Sunday, December 14, 2014

Scratched and Dented 7

In case you are tuning in late, this post is part of a series refurbishing dreadful hymns that I wrote when I was in high school or college. It consists of a metrical paraphrase of the Athanasian Creed that I actually submitted for publication in a hymnal - which, however, printed a different (and probably better) execution of the same idea by a certain Henry Bartels, whom I once had the honor to meet. His version, if memory serves, begins with the line "Whoever would be saved" and is set to the tune MEIN SCHOEPFER, STEH MIR BEI. Mine was written in a less fortunate meter and had to be set to a tune of my own composition, which I no longer consider share-worthy. So one of my aims in updating this paraphrase is to adjust the meter so it can be sung to a better tune. Actually making it a hymn worth singing in worship may be beyond my powers, especially since the custom in most churches is to confess this creed at most once or twice a year. Oh, well! For what it's worth: (EDIT: Hymn number added)

96. Athanasian Creed Hymn

He who would be saved must hold
To the holy Christian faith
Or incur eternal death.
Now this is the faith of old:
God the Lord is Three in One,
Father, Holy Ghost and Son.
Hailing Him the Trinity,
We uphold His unity;
Essence one yet Persons three
We confess with certainty.

Of the Father there is one;
One Son on the mercy-seat;
One the Holy Paraclete.
Each is fully God alone,
Lord unmade and infinite,
Timeless each, and full of might.
Yet our God and Lord is one;
Uncreate, eternal - one;
Infinite, almighty - one;
Altogether, only one!

While in Christian truth must we
Call each Person God and Lord,
No untruth is so abhorred
As to say three gods there be.
God the Father, made of naught,
Ere the world or time was wrought
Sired His uncreated Seed;
Son and Father, one indeed,
One in force, in will agreed,
Caused the Spirit to proceed.

Lest in error we be caught,
We affirm one Lord to be:
But one Father, never three,
Nor three Sons but one is taught,
And one Ghost, no more nor less.
Thus we heartily confess
Equally, eternally
Each Person full God to be;
For without the Trinity
No flesh would salvation see.

Likewise, he who would be saved
Must correctly understand
How God's Son became a man.
Out of love the Father gave
His Son into sin's domain,
That He might destroy death's reign.
Mary's Son is God and Man;
He who laid creation's plan
Breathed our air and walked the land,
Sinless bore God's chiding hand.

Substance of His Father, now
Born into His mother's flesh,
Born in time from timelessness:
Mortals cannot fathom how
Perfect Godhead ever can
Join Himself to perfect Man:
Joined to human flesh and soul,
Less than God as man below,
Equal to the Father's whole:
Yet such is the Christ we know.

Christ is One, yet not because
Manhood into God assayed;
God into a man was made
To fulfill as man God's laws,
That as all-sufficient Lamb
God might die for sinful man.
As men's souls in flesh abide
Are these natures unified;
Even after He had died,
God and Man could none divide.

Jesus suffered for our sin
And descended into hell,
His completed work to tell;
He arose and rules in heav'n,
Whence He shall return with dread
To arraign both quick and dead.
All shall rise, their works to tell,
Some for sentencing to hell,
Those who trust in Christ to dwell
Where, with Him, all will be well.

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