Thursday, October 8, 2015

138. Hymn for the 1st Sunday after Trinity

Now that I've filled in all the Sundays of the "festival half" of the church year in my "hymns for every Sunday of the church year" project, it's time to move on to Ordinary Time. Depending on the date of Easter, there may be between 22 and 27 Sundays after Trinity in any church year, Trinity Sunday being one week after Pentecost. The nomenclature of Sundays after Trinity is historically Lutheran, while Catholics and Protestants follow other naming systems based on Sundays after Pentecost or Sundays of Ordinary Time in which, confusingly, the weeks have different numbers. Then there is the most recent wave of liturgical reforms, which dispense with propers filed under Such-and-such Sunday after Whatnot in favor of a numbered list of propers, each to be observed when Sunday falls within a given range of dates.

I think it's a bad idea for Lutherans to go along with this because, among other reasons, it distances us from the counsel of Dr. Martin Luther, whose books of House and Church Postils provide excellent examples of how to preach on the lessons for each Sunday after Trinity and the rest of the church year. I consulted his Church Postil sermon for the First Sunday after Trinity before writing this hymn, and I believe I profited by it. The Epistle for this mass is 1 John 4:16-21 beginning with the words "God is love." The Gospel is Luke 16:19-31, Jesus' account (not exactly a parable) of the rich man and Lazarus. The tune is HEUT SINGT DIE LIEBE CHRISTENHEIT, N├╝rnberg, c. 1555.
Lord Jesus, heal our scaly eyes
To see beyond the world's disguise,
Lest we take curse for blessing!
Your judgment comes with swift surprise;
Rich hypocrites You will despise,
The faithful poor caressing.

You tell of one who, lacking love,
Thought on his wealth, not things above,
Each day in purple dressing;
While Lazarus, too sick to move,
Lay starving, yet did not reprove,
Instead God's grace confessing.

Death summoned both men just the same;
The one to Abram's bosom came,
But Hades claimed the other.
The rich man, writhing in his flame,
Begged that the beggar go proclaim
Grim warning to his brothers.

But Abram said: They have God's word;
Let Moses and the seers be heard!
Not so, the rich man pleaded,
If one should came back from the dead!
If they believe not, Abram said,
His word were no more heeded.

Wise Savior, who arose indeed,
Once slain for every sinner's need,
Help us by faith receive you!
By grace forgive our worldly greed;
Plant in us mercy's fruitful seed,
And heal the faults that grieve you!

And if perhaps affliction comes -
The wounds, the dogs, the paltry crumbs -
With faithful hope sustain us!
Your grace the deepest Hades plumbs;
Permit then, Christ, as grace becomes,
The cross we need to train us!

Till then, let us in You abide,
O Love, the whole creation wide;
And likewise live within us!
Draw us at last unto Your side
When You stand as the Lamb who died
And rose again to win us!

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