Sunday, April 20, 2014

Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain

"Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain"
John of Damascus

Come, you faithful, raise the strain
Of triumphant gladness!
God has brought His Israel
Into joy from sadness.
Loosed from Pharoah's bitter yoke
Jacob's sons and daughters,
Led them with unmoistened foot
Through the Red Sea waters.

'Tis the spring of souls today:
Christ hath burst His prison,
And from three days' sleep in death
As a sun has risen;
All the winter of our sins,
Long and dark, is flying
From His light, to whom is giv'n
Laud and praise undying.

Now the queen of seasons, bright
With the day of splendor,
With the royal feast of feasts,
Comes its joy to render;
Comes to gladden faithful hearts
Which with true affection
Welcomes in unwearied strains
Jesus' resurrection!

For today among His own
Christ appeared, bestowing
His deep peace, which evermore
Passes human knowing.
Neither could the gates of death
Nor the tomb's dark portal
Nor the watchers nor the seal
Hold Him as a mortal.

Alleluia! Now we cry
To our King immortal,
Who, triumphant, burst the bars
Of the tomb's dark portal.
Come, you faithful, raise the straiin
Of triumphant gladness!
God has brought His Israel
Into joy from sadness!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sing, My Tongue the Glorious Battle

"Sing, My Tongue the Glorious Battle"
Venatius Honorius Fortunatus

Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle; 
Sing the ending of the fray. 
Now above the cross, the trophy, 
Sound the loud triumphant lay: 
Tell how Christ, the world's redeemer, 
As a victim won the day. 

Tell how, when at length the fullness 
Of the appointed time was come, 
He, the Word, was born of woman, 
Left for us His Father's home, 
Blazed the path of true obedience, 
Shone as light amidst the gloom. 

Thus, with thirty years accomplished, 
He went forth from Nazareth, 
Destined, dedicated, willing, 
Did His work, and met His death;
Like a lamb He humbly yielded 
On the cross His dying breath. 

Faithful cross, true sign of triumph, 
Be for all the noblest tree; 
None in foliage, none in blossom, 
None in fruit your equal be; 
Symbol of the world's redemption, 
For the weight that hung on thee! 

Unto God be praise and glory: 
To the Father and the Son, 
To the eternal Spirit honor 
Now and evermore be done; 
Praise and glory in the highest, 
While the timeless ages run.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted

"Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted"
Thomas Kelly

 Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
'Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, 'tis He! 'tis He!
'Tis the long-expected Prophet,
David's Son, yet David's Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
'Tis the true and faithful Word.

Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting His distress;
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.

Ye who think of sin but lightly
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
Son of Man and Son of God.

Here we have a firm foundation;
Here the refuge of the lost;
Christ's the Rock of our salvation,
His the name of which we boast.
Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

When You Woke that Thursday Morning

"When You Woke that Thursday Morning"
Jaroslav Vajda

When You woke that Thursday morning,
Savior, teacher, faithful friend,
Thouts of self and safety scorning,
Knowing how the day would end:
Lamb of God, foretold for ages,
Now at last the hour had come
When but One could pay sin's wages:
You assumed their dreadful sum.

Never so alone and lonely,
Longing with tormented heart
To be with Your dear ones only
For a quiet hour apart:
Sinless Lamb and fallen creature,
One last paschal meal to eat,
One last lesson as their teacher,
Washing Your disciples' feet.

What was there that You could give them
That would never be outspent,
What great gift that would outlive them,
What list will and testament?
"Show Me and the world you love Me,
Know Me as the Lamb of God:
Do this in remembrance of Me,
Eat this body, drink this blood."

One in faith, in love united,
All one body, You the head,
When we meet, by You invited,
You are with us, as You said.
One with You and one another
In a unity sublime;
See in us Your sister, brother,
One in ev'ry place and time.

One day all the Church will capture
That bright vision glorious,
And Your saints will know the rapture
That Your heart desired for us,
When the longed for peace and union
Of the Greatest and the least
Meet in joyous, blest communion
In Your never-ending feast.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Upon the Cross Extended

"Upon the Cross Extended"
Paul Gerhardt

 Upon the cross extended,
See, world, thy Lord suspended,
Thy Savior yields His breath.
The Prince of Life from heaven
Himself hath freely given
To shame and blows and bitter death.

