Sunday, March 5, 2017

212. Consolation Hymn

A reader's comment led me to read back over an installment in my series of posts about "Tacky Hymns," and I came across a passage where I was attacking one hymnal's selections under the topic "hymns of lament." At one point, I rattled off a list of things I wished more hymns of lament would do, in terms of where they locate the solution to the believer's complaint. As I was thinking about how to write a lament hymn that does those things, I found myself writing this consolation hymn, which responds to a Christian's (spoken or unspoken) lament. I guess I'll have to save the idea of writing the lament bit for later. For the moment, I have no particular tune in mind for this text.

My heart, when you are overthrown
And, save for sorrow, seem alone,
Be certain this is so:
The wounded Christ stands ever by,
And knows how long, how deep, and why;
He understands Your woe.

When, in the secret of your pain,
You dare not shudder or complain,
Be certain this is true:
The Spirit makes Your groaning heard,
Whereby your Father's heart is stirred;
Yes, Jesus weeps with you.

When trouble turns your spirit old,
And God seems silent, far, and cold,
Then be not unaware:
He who perspired like drops of blood
Is not indiff'rent to your good;
He watches you with care.

When you see foes against you massed,
When sorely is your soul harassed,
And faithless seem all friends,
Take cheer! Your Lord forsakes you not,
Who once for all the devil fought,
And still with him contends.

When, tempted greatly and at length,
You fear the cause exceeds your strength,
Beloved, be advised:
God disciplines the child He loves;
This brief, light test like metal proves
The faith thus exercised.

When by His rod your soul is vexed,
When brooding doubts leave you perplexed,
Let this be understood:
Your Lord, who promises to bless
And crowns your faith with righteousness,
Works all things for your good.

When toils and trials but produce
More of the same, of little use,
Accept this solace, too:
In ways you little comprehend,
Some other saint's faint heart to mend,
Your Savior uses you.

And if, despite your calm belief,
This life allots you no relief
'Til all its fires grow dim,
Rejoice! The last things will be best,
When, calling you at last to rest,
Christ gathers you to Him!

EDIT: I found an existing tune that I think will serve this hymn nicely. It is ALLG√úTIGER, MEIN PREISGEGANG, by Georg Peter Weimar, 1803:

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