The first congregational hymn or chorale of the Lutheran Reformation is “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice.” Luther claims that he heard the melody from a traveling minstrel and adapted it to the words of the chorale.
Luther’s hymns and other hymns of the Lutheran Reformation period are correctly referred to as “chorales.” These Lutheran chorales represent the best of the Reformation theology of the Lutheran church. For 500 years now, musicians have been composing special musical compositions based on the melodies of the Lutheran chorales. These musical compositions are rightly called “chorale preludes.” J. S. Bach, Helmut, Walcha, Sigfrid Karg-Elert, Max Reger, Dietrich Buxtehude, and Johann Pachelbel are just a few names of famous composers of chorale preludes on Lutheran chorale tunes.
The first chorale in this booklet is a fitting response to rejoice over the rediscovery of the Gospel—that we are saved by faith alone in Jesus, the Savior of the world. It should be sung in a joyous manner with a lot of spirit.
—Pastor Gordon Waterman
1. Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice,
With exultation springing,
And, with united heart and voice
And holy rapture singing,
Proclaim the wonders God hath done,
How His right arm the victory won;
Right dearly it hath cost Him.
2. Fast bound in Satan's chains I lay,
Death brooded darkly o'er me,
Sin was my torment night and day,
In sin my mother bore me;
Yea, deep and deeper still I fell,
Life had become a living hell,
So firmly sin possessed me.
3. My own good works availed me naught,
No merit they attaining;
Free will against God's judgment fought,
Dead to all good remaining.
My fears increased till sheer despair
Left naught but death to be my share;
The pangs of hell I suffered.
4. But God beheld my wretched state
Before the world's foundation,
And, mindful of His mercies great,
He planned my soul's salvation.
A father's heart He turned to me,
Sought my redemption fervently:
He gave His dearest Treasure.
5. He spoke to His beloved Son:
'Tis time to have compassion.
Then go, bright Jewel of My crown,
And bring to man salvation;
From sin and sorrow set him free,
Slay bitter death for him that he
May live with Thee forever.
6. This Son obeyed His Father's will,
Was born of virgin mother,
And God's good pleasure to fulfill,
He came to be my Brother.
No garb of pomp or power He wore,
A servant's form, like mine, He bore,
To lead the devil captive.
7. To me He spake: Hold fast to Me,
I am thy Rock and Castle;
Thy Ransom I Myself will be,
For thee I strive and wrestle;
For I am with thee, I am thine,
And evermore thou shalt be Mine;
The Foe shall not divide us.
8. The Foe shall shed My precious blood,
Me of My life bereaving.
All this I suffer for thy good;
Be steadfast and believing.
Life shall from death the victory win,
My innocence shall bear thy sin;
So art thou blest forever.
9. Now to My Father I depart,
The Holy Spirit sending
And, heavenly wisdom to impart,
My help to thee extending.
He shall in trouble comfort thee,
Teach thee to know and follow Me,
And in all truth shall guide thee.
10. What I have done and taught, teach thou,
My ways forsake thou never;
So shall My kingdom flourish now
And God be praised forever.
Take heed lest men with base alloy
The heavenly treasure should destroy;
This counsel I bequeath thee.
By Martin Luther, 1523
Based on Romans 3:28