Hymn festival marks anniversary

Published 10:57 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Churches in Suffolk will come together this weekend to celebrate a landmark anniversary with a unifying music festival.

Main Street United Methodist Church and Suffolk Christian Church will welcome local choirs and congregations to a hymn festival this Sunday. The free and public service will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Suffolk Christian Church on Main Street.

Choirs, organists and pianists will perform classic hymns to celebrate the 500th anniversary of beginning of the Protestant Reformation, marked by Martin Luther’s 95 theses that he nailed to a chapel door in Wittenburg, Germany.

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“It looked like a great opportunity to get together in Suffolk and sing some old-fashioned hymns together,” said Sean Bilby, Suffolk Christian Church handbell choir master and event organizer.

Bilby said one of the hallmarks of Martin Luther’s hymns was to encourage congregations to sing along with church choirs with words adapted or translated from Latin.

“They were the worship songs of his day,” he said.

The opening hymn will be “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” — one of Luther’s most famous — and conclude with “In Unity We Lift Our Song” by Ken Medema, which communicates generations of Christian stories that show how God is a unifying factor, according to Main Street United Methodist Church organist Christine Ward.

“With all the terrible things going on in the world today, at the end, we will be singing together,” Ward said.

The festival is meant not only to celebrate the anniversary but also to encourage Suffolk’s different congregations to work together, Bilby said.

“It’s an opportunity for people in different congregations in the area to get together to worship God, reflect on the many centuries since our churches were founded, and also see that there’s strength in unity and that there are things we can do together to strengthen our community,” he said.

Call 539-9182 for more information.