Danish: Vi tro, vi alle tro på Gud
German: Wir glauben all in einem Gott
Text: Martin Luther (1483-1546). Tune: Latin Credo from about 1300
We all believe in one true God, Who created earth and heaven, The Father, who to us in love Has the right of children given. He in soul and body feeds us; All we need His hand provides us; Through all snares and perils leads us, Watching that no harm betide us. He cares for us by day and night; All things are governed by His might.
2. We all believe in Jesus Christ, His own Son, our Lord, possessing An equal Godhead, throne, and might, Source of ev'ry grace and blessing; Born of Mary, virgin mother, By the power of the Spirit, Word made flesh, our elder brother; That the lost might life inherit, Was crucified for all our sin And raised by God to life again.
3. We all confess the Holy Ghost, Who, in highest heaven dwelling With God the Father and the Son, Comforts us beyond all telling; Who the Church, His own creation, Keeps in unity of spirit. Here forgiveness and salvation Daily come through Jesus' merit. All flesh shall rise, and we shall be I n bliss with God eternally.
Amen, amen, Amen. Tr. Composite
MEDITATION Time for more Catechism! If you were to ask most Lutherans of my vintage and older what it means to be Lutheran, it would not be unusual to hear them give the explanation to the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, nor come to him. But that the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts and sanctified and preserved me in the one true faith…”
It a clear and uncomplicated confession that faith is a gift. Faith comes through hearing the word which is planted in our hearts where it lives, as Luther said, like the baby Jesus in Mary’s womb. She is the first Christian, he remarked once, because she heard the word and by the power of the Holy Spirit, said yes to bearing it.
This is how it happens. Thus the importance of seeing to it, as we promise when our babies are baptized, that we will continue to teach them the Catechism: the Ten Commandments, The Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer and bring them to church where they can hear the Word and have their faith nourished so it will grow like a good tree in them.
We use the Apostles’ Creed when we baptize babies and ask the parents and sponsors first: "Do you renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways?" We renounce them. “Do you believe in God the Father Almighty who made heaven and earth?” They answer We believe.
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, died and was buried; he descended into hell, on the third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the God the Father Almighty from whence he will come to judge the living and the dead.” We believe.
The third question: “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting?” We believe.
We are not really sure where this Creed came from. Many say it is the Apostles’ Creed because it has twelve articles each composed by an apostle. It is a nice idea, but we have no record of it appearing until long after they were all dead. Scholars say some time maybe in the fifth century. Charlemagne (748-814), the Holy Roman Emperor, required all his citizens to learn it and the Lord’s Prayer. It has been at the heart of Christian worship for centuries. It is a quick primer on the faith.
Luther used it in its three parts for his Catechism. He began, as we saw last week, with the Ten Commandments—what Christians should do. The second is the creed—what Christians believe. He put it to music some five years before the Small Catechism was finished. He also used it for his German service after the reading of the Gospel where the Creed belonged. It is a compact distillation of Christian beliefs. It isn’t a lot, but it is all you need.
I heard once a father who had lost his young daughter in an accident talking about having to find a church for a funeral. When he found one, he started learning about the service. The pastor showed him the liturgy which included the Creed. He said, “I don’t know about all that.” The pastor wisely said, "Take what you need." At the time all the man could take was “I believe…” As time went on, the words grew in him, and he became a faithful follower of Jesus Christ whose promises gave him the faith to deal with his grief and loss.
HYMN INFO Luther and Johann Walther prepared this hymn in time for it to be printed in the 1524 hymnal, Eyn geistlich Gesangk Buchleyn. They used for their text a poetic version of the Nicene Creed, a longer version of the Apostles, one that is used on festival days and much more detailed about the nature of Jesus Christ. The tune, which was used for a Creed hymn from the 13th century, is difficult—and takes up three pages in most hymnals. When you come to know it well, it can be a thrilling thing to sing. It was part of the German liturgy of hymns Luther prepared, the
Deutsche Messe. It is fairly well known in Germany, and here in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and others in that branch of American Lutheranism. In 2013 Kari Tikka of Finland wrote a cantata for Singing the Faith at Luther Seminary on the Apostles’ Creed, with this hymn as its basis, with choir, congregation and soloists. The libretto was modeled on Bach’s cantatas. We sang it then and once in 2017 at Mindekirken for the 500th anniversary of Luther’s pounding the 95 theses onto the Castle church door in Wittenberg. Singing Catechisms are fairly common through history. Listen to a contemporary version of the creed below by Hillsong. John. Ylvisaker also did one.
LINKS Concordia Publishing House https://youtu.be/O9VolOFsnPI
Choral Berlin Sung at the Kaisergedächtniskirche in Berlin https://youtu.be/8Hrdnh05Qxk
Bach’s prelude on the tune BWV 680 https://youtu.be/_j_OK9tUNkM
Bach BWV 1098