Thursday, May 12, 2016

199. Sinner-Saint Hymn

This hymn was not part of the plan for my book (still in progress) of 200 original hymns. So I guess it will come out to more than 200. I started writing it in the middle of a sleepless night, with eight lines of unrhymed, meterless psalmody; Stanza 1 took its finished form in my head while I was walking to work yesterday. The remaining stanzas I wrote long-hand last night while lying on the couch after a long day. Note, in the opening line, I consider the "y" of "body" and the word "of" to be a single syllable. Fear not, I am still working on the promised "Isaiah hymn," but there's a lot of material to digest before I will be ready to write it.
Psalm of a Sinner-Saint

O body of death, old Adam's seed,
Your foul head daily rearing,
Why do you gloat upon my need
With glory sharp and searing?
The cross my hungry soul will feed,
More as my hour is nearing.

O cursing tongue, O lips that smile
At things unfit to mention,
Why do you swallow what is vile
And vomit forth invention?
Christ, whom no falsehood can defile,
With you stands in contention.

O worldly flesh, for vice a hide,
Why preen on your pollution?
Why laugh to turn the pure aside
And sneer at destitution?
By baptism drowned, with Christ you died,
Thrown down by absolution.

Deceitful heart, what you desire
Is ruined in the getting;
Of all things free and good you tire,
The pangs of envy whetting.
But now God's word a cleansing fire
In you, to you is setting.

Self-loving self, at last give heed
To God, His answer hearing:
For all who live by blood, His Seed
A victim's form came wearing,
For love of even you to bleed,
All sin, all justice bearing.

False heart, believe! False lips, confess
What Scripture here discloses!
You lawless limbs, don spotless dress
And work as God disposes!
For Jesus is your righteousness;
The maw of hell He closes.

No longer Satan's ridden steed,
Sin's chains no longer wearing,
You wear another tack and lead,
A better Rider bearing,
Who will His new creation feed
Out of His bosom caring.

Lord Christ, who only can retrieve
Our daily, hourly battle
With yet indwelling sin, relieve
Us till its dying rattle!
Help every sinner-saint believe
Despite the foe's vain tattle!

And when in victory You come,
Wake us unmarked from sleeping;
Give us at last a perfect home
Untouched by care and weeping,
With all whose beds in tears had swum
Your endless sabbath keeping!
EDIT: As usual, when writing this hymn text I never gave a thought to what tune it would be sung to. I was surprised, when I checked my metrical index of hymn tunes in anglophone Lutheran hymnals, to realize the stress pattern of this hymn would not allow it to go with any of the "8787 87" tunes I know of. It meant having to write another original tune, titled SINNER-SAINT. Like many of the hymn-tunes I have written lately, it revels in rhythmic palindromes.

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