Death is . . . the gateway to our homeland, the tabernacle of joy, the everlasting kingdom of peace.
The reader may recall from the April 2018 issue of “Lifted Voice” that we explored music inspired by the Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s last Sunday (April 7, 1945) before his martyrdom in the death camp at Flossenbürg. Two days later Bonhoeffer was hung from the gallows for his alleged involvement in an unsuccessful plot to kill Hitler. The disposition of his remains is still unknown. Two weeks later the Allies liberated the camp. In another week Hitler committed suicide and the war in Europe was over. His twin sister, Sabine, did not hear about his death until May 31. As late as July 23, Bonhoeffer’s parents, Karl and Paula, had only heard the rumor of Dietrich’s death, although they were aware of the death of their son Klaus. Meanwhile, two pastors and Dietrich’s dear friend, Bishop George Bell, organized a memorial service for brothers Dietrich and Klaus, which was held on July 27 at London’s Holy Trinity Brompton Church (please see the image above). Bishop Bell arranged for it to be “livestreamed” in Germany, which served as confirmation for Bonhoeffer’s extended family that he was dead. Three sacred choral works from this memorial service will serve as the focus of this issue of “Lifted Voice”.
Anyone who has ever listened to the Christmas Eve broadcast of the annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College Cambridge has probably appreciated their rendition of the hymn, “Once in Royal David’s City,” including the gradual progression from a single boy’s voice to the entire congregation with full organ. This practice is firmly entrenched in liturgical churches of the West, but is there a parallel hymn for the Epiphany season? I would like to nominate the hymn, “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” (LSB 384) as being second only to “How Lovely Shines the Morning Star” in the Epiphany repertoire.
Pr Brian Hamer
Rev. Brian Hamer is Command Chaplain at Naval Air Station, Lemoore, CA, via the LCMS Board for