Our Father, Who in Heaven Above
“Our Father, Who from Heaven Above” The Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father, Who in Heaven Above,” a hymn of Martin Luther’s and a versification of the Lord’s Prayer, takes its place with the other hymns he wrote on the six chief parts of the catechism, namely “These Are the Holy Ten Commands,” “We All Believe in One True God,” “To Jordan Came Christ, Our Lord,” “O Lord, We Praise You” and “Out of the Depths.” (The astute reader of music notes should be able to match these titles with their proper catechetical part!) Each stanza of this hymn interpolates and exegetes a certain part of the Lord’s Prayer.
Luther wrote this hymn to correspond with his explanation of the prayer in his Small Catechism of 1538, and was published in Leipzig in 1539 in Valentin Schumann’s Gesangbuch. You will notice that he divides the prayer up into seven stanzas, encapsulated by an opening and closing stanza. Evidence suggests he rewrote this hymn several times.
Today’s liturgy focuses upon this prayer of Jesus, in this case we read the slightly-truncated version found in Luke. We also read responsively the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer as found in the catechism—since it is lengthy, it is read instead of the creed. Although the inclusion of part of the catechism is sure to draw groans from those expecting the worship service constantly to be moving to the next thing, it is this writer’s opinion that the occasional reviewing of the catechism is a commendable practice, and we have tried to intersperse catechetical elements into the summertime liturgies for many years.