Friday, November 22, 2013

Church is Not a Spa

Okay.  I know that I’ve spent most of this blog time this year talking about hymnody.  And, even though my hymn of the month series is over, I am going to spend more time on it today.  In the past couple of weeks, I have talked to people numerous times who have mentioned that they like to sing music in church that makes them “feel good.”  What?  Where did we get this idea that worship is supposed to make you feel good?  If you want to feel good, go get a massage.  Feeling good is not what worship is about.  Worship is about Jesus.  It is all about Jesus and only about Jesus.  It is about Jesus coming to us in Word and Sacrament. 
In worship, I confess my sins and acknowledge that I am a “poor miserable sinner.”  There is nothing “happy clappy” or “feel good” about hearing or saying that I am an awful person.  But, it is necessary.  The gospel isn’t necessary unless I am a sinner.  God’s grace and mercy don’t matter unless I am no good on my own.  No, hearing the Law does not make it happy.  Hearing the Law does not make me feel  good.  Singing hymns that talk about sin do not make me feel good.  But they do make the wonderfulness of the Gospel even sweeter. 
With all of that being said, there are most certainly hymns that I love and hymns that bring me joy.  These hymns do that because they both remind me of my sinfulness and God’s grace and mercy for me.  These are hymns that are not about me but Jesus.  So, the next time someone tells you that they want to sing music in church that makes them feel good, tell them to go visit a spa and go to church for Word and Sacrament.  (Just kidding.  Don’t actually tell them that.  Just think it to yourself.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November Hymn of the Month - Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

I know I am a couple of days late with this post.  This will be the last hymn of the month post.  I have worked my way from the church year.  I started last December in the Advent season with "Creator of the Stars of Night."  Now the church year is ending.  Today we celebrated All Saints Day in church and will spend the next few weeks of the church year celebrating the church triumphant.  So, I believe that it is fitting to finish off this series with the hymn "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones."  This hymn is largely based off the first reading for All Saints Day, Revelation 7:9-15
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
    and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
As Christians, we can look forward to the resurrection and a new heaven and a new earth.  Today we sing with the great multitude in praise of our Holy Lord.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus!  Amen!

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright seraphs, cherubim, and thrones,
Raise the glad strain, Alleluia!
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
Virtues, archangels, angels' choirs,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou Bearer of the eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Ye holy Twelve, ye martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant, raise the song,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

O friend, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October Hymn of the Month - "Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice"

At the end of October, the Lutheran Church celebrates the Reformation.  This year, Reformation Sunday falls on October 27th, while Reformation Day (as always) falls on October 31st.  While there are many good reformation hymns out there (including hymns NOT written by Martin Luther), one hymn that I think is under-sung is "Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice" by Martin Luther and translated by Richard Massie.  It is ten verses long, but it is a fantastic justification hymn.  As you read the text of the hymn, read it carefully.  It is a wonderful reminder of what God has done for us; we were "bound in Satan's chains," but have been released through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice,
With exultation springing,
And with united heart and voice
And holy rapture singing,
Proclaim the wonders God has done,
How His right arm the vict'ry won;
What price our ransom cost Him!

Fast bound in Satan's chains I lay;
Death brooded darkly o'er me.
Sin was my torment night and day;
In sin my mother bore me.
But daily deeper still I fell;
My life became a living hell,
So firmly sin possessed me.

My own good works all came to naught,
No grace or merit gaining;
Free will against God's jugment fought,
Dead to all good remaining.
My fears increased till sheer despair
Left only death to be my share;
The pangs of hell I suffered.

But God had seen my wretched state
Before the world's foundation,
And mindful of His mercies great,
He planned for my salvation.
He turned to me a father's heart;
He did not choose the easy part
But gave His dearest treasure.

God said to His beloved Son:
"It's time to have compassion.
Then go, bright jewel of My crown,
And bring to all salvation.
From sin and sorrow set them free;
Slay bitter death for them that they
May live with You forever."

The Son obeyed His Father's will,
Was born of virgin mother;
And God's good pleasure to fulfill,
He came to be my brother.
His royal pow'r disguised He bore;
A servant's form, like mine, He wore
To lead the devil captive.

To me He said: "Stay close to Me,
I am your rock and castle.
Your ransom I Myself will be;
For you I strive and wrestle.
For I am yours, and you are Mine,
And where I am you may remain;
The foe shall not divide us.

"Though he will shed My precious blood,
Me of My life bereaving,
All this I suffer for your good;
Be steadfast and believing.
Life will from death the vict'ry win;
My innocence shall bear your sin,
And you are blest forever.

