150th Anniversary Hymn

As part of the commemoration of our sesquicentennial anniversary, Concordia University Chicago has commissioned a hymn to be sung at festival worship services. While the hymn was written for our celebration, there is little doubt that it will prove edifying for use at other institutions and churches.

We garnered the talent for such an important project from our own Concordia community. Dr. David Rogner (’82), Professor of English, and Dr. Carl Schalk (’52), Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Music, collaborated on a simple but powerful text and tune based upon the university’s theme passage, John 8:31-32: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32 RSV).

The final words of this text are printed around the edge of the university seal, and the words “Freedom,” “Truth,” “Discipleship,” and “The Word” occur in a square at the seal’s center. The text of the hymn is built upon these concepts.  The three stanzas employ a Trinitarian theme, offering praise for the Father’s sustaining acts, the Son’s redeeming work, and the Spirit’s life-giving power throughout the past years. The hymn looks both to the past and to the future, thanking God for “the saints who labored here” in the past but also asking for God’s grace—in the refrain at the end of each stanza—that we might “continue in Your Word” in the years to come. 

Dr. Rogner kept Dr. Schalk’s distinctive style in mind as he wrote the text. Dr. Schalk, for his part, employed the newly written text to inspire and inform the musical expression of the hymn. Both men found the synergy crucial for the shaping of this work, which they hope will be well received as a thanksgiving for 150 years of blessings bestowed upon Concordia, as well as a heart-felt supplication for God’s continued presence.

Permission is given to use this hymn in worship services and other church-sponsored events through the ending of the 150th anniversary year, as long as the following acknowledgment is used:

Text © 2013 by David Rogner. Music © 2013 by Carl Schalk. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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