Year B – Proper 26 – We All Believe in One True God

The marvelous hymn, We All Believe in One True God, by Martin Luther is based on the Nicene Creed. It seems to of been compiled around 1524 in Wittenberg Germany. The Lutheran Reformation held on to many of the traditional elements of liturgy, such as the use of Creeds and weekly Eucharist. Yet what Luther added to the previous liturgy of the Mass was hymns and the robasinging of the people God, which was quite minimal prior to this. So in this case we have a robust and beautiful hymn that reflects a traditional part of the liturgy and is set to a wonderful harmony. The Cantus’s version of the harmony is especially good.

We all believe in one true God,
Who created earth and Heaven,
The Father, who to us in love
Hath the right of children given.
He both soul and body feedeth,
All we need He doth provide us;
He thro’ snares and perils leadeth,
Watching that no harm betide us.
He careth for us day and night,
All things are governed by His might.

We all believe in Jesus Christ,
His own Son, our Lord, possessing
An equal Godhead, throne, and might,
Source of every grace and blessing.
Born of Mary, virgin mother,
By the power of the Spirit,
Made true man, our elder Brother,
That the lost might life inherit.
Was crucified for sinful men
And raised by God to life again.

We all confess the Holy Ghost,
Who sweet grace and comfort giveth
And with the Father and the Son
In eternal glory liveth;
Who the Church, His own creation,
Keeps in unity of Spirit.
Here forgiveness and salvation
Daily come thro’ Jesus’ merit.
All flesh shall rise, and we shall be
In bliss with God eternally.

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Year B – Proper 23 – All Glory Be to God Alone

The Hymn, All Glory Be to God Alone, is attributed to Martin Luther in 1543, although that is uncertain. It was published with the tune All Her Und Lob, first published in Strasburg in 1541. The title captures a central cry of the Reformation, quite in keeping with the message of Luther: Soli Deo Gloria.  The tune sounds like that blend of  unpredictable Renaissance music with a familiar traditional hymn cadence. It teaches that  God is Lord over all and to Him belongs the glory because of Christ’s redemption.  This is clear in vs 4:

Thou dost the world’s sin take away;
Have mercy on us, Lord, we pray.
Thou dost the world’s sin take away;
Give ear unto the prayer we say.
Thou sitt’st at God’s right hand for aye;
Have mercy on us, Lord, we pray.

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1 All glory be to God alone,
Forevermore the Highest One,
Who doth our sinful race befriend
And grace and peace to us extend.
Among mankind may His good will
All hearts with deep thanksgiving fill.

2 We praise Thee, God, and Thee we bless;
We worship Thee in humbleness;
From day to day we glorify Thee,
Everlasting God on high.
Of Thy great glory do we sing,
And e’er to Thee our thanks we bring.

3 Lord God, our King on heaven’s throne,
Our Father, the Almighty One.
O Lord, the Sole-begotten One,
Lord Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son,
True God from all eternity,
O Lamb of God, to Thee we flee.

4 Thou dost the world’s sin take away;
Have mercy on us, Lord, we pray.
Thou dost the world’s sin take away;
Give ear unto the prayer we say.
Thou sitt’st at God’s right hand for aye;
Have mercy on us, Lord, we pray.

5 Thou only art the Holy One;
Thou art o’er all things Lord alone.
O Jesus Christ, we glorify
Thee only as the Lord Most High;
Thou art, the Holy Ghost with Thee,
One in the Father’s majesty.

6 Amen, this ever true shall be,
As angels sing adoringly.
By all creation, far and wide,
Thou, Lord, art ever glorified;
And Thee all Christendom doth praise
Now and through everlasting days.

Year B – Epiphany 2 – Luther’s We All Believe in One True God

On the second Sunday of Epiphany we will sing, “We all Believe in One True God” is a powerful hymn which is a version of the Apostles Creed by Martin Luther, written in 1524. Following the outline of the Creed, the first verse is about the Father, the second about the Son, and the third, the Holy Spirit.

The music is based on a Latin chant for the Creed that dates back to the 1300s. Johann Walter (Blanckenmüller) (1496-1570) was a Lutheran composer and poet who wrote the expanded music in this hymn and perhaps harmonized this musical version of the Creed. Walter has the privilege of being the first editor of the first Protestant hymnal (1524) with a foreword by Luther, himself. Luther in the preface of this hymnal explains: “These songs were arranged in four parts to give the young – who should at any rate be trained in music and other fine arts – something to wean them away from love ballads and carnal songs and teach them something of value in their place.” This seems relevant to our day, as well.

As we sing this marvelous hymn in our own congregation, I always feel a sense of great unity, which I take to be the very point of the hymn. Not only because the Creed was to be the basic profession of all Christians and has been since the earliest days of the Church, but the music of Walter beautifully supports this as the first line is sung in unison, then breaks off into harmony: “We all believe in one true God” or “We all believe in Jesus Christ” or “We all confess the Holy Ghost.”

Can you sing the first verse by memory?

We all believe in one true God,
Who created earth and heaven,
The Father, who to us in love
Hath the right of children given.
He both soul and body feedeth,
All we need He doth provide us;
through all snares and perils leads us,

watching that no harm betide us.

He cares for us by day and night;

all things are governed by His might.