by Anna Ferraro
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today….”
– Martin Rinkart, ca. 1636
On Sunday, November 19th, at 3pm, the Jacksonville Area Conference of Churches (JACC) will come together to raise the roof off of Annie Merner Chapel in song. Comprise of music that flows with the strains thanksgiving, this concert will highlight the blessings of God at a time of year when we should all be slowing our moments to treasure gratefulness.
Jean Welch, music director at Faith Lutheran Church, summarized this event as an opportunity to “give thanks to God through our music.” Something that, logistically speaking, is a bit easier said than done. While there is a great plethora of music for Christmas and Easter, when it comes to Thanksgiving, there’s not so much. Welch searched extensively through the repertoire to come up with a program of Thanksgiving music that will hopefully uplift performers and listeners both during this reflective season. She even admitted to attempting to solicit an actual Thanksgiving cantata from a well-known church music composer, saying, “I’m hoping he takes my idea, and gives us a complete Thanksgiving cantata for next year!”
And why not, Thanksgiving hymns themselves are rich and beautiful, such as the well known, “Nun Danket Alle Gott” (“Now Thank We All Our God”) by Martin Rinkart, which Welch says will be the expected and much-anticipated grand finale to the musical presentation. Its lyrics alone bring one’s souls to depths of humility for God’s goodness, and heights of praise, as well.
In reflecting over various musical services in the past, Adam Dichsen, pastor at Faith Lutheran shared, “Years ago, I remember looking out over the congregation at First Baptist Church that was packed out” [during a performance by the Capital Chamber Singers]. He shares, “It’s so beautiful to see all these different people representing different churches coming together and singing. … The body of Christ in the community not defined by our denomination. [We are here] to worship and fellowship and be a witness together….”
Note to local church choir directors: For information on how you and your choir and instrumentalists can participate and receive the music to practice for this event, please contact Jean Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or (217) 652-7009.
Choir rehearsals will be held at Faith Lutheran Church on Thursday, November 2nd, Monday, November 13th, and Thursday, November 16th at 6:30pm. There will be an orchestra rehearsal on Tuesday, November 14th at 6:30pm. A joined choir and orchestra rehearsal will take place at Annie Merner Chapel at 6:30pm on November 18th.
Finally, if you are a member of the community looking for uplifting holiday music events, mark your calendar for 3pm on November 19th and join the JACC at Annie Merner Chapel. This event is free to the community, and an offering will be taken to benefit First Baptist Church’s Special Needs Pantry.
In conclusion, Welch commented, “To think that we can come together as a community of believers to thank the One who has given us everything is a blessing beyond all blessings!!” – a quote that was reminiscent of Rinkart’s hymn,
“Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And guard us through all ills in this world, till the next!
All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
The Son, and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven—
The one eternal God, Whom earth and Heav’n adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.”
– From “Now Thank We All Our God,” by Martin Rinkart, ca. 1636