Wednesday, November 1, 2017

222. Interpretation of Scripture Hymn

A cuter title might be "Hermeneutics Hymn," but I'm not as sure as I once was that a systematic list of hermeneutical rules is where it's at (as in, "Any blockhead can correctly interpret the Bible if he reasons from these 16 rules in the order in which they logically flow from first principles," etc.). Nevertheless, I've wanted for a long time to write a hymn that reflects the things the Bible says about itself, and prays those things back to God as an appeal for faith in His word. The evidence of that desire is more than a page of closely handwritten notes, with way too many key points, each followed by at least one Bible reference. The challenge, which has kept me hesitating while other planned hymns have practically written themselves, is to keep the hymn reasonably short and not bludgeon the topic to death with a too-exhaustive treatment. So, here's a hymn that attempts to cover about half of that material, in a prayerful manner that I think, after all, might be more useful to Christians than a doctrinaire treatment. I reserve the remainder of my hermeneutical notes for a later hymn. The only obvious tune for this hymn is ACH, WAS SOLL ICH S√úNDER MACHEN, ad. from J. Flittner’s Hirtenlieder, Altdorf, 1653.

Lord, whose writ cannot be broken:
God, whose voice can never lie:
By Your truth now sanctify
Those who read or hear it spoken.
All its benefits supply,
Changing hearts and minds thereby.

Cause it to be preached in season,
Out of season, just the same;
Nor let it go forth in vain.
Captive take men's sinful reason;
Form their minds, their hearts inflame
By the power of Your name.

Give them eyes for faithful reading,
Ears to hear the word of life;
Let the seed so planted thrive.
From Your folly, far exceeding
All man's wisdom, men derive
Pow'r to make the dead alive.

By its living, mighty function,
Your word called all things to be,
Blessing them abundantly;
Even now, it spreads its unction,
Causing sinful men to be
Justified eternally.

Send Your Spirit, eyes unveiling
To the myst'ries of Your word,
Which the nations call absurd.
Let men see its pow'r prevailing
Where Your promises are heard,
As dead hearts to life are stirred.

Open, Lord, men's understanding,
Though they be of earth and dust;
Break their hearts' dead, stony crust.
Open Scripture to them, branding
On their minds, with searing trust,
Him whose blood bespeaks them just.

With salvation thus enlightened,
Make them daily more adept
In Your promise and precept
Till, of death and hell unfrightened,
For a season having slept,
Into glory they be swept.