Witness Moment

A Journey of Faith and Worship

Spanish-speaking Lutherans around the world rejoice at the arrival of their new hymnal, Himnario Luterano.

After 15 years of work by many dedicated people, Spanish-speaking Lutherans around the world are rejoicing at the arrival of Himnario Luterano (HL). This new Spanish hymnal is a testament to the walking together of Latin American Lutheran partner churches and is supported by Lutheran Heritage Foundation, the Confessional Lutheran Education Foundation and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS).

The Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile initiated the hymnal project with church bodies in Argentina and Paraguay in 2007. News of the project garnered the interest of other Lutheran partner churches, resulting in a profound endeavor by a faithful group now known as the hymnal committee.

HL was not simply the translation of an existing hymnal into Spanish. The goal was to integrate the liturgy and hymnody used in Latino Lutheran churches into a unique hymnal. Even the musical notation — written for piano, with guitar chords throughout — was designed for the Hispanic world.

The committee translated ancient and beloved hymns and liturgies, including all but one of Luther’s hymns as well as 15 by Paul Gerhardt. To preserve ancient worship traditions, they also translated an adaptation of Luther’s German Mass from 1526 as one of five Divine Service settings. To rescue the singing of the psalms and revive the role of the pastor as cantor, 90 psalms and their modes of chanting were included.

In addition, a larger group of some 20 Lutheran pastors from various countries spent four years singing through all the hymns in their repertoire, selecting the best ones from 17 church bodies for the hymnal.

Seminarian Demetrio Pérez (center) sings during the Confessional Lutheran Theology Symposium, held May 25, 2022, at Concordia the Reformer Seminary and Mercy Center in Palmar Arriba, Dominican Republic.

The team didn’t just look to the past; they also included 161 hymns by modern composers, bringing the total number of hymns to 670. These excellent works added a fresh layer of depth to the musical tapestry of worship. Many have become favorites among the most orthodox of Lutherans.

With a wealth of resources for the life of the church — such as Luther’s Small Catechism, the creeds and prayers — HL goes beyond Sunday worship. It is an indispensable tool for a Lutheran congregation and is equally suitable for in-home devotions around a family altar. A website is being developed that will provide recordings of the liturgies and hymns for congregations and families to use.

After passing doctrinal review in five Latin American Lutheran church bodies as well as in the LCMS, HL was dedicated at Concordia the Reformer Seminary’s symposium in the Dominican Republic in May 2022. Since then, it has been dedicated in churches across Latin America and at both LCMS seminaries in the U.S., distributed at the 2022 LCMS Hispanic National Convention, and commended by the 2023 Synod convention.

Although Hispanic Lutherans were eager to receive the new hymnals, it has taken some time for copies to be printed and shipped around the world. The hymnals earmarked for Honduras; Belize; Guatemala; and Chetumal, Mexico, did not arrive in Guatemala until May 2023. Shortly thereafter, LCMS missionary Rev. Herb Burch embarked on an eight-day road trip to deliver 54 cases of hymnals to their eager recipients.

In an August 2023 interview with Worldwide KFUO, the Rev. Juan Pablo Lanterna, president of the Chilean Lutheran church, shared, “Every Sunday, we have a class … we are learning the liturgies. They love that. They want more, more, more, more, and the best part … is we can sing for 30 minutes, and they want more, more, more, every week. It is wonderful for us to receive.”

Learn More

Jana Inglehart 

LCMS missionary and communication specialist for the Latin America and Caribbean region.

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