Academic journal article The Hymn

Rise, O Church: Reflections on the Church, Its Music, and Empire

Academic journal article The Hymn

Rise, O Church: Reflections on the Church, Its Music, and Empire

Article excerpt

Rise, O Church: Reflections on the Church, Its Music, and Empire by Paul Westermeyer. Fenton, MO: MorningStar Music Publishers, 2008. 56 pp. ISBN 978-0-944529-46-1. US $15.00.

This little book grew out of the Mississippi Conference on Church Music and Liturgy, August 2007. It also grew out of Susan Cherwien's hymn text, "Rise, O Church, like Christ Arisen," which is included with two tunes written for it ten years apart. Westermeyer draws implications from this fine text in the light of scripture and current circumstances. The six chapters are also drawn from sermons our author preached in various states and a lecture he gave at Luther Seminary, where he teaches full time.

The chapters lead the reader from the song of the church, including praise and lament, through service, new song, life before God, church and empire, and God's unfailing love. Westermeyer's use of the term empire is complex. It may mean "the world, the flesh and the devil," global consumerism, or a nation run amok. We voice opposition to this empire as we sing a new song. In this book we hear a scholar speaking to us of shared joys and concerns - the joy of authentic worship, the concern of an empire that attempts to buy our ancient song and our memories with the coin of the cheaply constructed and the over-produced ditty. Our writer knows that away from the band and the organ, the average person needs to be able to sing a hymn. In the car on the way to visit a dying friend we all need a text we can remember and a tune we can sing without instrumental support. …

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