Sunday, March 6, 2016

197. Minor Prophets Hymn

The full title of this piece is "Minor Prophets Hymn: Warning and Promise." I don't think a single hymn I have written has ever taken me longer to write. The challenge of compressing the last twelve books of the Old Testament into one "heroes of the faith"-type hymn, is that I had to read every one of those books, a total of 65 chapters of Scripture, one book at a time while writing each stanza. Besides a period of planning, brainstorming, and generally psyching myself into it, the actual writing process took me three or four days. And for all I know, it still needs touching up. But here, at least, is a first look at it, along with the tune ELIJAH, which I wrote for this hymn. Don't be put off by the 14-stanza length. It is designed so that a group studying any one of the minor Old Testament prophets could sing just the first and last stanza, inserting between them the verse relevant to the prophet they are studying.
God, who sent the twelve of old
Swift to seek Your straying fold,
Let us now their warning hear;
Let their promises draw near!
Through their oracles, we pray,
Make us ready for Your day,
Every heart to Jesus pointing,
With repentant faith anointing!

Lord, who through Hosea’s love
Israel’s harlotry reproved,
Call your straying people forth
From the daughters of the earth!
Show her mercy in her need;
Let her be Your bride indeed!
With a husband’s love come nigh her;
Out of death and Hades buy her!

Lord, with heart, not garments, rent,
Joël calls us to repent;
Be the God his writings trace,
Slow to wrath and swift to grace!
Pour Your Spirit on all flesh,
Stirring faith in You afresh;
Make Your church a holy mountain,
Watered by a cleansing fountain!

Lord, who with no secrets deal,
But to seers the truth reveal,
Amos heard Your roar of ire;
Save us from that awful fire!
Sift a remnant from all lands;
Raise their ruins by Your hands,
Ne’er the fruit of faith denying
Gentiles on Your name relying!

Send deliverers in time;
Burn away Your people’s crime!
As our foes their triumph drink,
Into nothing let them shrink!
Lord, with Obadiah’s throat,
Roar at them who idly gloat
Over Israël’s disaster;
Show Yourself the nations’ Master!

Jonah fled your gracious wish;
Catching him inside a fish,
You made Him proclaim the Word
Nineveh, with sorrow, heard.
Though Your messengers rebel,
By them warn us, too, from hell!
Christ, arisen Jonah-fashion,
Save us by Your great compassion!

Micah warned the seers corrupt,
You their vision would disrupt,
Pouring wrath on pious fraud;
Then he saw the Son of God,
Who from Judah would arise,
Nor would Bethlehem despise.
Who is like You, Lord—forgiving,
And in faithful mercy living?

Nahum Nineveh did warn:
She would fall, and none would mourn.
Meantime, Judah, lo! The feet
Running forth with tidings meet!
Even now, dear Lord, restore
Those who still Your name adore;
As our age’s shepherds slumber,
Rouse Your flock in mighty number!

Hear Habakkuk’s grave complaint;
Hasten, Lord, to help Your saints!
Let earth, with Your knowledge filled,
At Your presence now be stilled!
Though man’s pride will come to dust,
He who lives by faith is just:
Whose salvation You appointed,
Once for all, through Your Anointed.

Zephaniah saw that day
Of great darkness and dismay;
Yet, Lord, while the sinner wails,
Your just mercy never fails.
Give us pure lips for Your praise,
And a humble nation raise;
Take away Your bride’s dishonor;
Rain Your love and peace upon her!

Haggai bade Zerubbabel
Build a house for You to dwell;
Thus You, Lord, bade Judah’s seed
Turn to You in every need.
Nothing prospers in the land
Or the church, without Your hand;
Where You dwell, Desire of Nations,
Peace and glory find their stations.

Zechariah saw the King
Ride a donkey, peace to bring;
Heard You bid the Shepherd struck,
Lord, to break and heal Your flock.
Once again rebuke the foe;
Cover sin in robes like snow!
Hush all flesh, Your temple finding,
In Your Branch all nations binding!

Malachi set forth Your case,
Charging those who tempt Your grace;
Of Your messenger as well,
Christ’s forerunner, did He tell.
As Your day of dread again
Comes, Lord, turn the hearts of men,
Ere the Sun of Justice, rising,
Burns and heals with zeal surprising!

Glory to the Father, one
With His like-in-glory Son
And the Spirit, as before,
Even now and evermore:
God, who moved each seer and sage,
Speaking both by voice and page,
And whose promised visitation
Has secured to us salvation!

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