Thursday, August 4, 2022

322. Sermon on the Mount Hymn

Here, less than 24 hours after an epic hymn paraphrasing a single passage of Scripture, is another of about the same length. I'm sure it's not as good, despite the fact that I've been brainstorming on it for much longer. Months, even. I mean, the Hebrews 11 Hymn that I wrote in the wee hours of this morning grew out of a thought I had last Sunday. But I'm tired of the thunder and lightning endlessly crashing and flashing between my ears, so out this hymn comes at last. I'm recycling a 16th century Bohemian Brethren melody called SINGEN WIR AUS HERZENS GRUND for it; I previously used it for a youth encouragement hymn in Edifying Hymns. And lo:

When He saw the multitudes,
Jesus, sitting on the mount,
Gathered His disciples round,
Speaking the Beatitudes.
Son of God and Son of Man,
Servant of God's saving plan,
His great discourse so began.

Not as men does Jesus bless—
Favoring the poor and meek,
Those who peace and mercy seek,
Hungering for righteousness;
Those who mourn, the pure in heart,
Persecuted for His part—
Bucking custom from the start.

Jesus styled us who believe
As our age's salt and light:
Seasoning the world aright,
That God's grace men may perceive.
Without faith, He says, the world
Would as flavorless be hurled,
Man's salvation unrevealed.

Jesus came not to destroy,
But fulfill, the Word of God.
Till the world ends, not one jot,
Not one dot will pass away
Till He has all things fulfilled,
For the sinner scourged and killed,
And God's law in us instilled.

Without righteousness, He said,
Even more without a flaw
Than the teachers of the law,
None His kingdom's gate will thread.
How can man his way correct?
Only Christ, without defect,
Can our righteousness perfect.

He said, lest men trust the Law,
And suppose "You shall not kill"
To be easy to fulfill,
Even wrath and insults raw
Slay men in our hearts and damn.
Lest this guilt our souls condemn,
Jesus bids, make peace with them.

Lest in outward chastity
We should place our pious trust,
He said gazes full of lust
Are at heart adultery;
And from swearing on God's name
Jesus would our lips restrain:
Rather, 'yes' and 'no' speak plain.

Turn the other cheek, Christ said,
Nor seek vengeance for your hurt;
Robbed of jacket, give your shirt,
Nor from borr'wers turn your head.
Forced to walk a mile, go two;
Love your foes; good service do
Those who hate and mistreat you.

Do your alms, your fasts and prayers
Not for men's admiring gaze
But to God, by secret ways.
Neither store up, by your cares,
Things that vanish or decay,
Or that thieves can snatch away,
But on heav'n your treasure stay.

Of the eye, Christ's teaching mark:
Be it good, you'll fill with light;
Bad, how clouded were your sight!
Save us, Lord, from vision dark!
And since none can serve two lords,
Loosen mammon's strangling cords,
Tied to hollow, brief rewards!

He says, fret not how to live,
What to eat or drink or wear;
Trust God, who with Father's care,
Knows how much and when to give.
But seek first His kingly grace
And His righteousness embrace;
All these things will come apace.

Judge yourself before you judge;
Pluck the roofpeak from your eye,
Then your brother's speck decry.
And if you would not begrudge
Any good your children need,
Trust your Father will indeed
Asking, seeking, knocking heed.

Enter by the narrow gate,
For the way to hell is broad
And full many walk that road,
While the gate to life is strait
And few find its toilful way.
Watch for wolves in sheep's array,
Who would lead God's lambs astray.

Yes, Christ says, you'll know their fruits;
Look in them for no good thing,
Lest you feel the thistle's sting.
With false teaching at their root,
They are fit to be cut down,
In the blazing furnace thrown,
And God's vine the better grown.

Even some who own His name,
Christ says, will remain outside
When at last He's glorified.
They'll cry, "Lord, Lord," all the same;
"Did we not work signs for You?"
To His "You I never knew"
None can answer or review.

Therefore, let us keep His word,
Being built as on a rock,
Proof for every storm and shock;
Lest, dismissing what we've heard,
As a fool who built on sand,
We see all we've schemed and planned
Overthrown upon the strand.

When these sayings were complete,
How the people were amazed
And His forceful teaching praised!
We too see, in figures neat,
Christ becoming what we need
In His being, word and deed:
Both our Pattern and our Creed.

Brethren, let us ask the Lord,
Diligently seek the Son,
Knock for the Proceeding One—
One God, endlessly adored—
Who no treasure will deny
Those who on His word rely
When He gathers us on high.

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