Here are the fruits of my latest efforts in hymn writing - including the last of the hymns I had pre-planned before a marathon brainstorming session last night, during which I completely reorganized the manuscript of my projected book with working title Edifying Hymns. It's a relief to have a lot more ambitious hymns planned - and experience has taught me that preparation is the secret to being a productive writer. For these hymns I recycled a tune that I wrote last year for a "Seven Deadly Sins Hymn," the alternate tunes that I chose for a couple other hymns, and a rhythmically altered version of a historic Easter hymn that I thought would be just right for a song about perceiving beauty beneath the surface. (The rhythmic version of HERZLICH...ERFREUEN is in the Lutheran Book of Worship and Lutheran Worship; a much boringer isometric version is in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book; my version kind of splits the difference, hopefully making the tune more approachable without sapping its energy.) Constructive feedback is welcome.257. For Unbelieving Loved Ones
Tune: COUILLARD by R. D. Fish, 2017
Love of the sinner doomed You,
O Christ, who died to save us:
No strife or hatred fearing,
God’s wrath, man’s judgment bearing,
Peace passing ken You gave us.
With just such zeal, though tender
And frail, we pray: engender
The faith to grasp Your promise
In our dear ones who grumble
Against Your word, who stumble,
Or scoff like doubting Thomas.
Indeed, Lord, You did warn us
Our flesh and blood would scorn us,
A sword our house dividing.
And yet, behold, we love them:
While time remains, then, move them,
Your Spirit’s gift providing.
If, Lord, despite our closeness,
Our arguments’ verboseness
And loudness fail to win them,
Then send a voice more distant,
Yet with life’s way consistent,
From hell’s broad road to spin them.
Remind us, in our anguish
O’er friends whose spirits languish
In chains of death while living:
It lies not in our power,
But in the word You, Sower,
As living seed are giving.
Your word, though out of season,
Yet puts to shame man’s reason,
Breaks through his heart’s resistance,
Recalls to life the buried,
Protects the demon-harried,
Gives what-is-not existence.
Therefore we leave them, trusting
In Your rich mercy, lusting,
Like us, for their salvation.
Hasten Your will unfailing;
The night grows pallid, hailing
Your dawning revelation.
258. Hymn for Joy
Tune: SONG 22 by Orlando Gibbons, 1583
For even You were once a little boy;
So we may join in ev’ry wholesome game,
Cheered by the thought You might have done the same.
In daily toil, give grown-up Christians joy,
Lest burdens chafe and poverty annoy;
For even You once plied the lathe and plane,
Took pleasure in the panel’s burl and grain.
When work is done, give aging Christians joy
That neither pain nor weakness can destroy;
For even You went feebly to Your death,
And for our life gave up Your final breath.
And when at last we sleep, as once You slept,
Let our clay rest, like Yours, for that day kept
When we awake, and perfectly employ
Pure hearts and tongues to worship You with joy.
259. Hymn for Beauty
Tune: HERZLICH TUT MICH ERFREUEN from J. Walther’s Geistlicher Berckreyen, Wittenberg, 1552, alt.
Wherever it may be,
And hearts that feel a duty
From sordid filth to flee.
Let cheap and empty glitter
Crowd no good thing aside;
Nor let our hearts grow bitter
At private taste denied.
Lord, give us minds to measure
The beauties you design;
Give gentle hands to treasure
The delicate and fine;
Ears with apprecation
Of skillful, lovely lays;
Tongues tuned to the vibration
That best becomes Your praise.
Give makers and performers
Awe of Your holy throne,
Though they be heaven-stormers
Or trained on earth alone.
Lord, bless our arts with fitness,
Through Your ascended Son,
To bear the Spirit’s witness
That God with Man is one.
With beauty You surround us
To draw us nigh to You;
Its strong proportions ground us
In what is sure and true.
Thereby our hope has sounded
Heights, depths no eye has seen,
Led on to joy unbounded,
To beauties evergreen.
260. For Persecuted Christians
Tune: UNDE ET MEMORES by William H. Monk, 1823-89
The saints who suffer shame or pain or need
For Your name’s sake: which neither flame can harm
Nor blade can vanquish. Though our bodies bleed,
Though devils all the world like locusts swarm,
Our harvest is secure through Mary’s Seed.
Receive our prayer, O Christ, for them who face
The inquisition of this troublous age:
Convict them, while they answer for Your grace,
Of liberty untouched by tyrant’s rage.
Let them, if called upon, complete their race
Cheered by the promise of the martyr’s wage.
Deliver them from doubt, O Christ, from fear,
Whom You have counted worthy to partake
With You of cross and death. Their groaning hear;
Hear, too, the good confession that they make.
Then hasten in Your glory to appear,
Your witnesses at rest, at last, to wake.