Sunday, March 29, 2015

107. Agape Hymn

That's not the two-syllable English word "agape," meaning a facial expression with circular eyes and mouth. It's a transliteration of this Greek word. It means love; but Greek has several words for love, each describing a very different thing. Rather than explaining what this word for love signifies, I will let the hymn speak for itself. It is based on 1 Corinthians 13, a chapter often misapplied in the context of a marriage ceremony; it also traditionally serves as the Epistle for Quinquagesima, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. I'm thinking of setting it to Martin Luther's underplayed 1523 tune EIN NEUES LIED.
O lovely Jesus, Gift of love,
Beloved of the Lord above,
Who bore all things for love of men;
Kept faith till death and rose again;
Believed through all for all men's sake;
Endured in hope the prize to take;
So patient, humble, kind and meek,
Gave all for all, our good to seek:
Dwell in us! Form in us such love!

O gift of love, God's love to know
And likewise practice here below!
All other gifts will pass away
When dawns our resurrection day.
Faith, knowledge, prophecy and tongues
Without it are but noisy gongs;
Great works of alms and piety,
Apart from love, no profit see.
Lord, cause Your gift in us to grow!

O Lord of love, our way correct
Till we in truth Your love reflect!
Let childish fancies fall away
Before Your wisdom's piercing ray.
Bring faith and hope and love to light
Till faith and hope give way to sight;
Then draw us into You above
As You now dwell in us, that love
Our blest communion shall perfect!

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