John Bergmeier

Weary of All Trumpeting - notes from the artist

 This print series is in response to a devotion written by Pastor Timothy Smith of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota.  This devotion is based on Jeremiah 31:23-25, but specifically verse 25: ”I will satisfy the thirsty and I will give rest to everyone who is weary

Smith:  "We become as weary as the disheartened man in Martin Franzmann’s hymn:  ”Weary of all trumpeting, weary of all killing, weary of all songs that sing promise non-fulfilling.  There is nothing we can do to save ourselves.  When the law of God drives us to despair over our sins, we gasp for his grace like a fish on the beach".   

Martin Luther said:  “Listen to Christ when he says: ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’  When the law drives you this way, so that you despair of everything that is your own and seek help and solace from Christ, then it is being used correctly; and so, through the gospel, it serves the cause of justification.  This is the best and most perfect use of the law”. 

 Smith continues:  “The gospel now comes as God’s gracious invitation to trust in him..  Franzmann’s weary man then lifts his voice to God:  We would raise, O Christ, one song – we would join in singing That great music pure and strong, Wherewith heaven is ringing.

 The hymn’s text was written by Martin Franzmann a Lutheran pastor who wrote many hymns.  The music is composed by Hugo Distler who was a German composer remembered today as “one of the most significant German composers of his generation” (Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians) and a leading composer of the neo-Baroque choral movement.  His employment at prestigious scholarly positions in Germany was contingent upon membership in the Nazi Party.  Pressures by the Nazi regime ultimately led to his suicide at age 34.  Musicologist Nick Strimple states, “it appears that he saw the futility of attempting to serve both God and Nazis, and came to terms with his own conscience unequivocally.”

This hymn employs military metaphors to call and spur on the faithful.  The poet transforms the shrill sounds of military trumpets, symbolic of violence, hate and war, into God’s clarion call to celebrate Christ’s triumph.

In all of these prints we see the symbolic gold circle of God’s presence.  “Gaining All By Giving” continues this imagery along with the addition of a tracery arch and a crown symbolic of the Gospel message of forgiveness and hope.  In contrast to this we see in “Triumph in Surrender” a more optimistic use of colors and sense of resolution and yet imagery that includes a skeleton symbolic of our ultimate end.  Of the 3 prints in this series, this one portrays the despair over our sins, the struggles and sufferings of the past.   In the print subtitled “summon us to live by loss” the colors selected are harsh, unsettling, dark and moody.  In developing these prints I wanted to reflect these seemingly contradictions.