Join the saints of First Lutheran Church as we prepare for the coming of Christ at Solemn Vespers on Saturday, November 30. In what has become FLC’s typical approach, the Vespers is a vehicle for the presentation of great Lutheran music from the period of Lutheran orthodoxy. To that end, the prelude will begin at 4:30pm and feature a praeludium by Dieterich Buxtehude and settings of the Chief Hymn for Advent, Savior of the Nations, Come, by Samuel Scheidt and Nicolaus Bruhns.

Vespers will begin at 5:00pm and feature as its musical centerpiece a cantata by the greatest of Lutheran composers, Johann Sebastian Bach: Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 62. The ensemble will include period instruments, and children from the congregation will sing the chorale tune in the top of the texture in the outer movements, much as it would have been done in Bach’s own day.

Additionally, the choir will sing a portion of Psalm 24 as set by Andreas Hammerschmidt, a Lutheran composer who compiled and published a great deal of accessible, fine church music for a variety of choral forces. The Magnificat setting is by Orlande de Lassus (the only non-Lutheran composer in this Vespers). The hymn harmonizations for both the proper Office Hymn, Creator of the Stars of Night, and Savior of the Nations, Come were composed by Michael Praetorius, the greatest master of the Lutheran chorale in the age before Bach. Finally, the choir will sing the fourth stanza of Savior of the Nations, Come in a dramatic setting by Thomas Stoltzer:

Then stepped forth the Lord of all
From His pure and kingly hall;
God of God, becoming man,
His heroic course began.

This is the stanza on which the hymn hinges and for which the season of Advent prepares us: the Incarnation of the Christ, Who is true God and true man. It is fitting, therefore, that the Gospel for the First Sunday in Advent (and the text on which the Reverend James Hopkins will preach at Vespers) is the Triumphal Entry, Matthew 21:1–9. For just as Jesus entered Jerusalem in order to die for the sin of the world, so does He enter into human history as a baby, born to redeem sinners.

Albrecht Dürer's woodcut of the Triumphal Entry

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