Love Astounding Offers Jeannette Lindholm's Music for the Whole Year

Mar 14, 2024 9:00:00 AM / by Augsburg Fortress

Unexpected and mysterious
is the gentle word of grace.
Ever-loving and sustaining
is the peace of God’s embrace.
If we falter in our courage
and we doubt what we have known,
God is faithful to console us
as a mother tends her own.

(“Unexpected and Mysterious,” st. 1, ELW 258 and Love Astounding 68. Text © 2002 Jeannette M. Lindholm, admin. Augsburg Fortress.)

In the fall of 2023, Augsburg Fortress published Love Astounding, the first hymn collection by Jeannette M. Lindholm. It contains twenty-three hymn texts by Lindholm that span the church year, biblical narratives, and our life experiences. Each is presented first as a poem and then again set to music, including many well-known hymn tunes and some new tunes written specifically for her words.

Everyone who loves her hymn “Unexpected and Mysterious” and can’t wait to sing it each Advent will love this collection, too. Lindholm’s texts are lovely, beautiful, and profound. Some employ language to sing out loud words and phrases we don’t often get to name in worship:

Then with joy and adoration
gather chisel, brush, and pen,
tools from every life’s vocation
made to build, delight, and mend.

(“Here the Spirit of Creation,” from st. 3, Love Astounding 53. Text © 2001 Jeannette M. Lindholm, admin. Augsburg Fortress.)

Others name those from the Bible, especially women, whose stories cry out for more hymns to sing of their witnesses:

With Mary sing Magnificat;
with Miriam dance in praise;
with prophet Anna speak a word
of faith in joy ablaze,
for love and mercy shall prevail;
no need shall be ignored;
the lost shall find their home again
and every hope restored.

(“With Mary Sing Magnificat,” st. 1, Love Astounding 74. Text © 2000 Jeannette M. Lindholm, admin. Augsburg Fortress.)

Lindholm has a gift for writing texts that wrestle with deep questions in a way that is faithful to the complexity of God without proposing easy, simple answers that rhyme. One hymn, written for the memorial service of a friend, deals honesty with the pain of unexpected death while reminding us that God’s promises are bigger:

Despair, so deep it bears no name,
or sorrows paralyzing
cannot revoke Love’s faithful claim
to dwell within our dying.

The Love that called creation good
all goodness still is bringing.
This Love turns death again to life
and silence into singing.

(“Before the Waters Nourished Earth,” sts. 3–4, ACS 1049; Love Astounding 50. Text © 1996 Jeannette M. Lindholm, admin. Augsburg Fortress.)

While this collection is primarily meant as a resource for adding new hymns to worship (most easily done by downloading the bulletin graphics from and reporting them on OneLicense), take the time to read her brilliant introduction. She discusses how she thinks about language and poetry, how hymnody interacts with other spoken and sung words in the context of worship, and about the importance of expansive and gender-inclusive language for God and God’s people. The introduction would make a great group study project for worship committees who are thinking about language and context in their worship services.

Hymn singing is ultimately a corporate act, meant to be done as a community. While her hymns have great personal depth, each is crafted with the assembly in mind, inviting us to sing together of the astounding love of God.

So that we may join her dancing,
feed the hungry, clothe the poor,
sweep away debris of anger,
silence desperate shouts of war.
In the music of her voice,
weary dancers may rejoice,
for she sends our sadness reeling
in the rhythms of her healing.

(“Tell Again the Joyful Story,” st. 3, Love Astounding 64. Text © 1994, rev. 2021 Jeannette M. Lindholm, admin. Augsburg Fortress.)

Topics: Music Ministry, music, All Creation Sings

Augsburg Fortress

Written by Augsburg Fortress

Augsburg Fortress develops engaging resources for Lutheran congregations In our ministry as the publishing house of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, we create substantive and innovative materials to support the ministries of faith communities in communicating the good news of God's liberating grace. To meet the evolving needs of Lutheran communities, we continually invest in the development of new ministry resources, seeking ongoing input from theologians, educators, church leaders, and church members.

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