Friday, May 13, 2016

200. Isaiah Hymn

I think I worked on this hymn longer than any other poem I have ever written. Most of that labor, however, was done before I wrote a single word of it. It takes time to digest 66 chapters of prophetic poetry. The list of one-line abstracts of references I could have used in this hymn was longer than the hymn itself, so obviously selection and compression were key parts of the process. While writing it, I didn't consider what tune it would sing to; I was dismayed to realize afterward that my least objectionable choice was to re-use the Norwegian folk-tune HVOR DET BLIR GODT Å LANDE, which I never felt quite suited the last hymn I set to it. So I whipped up a quick, original tune...
Isaiah hymn, for Christ-centered ministry

A prophet meek and lowly
The Lord’s appearing saw;
The seraph-sung Thrice Holy
Isaiah heard with awe.
“Alas, I am undone,” he said;
An angel from the altar sped
To cleanse with unction coaly
His sin-polluted jaw.

His testimony binding,
He waited, Lord, on You,
The name “God-With-Us” finding
Both full of hope and true;
He hailed You Prince of David’s line,
And set Your virgin birth as sign
Through ages dark and winding,
To sages far and few.

Both Jesse’s Root and Scion,
Both David’s Lord and Son,
A Cornerstone in Zion,
A Savior, Mighty One:
Of You Isaiah sang, dear Lord,
In oracles so richly poured,
As if he trained his eye on
All that You since have done.

A righteous King expecting,
God calling God he saw;
God sending God, directing
That He should serve His law;
God serving God for sinners’ sake,
That we be healed, our stripes to take;
God dreadfully correcting
That Servant without flaw.

Thereby he saw You making
A covenant of peace,
Then to all nations taking
Redemption and release;
From sin and death a setting loose;
A world remade for holy use
Till, earth and heaven shaking,
You bid all striving cease.

Garb us, Lord, to receive You
In robes of righteousness,
And with that seer believe You
Accept such blood-stained dress;
Upon You train our hopeful eyes,
And through Isaiah’s word, the prize,
That though we sin and grieve You,
You will restore and bless!

Hosannah to the Holy,
The Holy, Holy Lord,
The God of hosts, whom solely
All angels praise accord!
Let all that was, is, and will be
To Three in One and One in Three
Be dedicated wholly
By all the ransomed horde!

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