Sunday, March 27, 2022

317. Prodigal Hymn

Today's readings from the LSB three-year lectionary revealed another of the many glaring omissions from my body of work as a hymn-writer. My attempt to write a hymn for every Sunday of the Church Year was, of course, oriented toward the historic one-year series. But despite having a passing mention in an omnibus "Parables Hymn," the parable of the prodigal son isn't really covered in my first 316 original hymns;* the closest I could get, in an ongoing project to sing one of my hymns as a solo every week, was that old "Finding the Lost" hymn about the widow's coin and the lost sheep. So, today's hymnwriting project is the first of a bunch of corrections of this type that I see being made for the work-in-progress, Bountiful Hymns. The tune I have in mind is ES GEH, WIES WOLL by Michael Praetorius, 1610.
When Jesus' kind regard was shown
To those in need of mercy,
Some who stood righteous in their own
Raised up a controversy.
That all may see as in God's eyes,
Three parables did He devise,
Their wisdom plain and earthy.

What man of you, our Shepherd said,
One in a hundred losing,
Would not leave all behind, instead
That one's salvation choosing;
And having found what had been lost,
His neighbors joyfully accost,
With hearty joy effusing?

Likewise, what woman with ten coins,
The moment one was wanting,
Would not take light and gird her loins,
Each nook and cranny hunting?
How must she, finding it, rejoice!
The angels even so give voice
O'er one lost soul repenting.

And when a rich man's younger son
Spent all in wasteful living,
He came to feeding swine, yet none
To him a bite was giving.
Home to his father's house he crawled,
Content a mere slave to be called,
His heart so deeply grieving.

The father saw, ran, kissed, embraced
The prodigal returning;
Slew fatted calf and called a feast,
All blame and censure spurning:
"My son is living who was dead;
Is found who had been lost," he said,
His love thus brightly burning.

The elder son began to chide:
"I've served without transgressing.
Why was I such a feast denied?"
"My son, grudge not this blessing.
For all this time, not by your deeds,
But by my care for all your needs,
My goods you were possessing."

Lord, plant this sermon in our heart,
Whichever son we follow.
At times we take the wastrel's part,
In selfish pleasures wallow.
But when the bitterness sets in,
We come to hate the taste of sin;
Its revels leave us hollow.

Convince us that, when we repent,
You'll like that father greet us:
What time and goods we have misspent
Forgiving as You meet us.
A worthy sacrifice prepared,
No sliver of your mercy spared,
Into Your banquet lead us.

And often though the elder son
Be whom You find us aping,
Let scribes and Pharisees have done,
No more our judgment shaping!
For if we are Your holy race,
We have all things alone by grace,
Eternal treasure reaping.

* Actually 317 previous hymns; I keep forgetting that there's a "Hymn number zero" back there somewhere.

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