I think this post may wrap up my series of hymns redacted from the sub-par material in my college and high school poetry album. The amount of work required by these updates has ranged from repairing a capitalization issue here and there to rewriting the whole hymn almost out of recognition. I have tried to keep the best word choices, images, and biblical allusions while destroying hideous lapses in taste. I have tightened up bloated prosody and expanded on thoughts that seemed too laconic. I have added stanzas, deleted stanzas, altered the meter of stanzas, and solved technical difficulties I must have given up on twenty years ago when I was thinner in the middle and thicker on top. Here are the last few specimens in the binder... (EDIT: Numbering added later.)
97. Stewardship Hymn
Thanks to Christ our Savior be,
Who has given graciously
Present and eternal treasures
Through His life of poverty.
By His sorrow we are healed,
By His crucifixion sealed
Into life and heav'nly pleasures;
Therefore we all praises yield.
Jesus' misery has earned
Peace for us, who here have learned
Life and wisdom without measure;
What have we in faith returned?
By His word His love is spread
And the lost from darkness led;
Shall we sit at fruitless leisure,
Self-secure and overfed?
Rather let us first-fruits bring,
Thanking Him for everything;
Now proclaim His boundless mercy
And to His rich promise cling!
In the Lord who for us died,
In the God who will provide
Trusting, let us render off'rings
That His gifts be multiplied.
Let the Church proceed unbound,
Bursting forth with joyful sound;
Add our voices to the measure:
Life and light in Christ abound!
98. In the World but Not of the World
Lord, from the shadow of toil and pain
We cry, perplexed and with longing sore,
Praying to fly to Your endless reign
When time and terror will be no more.
This fallen world where today we dwell,
But a dim image of that to come,
Offers no shelter from sin and hell
Nor strength to reach our eternal home.
Is it our office to change this state
Or to endure and obey with grace?
God help us meet this unclosed debate,
Keeping Your word in its rightful place:
Highest, that is, of our norms and rules,
First in our comforts and guides to truth,
In all our labors foremost of tools,
Leading us out of the tears of earth!
Therefore the duty all Christians share
Over all duties is to Your word:
Telling the news that our Savior fair
For love of sinners His blood outpoured.
This news proclaiming, our highest task,
Also will bring us the deepest pain;
For stronger faith, Lord, we humbly ask,
Lest to Your name we bring any shame.
Not of this world, Savior, is Your church;
Yet in this world is our life and care.
Help us, we pray, to complete our work
And help each other his cross to bear.
Lighten our burden and speed the end;
Stir up our prayers with devotion true!
Come, Lord, with thunder our tombs to rend;
To brighter mansions bring us with You!
99. Ponder, heart, this table (dated March 1992)
Ponder, heart, this table
Of fellowship and grace,
Where my solemn spirit
Beholds the Savior's face.
Approach, my soul in fear;
A mystery is here,
Whereby my guilt is lifted off
And faith put in its place.
On the dreadful evening
In which He was betrayed
Jesus, our Passover,
Gave thanks and blessed the bread.
"I share My flesh with you;
This is My body true!
Remember me by doing this,"
Unto the twelve He said.
After they had eaten,
The Savior took the wine;
Giving thanks, He told them:
"This issue of the vine
I give here for your good;
I say it is My blood,
Which I am shedding for your sins,
A testament of Mine."
Thus the Lord completed
What He had long prepared,
Since from death in Egypt
Were Jacob's children spared.
God's sword passed over them
Who sacrificed the lamb,
Among whom by the Lord's command
The victim's flesh was shared.
Even when Isaiah
Before the awful throne
Wept that his uncleanness
He could not cleanse alone,
The sacrificial coal
To cleanse his sinful soul
Was but the altar sacrifice
That for His sin atoned.
All these things were figures
Of the redeeming pains
When Christ gave His body,
And of His outpoured veins.
Lord, let us humbly think
Before we eat and drink
Upon the Lamb of Calvary
Who whitens all our stains!
Precious Jesus, let us
With penitence draw near!
Give us eyes in spirit
To see Your mercy here.
Oh, let our hearts believe
That heart and mouth receive
Your body and Your holy blood,
And grow in godly cheer!
That last one brings back some warm, fuzzy memories. I wrote a musical setting of it that one or two church choirs actually sang, and that was before I knew anything about writing music. And now, to conclude...
100. Advent Hymn
Cry the captives at the river:
Must we sing in bonds forever?
Come, Anointed One, deliver
Us from out the chains of sin!
Let us see Jerusalem
And our rest from sorrow claim;
There with saints and martyrs ever
Shall we glorify Your name!
Cry the slaughtered children, praying:
Shall the day be long delaying?
Soon the trumpet must be playing
Loud the triumph of the Lamb!
Loose Your fury on the land,
Razing mountains with Your hand!
Hasten, from the world's decaying
Spare Your humble pilgrim band!
Cries the church on earth, imploring,
Every challenge fast enduring:
Longer still? Your peace assuring,
Give us strength to pass the test!
Says the Lord, "Wait but a while,
That your faith be proved by fire;
Soon enough I shall be curing
All your sorrows, little child!"
Says the Lord, "Rejoice, you nations!
All your longing expectation
Of the Day of your salvation
Hastens to completion now.
Child, take heart and patiently
Watch and pray, prepared for Me;
All the signs approach completion
For the Day I'll set you free!"