As you joyfully sing “Jesus Christ is ris’n today” this Easter, imagine your voice joining those of our Lutheran brothers and sisters in Finland, who will be worshipping using new hymnals provided by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation.
“We need three books on the way to Heaven,” said Rev. Juhana Pohjola, dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland (ELMDF). “The Bible, the catechism and a hymnal. The Biblical message and doctrinal content is expressed in hymns and liturgies. If you really want to know what a church actually teaches, sing their hymns and go through their prayers. The hymnal is the heartbeat of the Church!”
“Since the official church [in Finland] has had a bad case of liberal influence [especially regarding women’s ordination and gay marriage], many good existing hymns were being diluted in their spiritual content,” said Rev. Risto Soramies, bishop of the ELMDF. “Our hymnal was a conscious effort to gather new good hymns…rescue some old, classical ones and translate or even retranslate good hymns from different languages.”
Lutheran Hymns was nine years in the making. In addition to 199 new hymns (including “Jesus Christ is Ris’n Today”), the hymnal includes 150 Psalms, litanies, a large prayer section, orders for confession and absolution, and more.
“All our 32 congregations and 5 preaching stations are using this hymnal; it has been very well received,” said Rev. Pohjola. “It has been delightful to hear that so many are using the material at family devotions as well.”
To further unite ELMDF’s congregations with one another and with the Church of believers everywhere, Bishop Soramies believes common hymnody and liturgies are essential.
“Divine Service is something that is not our creation or invention,” Bishop Soramies said. “From the very early beginnings of the Church, God’s people have participated in all its riches. We do not think that we are wiser than Christian generations before us. Liturgy is the language of the Church that all generations can understand.”
Rev. Pohjola agrees. “These hymns make it concrete that the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant are one,” he said. “We have the same faith and same hope that our fathers and mothers have had in past generations. We rejoice with the same hymns of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!”
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