messiah by Handel.
We thank the Kirchdorf congregation for their hospitality in hosting this most enjoyable and successful day of worship and fellowship, which leaves us looking forward to the next annual song festival.
Angelika Johannes, Panbult