Music of the Month: Advent with Minimum Pedal

November 1, 2022 Nathan Grime

Edwin T. Childs adds to his series of settings for minimum pedal, providing a collection of hymn tunes for the season of Advent in Advent with Minimum Pedal. These inventive preludes are suitable as hymn introductions, preludes, voluntaries, and postludes, and will appeal to organists with limited pedal abilities or seasoned organists that need something in a pinch.

Organ Music for Advent

The Church Year begins anew with the season of Advent. The long nonfestival half of the church calendar ends, and the blue and purple paraments, Advent wreaths, and meditations on Christ’s incarnation return to the Church.

Along with the reappearing of these beloved symbols and themes come some familiar Advent hymns and tunes such as “Savior of the Nations, Come” (Lutheran Service Book 332); “Once He Came in Blessing” (LSB 333); “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending” (LSB 336); “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry” (LSB 344); and “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People” (LSB 347).

Childs’ settings for minimum pedal are thoughtfully composed and provide church organists with Advent hymn preludes that make minimum but effective use of the pedals without sounding simplistic.

These settings allow organists developing their pedal skills to explore Advent hymn tunes in an approachable way. They also provide opportunities to explore organ registration on individual instruments and use the settings in a variety of ways throughout the church service and season.

“Come quickly, Lord! Maranatha!

The word that perhaps best captures the Church’s Advent sentiment is Maranatha, which is an Aramaic word that means “Come quickly, Lord!” Although you probably won’t find this word frequenting the Church’s liturgy and hymnody, its fervor is everywhere in Advent.

The cry of Maranatha! has been the Church’s prayer throughout the ages. The Old Testament Church eagerly awaited Christ’s incarnation, clinging to the promise that God would send His Son to be the Savior. These prophecies are still heard throughout Advent today.

The Church cries Maranatha! as she waits for the second coming of Christ on the Last Day. But those cries aren’t simply a hope for the end of the world. Those cries are heard and answered when Christ comes to His people now in Word and Sacrament.

Seeing the Three-Fold Coming of Christ

The Advent hymn “Once He Came in Blessing” (LSB 333) illustrates this three-fold coming of Christ beautifully. First, He came in human flesh, born of Mary, to bear the sins of the world by His death on the cross:

Once He came in blessing,

All our sins redressing;

Came in likeness lowly,

Son of God most holy;

Bore the cross to save us;

Hope and freedom gave us. (LSB 333:1)

But after His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, He hasn’t left His Church as orphans. Today, He comes to us through the power of the Holy Spirit in His Word and in His flesh and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar:

Soon will come that hour

When with mighty power

Christ will come in splendor

And will judgment render,

With the faithful sharing

Joy beyond comparing. (LSB 333:3)

The hymn concludes with the Maranatha:

Come, then, O Lord Jesus,

From our sins release us.

Keep our hearts believing,

That we, grace receiving,

Ever may confess You

Till in heav’n we bless You. (LSB 333:4; emphasis added)

Church organists probably feel that the season of Advent comes and goes quickly. It lasts just four weeks. Amid the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas, it’s worth taking a moment to contemplate the coming of our Lord at Bethlehem today and on the Last Day. And, of course, a new set of approachable hymn preludes will make the season more manageable too.

Quotations marked LSB are from Lutheran Service Book, copyright © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Discover the joys of Advent hymns played on the organ with Edwin T. Childs’ new collection, Advent with Minimum Pedal.

Order the Collection

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