"Now to My Father I depart,
From earth to heav'n ascending,
And, heav'nly wisdom to impart,
The Holy Spirit sending;
In trouble He will comfort you
And teach you always to be true
And into truth shall guide you.

"What I on earth have done and taught,
Guide all your life and teaching;
So shall the kingdom's work be wrought
And honored in your preaching.
But watch lest foes with base alloy
The heav'nly treausre should destroy;
This final word I leave you."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September Hymn of the Month - Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer

The school I teach at has a theme hymn for the year.  Since it is September, I thought it would be appropriate to write about our hymn of the year.  Our theme hymn is "Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer" by William Williams and translated by Peter Williams.  It is a Welsh hymn, and the Welsh title is "Arglwydd arwain trwy'r anialwch."  (I love Welsh titles.  I can't pronounce any of them, but they look fun.)  For those of you who watched the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics in 2012, you may remember that they had children's choirs from each of the countries that make up Great Britain.  The children's choir from Wales sang this hymn.  
As humans, we generally don't like the idea of an unknown future.  Sure, we may like a surprise now and then, but, in general, we don't want life to be full of surprises.  However, as Christians we know that even in the midst of the unknown, we have a God who will lead us and has already delivered us.  

Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy pow'rful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fiery, cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong deliv'rer, strong deliv'rer,
Be Thou still my strength and shield;
Be Thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death and hell's destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan's side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer Goals Revisited

At the beginning of the summer, I let you know what my summer goals were.  As school starts on Tuesday and summer is pretty much officially over (with the exception of the inspirational teacher movie marathon I am throwing myself tomorrow), I thought I should let you all know how I did on achieving my goals.

1) Reread Jane Eyre.  I finished this one in June, and enjoyed it more this time around than I think I ever have before.  (I love this book, so that is saying a great deal.)  I also read many other books this summer, like I was hoping to do.

2) Memorize the piano part to the Starke/Holst "We Praise You and Acknowledge You, O Lord" out of the hymnal.  I thought this would be the most challenging of my goals, but I did it and did it much faster than I thought I could.  The more I work on memorizing piano music, the easier it becomes.  I never really understood why my piano teacher insisted I memorize occasionally, but I now wish that I had spent more time on it when I was younger.

3) Re-learn calculus.  I got a good start on this, and am satisfied.  No, I didn't get to integrals and spent my whole time with derivatives, but, I still feel like I got the good brain workout I was hoping for.

4) Finish the deck.  This one did not get done.  I did get a little more of the deck stripped.  It rained a good deal this summer, and it is not something I can do during the rain.  The weather has been nice lately, but I tore up the belt on the belt sander and need to replace it, plus, my knee has been bothering me, so I really don't want to be kneeling on the deck, even though the weather has been beautiful lately.  (I know these sound like feeble excuses, but, I was by far the least motivated to achieve this goal.)

Now, it is time for school to start and all of the chaos that comes with the school year, including choir, handbells, Beta Sigma Phi, church youth committee, and PTL meetings and other school events.  Plus, in October, I am starting the Lutheran Teacher colloquy program, which means that I will be taking a course a month for 8 months.  Let the craziness begin!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hymn of the Month - The King of Love My Shepherd Is

I apologize that this hymn is a couple of days late.  I've been busy getting stuff ready for school and just remembered that I hadn't yet written my post for August!  Part of the goal before school starts is to get the hymn of the month posts done through November.
Anyway, this month I picked one of my many favorite hymns - "The King of Love My Shepherd Is" by Henry W. Baker.  This hymn is mostly based on the 23rd Psalm.  My confirmation verse was Psalm 23:1.  Here is Psalm 23 in its entirety:
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Frankly, I am not really going to go into an explanation of the hymn as it is rather self-explanatory.  As you read this, use it as a prayer.

The King of Love my Shepherd is,

Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His.
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow,
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And, where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,

But yet in love He sought me
And on His shoulder gently laid
And home rejoicing brought me.

In death's dark vale I fear no ill

With Thee, dear Lord, beside me,
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread'st a table in my sight;

Thine unction grace bestoweth;
And oh, what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days

Thy goodness faileth never.
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hymn of the Month - "Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word"

This month's hymn is "Lord, Keep Is Steadfast in Your Word."  This hymn was written by Martin Luther and translated by Catherine Winkworth.  While many reading this blog will already know a great deal about Martin Luther, the history here is important to this song.  Luther was writing this hymn at a time of church turmoil.  (Sound familiar?)  The Roman Catholic Church was placing its authority in the papacy, instead of in Scripture.  Luther was faced with excommunication and even death.  In all of this adversity, it would have been tempting for Luther to turn his back on the Word of God and just go along with the Roman Catholic Church.  It certainly would have made things much easier for him.  However, Luther understood the power of Scripture and that death and resurrection of Jesus are at the center of his faith.  So, Luther wrote this hymn.  May it be your prayer today.

Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word;
Curb those who by deceit or sword
Would wrest the kingdom from your Son
And bring to nought all he has done.

Lord Jesus Christ, your power make known,
For you are Loud of lords alone;
Defend your holy Church that we
May sing your praise triumphantly.

O Comforter of priceless worth,
Send peace and unity on earth;
Support us in our final strife
And lead us out of death of life.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hymn of the Month - "Built on the Rock"

The hymn for this month is “Built on the Rock.”  The hymn was written by Nikolai Fredrik Severin Grundtvig and translated by Carl Dรถving.  This hymn is a powerful reminder that the Church is not about individuals.  The Church is not about what we do.  The Church is not about what governments do.  The Church is not about what influential groups do.  The Church is not about what congregations or pastors do.  If it was about what people do, the Church would be in a load of trouble.  Fortunately, the Church is about Jesus.  It doesn’t matter what happens in the world.  It doesn’t matter who our leaders are, who our pastors are, or who is in our congregations.  Jesus is bigger than all of that.  It is on Jesus that our hope can rest.  

Built on the Rock the Church shall stand,
Even when steeples are falling;
Crumbled have spires in every land,
Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest,
But above all the soul distressed,
Longing for rest everlasting.

Surely in temples made with hands,
God, the Most High, is not dwelling;
High above earth His temple stands,
All earthly temples excelling.
Yet He whom heavens cannot contain
Chose to abide on earth with men,
Built in our bodies His temple.

We are God's house of living stones,
Builded for His habitation;
He through baptismal grace us owns
Heirs of His wondrous salvation.
Were we but two His name to tell,
Yet He would deign with us to dwell,
With all His grace and His favor.

Now we may gather with our King
E'en in the lowliest dwelling;
Praises to Him we there may bring,
His wondrous mercy forthtelling.
Jesus His grace to us accords;
Spirit and life are all His words;
His truth doth hallow the temple.

Still we our earthly temples rear
That we may herald His praises;
They are the homes where He draws near
And little children embraces.
Beautiful things in them are said;
God there with us His covenant made,
Making us heirs of His kingdom.

Here stands the font before our eyes
Telling how God did receive us;
The altar recalls Christ's sacrifice
And what His table doth give us;
Here sounds the Word that doth proclaim
Christ yesterday, today, the same,
Yea, and for aye our Redeemer.

Grant then, O God, where'er men roam,
That, when the church-bells are ringing,
Many in saving faith may come
Where Christ His message is bringing:
"I know Mine own, Mine own know Me;
Ye, not the world, My face shall see.
My peace I leave with you." Amen.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer" Will Not Be So Lazy

Summer is finally here!  At least, it is for me.  School is done, registration for next year is complete, and my classroom is clean.  I don't have to go back to school until August.  (Although, knowing me, there is a good chance I will go back at some point, at least to drop some things off.)  This summer is going to be very busy.  We have an almost two week long vacation (that I am really looking forward to).  I will be in San Antonio for a week, volunteering for the LCMS National Youth Gathering.  (Peter will be there, too, but with the youth group, so we probably won't see each other much, if at all.)  Then,  my good friend Katie gets married later in July, so we get to travel to Kalamazoo and even make it to camp for their annual chicken dinner.  (Thanks, Katie, for scheduling your wedding for the same weekend.  It made things work out perfectly!)
However, even amidst all of these plans, I have some personal goals for the summer.  Of course, I have things I want to do to get ready for the upcoming school year, but I am not including those items on this list.  These are the goals that I want to meet for myself only.  I figured that if I wrote them down, I would be more accountable.

1) Reread Jane Eyre.  (I plan to read lots of books this summer, but I always pick a classic to read or reread every summer.)
2) Memorize the piano part to the Starke/Holst "We Praise You and Acknowledge You, O God" out of the hymnal.  (Memorizing is something I have always struggled with in piano, and I want to get better at it.  Plus, I love the hymn.)
3) Re-learn calculus.  (I actually enjoyed calculus in high school, and I am sad that I don't remember any of it.  I don't need it, but it is a good mental exercise.)
4) Finish the deck.  (This has been a summer project for a few summers now.  This one does largely depend on the weather, though, which is why it wasn't completed last summer.)

