06 - What is a Hymn?

What is a “hymn”?
The word “hymn” comes from a Greek word which means “song of praise.” Webster’s Dictionary tells us that a hymn is “a song of praise especially in honor of God.” In the Church, we sing hymns because they are God’s Word put to music. What an awesome way to praise our Lord!

Why do we sing hymns?
During the early years of the Christian Church, its music came from the Psalms. As new people came into the Church, they added new hymns. The Church’s hymns have stood the test of time, never failing God’s people as generations change. When we sing hymns, we are praising God with the words He has already put on our tongues! There is no better way to pray, praise, and give thanks to God than with the words He has given us.

In order to answer questions as to why we do what we do as Lutherans, including utilizing the hymnody, read the introduction on pages 6 and 7 in Lutheran Worship. Here you will find a brief summary of what Lutheran worship and hymnody are all about.

05 - What is a “canticle”?

What is a “canticle”?
The word “canticle” (pronounced KAN-ti-kle) comes from the Latin word “cantus,” which means “song.” A canticle is a song based on a text from Holy Scripture. What could be better than to sing praises to God with the words He gives us?

What’s the difference between a canticle and a hymn?
Hymns and canticles both put God’s Word to music. You’ll know you are singing a hymn when all of the verses are sung to the same melody. You’ll know you are singing a canticle when the verses continue without repeating the melody. What glorious variety our Lord gives in the Divine Service!

The best way to differentiate between canticles and hymns is to look and listen. Usually the “songs” in a hymnal are appropriately designated as a hymn or a canticle. Help your children to compare the differences. You can see and hear the differences. Point out the differences and discuss the words. Take a look at the texts in the Bible that have inspired the canticle or hymn.

04 - What does "Worship" really mean?

What does “worship” really mean?
Most people use the word “worship” to mean something we do to honor God. Because of this misunderstanding, many people believe that a church service is what we do for God. The word “worship” comes from the root words “worth” and “ship.” These two words describe God rather than the ones praising Him. These words describe a God who is worthy of being honored and adored because of His love for us. God gives us His love through His Word and Sacraments. Worship is not something we do, but rather something that God does for us!

What makes the Divine Service so important?
The Divine Service is not about what we are doing for God, but who God is and what He does for us in the ways He has promised: His Word and Sacraments. That’s why Lutherans call it Divine Service. God is serving us! What a wonderful God we have!

The Divine Service is like listening to one long reading from the Bible. Everything in the Divine Service has been given to us through God’s Word. Explain this to your children, reminding them that it is God’s Word that delivers God’s salvation to us!

03 - What does the word “Amen” mean?

What does the word “Amen” mean?
The word “amen” (pronounced AH-men) is Hebrew for “certainly” or “truly.” Martin Luther said that it really means: “Yes, yes, it shall be so.” You probably recognize this word from hearing it or seeing it used in prayer. Maybe you use it in your prayers every morning when you wake up and every night when you go to sleep.

Why do we use it?
God commands for us to pray. When we use the word “amen” at the end of our prayers, we are letting God know that we truly believe that He will hear and answer all of our prayers just as He has promised! What a great way to end a prayer!

Parents: Point out that Jesus used the word “amen”
a lot in Scripture when He said things like: “Truly, truly I say to you.” Encourage your children to listen for and say “amen” at appropriate points in the service. In what places besides prayer do we hear it amen?

02 - What is the “Prayer of the Church”?

What is the “Prayer of the Church”?
The Prayer of the Church (or the “Prayers”) is the time of the service when the pastor leads the congregation in a series of petitions, or prayers. Each prayer is introduced by a “bid,” an invitation to the congregation to join in each of these prayers. The bid is not part of the prayer, but it gathers the congregation’s thoughts together and directs them toward the specific petitions and thanksgivings that we are about to pray.

Why is this so important?
Do you know anyone who needs God’s care? During the Prayers, we pray for all the people of our congregation, particularly those who are sick and shut-in. We also pray for our government, for all believers and many others. No wonder it is called the Prayer of the Church!

Before the Divine Service, remind your children to pay close attention to the words of the prayers. Encourage them to concentrate along with the rest of the congregation. Try using bids in your family prayers.