Come hither now and ponder,
'Twill fill thy soul with wonder,
Blood streams from every pore.
Through grief whose depth none knoweth,
From His great heart there floweth
Sigh after sigh of anguish o'er.

Who is it that hath bruised Thee?
Who hath so sore abused Thee
And caused Thee all Thy woe?
While we must make confession
Of sin and dire transgression,
Thou deeds of evil dost not know.

I caused Thy grief and sighing
By evils multiplying
As countless as the sands.
I caused the woes unnumbered
With which Thy soul is cumbered,
Thy sorrows raised by wicked hands.

'Tis I who should be smitten
My doom should here be written:
Bound hand and foot in hell.
The fetters and the scourging,
The floods around Thee surging,
'Tis I who have deserved them well.

Thy cords of love, my Savior,
Bind me to Thee forever,
I am no longer mine.
To Thee I gladly tender
All that my life can render
And all I have to Thee resign.

Thy cross I'll place before me,
Its saving power be o'er me,
Wherever I may be;
Thine innocence revealing,
Thy love and mercy sealing,
The pledge of truth and constancy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth

"A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth"
Paul Gerhardt

A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth,
The guilt of all men bearing;
And laden with the sins of earth,
None else the burden sharing!
Goes patient on, grow weak and faint,
To slaughter led without complaint,
That spotless life to offer;
Bears shame and stripes, and wounds and death,
Anguish and mockery, and saith,
"Willing all this I suffer."

 This Lamb is Christ, the soul's great Friend,
The Lamb of God, our Savior;
Him God the Father chose to send
To gain for us His favor.
"Go forth, My Son," the Father saith,
"And free men from the fear of death,
From guilt and condemnation.
The wrath and stripes are hard to bear,
But by Thy Passion men shall share
The fruit of Thy salvation."

 "Yea, Father, yea, most willingly
I'll bear what Thou commandest;
My will conforms to Thy decree,
I do what Thou demandest."
O wondrous Love, what hast Thou done!
The Father offers up His Son!
The Son, content, descendeth!
O Love, how strong Thou art to save!
Thou beddest Him within the grave
Whose word the mountains rendeth.

From morn till eve my theme shall be
Thy mercy's wondrous measure;
To sacrifice myself for Thee
Shall be my aim and pleasure.
My stream of life shall ever be
A current flowing ceaselessly,
Thy constant praise outpouring.
I'll treasure in my memory,
O Lord, all Thou hast done for me,
Thy gracious love adoring.

Of death I am no more afraid,
New life from Thee is flowing;
Thy cross affords me cooling shade
When noonday's sun is glowing.
When by my grief I am opprest,
On Thee my weary soul shall rest
Serenely as on pillows.
Thou art my Anchor when by woe
My bark is driven to and fro
On trouble's surging billows.

And when Thy glory I shall see
And taste Thy kingdom's pleasure,
Thy blood my royal robe shall be,
My joy beyond all measure.
When I appear before Thy throne,
Thy righteousness shall be my crown,-
With these I need not hide me.
And there, in garments richly wrought
As Thine own bride, I shall be brought
To stand in joy beside Thee.

Monday, April 14, 2014

In Silent Pain the Eternal Son

Each day of Holy Week this year (except for Palm Sunday, as I am a bit behind), I am going to post a hymn stanza.  Enjoy them as you reflect.

"In Silent Pain the Eternal Son"
Christopher M. Idle

In silent pain the eternal Son hangs derelict and still;
In darkened day His work is done, fulfilled, His Father's will.Uplifted for the world to see He hangs in strangest victory,For in His body on the tree He carries all our ill.

He died that we might die to sin and live for righteousness;
The earth is stained to make us clean and bring us into peace.
For peace He came and met the cost; He gave Himself to save the lost;
He loved us to the uttermost and paid for our release.

For strife He came to bring a sword, the truth to end all lies;
To rule in us, our patient Lord, until the evil dies:
For in His hand he holds the stars, His voice shall speak to end our wars,
And those who love Him see His scars and look into His eyes.

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."