I guess I have a lot to do this summer.  I'd better get started...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hymn of the Month - "Holy Spirit, the Dove Sent from Heaven"

Pentecost this year falls on May 19.  Pentecost happens 50 days after Easter, and 10 days after Jesus' ascension into heaven.  On Pentecost we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples while they were camped out in an upper room.  While we worship and celebrate all three persons of the Trinity throughout the church year, the very nature of Pentecost helps us remember the gift of the Holy ,Spirit.  So, for this month, I have picked a Pentecost hymn called "Holy Spirit, the Dove Sent from Heaven."  This hymn was written by Philip W. Blyker and has has been translated from the Spanish buy Stephen P. Starke.

Holy Spirit, the dove sent from heaven,
Ever one with the One who is Three,
From the Father You came,
Word of of peace to proclaim,
Come and comfort us, speak tenderly,
You, the fragrance of life we are seeking;
Fill Your temple, Your altar make clean.
Joyous shelter of love,
Gracious friend from above,
In Your care we are resting, serene.

Holy Spirit, the fire celestial,
Who on Pentecost came as foretold,
To descend from on high
And the Church occupy
As the cloud filled the temple of old;
All the baptized You seal with Your promise,
All believers Your gift there receive,
So that all the elect
All in Christ may expect
To enjoy what by grace they believe.

Holy Spirit, the unction of blessing,
Sacred oil of the green olive tree,
Giving heat, giving light,
As the tent lamps ignite
And as Aaron praised God joyfully.
Blessed living and life giving water,
Now preserve us from evil within;
For in Jesus, God's Son,
All believers are one
In this washing that cleanses from sin.

Holy Spirit, the wind of great power,
Source of strength and of peace and of love,
Truest Comforter, plead,
As You bring all our need
To the throne of God's glory above.
Be the light that enlightens the Scriptures;
Keep our feet from each devilish snare;
Only You can make whole
All that troubles our soul;
By Your chrism, Christ's triumph we share.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hymn of the Month - "He's Risen, He's Risen"

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!
He is rise indeed!  Alleluia!

Since Easter was yesterday, I thought it appropriate to pick an Easter hymn this month.  There is so much great Easter hymnody out there, that it is hard to pick just one hymn.  So, I picked one that some may not be as familiar with.  The hymn "He's Risen, He's Risen" was written by C.F.W Walther, the first president of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (back when the synod was called the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States - how's that for a mouthful?).  He originally wrote the hymn auf Deutsch, so this translation is by Anna M. Meyer.  The hymn is partially based off of these verses from 1 Corinthians:
54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.      (ESV)
 Here is the hymn text:

He's risen, He's risen, Christ Jesus, the Lord;
He opened death's prison, the incarnate, true Word.
Break forth, hosts of heaven, in jubilant song,
And earth, sea, and mountain the praises prolong.

The foe was triumphant when on Calvary
The Lord of creation was nailed to the tree.
In Satan's domain did the hosts shout and jeer:
For Jesus was slain, whom the evil ones fear.

But short was their triumph: the Savior arose!
And death, hell, and Satan He vanquished, His foes.
The conquering Lord lifts His banner on high:
He lives, yes, He lives, and will never-more die.

O, where is your sting, death?  We fear you no more!
Christ rose, and now open is fair Eden's door.
For all our transgressions His blood does atone;
Redeemed and forgiven, we now are His own.

Then sing your hosannas and raise your glad voice;
Proclaim the blest tidings that all may rejoice.
Laud, honor, and praise to the Lamb that was slain;
With Father and Spirit He ever shall reign.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Song of the Month - "My Song is Love Unkown"

We are currently in the season of Lent.  Lent is a season of repentance as the church leads up to Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.  It is a time to focus on our sin and the wonderful sacrifice that Jesus, our Savior, provided through His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. 

13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
    he shall be high and lifted up,
    and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you—
    his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
    and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations;
    kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
    and that which they have not heard they understand.
53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
                                                                              Isaiah 52:13 - 53:3 (ESV)

The hymn for this month, "My Song is Love Unknown" is largely based on these verses from Isaiah.  The hymn was written by Samuel Crossman.  Here is the text:

My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me,
Love to the loveless shown
That they might lovely be.
O who am I
That for my sake
My Lord should take
Frail flesh, and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know.
But, oh, my friend,
My Friend indeed,
Who at my need
His life did spend!

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King.
Then “Crucify!”
Is all their breath,
And for His death
They thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries!
Yet they at these
Themselves displease
And 'gainst Him rise.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of Life they slay.
Yet steadfast He
To suff'ring goes,
That He His foes
From thence might free.

