Sunday, August 2, 2020

274. Hymn on the Wounds of Christ

I wasn't planning to write this hymn. It just started to write itself in my mind today, while I was driving from my parents' house to church – a trip of 45 minutes to an hour – while listening to Michael Barone's "Pipe Dreams" on public radio. For some reason, I found myself thinking about the thread running through Jesus' wounds (ew), connecting His obedient life, sacrificial death, rest in the tomb, and glorification with our hope of justification, sanctification and final victory. Again, it's been a little while – since late June – since my last fit of hymn writing. But at least that's a narrower gap than the last one! The tune I'm putting with it is one that I wrote in May for a text by another hymn writer who, as of the last I heard from him about it, wasn't satisfied with it. So, this way my work doesn't go completely to waste. (And by work I mean actually composing two harmonizations of it; see below). The tune is titled SERVICE.
Dear Christ, against whose glory heaven pales:
Our reason, our imagination fails
That You bared brow to thorns, Your back to flails,
Your breast to spear, Your hands and feet to nails!

You were the One who kept the Law's demands,
Who in good faith bore Satan's fiery brands
With upright heart, with wonder-working hands,
With feet soiled by the dust of thankless lands.

Once for all sin, all wrath laid up in store,
Our chastisement, our total debt You bore.
Not lightly struck, but pierced into the core,
Your temple fell; Your flawless cover tore.

Deep in the earth, still lay Your sacred heart,
Your wounded head and members, past all smart;
Yet 'neath the shroud and door-seal set apart,
You opened life to us with secret start.

Do You now, in Your risen glory, keep
The wounds that griped Your death, that marred Your sleep?
Do You now bid Your stubborn, doubting sheep
Into the marks of nail and spear to peep?

Yes, Lord! So may each heartsick sinner hide
His guilt and grief in You, the Crucified;
His impure heart wash in Your flowing side;
His falt'ring hands and feet find Yours spread wide.

How, then, shall we of such wounds be ashamed?
For on Your palms, that heathen nails have maimed,
We have been tallied, notarized and named –
By Triune witness ransomed, loved and claimed.

So let Your wounded hands, Your feet, Your side
Be of our works, our ways, our hearts the guide.
Fit us to live as souls for whom You died:
Your death our life, Your cross alone our pride.

Onward, dear Lord, Your heel bruised in the fight,
Lead us, although we stumble, toward Your light,
Held to Your riven bosom through the night,
Till Your unblemished beauty floods our sight.

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