Thursday, October 5, 2017

218. Hymn Against the Christian's Threefold Foe

Guido Reni, c. 1636
Here is another attempt to write a hymn to accompany an Advent sermon series by the pastor of the church I attend. His theme is, roughly put, "Christ vs. the Three Deadly Enemies of Every Christian," identified by Martin Luther as the devil, the world, and our sinful nature. He further selected texts for each week's Advent midweek sermon: Psalm 74:10-19, Job 1, and Revelation 12:7-12 for Dec. 6; Psalm 2:1-12, Isaiah 13:9-13, and Romans 11:33-12:3 for Dec. 13; Psalm 6:1-10, Genesis 6:1-12, and Romans 6:15-25 for Dec. 20; and for all three weeks, John 1:1-5, 9-14. Though it is not my usual habit (lately) to choose a tune before writing a hymn, I did so in this case in order to fulfill my pastor's request that it be something familiar, easy-to-sing, and "Adventy." I gave the matter about 30 seconds of thought before deciding on the 17th-century French tune PICARDY. My concept of the hymn is for the first and last stanza to be sung each week, and for the stanza relevant to each week's message to be sung in between.

Christians, arm yourselves for battle
With your spirit's deadly foes!
Satan would herd you like cattle
Into hell's eternal throes;
While the world pours out its prattle,
And your flesh no virtue knows.

Watch, beloved, lest th' accuser
Tear from you the victor's crown;
For your foe, that base seducer,
Grudges faith's blood-spattered gown.
Fear not! Christ, your sin's excuser,
Overcame and cast him down.

Turn aside, O holy nation,
From the spirit of this age;
God will shake its generation,
Paying back the nations' rage.
By the Spirit's transformation,
Christ will prove you just and sage.

Lift your heads, you slaves downtrodden,
Fleshly, weak, and bowed by guilt:
Slain with Christ, again begotten,
Serve no more sin's rust and wilt.
Living stones, with baptism sodden,
As God's dwelling you are built.

Christians, rise, no hindrance brooking;
Holy armor on you gird.
Christ's strong name and love invoking,
Daily to devotion stirred,
Be alert, repentant, looking
For the advent of the Word.

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