Hymnal for Central American Lutherans & Spanish Language Churches

How can we sing the Lord’s song  in a strange land? (Psalm 137:4)

On August 6, 2019, Bishop Medardo Gomez, along with bishops and clergy from Central America, Europe, and the United States, held a reception in San Salvador dedicating the completed hymnal for Latin American Lutherans. In November 2009, a commission of musicians, theologians, and pastors began its development.

This work offers over a quarter of a million Lutherans a worship resource that resonates with the cultures and musical traditions in Latin America.

Commission members include:

Dra. Soraya Eberle and Pastor Christian

Christian Chavarria, El Salvador

Dra. Soraya Eberle, Brazil

Eunice B. Matute, Honduras

Sergio Rios Varillo, Nicaragua

Julio Melara, Costa Rica



Dr. Soraya Eberle  is a theologian, musician, scholar, and  Coordinator of Music for Igreja Evangelica de Confissao Luterana no Brasil (ECLB). She provided significant technical assistance to this team. While reflecting on her involvement Eberle said, “The  Central American hymn book creation project was a great challenge and something very unexpected. It was also a great and deep learning experience. It was a different reality from my own, but it enchanted me. I am in love with the music and people of Central America.”

This liturgical work is seminal. There are 338 hymns, many come from Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.  In the past, worship songs in Central America were derived from  Catholicism. A key function of the commission was to modify the lyrics to align with Lutheran theology. Additionally, it provided musical notation so that the songs could be learned, sung and played universally.  The prior hymn books are just a compilation of lyrics, that congregants and musicians have been using for decades.

Of the 338 songs, 8 North American Lutheran classics were added to the book. Pastor Christian Chavarría Ayala said, “The only song many Central Americans know is “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”  By incorporating this material, it will better connect Central Americans with other Lutherans.”

Beyond locations in Central America, Himnario Luterano CICLA can be of great use. North American Lutheran congregations who worship in Spanish, such as Adviento Luterano in New York City, now have a compendium of culturally specific music.

The completion of this work is timely.  On August 7, 2019 the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America declared that it will be a  sanctuary denomination.   Songs in the mother tongue of Latinx refugees may be a  source of hope and faith. These melodies may be a comfort to their souls as they seek to live in safety and peace.

The hymnal will be available during September 2019.  Contact Christian Chavarría Ayala through the El Salvadoran Synod for details on how to order.

There’s a saying that goes, “When you sing, you pray twice.”  May this work unfold a multitude blessings voice to voice, church to church, country to country.

Submitted by Chandra Llewellyn




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s