Saturday, July 19, 2014

57. Hymn for Christ-Centered Hymnody

Here is a hymn that may serve best as the dedicatory poem to a book of hymns.
O Christ, our theme of highest worth,
Make fit the praise of all the earth!
Whom we would laud on lowered knee,
Raise up a worthy hymnody!
Breathe into us a reverent song,
And hold it back from speaking wrong;
Help us to frame Thy praise aright!
Draw those who hear it to Thy light!

Lord of our song, we humbly pray,
Be all in all we do or say.
Make this our fundamental tone:
Salvation is of Thee alone;
Not of our works, which serve Thee ill,
But only by Thy gracious will.
This shall retune man's bitter din:
The sweeter strain of pardoned sin.

Composer of our flesh and soul,
Give hymns that keep Thy praises whole!
For Thou hast saved us without stint;
We claim not half, nor slightest tint.
To Thee we turn, not by our choice,
But by Thy lively, calling voice.
Through faith, Thy gift that sets us free,
Bind us to faithful hymnody!

Lord, grant us hymns that locate Thee
Where Thou hast sworn Thyself to be:
The baptism bath; the mighty word
Wherein Thy living voice is heard;
The consecrated bread and wine;
The absolution, which is Thine.
So give us hymns that glorify
Thy chosen means of drawing nigh.

Because Thou, Christ, hast suffered loss,
Redeeming us by blood and cross,
Teach us to make Thine agony
The theme of all our melody.
Lest we despise pain, sorrow, need,
Keep us from songs of shallow greed.
Whatever woe our hearts may feel,
Thy hymns will thereby soothe and heal.

And finally, long-suffering God,
When every tongue and tribe and blood
Has learned to sing Thy blest refrain,
Perfect creation's song again.
With penitence and praise we pray,
Make haste to cue that tuneful day
When, having dried at last our tears,
We join the music of the spheres!

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