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What Makes a Hymn Good

By Rev’d Christopher Esget, Senior Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church

Recently I made an off-the-cuff remark about a particular hymn: "I know I'm not supposed to like [this hymn], but I do." That led a parishioner to ask me what I meant by that. What makes a hymn bad, or good?

There is a subjective answer; some texts or tunes just resonate with us, or annoy us. At that level there is no bad or good, it's just a taste or style preference.

At another level, though, there are objective qualities to a hymn that we can analyze. Detailing all of those would require a long essay, or even book. But here are some of the things I look for:

Faithful to Scripture

If a text is ambiguous – or worse, teaches something false, that's a problem. On the other hand, if the text helps us understand a truth of Scripture better, that's one good reason to sing it.

An example that comes to mind is the Advent hymn Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending. The second line in the original reads, "Once for favored sinners slain." This suggests that the death of Jesus was only for some people (the favored sinners), and not for all. That's false doctrine. So we can't sing it - unless we alter the text. The version in Lutheran Service Book changes it to "Once for every sinner slain." That accords with the Biblical truth that Jesus died for all sinners, not just some.

What We're Reading - Back to School Edition!

Happy first week of school! It was such a joy to see all of our students and families gathered together to begin our first day of the new year. This community, this relationship between home and school, is fundamental to all we do at ILS. Throughout this year, we’ll be sharing and encouraging discussions on culture-building and culture-shaping, and how we can together support this important work both at school and at home.

One place we’ll share ideas on this topic is here on our monthly "What we're reading..." feature. Each month, we collect and share a selection of articles, sermons, blog posts, or other materials that we have found to be particularly insightful or inspiring. We hope that our ILS families and friends will enjoy spending some time reading and reflecting as well, and then join us at a First Friday Coffee or other parent program to discuss these and other topics.

We also love for families to pass along things they have read that may be interesting to others in our ILS community! Please feel free to share a link in the comments to email us any time!

Meet Us Monday: Miss Rebecca Hobbs, 4th Grade Teacher

We are happy to welcome Miss Rebecca Hobbs to the Immanuel community as our new 4th grade teacher!

Miss Hobbs earned B.A. in Classical Liberal Arts, with an emphasis in History and Education from Patrick Henry College.

Since 2015, Miss Hobbs has taught 5th Grade at The Ambrose School in Boise, ID. Prior to joining the Ambrose Faculty, she taught English to grammar school students in South Korea for nearly two years.

Miss Hobbs has a desire for her students to learn to love Christ more through learning to love what is true, good, and beautiful. As her students read stories of great heroes, love, courage, and self-sacrifice, she prays their souls will be so stirred by these things that they forever seek the One who is the ultimate Truth, Goodness, and Beauty- the Lord God.

Miss Hobbs is originally from Baker City, OR. In her spare time she enjoys horseback riding, reading, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and all the Korean food, language, and culture she can get.

Get to know Miss Hobbs with her recent “Meet Us Monday” interview!

What We're Reading (August edition)...

As we enter this final month of our summer break, we pray that our students, families, and teachers have enjoyed some rest and leisure. With the approaching new school year, stay tuned for some fun posts as we look forward to the school year to come!

Our "What we're reading..." feature for August is full of news articles, sermons, and other news that we’ve found interesting or insightful over the summer, and we hope that you will enjoy spending some time reading and reflecting as well.

In preparation for the new year, we’d love to hear from you! Would you take a moment and share a book or article that you’ve read lately that you think others in our ILS community may enjoy?

Meet Us Monday: Miss Michelle Hennig, Deaconess Intern

We are happy to welcome Miss Michelle Hennig to the Immanuel community for the 2019-2020 academic year as a Deaconess Intern.

As the daughter of a Lutheran Pastor, Miss Hennig’s family moved several times, but the majority of her childhood was spent in southern and central Illinois. Attending Lutheran schools from Kindergarten through high school helped to shape both her faith and vocation as a future church worker.

