Friday, December 20, 2013

44. Maundy Thursday Hymn

I know, it's a little out of season. But I just came across the fragment of this hymn that I must have written years ago, and I had to see it through! The relevant Bible passages are John 13:1-12; Isaiah 34:4; and Daniel 12:3. I didn't have a tune in mind while writing this, but a quick check of my "master metrical index of anglophone Lutheran hymnals" turns up a 16th-century tune called OLD 107TH that I think would do nicely.

Lord, on the night You were betrayed,
You proved our faithful Friend;
Did not desert Your own, but stayed
And loved them to the end;
Then, holding all things in Your hand,
In Your most holy feast
Obeyed the Father's stern command
And, stooping, served the least.

You bathed Your children's wandering feet,
Lord, Master of all men,
Who journeyed from God’s mercy-seat
And now turned back again.
You took the ewer, basin, cloth,
And acting as their slave,
Girded Yourself and, kneeling, both
Began to teach and lave.

When Peter saw what was afoot,
Ashamed, he took it ill.
You said, “You have not understood
What I do—but you will.”
When he refused, You said, “Unless
I wash you, you are lost.”
“My head as well,” in his distress,
He begged his kneeling host.

But You, Lord, called already clean
Those You had washed—indeed,
A cleanliness within, unseen,
Sufficient to their need.
Your word and water even now
Combine to cleanse and save:
Not as men understand, but how
You freely choose to lave.

“Do you know what I’ve done to you?”
You asked the awestruck twelve.
“What Lord and Master else would do
What you have seen yourselves?
The path that I have shown you, walk,
And serve with bondage sweet;
For where the Shepherd goes, the flock
Must trail His wounded feet.

“As I, your Lord, have served you well,”
You then went on to say,
“So serve each other while you dwell
Upon My servant way.
If you lead many a footsore soul
Onto this path of Mine,
You, when the sky shuts like a scroll,
Shall like the planets shine.”

We thank You now, foot-washing Lord,
Who served and made us clean,
For present peace no ear has heard,
Tongue uttered, or eye seen.
Implant in us a mind like Yours,
That stooped and loved and bled;
Chart in us such a servant course,
To live in You, our Head!