Thursday, June 5, 2014

56. Pentecost Hymn

The challenge came from my friend Rev. Alan Kornacki Jr.: "You know what would be ironic for the Feast of Pentecost? Singing hymns about Jesus, like the Holy Spirit would want us to do, instead of singing hymns about the Holy Spirit." And suddenly the following hymn landed on my head like a tongue of flame. I am also indebted, I think, to Rev. Dr. Arthur Just. Possible tunes: ABERYSTWYTH (J. Parry, d. 1903); CHRISTE, WARHES SEELENLICHT (Halle, 1704); WACHET DOCH, ERWACHT (J. Crüger, d. 1662).
Sing, you worthy Christian host,
Sing the joy of Pentecost!
Israel, freed by God's strong hand
Out of bonds in Pharaoh's land,
Walked a week of weeks entire,
Led by signs of smoke and fire,
Since the lamb's preserving blood
And the killing, saving flood.

Though you ne'er the Jordan crossed,
Moses, sing of Pentecost!
On Mount Sinai then you saw
God's own finger write the Law;
Spoke Him, face to glowing face,
Spared from death by purest grace.
On a later mount make clear:
Christ, your Better, now is here.

Christ, our Lamb, our only boast,
Be our song of Pentecost!
Round You Jordan's water spins
As You, bearing all our sins,
Charge the water with God's love
And the Holy Spirit's dove.
Then for us You face the fire
Of the Father's righteous ire.

Having thus absorbed our cost,
Be our song of Pentecost!
Bring the nations to Your fold,
Just as John himself foretold:
Cleansing them from death and blame
By Your bath in breath and flame.
Raised on high, Your work complete,
Now You send Your Paraclete.

Thus the gift we need the most
Came with signs on Pentecost:
As the faithful gathered round
Came the wind with rushing sound,
On their heads the fiery tongues,
Mighty speech into their lungs;
Hearers from all foreign parts
Understood, cut to their hearts.

So may every land and coast
Join the song of Pentecost!
For You, Christ, to Israel sent,
Out of Israel's vision went,
That all tribes and tongues on earth
Might, through baptism's second birth,
Find in You their every need
And be Israel's sons indeed.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
You we sing at Pentecost!
Voice that thunders from above,
Comforter whose sign is dove,
And the Son, elected Christ,
Once for all man sacrificed:
Give us, Lord, our heart's desire—
Cleanse us by Your breath and fire!

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