Sunday, November 15, 2009

+Herb Brokering+ 1926-2009: No More Dying, Only Light

Hymn writer Herb Brokering entered eternal glory this past Thursday.

In Lutheran Service Book, he authored the following hymns:
  • 474: Alleluia! Jesus is Risen!
  • 680: Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise
  • 817: Earth and All Stars
  • 879: Stay With Us
His texts are paired with tunes written by his contemporaries, such as Walter Pelz, Carl Schalk and David N. Johnson.  This provides a unique combination, in that the tunes are usually written to reflect the texts.

One text and tune that has grown on me over the years is "Stay With Us."  My ear had to get used to descending down the scale by three notes and turning around and heading up before the dropping to the D.

Normally when the descent is G-F#-E, the next note is automatically a D.  With this tune, our ear is put on hold, since the D doesn't show up until the next measure.  I like it now, but for years it was outside of my aural comfort zone.

Speaking of comfort zones, "Earth and All Stars" is often outside the comfort zone of pastors and musicians.  This will not be the place to lash out on this hymn.  I will say one thing, though.  If "loud, boiling test tubes" are not your thing, review the Psalms 146 through 150 and a few others, then choose the verses that best reflect Scripture.  Also, remember that which we confess in the Te Deum, "All creation worships You, the Father everlasting."

Thinking outside the box, here, but you could change out the lyrics and keep the repetition.

Mother and son,
Father and daughter,
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Uncle and aunt,
Cousin and neighbor,
Sing to the Lord a new song!

Another option is to pair the refrain of this hymn with a psalm tone.  Have a cantor chant the prose text from the psalmody and the congregation respond with "He has done marvelous things.  I, too, will praise Him with a new song."

It's good to struggle with hymnody.  Like all of God's creation here on earth, it isn't perfect.  It takes good knowledge of Scripture, theology, and liturgy to prepare a worship service and to draw on the vast resources of your hymnal.

Check out hymn writer Stephen Starke's retrospective on his blog starke Kirchenlieder.

Recordings of Brokering's texts are fairly scarce on youtube.  This one commemorates the anniversary of Messiah Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Lindsborg, Kansas.


  1. Like the hymn...can we possibly turn and fix our eyes on the cross?
    Before I knew anything obout controversy, I learned Earth and All Stars in third grade at St. Pauls Aurora. I always fancied myself an academic and found comfort in the fact that my studies were giving glory to Christ. Unfortunately, from the Age of Enlightenment on man has sought his own glory in academic study and attempts to explain how he got here without a Creator or a Savior.

    Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

  2. There are those who view this hymn just as you do, Brian, as a "vocation" hymn.


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