Search Site

Letter From the Music Editor

A Holy Week Message

I venture a guess that everyone reading this email was expecting to be in the middle of a hectic yet wonderful week of worship. Holy Week is a time when, for worship planners and musicians, months of preparation culminate in shouts of joy at Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, songs of peace at the institution of the Lord’s Supper, laments at the cost of our sin on Good Friday, and hymns of hope at the resurrection of our conquering Savior Jesus on Easter morning. This year, many churches across our synod will not enjoy the packed houses of worship that characterized Holy Weeks gone by. In fact, most of us face a different kind of hectic this Holy Week—larger and more profound. Lives worldwide upended by an unseen virus. Daily confrontation with fears and unknowns. Bombardment with fatality statistics and projections. Some find themselves unemployed. Some find themselves sick. Some find their confirmation, graduation, vacation, or retirement plans evaporating right in front of their eyes. Some are plagued with depression, anxiety, maybe even hopelessness.

BUT . . . there is something that has not changed this Holy Week: THE FACTS. The facts of our salvation: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). That isn’t wishful thinking or a best-case-scenario-if-we-do-everything-perfect; that’s a declaration in the midst of sin, sorrow, and grief. We aren’t perfect—but we have been made perfect.

The facts of our eternal future have not changed: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). That’s not a wish or a gamble; that’s a guarantee from the God who created us and sent his Son to live and die for us. The facts of our here and now have not changed: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). This Holy Week we are reminded that we have forgiveness and eternal life. And if God has given us those amazing, eternal blessings through his Son, will he not also give us everything else we need? That’s not baseless logic; that’s a fact built on God’s promises.

“There is a green hill far away, outside a city wall, where my dear Lord was crucified and died to save us all.” Maybe some of you planned to sing this hymn this Holy Week. Maybe some of you were even planning to use MLC professor Grace Hennig’s new melody, recently published by NPH. Geographically, Jerusalem is far away. But God is very near, as close as his Word. He is always near, offering his very body and blood in the bread and wine of Communion. He is right here, dwelling in our hearts by faith. “He died that I might be forgiv’n—washed in a cleansing flood—that we might go at last to heav’n, saved by his precious blood.”

May the facts of our salvation—the certainty of God’s promises to you today, pondered and celebrated this Holy Week—bring you lasting peace, now and always.

Enjoy these picture videos of There Is A Green Hill Far Away —with a new setting by Grace Hennig—and Quiet Me, My Lord—text by Laurie Gauger and music by Dale Witte—this Holy Week as you worship our amazing God who “loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Holy Week blessings to you from all of us at Northwestern Publishing House, your brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,

Jeremy Bakken

Director of Worship and Sacred Music, Curricula