Monday, August 6, 2018

Mothers Hymn

I cannot remember the last time it took me so long to write a single hymn. Weeks, months even, have passed since someone dropped a suggestion (well before Mothers' Day, I believe) about how "useful" a Mothers' Day hymn would be, if it was really Scriptural and edifying to the faithful. Oy gewalt, though, was it ever difficult! Naturally, being a hymn-tune nerd first and a hymn-writer second, I never entertained a single thought about what tune this hymn will be sung to up to this moment - or even including this moment. I'll have to look into that later. For the meantime, please don't be too hard on the poem below simply because it's too long to expect the Mothers' Day crowd at your church to sing. I planned this hymn to bring Scripture to bear on issues touching the hearts of today's Christian mothers. I didn't really think the world needs any more three- or four-stanza settings of Hallmark greeting-card sentiments. When I imagined the sort of hymn about motherhood that might really be useful to Lutheranism, it went something like this.

1. Christ, Lord of all things everywhere,
True God and Mary's Son,
Take up our cause; sustain the prayer
Of all blessed by a mother's care,
Here in Your name begun.

2. Seed of the woman, pledged to Eve,
Her travail's fear to hush:
Teach us, though serpent's voice deceive,
Your oldest promise to believe;
Our tempter's power crush.

3. Free woman's offspring, Sarah's Son:
Though breast and womb be dry,
Convict us that Your word is done,
And we as heirs are rightwise born,
Our home secure on high.

4. Recall Rebekah's fav'rite, who
Lagged both in pow'r and age;
Do not repay to us our due,
But freely bless and cleanse us, too,
Of envy, greed and rage.

5. For Leah's and for Rachel's sake,
Give ev'ry child a name
That stamps on us our mothers' ache
In Your rich favor to partake,
Your faithful love to claim.

6. Mindful of Tamar's, Rahab's ways,
Relieve our mothers' shame.
Forgive their sins of former days;
That they may frame Your mercy's praise,
Garb them in spotless fame.

7. For mothers who, like Jochebed,
Must let their precious go:
Uphold their heart, till they be led
Across the stream that lies ahead,
And there Your purpose know.

8. Like Zipporah, whose wounding blade
Saved child and father both:
When souls are sifted, hearts are weighed,
Our mothers' tender hand persuade
To prune our vice's growth.

9. As trusting Hannah gave the Lord
The child her heart had craved,
Grant each whose prayers are nightly poured
The toll of motherhood restored:
To know her child is saved.

10. As Eunice, even Lois brought
Their little one to You,
So let our Timothies be taught
Your word, with saving power fraught,
That they may teach it, too.

11. The baptist's mother heard the voice
Of her who bore the Lamb;
He leapt within her, to rejoice
That You made Mary's womb Your choice,
Desired of Abraham!

12. With him and with Elizabeth
Your mother's faith we praise;
Dear Christ, till we pass over death,
Let us as well, with ev'ry breath,
Pray "Be it so" always.

13. E'en so, though sword may pierce between
A mother's heart and soul,
Let her, with son or daughter, lean
On You alone: by faith made clean,
And after death made whole.

EDIT: Here is a video by a very fine pianist of his performance of PAX CELESTE, a hymn tune that would fit this hymn. It was used in The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) with the hymn "There is an hour of peaceful rest." The only alternate tune that I know of, which I have found paired with the same hymn, is considerably inferior in my opinion.

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