Saturday, November 22, 2014

Scratched and Dented Hymns

While hunting for hymn tunes and harmonizations that I wrote years ago, I found an album of my old poetry that I haven't looked at for a long time. Some of them were sacred poems. And other than the few I selected for my book of Useful Hymns, having carried them forward in my "live" collection of poetry all these years, they're not particularly good. But some of them are close enough to halfway decent that with a little unwrinkling, they might be of some use.

Here are some of those selections, dating most likely from some time in the early 1990s, if not the late 1980s, and freshly edited if not downright rewritten to improve content and resolve metrical awkwardness. (EDIT: Hymn numbers added)

58. Hymn to Enter

In peace let us honor the One who gives peace,
To Him who gives all things return our increase.
There's no higher praise than to trust in His care,
No sacrifice sweeter than penitent prayer.

In faith let us hope on the Spirit of faith;
For works avail nothing, for sin causes death.
He calls us by name, clothes us in the Lamb's blood,
And saves us by baptism's sin-drowning flood.

In joy let us worship the King who brings joy.
He saved us from death; let us therefore employ
No mere songs or praises, but lives set apart,
A hale Hallelujah of hands and of heart.

In love let us walk with the God who is Love;
In dying, bear witness to heaven above.
Afflicted, we triumph; our power is meek;
His strength is made perfect in those who are weak.

59. Thee and Only Thee (Mediation of Christ)

Christ, Mediator, intercede for me;
I raise my prayer to Thee and only Thee:
Atoning Lamb of God, have mercy!
All that has been, that is, and that will be
Owe life and weal to Thee and only Thee:
Creating Word of God, have mercy!
To wear the form of man Thou camest down
And lived in deprivation;
Pierced for our sake, worest as well the crown
Of death and desolation.
Thy blood for me now testifies;
Thy holy death now justifies
Before God's throne the sinner, even me.

Christ, Mediator, intercede for me;
I place my trust in Thee and only Thee:
O Lover of my soul, have mercy!
By my most grievous fault I stray from Thee,
Yet Thou dost seek and homeward carry me;
O Shepherd true and good, have mercy!
When I return for Thy self-giving love
Dead works and insurrection,
Call into evidence at court above
Thy death and resurrection.
Clothe me in Thy pure robe, I pray,
And fit me for it till the day
I rise to follow Thee and only Thee.

60. Inspiration Hymn

We bless You, Spirit of the living Word,
For blowing life into our nostrils when
It pleased the counsels of the changeless Lord
To furnish space and time with changeful men.

We bless You, Spirit of the Crucified,
Once yielded up as He expired in pain,
For pouring forth on them for whom He'd died
When He arose to breathe on them again.

We bless You, Spirit of the Lamb enthroned,
For rushing mightily on those below
Who, soon to be beheaded, burned or stoned,
Went boldly forth, your presence glad to know.

We bless You, Spirit of the hidden truth,
For breathing revelation into men
Who, whether full of years or lean with youth,
Declared Your word as You moved tongue or pen.

We bless You, Spirit who in mercy binds
Your mysteries to dead and blinded hearts,
For shining light into our darkened minds
And proofing them against the devil's arts.

We bless You, Spirit of eternity,
For guiding us in truth these many years.
So blow us forward till the ages flee
And, seen at last, You wipe away our tears.

61. Sola Gratia Hymn

Your grace alone, O living Word,
Has saved my soul from sin;
For through the gospel taught and heard
Your Spirit entered in.

All who for hope and comfort pine
Must to Your feet be driven,
For there alone by grace divine
Is life eternal given.

My works and prayers can nothing mend,
But grace my sentence stays.
Such fruits of faith I humbly send
To You, my God, in praise.

For if I built on my own deeds
I were on shifting sand.
Christ, to Your grace my spirit pleads,
The Rock on which I stand.

62. Cleansing Hymn

Christ my Savior, God and Man,
Who set forth creation's plan:
All my efforts, all my pains
Cannot cleanse my guilty stains.

Christ my Light, my Life, my Lord,
Broken for me and outpoured,
By that stream my conscience rinse
That my soul may hail You Prince.

Christ my Prophet, Priest and King,
Who has ordered everything:
Let Your Spirit make me new
That my steps may follow You.

Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
I have none whereof to boast
But your all-sufficient grace;
Keep me in Your safe embrace.

63. Proverbs 30:5 Hymn

In the world's tumult and snare,
Where shall we seek truth, O where?
Not in sayings of the loud,
Nor the wisdom of the crowd,
But the foolishness of God
And the path the feeble trod.

What the wise behold as wise,
Darkening their carnal eyes,
Shrinks as shadows from the sun,
So beneath the Holy One.
His strong Word is tested, true;
Swollen man has not a clue.

Favored are the poor in heart,
Yearning for the better part,
Who can pay nor debt nor toll;
Only such will save their soul.
He who sets the sinner free
Shall their shield and refuge be.

64. Isaiah 55 Hymn

Come, you thirsty, to the water!
Come, you needy, come eat!
Cost and payment do not matter,
Free the wine and choice meat,
All things fresh and all sweet:
Alleluia, alleluia!

Should you pay for what is not food,
Buy what does not nourish?
Heed the word and eat what is good;
Eat, delight and flourish!
Such food shall not perish:
Alleluia, alleluia!

Listen well, and God will save you;
Listen that you might live!
All the promises He gave you
He full measure will give;
You He never will leave:
Alleluia, alleluia!

Faithful is His grace forever,
As He showed to David,
Who bore witness of His favor
Unto whom He gave it,
Who by faith receive it:
Alleluia, alleluia!

Thus shall every foreign nation
Join in praise and gladness,
For your Lord has made salvation,
Piercing sin's dark madness,
Breaking fear and sadness:
Alleluia, alleluia!

Seek the Lord while He is by you,
Call on Him repenting!
Come, lest He at last deny you,
While his wrath's relenting;
Come, and leave lamenting:
Alleluia, alleluia!

Let the wicked quit his sinning
And the fool his lusting!
Trust the Lord; from the beginning
He redeems the trusting,
Their frail hearts adjusting:
Alleluia, alleluia!

Pardon freely He announces,
Mercy overflowing
To the one who sin renounces,
His redemption knowing;
Pardon freely flowing.
Alleluia, alleluia!

"My thoughts are not yours," the Lord says,
"Farther than the stars are
From the earth, so far are my ways
Over yours, and farther;
Higher than yours and wiser."
Alleluia, alleluia!

"As the rain to me returns not
Without feeding your soil,
So My word its purpose spurns not,
Nor nor returns to me void;
It works faith and gives joy."
Alleluia, alleluia!

So rejoice with exultation,
You who life have tasted!
Bear in mind the Lord's salvation,
Pray the day be hastened
And the wicked chastened:
Alleluia, alleluia!

Uff da. There isn't much helping that last one. The meter is a liability. But I had a tune in mind for it that I can't shake off, so I could only do so much.

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