Saturday, September 12, 2015

132. Hymn for the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany

In the historic church year cycle, what with the movable date of Easter and the pre-Lenten Gesima Sundays and Transfiguration (almost) always being the last Sunday after Epiphany, Easter had to fall on April 1 or later, or March 31 during a Leap Year, for there to be a full-blown Second Sunday after Epiphany. Truly the Sundays after Epiphany are a precarious proposition. They hold some of my favorite Gospel lessons of the entire church year, to say nothing of a beautiful body of hymnody, but the earlier Easter is the more likely one is to miss them. The Epistle for this Sunday, part of a three-week lectio continua in Romans 12, runs from verse 6 of that chapter through the words "condescend to men of low estate" or their equivalent in verse 16. The Gospel is the water-to-wine miracle at the wedding in Cana, John 2:1-11. The tune I have in mind is WIR WOLLEN ALLE FRÖHLICH SEIN by Cyriakus Spangenberg, 1568, based on a 15th century melody.
O bride of Christ, O holy line,
Take pleasure in God's good design!
For in His first attesting sign
Your Lord made water into wine
And poured abroad His joy divine.

Before He multiplied the bread,
Before His voice aroused the dead,
"My hour has not yet come," He said;
But Mary with the servants pled
To follow where His orders led.

They saw no secret charms, or heard
But that pure water be transferred;
Yet after they obeyed His word,
The steward sipped with rage absurd
The latter wine, so much preferred.

You branches of the Winestock true,
Behold how He in-grafted you
By mighty word and water too!
This pressing none but God could do:
The old poured out, behold the new!

O Christ, let us as servants pure,
Each in his calling firm and sure,
Work as You will with faith mature!
To teach with strength, to serve demure,
Help us each other's good secure!

O Bridegroom, pledged to us in love,
You are today our Blessing-cup,
The paschal Bread whereon we sup.
With life and pardon fill us up
That joy may overflow our cup!

Come, better Vintage, richer Joy!
Let all the saints their gifts employ!
Sin's bitter residue destroy -
Cups that confuse, corrupt and cloy -
Till we Your festal wine enjoy!

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