In life no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What my I say?
Heav'n was His home
But mine the tomb
Wherein He lay.

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine!
Never was love, dear King,
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend,
In whose sweet praise
I all my days
Could gladly spend!

(LSB 430)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

I want to wish a Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful husband, Peter.  You are my best friend, and I wouldn't trade in the last 6 1/2 years for anything.  I love you!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Let's Go Hope!

Today I am heading to St. Louis for what is one of the biggest sporting events of the year.  That's right, I am heading to a Hope/Calvin rivalry viewing party.  This annual event is a must-do on my calendar.  I get to see other people who went to Hope (even if I didn't know any of them while I was there).  The basketball game is ALWAYS good.  Plus, it is amazing to be a part of what even ESPN realizes is one of the best (although fans say "the best") basketball rivalries in the nation.  Let's go Hope!
(If you want more info, you can visit the following website: Rivalry Website)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hymn of the Month - "Christ Be My Leader"

This month's hymn is "Christ Be My Leader" by Timothy Dudley-Smith.  I particularly like this hymn, as it has been a source of comfort through the many changes and unknowns I have encountered.  I find myself singing "Christ Be My Leader" frequently.
John 8:12 says:
"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" (ESV)
The first verse of the hymn talks about Christ leading us through the darkness.  When life seems dull, dark, and dismal, Christ is there as the light of the world.  Here is the text of the hymn.  I hope it can be a reminder to you of Christ's love and care.

Christ be my leader by night as by day;
Safe through the darkness, for He is the way.
Gladly I follow, my future His care,
Darkness is daylight when Jesus is there.

Christ be my teacher in age as in youth,
Drifting or doubting, for He is the truth.
Grant me to trust Him; though shifting as sand,
Doubt cannot daunt me; in Jesus I stand.

Christ be my Savior in calm as in strife;
Death cannot hold me, for He is the Life.
Nor darkness nor doubting nor sin and its stain
Can touch my salvation: with Jesus I reign.

(LSB 861)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hymn of the Month - "O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright"

Happy Epiphany!  Yes, on Epiphany we celebrate the coming of the Magi to worship the Christ Child.  However, Epiphany is not just a day on the calendar, but a whole season of the church year.  The season of Epiphany is a season of light.  It is a season where we celebrate God's glory coming into the world.
With those things in mind, this month's hymn is "O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright" by Philipp Nicolai.  Nicolai was a German Lutheran pastor around the time of the Formula of Concord (which was written as a statement of faith to unite Lutherans).  He was also a pastor during an outbreak of the Plague and was burying hundreds of Plague victims.  That is when he wrote "O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright."  This hymn celebrates the light of Christ that has come into the world, remains with us, and will come again on the last day.  (While I like the entire hymn, stanzas 5 and 6 are my favorite.)

O Morning Star, how fair and bright!
You shine with God's own truth and light,
Aglow with grace and mercy!
Of Jacob's race, Kind David's son,
Our Lord and master, You have won
Our hearts to serve You only!
Lowly, holy!  Great and glorious;
All victorious, rich in blessing!
Rule and might o'er all posessing!

Come, heav'nly Bridegroom, Light divine,
And deep within our hearts now shine;
There light a flame undying!
In Your one body let us be
As living branches of a tree,
Your life our loves supplying.
Now, though daily Earth's deep sadness
May perplex us and distress us,
Yet with heavn'ly joy You bless us.

Lord, when You look on us in love,
At once there falls from God above
A ray of purest pleasure.
Your Word and Spirit, flesh and blood
Refresh our souls with heav'nly food.
You are our dearest treasure.
Ley Your mercy warm and cheer us!
O draw near us! For You teach us
God's own love through You has reached us.

Almighty Father, in Your Son
You loved us when not yet begun
Was this old earth's foundation!
Your Son has ransomed us in love
To live in Him here and above:
This is your great salvation.
Alleluia!  Christ the living,
To us giving life forever,
Keeps us Yours and fails us never!

O let the harps break forth is sound!
Our joy be all with music crowned,
Our voices gladly blending!
For Christ goes with us all the way -
Today, tomorrow, ev'ry day!
His love is never ending!
Sing out! Ring out! Jubilation!
Exultation!  Tell the story!
Great is He, the King of Glory!

What joy to know, when life is past,
The Lord we love is first and last,
The end and the beginning!
He will one day, oh, glorious grace,
Transport us to that happy place
Beyond all tears and sinning!
Amen!  Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!
Crown of gladness!  We are yearning
For the day of Your returning!

(LSB 395)