With a love for singing and theology, Miss Hennig chose to pursue these interests at Concordia University Chicago. Miss Hennig is a Theology major in the process of obtaining her Deaconess certification, with double minors in Classical Education and Psychology. At Concordia, she ran track, sang in the choir, worked for residence life, served as a mentor for freshmen students, built relationships with fellow believers, and met her fiance, Andrew.

Miss Hennig enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, sewing, singing, being with her family, and spending time with her dog, Luther. She is looking forward to serving and working with Immanuel Lutheran Church and School students and families in the coming year.

Get to know Miss Hennig with her recent “Meet Us Monday” interview!

What We're Reading (July edition)...

We hope everyone is enjoying a restful and relaxing summer! As the summer continues, we are keeping up with our "What we're reading..." series to share news and articles that we’ve found interesting or insightful over the summer months!

What are you reading this summer? If you need some inspiration, check out our weekly “What We’re Reading Wednesday” videos as our faculty and staff share some of their recommendations for parents and students.

Interested in joining fellow parents and teachers for some summer reading?

This summer, ILS is hosting a Summer Book Club! Parents and friends of ILS are invited to join us each month as we read and gather to discuss a short selection. Please use the form below to let us know if you will be able to attend one or more of these discussions!

Join us on Thursdays at 7 pm. Reading selections and options to order, included via the links below.

July 11: Revelation by Flannery O'Conner 
August 8: Leaf by Niggle by J. R. R. Tolkien (copies available in the ILS office)

Please let us know if you can join us!

What We're Reading (June edition)...

It’s the last week of school, and we’re just days away from the start of the summer break! The year has flown by, and we are grateful for all our ILS families and students helping to make this a most wonderful year.

As we head into summer, we’re sharing the last edition of "What we're reading..." for the 2018-2019 school year! Don’t worry, we’ll continue to post over the summer, and as always, we hope that you’ll continue to share any articles or news that you’ve found interesting that we should include in an upcoming edition.

Want to join us for some summer reading?

This summer, ILS is pleased to host a Summer Book Club! Parents and friends of ILS are invited to join us each month as we read and gather to discuss a short selection. Please use the form below to let us know if you will be able to attend one or more of these discussions!

Join us on Thursdays at 7 pm. Reading selections and options to order, included via the links below.

June 13: The Golden Key by George MacDonald 
July 11: Revelation by Flannery O'Conner 
August 8: Leaf by Niggle by J. R. R. Tolkien (copies available in the ILS office)

Let us know if you can join us!

What We're Reading (May edition)...

It is hard to believe that we have already begun the last full month of the school year and are sharing our next to last edition of "What we're reading..." for the 2018-2019 school year!

As we do throughout the year, our feature includes a wide variety of articles and sermons that we have found to be interesting. This month, we explore education, a look at summer screen time for kids, vocation, black holes, history and duty. We conclude with sharing Pastor Esget’s sermon from Easter 2019.

Have you read (or written!) anything recently that you think we and other ILS families may enjoy? We always welcome you to share any articles or blogs with use to consider including in future blog features.

What We're Reading (April edition)...

Spring has arrived, and our journey through the penitential season of Lent continues. Once again we bring you our latest edition of "What we're reading..." with variety articles, sermons, and news that we have found intriguing or interesting these past few weeks.

For April, Pastor Esget kicks us off asking the question of “Do You Believe in Monsters?” Also included are articles from Mrs. Marie Greenway, ILS Music Teacher, as well as Mr. Mark Hemingway, ILS parent and School Board member.

Have you read (or written!) anything recently that you think we and other ILS families may enjoy? We always welcome you to share any articles or blogs with use to consider including in future blog features.

What We're Reading (March edition)...

As we prepare to enter the penitential season of Lent, our latest edition of "What we're reading..." includes some resources and family devotions for the season, as well as a variety of other articles we have compiled on a variety of topics.

This month, we include a selection of articles on beauty, hospitality, art, fair tales, and more! Also included, the latest article from our own ILS Music Teacher, Mrs. Marie Greenway, writing on keeping reverence in church.

Have you read (or written!) anything recently that you think we and other ILS families may enjoy? We always welcome you to share any articles or blogs with use to consider including in future blog features.